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may be afhamed to confume half one's days in bringing fenfe and rhyme together; and what Critic can be fo unreasonable as not to leave a man time enough for any more ferious employment, or more agreeable amusement?
The only plea I fhall ufe for the favour of the publick, is, that I have as great a respect for it, as most authors have for themselves; and that I have facrificed much of my own felf-love for its fake, in preventing not only many mean things from feeing the light, but many which I thought tolerable. I believe no one qualification is fo likely to, make a good writer, as the power of rejecting his own thoughts; and it must be this (if any thing) that can give me a chance to be one. For what I have publish'd, I can only hope to be pardon'd; but for what I have burn'd, I deferve to be prais'd. On this account the world is under fome obligation to me, and owes me the justice in return, to look upon no verfes as mine that are not inferted in this collection. And perhaps nothing could make it worth my while to own what are really fo, but to avoid the imputation of fo many dull and immoral things, as partly by malice, and partly by ignorance, have been afcribed to me. I must farther acquit my felf of the prefumption of having lent my name to recommend any Mifcellanies, or works of other men, a thing I never thought becoming a person who has hardly credit enough to answer for his own.
In this office of collecting my pieces, I am altogether uncertain, whether to look upon my felf as a man building a monument, or burying the dead?
If time fhall make it the former, may thefe Poems (as long as they laft) remain as a teftimony, that their Author never made his talents fubfervient to the mean and unworthy ends of Party or felf-intereft; the gratification of publick prejudices, or private paffions; the flattery of the undeferving, or the infult of the unfortunate. If I have written well, let it be confider'd that 'tis what no man can do without good fenfe, a qua-, lity that not only renders one capable of being a good writer, but a good man. And if I have made any acquifition in the opinion of any one under the notion of the former, let it be continued to me under no other title than that of the latter.
But if this publication be only a more folemn funeral of my Remains, I defire it may be known that I die in charity, and in my fenfes; without any murmurs against the juftice of this age, or any mad appeals to pofterity. I declare I fhall think the world in the right, and quietly fubmit to every truth which time fhall difcover to the prejudice of these writings; not fo much as wishing fo irrational a thing, as that every body should be deceiv'd, meerly for my credit. However, I defire it may then be confider'd, that there are very few things in this collection which were not written under the age of five and twenty; fo that my youth
may be made (as it never fails to be in Executions) cafe of compaffion. That I was never fo concern'd about my works as to vindicate them in print, believing if any thing was good it would defend itfelf, and what was bad could never be defended. That I used no artifice to raise or continue a reputation, depreciated no dead author I was obliged to, brib'd no living one with unjuft praife, infulted no adversary with ill language, or when I could not attack a Rival's works, encourag'd reports against his Morals. To conclude, if this volume perish, let it ferve as a warning to the Critics, not to take too much pains for the future to destroy fuch things as will die of themselves; and a Memento mori to fome of my vain cotemporaries the Poets, to teach them that when real merit is wanting, it avails nothing to have been encourag'd by the great, commended by the eminent, and favour'd by the publick in general.
On Mr. POPE and his POEMS,
By his GRACE
JOHN SHEFFIELD Duke of BUCKINGHAM.
ITH age decay'd, with Courts and bus'ness tir'd,
Encomiums fuit not this cenforious time,
But to this Genius, join'd with so much Art,
And yet so wonderful, fublime a thing,