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If Time fhall make it the former, may these Poems (as long as they last) reinain as a testimony, that their Author never made his talents fubfervient to the mean and unworthy ends of Party or Selfinterest; the gratification of public prejudices, or private passions; the flattery of the undeserving, or the insult of the unfortunate. If I have written well, let it be considered 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 acquisition 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 fu'neral of my Remains, I desire it may be known that I die in charity, and in my senses; without any murmurs against the justice of this age, or any mad appeals to pofterity. I declare I thall think the world in the right, and quietly submit to every truth which time shall discover to the prejudice of these writings ; not so much as wishing so irrational a thing, as that every body should be deceived merely for my credit. However, I desire it may then be confider'd, That there are very few things in this collection which were not written under the
of five and twenty : so that my youth may be made (as it never fails to be in Exccutions) a case of compassion. That I was never so concern d about my works as to vindicate them in print, believing if any thing was good it would defend itself, 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 unjust praise, insulted no adversary with ill language; or when I could not attack a Rival's 'works, encouraged reports against his Morals. To conclude, if this volume perih, let it serve as a
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 eminient, and favour'd by the public in general,
Variations in the Author's Manu
FTER pag. iv. 1. 6. it followed thus - For
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 felf with decency: but when a man must [peak 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, 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 ufque (minus via lædet.) 'Tis a vast happiness to possess the pleasures of the head, the only pleasures in which a man is sufficient to himself, and the only part of him which, to his fatisfaction, he can employ all day long. The Muses are amicæ omnium horarum; and, like our gay acquaintance, the best company in the world as long as one expects no real fervice 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 was. I can't but regret those delightful visions of my childhood, which, like the fine colours we lee when our eyes are fhut, are vanished for ever. Many tryals and sad experience have so undeceived me Vol. I. Pref. (a 4)
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 consideration 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. POP E and his Poems,
By His GRACE
Duke of BUCKINGHAM.
ITH Age decay'd, with Courts and bus’ness
Encomiums suit not this censorious time,
But to this Genius, join'd with so much Art,
15 Apollo bids it, and they must obey.
And yet so wonderful, sublime a thing,