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CONTENTS OF VOL. II.
LIFE OF SPENSER.
THE early efforts in poetry of all nations are necessarily rude and imperfect. Many attempts must be made, before a barbarous language can be so disciplined into correctness of diction, and melody of sound, as to afford a material which even genius itself can work into any thing truly excellent. And when improvement has proceeded so far that lines and passages are to be found deserving of real ad. miration, these will long be of rare occurrence, like specks of gold in a matrix of brute earth. Productions of such a period, however interesting they may be to the critical enquirer into the history of national literature, will give more disgust than pleasure to one who reads for amusement only, and who has already formed his taste upon the best models of different ages and countries.
It might be difficult to determine with whom of the English poets commences that degree of masterly execution which is capable of satisfying a cul. tivated taste; but that Spenser is within this limit, will hardly be questioned by any one who has sufficiently familiarised himself with his writings to disregard the uncouthness of an antiquated diction. His name, too, by long possession, has obtained a permanent rank among the major poets of the na