Page images

ing, 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 sense, a quality 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 justice of this age, or any mad appeals to pofterity. I declare I shall think the world in the right, and quietly submit to every truth which time fhall discover to the prejudice of these writings; not so much as wishing fo irrational a thing, as that every body should be deceived merely for my credit. However, I defire it may then be confidered, 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) a cafe of compaffion. That I was never fo concerned 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, bribed no living one with unjuft praise, infulted no adverfary with ill language; or when I could

not attack a Rival's works, encouraged reports against his Morals. To conclude, if this volume perish, let it serve 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 some of my vain cotemporaries the Poets, to teach them that, when real merit is wanting, it avails nothing to have been encouraged by the great, commended by the eminent, and favoured by the public in general.

Nov. 10. 1716.

Variations in the Author's Manufcript Preface.


FTER pag. v. 1. 2. it followed thus---For my part, I confefs, had I feen things in this view at first, the public had never been troubled either with my writings, or with this apology for them. I am fenfible how difficult it is to speak of ones felf with decency: but when a man must speak of himself, the best way is to speak truth of himself, or, he may depend upon it, others will do it for him. I'll therefore make this Preface a general confeffion of all my thoughts of my own Poetry, refolving with the same freedom to

[ocr errors]

expofe myself, as it is in the power of any other to expose them. In the first place, I thank God and nature, that I was born with a love to poetry; for nothing more conduces to fill up all the intervals of our time, or, if rightly used, to make the whole course of life entertaining: Cantantes licet ufque (minus via lædet.) "Tis a vast happiness to poffefs the pleasures of the head, the only pleafures in which a man is fufficient to himself, and the only part of him which, to his fatisfaction, he can employ all day long. The Muses are amica omnium horarum; and, like our gay acquaintance, the best company in the world as long as one expects no real fervice from them. I confefs there was a time when I was in love with myself, and first productions were the children of felf love upon innocence. I had made an Epic Poem, and Panegyrics on all the Princes in Europe, and thought myself the greatest genius that ever was. I can't but regret those delightful vifions of my childhood, which, like the fine colours we fee when our eyes are fhut, are vanifhed for ever. Many tryals and fad experience have fo undeceived me by degrees, that I am utterly at a loss at what rate to value myself. As for fame I fhall be glad of any I can get, and not repine at any I mifs; and as for vanity, I have enough to keep me from hanging myself, or even from wishing those hanged who would take it away. It was this that made me write. The fenfe of my faults made me cor


rect: befides that it was as pleasant to me to

correct as to write.

At p. vii. 1. 9. In the first place I own that I have used my best endeavours to the finishing these pieces. That I made what advantage I could of the judgment of authors dead and living; and that I omitted no means in my power to be informed of my errors by my friends and my enemies. And that I expect no favour on account of my youth, business, want of health, or any fuch idle excufes. But the true reason they are not yet more correct is owing to the confideration how short a time they, and I, have to live. A man that can expect but fixty years may be ashamed to employ thirty in measuring fyllables and bringing sense and rhyme together. We spend our youth in pursuit of riches or fame, in hopes to enjoy them when we are old and when we are old, we find it is too late to enjoy any thing. I therefore hope the Wits will pardon me, if I reserve some of my time to fave my foul; and that fome wife men will be of my opinion, even if I should think a part of it better spent in the enjoyments of life than in pleafing the critics,


[ocr errors]

On Mr. POPE and his Poems,





ITH Age decay'd, with Courts and
bus'nefs tir'd,

Caring for nothing but what Eafe requir'd;
Too dully serious for the Mufe's fport,
And from the Critics fafe arriv'd in Port;
I little thought of launching forth agen,
Amidst advent'rous Rovers of the Pen;
And after so much undeferv'd fuccefs,
Thus hazarding at laft to make it less.
Encomiums fuit not this cenforious time,
Itfelf a Subject for fatiric rhyme;
Ignorance honour'd, Wit and Worth defam'd,
Folly triumphant, and ev'n Homer blam'd!



But to this Genius, join'd with so much Art, Such various Learning mix'd in ev'ry part,

« PreviousContinue »