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warning to the Critics, not to take too much pains for the future to destroy such 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 favour'd by the public in general.
Nov. 10, 1716
Variations in the Author's Manu
FTER pag. iv. 1. 6. it followed thus - Fof
my part, I confess, had I seen things in this view at first, the public had never been troubled either with my writings, or with this apology for them. I am sensible how difficult it is to speak of ones self with decency: but when a man must peak of hisself, 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 genèral confession of all my thoughts of my own Poetry, resolving with the same freedom to expose 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 usque (minus via lædet.) 'Tis a vast happiness to possess the pleasures of the head, the only pleasures 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 åre amicze omnium horarum; and, like our gay acquaintance, the best company in the world as long as one expects no real service from them. I confess there was a time when I was in love with myself, and my first productions were the children of self 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
I can't but regret those delightful visions of my childhood, which, like the fine colours we fee when our eyes are shut, are vanished for ever. Man ny tryals and fad experience have fo undeceived me Vol: I. Pref.
by degrees, that I am utterly at a loss at what rate to value myself. As for fame I shall be glad of any I can get, and not repine at any I miss ; 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 sense of my faults made me correct: besides that it was as pleasant to me to correct as to write.
At p. v. l. 32. 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 by my enemies. And that I expect no favour on account of my youth, business, want of health, or any such idle excuses. 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 rhime 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 save my soul; and that some wise men will be of my opinion, even if I should think a part of it better spent in the enjoyments of life than in pleasing the critics.
On Mr. POPE and his Poems,
By His GRACE
Duke of BUCKINGHAM.
ITH Age decay'd, with Courts and business
Encomiums fuit not this censorious time,
IO 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,
< And yet so wonderful, sublime a thing,
(x) One moral, or a mere well-natur'd deed Can all desert in Sciences exceed.
'Tis great delight to laugh at some mens ways, But a much greater to give Merit praise.
To Mr. POPE, on his Pastorals. IN N these more dull, as more censorious days,
When few dare give, and fewer merit praise, A Mufe sincere, that never Flatt'ry knew, Pays what to friendship and defert is due. Young, yet judicious; in your verse are found 5
5 Art strength’ning Nature, Sense improv'd by Sound. Unlike those Wits, whose numbers glide along So sinooth, no thought e'er interrupts the song : Laboriously enervate they appear, And write not to the head, but to the ear: I Our minds unmov’d and unconcern'd they lull, And are at best most musically dull; So purling streams with even murmurs creep, And hush the heavy hearers into sleep. As smoothest speech is most deceitful found, 15 The smoothest numbers oft are empty found. But Wit and Judgment join at once in you, Sprightly as Youth, as Age consummate too: Your strains are regularly bold, and please With unforc'd care, and unaffected ease, 20 With proper thoughts, and lively images : Such as by Nature to the Ancients shown, Fancy improves, and judgment makes your own: