Page images
PDF

Such as th' ambitious vainly think their due, | Yet Envy still with fiercer rage pursnes,
When prostitutes, or needy flatterers sue.

Obscures the virtue, and defaines the Muse.
And soe the chief! before hiin laurels bome; A soul like thine, in pains, in grief resign'd,
Trophies from undeserving temples torn :

Views with vain scorn the malice of inankind : Here Rage enchain'd reluctant rares; and there Not critics, but their planets, prove unjust; Pale Envy duinb, and sick’ning with despair, And are they blam'd who sin because they must? Prone to the Earth she bends her loathing eye, Yet sure not so must all peruse thy lays : Weak to support the blaze of majesty

I cannot rival-and yet dare to praise. But what are they that turn the sacred page? A thousand charins at once my thoughts engage; Three lovely virgins, and of equal age;

Sappho's soft sweetness, Pindar's warmer rage, Intent they read, and all enamour'd seem,

Statius' free rigour, Virgil's studious care, As he that met his likeness in the stream:

And Homer's force, and Ovid's easier air. The Graces these; and see how they contend, So seems some picture, where exact design, Who most shall praise, who best shall recommend. | And curious pains, and strength, and sweetness join;

The chariot now the painful steep ascends, Where the free thought its pleasing gracc bestows, The pæans cease; thy glorious labour ends. | And each warm stroke with living colour glows; Here fix'd, the bright eternal temple stands, Soft without weakness, without labour fair, Its prospect an unbounded view commands : Wrought up at once with happiness and care ! Say, wondrous youth, what column wilt thou chuse, How blest the man that from the world removes, What laurel'd arch for thy triumphant Muse? To joys that Mordaunt', or his Pope, approves; Though each great ancient court thee to his shrine, Whose taste exact cach author can explore, Though every laurel through the dome be thine, And live the present and past ages o'er; (From the proud epic, down to those that shade Who, free from pride, from penitence, or strife, The gentler brow of the soft Lesbian maid)

Moves calmly forward to the verge of life: Go to the good and just, and awful train,

Such be my days, and such my fortunes be, Thy soul's delight, and glory of the fane :

To live by reason, and to write by thee! While through the Earth thy dear remembrance fies, Nor deem this verse, though humble, a disgrace: “ Swect to the world, and grateful to the skies." All are not born the glory of their race:

Yet all are born t'adore the great man's name,
And trace his footsteps in the paths to Fame.

The Muse, who now this early homage pays,
TO MR. POPE.

First learn'd from thee to animate her lays :
BY MR. HARTE.

A Muse as yet unhonour'd, but unstain'd,
To move the springs of nature as we please;

| Who prais'd no vices, po preferment gain'd; To think with spirit, but to write with case ;

Unbiass'd or to censure or commend, With living words to warm the conscious heart,

Who knows no envy, and who grieves no friend; Or please the soul with nicer charnis of art;

Perhaps too fond to make those virtues known, For this the Grecian soar'd in epic strains,

And fix her fame immortal on thy own.
And softer Maro left the Mantuan plains:
Melodious Spenser felt the lover's tire,
Aud awful Milton strung bis heavenly lyre.
'Tis yours, like these, with curious toil to trace

THE TRIUMVIRATE OF POETS. The powers of language, harmony, and grace;

BY MRS. TOLLET?.
How Nature's self with living lustre shines,
How judginent strengthens, and how art refines;

| Britais with Rome and Greece contended long
How to grow bold with conscious sense of fame, For lofty genins and poctic song,
And force a plcasure which we dare not blame; Till this Augustan age with Three was blest,
To charm us more through negligence than pains. To fix the prize, and finish the contest.
And give ev'n life and actions to the strains:

In Addison, immortal Virgil reigns;
Led by some law, whose powerful impulse guides So pure his numbers, so relin'd his strains :
Each happy stroke, and in the soul presides;

Of nature full, with more impctuous heat,
Some fairer image of perfection given

In Prior Horace shines, sublimely great.
T' inspire mankind, itself deriv'd from Heaven.

Thy country, Honner! we dispute no more,
O ever worthy, ever crown'd with praise, | For Pope has fix'd it to his native shore.
Blest in thy life, and blest in all thy lays !
Arld that the Sisters every thought retine,

'Earl of Peterborough, conqueror of Valencia. D. Or ev'n thy life be faultless as thy line;

| 2 Of whom see in Congrere's Puens, vol. X.

POEMS

OR

ALEXANDER POPE, ESQ.

WITH HIS LAST

CORRECTIONS, ADDITIONS, AND IMPROVEMENTS;

PRINTED VERBATIM FROM THE OCTAVO EDITION OP

MIR. WARBURTON.

Horace avec Boileau ;
Vous y cherchiez le vrai, vous y goûtiez le beau ;
Quelques traits échappés d'une utile morale,
Dans leurs piquans écrits brillent par intervalle.
Mais Pope approfondit ce qu'ils ont effeuré ;
D’un esprit plus hardi, d'un pas plus assuré,
Il porta le flambeau dans l'abîme de l'Etre,
Et l'homme avec lui seul apprit à se connoitre.
L'art quelquefois frivole, & quelquefois divin,
L'art des vers est dans Pope utile au genre humain.

Voltaire, au Roi de Prusses

PREFACE.

I 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 of whatever they produce, and the latter to imagine that authors are obliged to please them at any rate. Methinks, as, on the one hand, no single man is born with a right of controling the opinions of all the rest; so, on the other, the world has no title to demand, that the whole care and time of any particular person should be sacrificed to its entertaininent. 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 corninonly passed upon poems. A critic supposes he has done his part, if he proves a writer to have failed in an expression, or erred in any particular point: and can it then be wondered at, if the poets, in general, seem resolved not to own themselves in any errour? For as long as one side will make no allowances, the other will be brought to no acknowlegements'.

In the former editions it was thus" for as long as one side despres a well-meant endeavour, the other will not be satisfied with a moderate approbation."-But the author altered it, as these words were rather a conseqnence from the conclusion he would draw, than the conclusion itself, which he has now inserted.

I am afraid this extreme zeal on both sides is ill placed ; poetry and criticism being by no means the universal concern of the world, but only the affair of idle men who write in their closets, and of idle men who read there.

Yet sure, upon the whole, a bad author deserves better usage than a bad critic: for a writer's endeavour, for the most part, is to picase his readers, and he fails merely through the misfortune of an ill judgment; but such a critic's is to put them out of humour; a design he could never go upon without both that and an ill temper.

I think a good deal may be said to extenuate the fault of bad poets. What we call a genius, is' hard to be distinguished, by a man himself, from a strong inclination; and if his genius be ever so great, he cannot at first discover it any other way, than by giving way to that prevalent propensity, which renders him the more likely to be mistaken. The only method he has, is to make the experiment by writing, and appealing to the judgment of others : now if he happens to write ill, (which is certainly no sin 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, deserve something at our hands. We have no cause to quarrel with them but for their obstinacy in persisting to write; and this too may admit of alleviating circumstances. Their particular friends may be either ignorant or insincere; and the rest of the world in general is too well bred to shock them with a truth, which generally their booksellers are the first that inform them of. This happens not till they have spent too much of their time, to apply to any profession which might better fit their talents; and till such talents as they have are so far discredite:1, as to be but of small service to them. For (what is the hardest case imaginable) the reputation of a man generally depends upon the first steps he makes in the world ; and people will establish their opinion of us, from what we do at that scason, when we have least judgment to direct us. 1 On the other hand, a good poet no sooner communicates his works with the same desire of

information, but it is imagined he is a vain young creature given up to the ambition of fame; when perhaps the poor man is all the while trembling with the fear of being ridiculous. If he is made to hope he may please the world, he falls under very unlucky circumstances : for, from the moment he prints, he must expect to hear no more truth, than if he were a prince or a beauty. If he has not very good sense, (and indeed there are twenty men of wit for one man of sense) his living thus in a course of flattery may put him in po small danger of becoming a coxcomb: if he has, he will consequently have so much diffidence as not to reap any great satisfaction from his praise ; since, if it be giten 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 sure to be commended by the best and most knowing, he is as sure of being envied by the worst and most ignorant, which are the majority ; for it is with a fine genias, as with a bne fashjon, all those are displeased at it who are not able to follow it: and it is to be feared that esteem will seldom do any man so 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 suspect him: a hundred honest gentlemen will dread him as a wit, and a hundred innocent women as a satirist. 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 some advantages accruing from a genius to poetry, and they are all I can think of: the agreeable power of selfamusement when a man is idle or alone ; the privilege of being admitted into the best company; and the freedom of saying as many careless things as other people, without being so severely remarked upon.

I believe, if any one, early in his life, should contemplate the dangerous fate of authors, he would scarce be of their number on any consideration. The life of a wit is a warfare upon earth; and the present spirit of the learned world is such, that to attempt to serve it (any way) one must have the constancy of a martyr, and a resolution to suffer for its sake. 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 durst declare till this occasion, when methinks I should find more credit than I could heretofore, since my writings have had their fate already, and it is too late to think of prepossessing the reader in their favour. I would plead it as some merit in me, that the world has never been prepared for these trifles by prefaces, biassed by recommendations, dazzled with the names of great patrons, wheedled with fine reasons and pretences, or troubled with excuses. I confess it was want of consideration that made me an author : I writ because it amused me; I corrected be

çause it was as pleasant to me to correct as to write ; and I published because I was told I might please such as it was a cre!'t 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 bo pleased with them at last. But I bave reason to think they can have no reputation which will continue long, or which deserves to do so; for they have always fallen short not only of what I read of others, but even of n y own ideas of poetry.

If any one should imagine I am not in carnest, I desire him to reflect, that the ancients (to say the least of them) had as mucha genius as we; and that to take more pains, and employ more time, Cannot fail to produce more complete pieces. They constantly applied themselves not only to that art, but to that single branch of an art, to which their talent was most powerfully bent; and it was the business of their lives to correct and finish their works for poste rity. If we can pretend to have used the same industry, let us expect the same immortality: though, if we took the same care, we should still lie under a further misfortune : they w.it in languages that became universal and everlasting, 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 island, and to be thrown aside 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 obtained by those who have bern most indebted to them, For, to say truth, whatever is very good sense, must have been common sense in all times ; and what we call learning, is but the knowledge of the sense of our prerlecessors. Therefore they who say our thoughts are not our own, because they resemble the ancients, may as well say 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 so.

I fairly confess, that I have served myself all I could by reading; that I made use of the judgment of authors dead and living ; that I omitted no mrans in my power to be informed of my errours, both by my friends and enemies. But the true reason these pieces are not more correct, is owing to the consideration how short a time they and I have to live : one may be ashamed to consume half one's days in bringing sense and rhyme together; and what critic can be so uireasonable, as not to leave a man time enough for any more serious employment, or more agreeable am'sement ?

The only plea I shall use for the favour of the public, is, that I have as great a respect for it, as most authors have for themselves ; and that I have sacrificed much of my own self-love for its sake. in preventing not only many mean things from seeing the light, but many which I thought tolerable. I would not be like those authors, who forgive themselves soine particular lines for the sake of a whole poem, and, vice versa , a whole poem for the sake of soine particular lines. I believe, no one qualifica

this (if any thing) that can give me a chance to be one. For what I have published, I can only hope to be pardoned ; but for what I have burned, I deserve to be praised. On this account the world is under some obligation to me, and awes me the justice in return, to look upon no verses as mine that are not inserted in this collection. And perhaps nothing could make it worth my while to own what are really so, but to avoid the imputation of so many dull and im moral things, as, partly by malice, and partly by ignorance, have been ascribed to me. I must further acquit myself of the presumption of having lent my name to recommend any niscellanies, or works of other men; a thing I never thought becoming a person who has badly credit enough to answer for his own.

In this office of collecting my pieces, I am altogether uncertain, whether to look upon myself as d man building a monument, or burying the dead.

If time shall make it the former, may these Poems (as long as they last) remain as a testimony that their author never made his talents subservient 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 it is what no man can do without good sense, a quality that not only rendere 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 solemn funeral of my remains, I desire it to 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 posterity. I declare I shall 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 s thing, as that every body should be deceived merely for my credit. However, I desire it may be then considered, that there are very few things in this collection which were not written under the age of five-and-twenty; so that my youth may be made (as it never fails to be in executions) a case of compassion : that I was never so concerned 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, bribed 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 perish, 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 momento mori to some of my vain contemporaries 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 favoured by the public in general.

Nov. 10, 1716.

VARIATIONS IN THE AUTHOR'S MANUSCRIPT PREFACE.

After page, 138 1. 44. 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 ain 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. III therefore make this preface a general confession of all my thoughts of niy 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 poctry; 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). 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 omniuin 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 Poemi, and Panegyrics on all the princes in Europe, and thought myself the greatest genius that ever was. I cannot but regret those delightful visions of my childhood, which, like the tine colours we see when our eyes are shut, are vanished for (ver. 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 kep 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. 139. 1. 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 errours by my friends and my enemies: and that I expect no favour on account of my youth, business, want of hicalth, or any such idle excuses. But the true reason they are not yet more correct, is owning to the consideration how short a time they, and I, have to live. A man that can expect but sixty years, inay be ashamed to employ thirty in nicasuring syllables, and bringing sense and rhyme togetier. We spend our youth in pursuit of riches or faine, in hopes to enjoy them when we are odd; and when we are old, we find it 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 vise men will be of iny opinion, eren if I should think a part of it better spent in the enjoy. nents of life, than in pleasing the critics.

« PreviousContinue »