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ADVERTISEMENT

TO THE EDITION OF 1783.

HE Bookfellers having determined to publish a

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Body of English Poetry, I was perfuaded to promise them a Preface to the Works of each Author; an undertaking, as it was then prefented to my mind, not very extensive or difficult.

My purpose was only to have allotted to every Poet an Advertisement, like those which we find in the French Miscellanies, containing a few dates and a general character; but I have been led beyond my intention, I hope, by the honest defire of giving ufeful pleasure.

In this minute kind of Hiftory, the fucceffion of facts is not easily discovered; and I am not without fufpicion that fome of Dryden's works are placed in wrong years. I have followed Langbaine, as the best authority for his plays; and if I fhall hereafter obtain a more correct chronology, will publifh it; but I do not yet know that my account is erroneous.

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Dryden's Remarks on Rymer have been somewhere printed before. The former edition I have not seen. This was tranfcribed for the prefs from his own manufcript.

As this undertaking was occafional and unforeseen, I must be supposed to have engaged in it with less provifion of materials than might have been accumulated by longer premeditation. Of the later writers at least I might, by attention and enquiry, have gleaned many particulars, which would have diverfified and enlivened my Biography. These omiffions, which it is now useless to lament, have been often supplied by the kindness of Mr. STEEVENS and others; and great affiftance has been given me by Mr. SPENCE'S Collections, of which I confider the communication as a favour worthy of publick acknowledgement.

COWLEY.

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