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expect to hear no more truth, than if he were a Prince, or a Beauty. If he has not very good fenfe (and indeed there are twenty men of wit, for one man of fenfe) his living thus in a course of flattery may put him in no fmall danger of becoming a Coxcomb if he has, he will confequently have fo much diffidence as not to reap any great fatisfaction from his praife; fince, if it be given to his face, it can fcarce be diftinguish'd from flattery, and if in his abfence, it is hard to be certain of it. Were he fure to be commended by the best and most knowing, he is as fure of being envied by the worft and moft ignorant, which are the majority; for it is with a fine Genius as with a fine fashion, all thofe are difpleafed at it who are not able to follow it: and it is to be feared that esteem will feldom do any man fo much good, as ill-will does him harm. Then there is a third class of people who make the largest part of mankind, thofe of ordinary or indifferent capacities; and thefe (to a man) will hate, or fufpect him a hundred honest Gentlemen will dread him as a Wit, and a hundred innocent women as a Satirift. 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 fome advantages accruing from a Genius to Poetry, and they are all I can think of: the agreeable power of self-amusement when a man is idle or alone; the privilege of

being admitted into the best company; and the freedom of faying as many careless things as other people, without being fo feverely remarked upon.

I believe, if any one, early in his life, should contemplate the dangerous fate of authors, he would fcarce be of their number on any confideration. The life of a Wit is a warfare upon earth; and the prefent spirit of the learned world is fuch, that to at tempt to serve it (any way) one must have the constancy of a martyr, and a refolution to fuffer for its fake. I could with people would believe, what I am pretty certain they will not, that I have been much lefs concerned about Fame than I durft declare till this occafion, when methinks I should find more credit than I could heretofore: fince my writings have had their fate already, and it is too late to think of prepoffeffing the reader in their favour. I would plead it as fome merit in me, that the world has never been prepared for thefe Trifles by Prefaces, biaffed by recommendations, dazzled with the names of great Patrons, wheedled with fine reasons and pretences, or troubled with excuses. I confefs it was want of confideration that made me an author I writ because it amufed me; I corrected because it was as pleasant to me to correct as to write; and I published because I was told I might pleafe fuch as it was a credit to please. To what degree I have done this, I am really ignorant; I had too much

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fondnefs for my productions to judge of them at first, and too much judgment to be pleafed with them at laft. But I have reafon to think they can have no reputation which will continue long, or which deferves to do fo for they have always fallen fhort not only of what I read of others, but even of my own Ideas of Poetry.

If any one should imagine I am not in earnest, I defire him to reflect, that the Ancients (to say the leaft of them) had as much Genius as we: and that to take more pains, and employ more time, cannot fail to produce more complete pieces. They conftantly apply'd themselves not only to that art, but to that fingle branch of an art, to which their talent was most powerfully bent; and it was the bufinefs of their lives to correct and finish their works for Pofterity. If we can pretend to have used the fame induftry, let us expect the fame immortality: Tho' if we took the fame care, we fhould ftill lie under a further misfortune: they writ in languages that became univerfal 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 Ifland, and to be thrown afide 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 higheft character for

fenfe and learning has been obtain'd by those who have been molt indebted to them. For, to fay truth, whatever is very good fenfe, must have been common sense in all times; and what we call Learning, is but the knowledge of the sense of our predeceffors. Therefore they who fay our thoughts are not our own, because they refemble the Ancients, may as well fay our faces are not our own, because they are like our Fathers: And indeed it is very unreafonable, that people should expect us to be Scholars, and yet be angry to find us fo.

I fairly confefs that I have ferv'd myself all I could by reading; that I made ufe of the judgment of authors dead and living; that I omitted no means in my power to be inform'd of my errors, both by my friends and enemies: But the true reafon these pieces are not more correct, is owing to the confideration how short a time they, and I, have to live: One may be ashamed to confume half one's days in bringing fenfe and rhyme together; and what Critic can be fo unreasonable, as not to leave a man time enough for any more ferious employment, or more agreeable amusement ?

The only plea I fhall ufe for the favour of the public, is, that I have as great a respect for it, as moft authors have for themfelves; and that I have facrificed much of my own felf-love for its fake, in preventing not only many mean things from feeing


the light, but many which I thought tolerable. would not be like thofe Authors, who forgive themfelves fome particular lines for the fake of a whole Poem, and vice verfa a whole Poem for the fake of some particular lines. I believe no one qualification is fo likely to make a good writer, as the power of rejecting his own thoughts; and it must be this (if any thing) that can give me a chance to be one. For what I have published, I can only hope to be pardon'd; but for what I have burn'd, I deserve to be prais'd. On this account the world is under fome obligation to me, and owes me the juftice in return, to look upon no verfes as mine that are not inferted in this collection. And perhaps nothing could make it worth my while to own what are really fo, but to avoid the imputation of fo many dull and immoral things, as partly by malice, and partly by ignorance, have been afcribed to me. I muft further acquit myself of the presumption of having lent my name to recommend any Mifcellanies, or Works of other men; a thing I never thought becoming a perfon who has hardly credit enough to answer for his own.

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

If Time fhall make it the former, may these Poems (as long as they laft) remain as a teflimony, that their Author never made his talents fubfervient to the

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