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he has not very good fenfe (and indeed there are twenty men of wit, for one man of fenfe) his living thus in a course of flattery may put him in no fmall danger of becoming a Coxcomb: if he has, he will confequently have so much diffidence as not to reap any great fatisfaction from his praise; fince, if it be given to his face, it can scarce be distinguished from flattery, and if in his absence, it is hard to be certain of it. Were he fure to be commended by the best and most knowing, he is as fure of being envied by the worst and most ignorant, which are the majority; for it is with a fine Genius as with a fine fashion, all thofe are difpleased at it who are not able to follow it and it is to be feared that esteem will feldom do any man fo much good, as ill-will does him harm. Then there is a third class of people who make the largest part of mankind, those of ordinary or indifferent capacities; and these (to a man) will hate, or fufpect him: a hundred honeft Gentlemen will dread him as a Wit, and a hundred innocent women as a Satirift. In a word, whatever be his fate in Poetry, it is ten to one but he must give up all the reasonable aims of life for it. There are indeed fome advantages accruing from a Genius to Poetry, and they are all I can think of; the agreeable power of felf-amusement when a man is idle or alone; the privilege of being admitted into the best company; and the freedom of faying as many careless things as other
people, without being fo feverely remarked up
I believe, if any one, early in his life, fhould contemplate the dangerous fate of authors, he would scarce be of their number on any confideration. The life of a Wit is a warfare upon earth; and the present spirit of the learned world is fuch, that to attempt to serve it (any way) one must have the conftancy of a martyr, and a refolution to fuffer for its fake. I could wish I could wish people would believe, what I am pretty certain they will not, that I have been much less concerned about Fame than I durft declare till this occafion, when methinks I fhould find more credit than I could heretofore fince my writings have had their fate already, and it is too late to think of prepoffeffing the reader in their favour. I would plead it as fome merit in me, that the world has never been prepared for these Trifles by Prefaces, biaffed by recommendations, dazled with the names of great Patrons, wheedled with fine reafons and pretences, or troubled with excufes. I confefs it was want. of confideration that made me an author; I writ because it amufed me; I corrected because it was as pleasant to me to correct as to write; and I published because I was told I might please fuch as it was a credit to please. To what degree I have done this, I am really ignorant; I had too much fondness for my productions to judge of them at first, and too much judgment to be pleased with
them at last. But I have reason to think they can have no reputation which will continue long, or which deferves to do fo: for they have always fallen fhort not only of what I read of others, but even of my own Ideas of Poetry.
If any one should imagine I am not in earnest, I defire him to reflect, that the Ancients (to fay the least of them) had as much Genius as we: and that to take more pains, and employ more time, cannot fail to produce more complete pieces. They conftantly apply'd themselves not only to that art, but to that fingle branch of an art, to which their talent was most powerfully bent; and it was the bufinefs of their lives to correct and finish their works for Pofterity. If we can pretend to have used the fame industry, let us expect the fame immortality Tho' if we took the fame care, we thould still lie under a further misfortune: they writ in languages that became univerfal and everlafting, while ours are extremely limited both in extent and in duration. A mighty foundation for our pride! when the utmost we can hope, is but to be read in one Ifland, and to be thrown afide at the end of one Age.
All that is left us is to recommend our productions by the imitation of the Ancients, and it will be found true, that, in every age, the highest character for sense and learning has been obtain'd by those who have been moft indebted to them. For; to fay truth, whatever is very good sense, must
have been common fenfe in all times; and what we call Learning, is but the knowledge of the fense of our predeceffors. Therefore they who say our thoughts are not our own, because they resemble the Ancients, may as well fay our faces are not our own, because they are like our Fathers: And indeed it is very unreasonable, that people should expect us to be Scholars, and yet be angry to find us fo.
I fairly confefs that I have ferv'd myself all I could by reading; that I made use of the judgment of authors dead and living; that I omitted no means in my power to be inform'd of my errors, both by my friends and enemies: But the true reason these pieces are not more correct, is owing to the confideration how short a time they, and I, have to live: One may be ashamed to confume half one's days in bringing sense and rhyme together; and what Critic can be fo unreasonable, as not to leave a man time enough for any more serious employment, or more agreeable amusement ?
The only plea I fhall ufe for the favour of the public, is, that I have as great a respect for it, as moft 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 would not be like thofe Authors, who forgive themfelves fome particular lines for the fake of a whole
them at laft. But I have reason to think they can have no reputation which will continue long, or which deferves to do fo: for they have always fallen fhort not only of what I read of others, but even of my own Ideas of Poetry.
If any one fhould imagine I am not in earnest, I defire him to reflect, that the Ancients (to fay the leaft of them) had as much Genius as we: and that to take more pains, and employ more time, cannot fail to produce more complete pieces. They conftantly apply'd themfelves not only to that art, but to that fingle branch of an art, to which their talent was most powerfully bent; and it was the bufinefs of their lives to correct and finish their works for Pofterity. If we can pretend to have ufed the fame induftry, let us expect the fame im mortality Tho' if we took the fame care, w thould ftill lie under a further misfortune: the writ in languages that became univerfal and ever lafting, while ours are extremely limited both extent and in duration. A mighty foundation f our pride! when the utmost we can hope, is b to be read in one Ifland, and to be thrown afi at the end of one Age.
All that is left us is to recommend our produ tions by the imitation of the Ancients, and it w be found true, that, in every age, the highest ch racter for sense and learning has been obtain'd those who have been moft indebted to them. F to fay truth, whatever is very good fenfe, m