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1-3-08 16015 arola.
P R E F A C E.
T would be using most wri
ters of name very ill, to treat them with that freedom, which I have presumed to take with Mr. Cowley. But every thing, he wrote, is either so good or so bad, that, in all reason, a separation should be made; left the latter, which, unhappily, is the greater part, should, in
the end, stifle and overlay the former.
The reason of this striking difference in the compositions of the same man, whose genius and learning are unquestionable, is, That he generally followed the taste of his time, which was the worst imaginable; and rarely his own, which was naturally excellent: as may be seen in the few pieces of his poetry, here selected from the rest; and, especially, in his prose-works, which (except the
notes on his Pindaric Odes, and Davideis) are given entire, and have no common merit.
But the talents, by which he is distinguished, as a polite writer, are the least of his praise. There is something in him, which pleases above his wit, and in spite of it. It is that moral air, and tender sensibility of mind, which every one perceives and loves in reading Mr. Cowley. And this character of his genius, though it be expressed, indeed, in his
other writings, comes out especially, and takes our attention most, in some of his smaller poems and elays; which, therefore, it seemed to be for the author's credit, and the convenience of his readers, to draw near to each other, and place, together, in one view. I have said - for the convenience of his readers: for, though all are capable of being entertained, perhaps instructed, by the image of a good mind, when set before them, yet few will be at the pains to seek that instruction