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first volume, is perhaps superfluous ; but may be convenient for the purpose of reference.

The Title of these volumes will shew, that they are by no means intended to supersede Mr. Warton's very learned and entertaining, though desultory work, from which they are, in part, abridged; but rather to serve as an useful index to his History. Neither do they interfere with the valuable modern Miscellanies of Bishop Percy, Mr. Pinkerton, Mr. Ritson, the late Mr. Headley, and Mrs. Cooper; from all of which they differ materially, except in the general purpose of selecting what is most valuable from the scarcest and least accessible compositions of our early literature.

It is only necessary to add, that the Saxon Ode, which in this work will be found to differ materially from the text of Dr. Hickes, and of Gibson's Saxon Chronicle, was kindly furnished by the Rev. Mr. Henshall, who collated the printed copies with two excellent MSS. in the Cotton Library; and who had the farther complaisance to supply the literal English version, as well as the learned notes with which it is accompanied.



NotwithSTANDING the care with which the former edition of this work was revised during its progress through the press, it was found to contain very numerous, though not very important typographical errors. For the detection and the removal of these; for the collation of nearly all the extracts contained in the work with the earliest and best copies of the originals, whether printed or manuscript; for the insertion of some new Specimens; and for much additional information in the notices prefixed to the several authors; the editor is indebted to the kindness, of his friend Mr. Heber, and to the frequent assistance of Mr. Park.

The defects' which still remain are solely chargeable to the editor. Many of these, however, will, it is hoped, be removed by the

publication of a second series of Specimens, selected from our Early Metrical Romances, which will complete the sketch of our poetical antiquities, and is now nearly ready for the press.




As in many instances it has not been possible to ascertain the precise year of an author's birth or death, the reader is requested to observe, that when the word about precedes the date, it must be understood to be correct within two or three years ; where a mark of interrogation is annexed, the date is only offered as an approximation deduced from the author's earliest compositions.


i Robert of Gloucester, 2 Robert Mannyng, 3 Adam Davie, 4 Robert Langland ? 5 John Gower, 6 John Barbour, 7 Geoffrey Chaucer, 8 Andrew of Wyntown, 9 John Lydgate, 10 James I. (of Scotland) 11 Henry VI.

Born Died

about 1270


1326? 1402 about 1326 1396

1328 1400
1375 ? abt, 1462
1395 1437
1421 1471


Born Died 12 Robert Henrysoun,

1425 ? 1495? 13 Juliana Berners,

14407 14 Henry the Minstrel, about 1446 15 Patrick Johnstoun, 16 Mersar,

1520 17 William Dunbar,

1455 ? 1520 18 John Skelton,

about 1463 1529 19 Gawin Douglas,

1475 1522 20 Stephen Hawes,

1480 ? 15 21 Walter Kennedy, 22 Quintyn Schaw,

14- abt. 1520 23 William Roy,

1490.? 15 24 Sir David Lindsay,

about 1490

1553 25 Henry VIII.

1493 1547 26 John Heywood,

1500? abt. 1565



27 George Boleyn, Visct. Rochford, 1500 ? 1536 28 Sir Thomas Wyatt,

1503 1541 29 Thomas Vaux, Lord Vaux, 1507 ? abt. 1557 30 Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, 1520? 1546-7 31 John Hall,

15201 32 Nicholas Grimoald,

1520 abt. 1563 33 Richard Edwards, about 1523 1566 34 Thomas Tusser,

about 1523 1580 35 Thomas Norton,

1524? 36 Alexander Scot,


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