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neft Man*. A Man, who alone poffeffed more real virtue than, in very corrupt times, needing a Satirift like him, will fometimes fall to the share of multitudes. In this history of his life, will be contained a large account of his writings; a critique on the nature, force, and extent of his genius, exemplified from these writings; and a vindication of his moral character exemplified by his more diftinguifhed virtues; his filial piety, his dif interested friendships, his reverence for the constitution of his country, his love and admiration of VIRTUE, and (what was the neceffary effect) his hatred and contempt of VICE, his extenfive charity to the indigent, his warm benevolence to mankind, his fupreme veneration of the Deity, and, above all, his fincere belief of Revelation. Nor fhall his faults be concealed. It is not for the interefts of his Virtues that they should. Nor indeed could they be concealed if we were so minded, for they fhine thro' his Virtues ; no man being more a dupe to the fpecious appearances of Virtue in others. In a
"A wit's a feather, and a chief's a rod,
"An honeft Man's the noblest work of God. + It will be printed in the fame form with this and every future edition of his works, fo as to make a part of them.
word I mean not to be his Panegyrift, but his Hiftorian. And may I, when Envy and Calumny take the fame advantage of my abfence (for, while I live, I will freely truft it to my Life to confute them) may I find a Friend as careful of my honeft fame as I have been of His ! Together with his Works, he hath bequeathed me his DUNCES. So that as the property is transferred, I could wish they would now let his memory alone.
The veil which Death draws over the Good is fo facred, that to throw dirt upon the Shrine fcandalizes even Barbarians. And though Rome permitted her Slaves to calumniate her beft Citizens on the day of Triumph, yet the fame petulancy at their Funeral would have been rewarded with execration and a gibbet.
N. B. This Edition of Mr. Pope's Works is printed verbatim from the large Octavo; with all his Notes, and a felect number of the Editor's.
Contents of the First Volume.
Page 38. In the quotation from Virgil, 1. 1. for mani-.
51. In the imitation, for coloris, r. colonis.
137. Note, 1. 3.
138. Note, 1. 3.
for deferve, r. deferves.
for particularly, r. particularize.
AM inclined to think that both the writers of
books, and the readers of them, are generally not a little unreasonable in their expectations. The first seem to fancy that the world must approve whatever they produce, and the latter to imagine that authors are obliged to please them at any rate. thinks, as on the one hand, no fingle man is born with a right of controuling the opinions of all the reft; fo on the other, the world has no title to demand, that the whole care and time of any particular person should be facrificed to its entertainment. Therefore I cannot but believe that writers and readers are under equal obligations, for as much fame, or pleasure, as each affords the other.
Every one acknowledges, it would be a wild notion to expect perfection in any work of man: and yet one would think the contrary was taken for granted, by the judgment commonly past upon Poems. A Critic fuppofes he has done his part, if he proves a writer to have failed in an expreffion, or erred in any particular point: and can it then be wondered at, if the Poets in general feem refolved not to own themselves in any error? For as long as one fide will make no allowances, the other will be brought to no acknowledgments *.
For as long as
*In the former editions it was thus one fide defpifes a well meant endeavour, the other will not be fatisfied with a moderate approbation. But the author altered it, as thefe words were rather a confequence from the conclufion he would draw, than the conclufion itself, which he has now inserted.
I am afraid this extreme zeal on both fides is illplaced; Poetry and Criticism being by no means the univerfal concern of the world, but only the affair of idle men who write in their closets, and of idle meh who read there.
Yet fure upon the whole, a bad Author deferves better ufage than a bad Critic: for a Writer's endeavour, for the most part, is to please his Readers, and he fails merely through the misfortune of an ill judgment; but fuch a Critic's is to put them out of humor; a defign he could never go upon without both that and an ill temper.
I think a good deal may be faid to extenuate the fault of bad poets. What we call a Genius, is hard to be diftinguished by a man himself, from a ftrong inclination and if his genius be ever fo great, he cannot at first discover it any other way, than by giving way to that prevalent propenfity which ren ders him the more liable to be mistaken. The only method he has, is to make the experiment by writ ing, and appealing to the judgment of others: now if he happens to write ill (which is certainly no fin in itself) he is immediately made an object of ridicule. I wish we had the humanity to reflect that even the worst authors might, in their endeavour to please us, deferve fomething at our hands. We have no caufe to quarrel with them but for their ob→ ftinacy in perfifting to write; and this too may admit of alleviating circumstances. Their particular friends may be either ignorant, or infincere; and the reft of the world in general is too well bred to fhock them with a truth, which generally their Book+ fellers are the first that inform them of. This hap
pens not till they have fpent too much of their time, to apply to any profeffion which might better fit their talents; and till fuch talents as they have are fo far difcredited as to be but of small service to them. For (what is the hardeft cafe imaginable)