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such reception, as is usually shewn to poets and historians, by those whose consciousness of merit makes it their interest to be long remembered.

I am,

MADAM,

Your Ladyship's

Most Humble

And most devoted Servant,

THOMAS PERCY.

(ix)

The P R E F A C E.

R

THE "HE Reader is here presented with select remains of

our ancient English Bards and Minstrels, an order of men who were once greatly respected by our ancestors, and contributed to soften the roughness of a martial and unlettered people by their songs and by their music.

The greater part of them are extracted from an ancient folio manufcript, in the Editor's poffeffion, which contains near 200 poems, songs, and metrical romances.

This MS. was written about the middle of the last century, but contains compositions of all times and dates, from the ages prior to Chaucer, to the conclusion of the reign of Charles I.

This manuscript was shown to several learned and ingenious friends, who thought the contents too curious to be consigned to oblivion, and importuned the poffeffor to feledt some of them, and give them to the press. As most of them are of great fimplicity, and seem to have been meerly written for the people, he was long in doubt, whether in the present state of improved literature, they could be deemed worthy the attention of the public. At length the importunity of his friends prevailed, and he could refuse nothing to such judges as the author of the RAMBLER, and the late Mr. SHEN

STONE.

Accordingly such specimens of ancient poetry have been selected as either shew the gradation of our language,

exhibit the progress of popular opinions, display the peculiar manners and customs of former ages, or throw light on our earlier clailical poets.

They

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