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sensible how difficult it is to speak of one's self 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 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 ladet.) It is 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 satisfaction, he can employ all day long. The Muses are amicæ omnium borarum; 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 was. I can't but regret those delightful visions of my childhood, which, like the fine colours we see when our eyes are shut, are vanished for ever. Many trials, and sad experience, have so undeceived me 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 page 50. line 25.---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 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 sixty years, may be ashamed to employ thirty in measuring syllables, 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 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.






WITH age decay'd, with courts and business tir'd,
Caring for nothing but what ease requir'd;
Too dully serious for the Muse's sport,
And from the critics safe arriv'd in port;
I little thought of launching forth agen,
Amidst advent'rous rovers of the pen;
And after so much undeserv'd success,
Thus hazarding at last to make it less.
Encomiums suit not this censorious time,
Itself a subject for satiric 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,
Poets are bound a loud applause to pay;
Apollo bids it, and they must obey.

And yet so wonderful, sublime a thing,
As the great Iliad, scarce could make me sing;
Except I justly could at once commend
A good companion, and as firm a friend.
One moral, or a mere well-natur'd deed
Can all desert in sciences exceed.

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'Tis great delight to laugh at some men's ways, But a much greater to give merit praise.

In these more dull, as more censorious days,
When few dare give, and fewer merit praise,
A Muse sincere, that never flatt'ry knew,
Pays what to friendship and desert is due.
Young, yet judicious, in your verse are found
Art strength'ning Nature, sense improv'd by sound.
Unlike those wits, whose numbers glide along
So smooth, no thought e'er interrupts the song;
Labouriously enervate they appear,
And write not to the head, but to the ear:
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,
The smoothest numbers oft are empty sound:
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,
With proper thoughts and lively images;
Such as by Nature to the Ancients shewn,
Fancy improves, and judgment makes your own:
For great men's fashions to be follow'd are,
Altho' disgraceful 'tis their clothes to wear.

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Some in a polish'd style write Pastoral;

Arcadia speaks the language of the Mall:
Like some fair shepherdess, the sylvan Muse
Should wear those flow'rs her native fields produce;
And the true measure of the shepherd's wit
Should, like his garb, be for the country fit:
Yet must his pure and unaffected thought
More nicely than the common swain's be wrought.
So, with becoming art, the players dress
In silks the shepherd, and the shepherdess;



Yet still unchang'd the form and mode remain,
Shap'd like the homely russet of the swain.
Your rural Muse appears to justify
The long lost graces of simplicity:
So rural beauties captivate our sense
With virgin charms and native excellence.


Yet long her modesty those charms conceal'd,
'Till by men's envy to the world reveal'd;
For wits industrious to their trouble seem,
And needs will envy what they must esteem.

Live and enjoy their spite! nor mourn that fate Which would, if Virgil liv'd, on Virgil wait; Whose muse did once, like thine, in plains delight; Thine shall, like his, soon take a higher flight: So larks, which first from lowly fields arise, Mount by degrees, and reach at last the skies.




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