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TO THE EDITION OF 1783.
THE Bookfellers having determined to publish a 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 extenfive or difficult.
My purpose was only to have allotted to every Poet an Advertisement, like those which we find in the French Mifcellanies, containing a few dates and a general character; but I have been led beyond my intention, I hope, by the · honeft defire of giving useful pleasure.
In this minute kind of History, 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
correct chronology, will publish it; but I do
Dryden's Remarks on Rymer have been
As this undertaking was occafional and un-
foreseen, I must be supposed to have engaged
in it with lefs provifion of materials than might
have been accumulated by longer premedita-
tion. Of the later writers at least I might, by
attention and enquiry, have gleaned many
particulars, which would have diverfified and
enlivened my Biography. Thefe omiffions,
which it is now ufclefs to lament, have been
often fupplied by the kindnefs 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
* Langbaine's authority will not fupport the dates affigned to
Dryden's Plays. Thefe are now rectified in the margin by re-
ference to the original Editions, the only guides to be relied on. R.