Dr. John Wolcot, The Beauties of English Poetry. Selected from the Most Esteemed Authors. Containing several original pieces, never before published. 2 Volumes (London: C. Spilsbury for J. Walker, 1804)

Information about the collection: The frontispiece to volume 1 is truly spectacular, with a monument engraved (by W.J. Newton?) with the names of Chaucer, Spencer, Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Young, and Thomson towering over two winged god-like figures and with pegasus flying through the air behind it. There is another engraving of fantastic revelry in what appears to be a ruined abbey after the TOC; it is inscibed with three lines from Parnell's Fairy Tale. The frontispiece to volume 2 features a schoolroom scene, with a young boy reading aloud from a book to a dower-faced school mistress with a birch in one hand and reading glasses in another. The engraving after the TOC is of a young woman holding a small snake in a garden bower. Each volume is about 150 pp. and lists the poem titles first, followed by the names of the authors.

Advertisement by the Publisher: The Body of English Poetry, probably the largest in any modern language, contains, in every species of Poem, examples of the highest and most varied excellence. It is the richest treasury of all our maxims of moral truth and prudential wisdom; and it is here we are to look for those proofs of genius which are acknowledged with universal conviction, and which enable us to hold a high rank in the Republic of Letters. The necessity of frequent Selections, however, has been apparent to all who wish that the principles of taste should be formed on the best models, and studied in the most useful regularity; and although many Publications of this kind have been presented to the Public, the continual additions making to English Poetry may plead for the present attempt; while it cannot be denied that the greater part of the Selections already in circulation are made with little skill, or discrimination.

From this motive, the Publisher has been induced to think that a New Selection of English Poetry would be highly useful in education, and acceptable to all lovers of Elegant Literature: and, fortunately, when he had in some degree matured the plan, he was enabled to prevail with Dr. Wolcot not to disdain a task which they who were not aware of its delicacy and importance, might well judge to be beneath his talents and acquirements. -- But, the Publisher judged that he whose own Works display, in almost every species of pure poetry, examples of singular originality and excellence, who has left hardly one poetical phrase in the whole compass of English speech and composition that he has not transferred into his writings, was perhaps of all men living the most competent to form a Selection of English Poetry to answer all the ends which he had in view.

To add peculiar value to the Collection which he should form, the Publisher, with difficulty, has prevailed with him to intersperse in it, a few of his own original compositions. He was well persuaded, that, whatever his modest might suggest to the contrary, there are none among the Poets of former times, whose works have given immortality to the English language, but, if now alive, would be proud of any disposal of the flowers of his writings which should exhibit them in mingled assemblage with those of Peter Pindar -- a name on which its sportive use by Dr. Wolcot has conferred a celebrity far higher and more extensive than was given to it by the ancient Bard of Thebes.

The Publisher has only to express his hope, that the attempt will be received with candour, and will answer all those ends of general instruction and entertainment which he had in view in preparing it.

Table of Contents:  [Volume 1] [Volume 2]


The Temple of Fame, by Alexander Pope
A Pastoral Elegy on the Death of Jackson, the Musical Composer
The Fire-Side; by Dr. Cotton
Madness; by the Rev. Tho. Penrose
Select Odes; by Hafez
L'Allegro; by John Milton
Il Penseroso; by the Same
Ode to Mr. Pinchbeck, upon his newly-invented patent Candle-snuffers, by Malcolm McGregor, Esq.
To the Duchess of Roxburgh, on her Arrival at Fleurs; by a Dryad
A Fairy Tale; by Dr. Parnell
On throwing by an old Black Coat; by T. Coombe, D.D.
A Parody on "Blest as th' immortal Gods is he;" by the Hon. Henry Erskine
An Ode to Eight Cats, belonging to Israel Mendez, a Jew
Imitation of Catullus
On Lord Nelson, at Merton
To a Lady, with the Sonnets of Petrarch
The Hare and Many Friend; by Gay
Elegy to Miss Dashwood, in the manner of Ovid; by Mr. Hammond
Answer to Ditto; by Lord Harvey
On Lady Hamilton's Departure from Palermo
Madrigal; to Cynthia
Part of a Letter to my Sisters, at Crux-Easton; written from Cairo, in Egypt, August, 1734; by the Rev. Dr. Lisle
The Blackbirds; by the Rev. R. Jago, M.A.
The Swallows; by the same
Julia; or the Victim of Love; a Pastoral Ballad; by Peter Pindar, Esq.
The Relic, or the Female Mourner, by the Same


An Heroic Epistle to Sir William Chambers, Knt.
An Heroic Postscript to the Public
Selim, or the Shepherd's Moral, an Oriental Eclogue; by Collins
The Pilgrim and the Peas; by Peter Pindar
To a Mountain Daisy; by Burns
Hafez; Ode III
Slader, a Vision; by Cotton
Love Elegy; by Hammond
Ode to Evening; by Collins
A Madrigal, to Chloe; by Peter Pindar
The Vanity of Fame; by the Rev. H. Moore
To Clodio in Prison; by Peter Pindar
The Splendid Shilling; by Phillips
The Book-Worm; by Parnell
Epistle to a young Gentleman, on his leaving Eton School; by Dr. Roberts
Phillis, a Pastoral; by Peter Pindar
Isis, an Elegy; by Mr. Mason, of Cambridge
The Triumph of Isis, occasioned by "Isis," an Elegy; by T. Warton
Hafez; Ode IV
On a Grotto, near the Thames, at Twickenham; by A. Pope
An Ode to AEolus' Harp; by A. Pope
A Pipe of Tobacco, in imitation of several Authors; by I.H. Browne, Esq.
--------------------- Imitation I. - Colley Cibber
--------------------- Imitation II. - Amb. Philips
--------------------- Imitation III. - James Thomson
--------------------- Imitation IV. - Dr. Young
--------------------- Imitation V. - Mr. Pope
--------------------- Imitation VI. - Dean Swift
Ode to Adversity; by Gray
To her Grace the Duchess of Roxburgh; by Peter Pindar
The Beggar's Petition; Anon.
Epistle to the Marchioness Grey; by J. Hoadly, Ll.D.
Ode to Melancholy; by Ogilvy
Thrale and the Drayman; by Peter Pindar
Ode to Time; by Ogilvie
Isaac Hawkins Browne to himself
Old Oliver, or the Dying Shepherd; by Peter Pindar

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