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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 fome 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 eminent, and favour'd by the public in general.
Nov. 10, 17164
Variations in the Author's Manufcript Preface.
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 fenfible how difficult it is to speak of ones felf with decency: but when a man must peak of himself, the beft 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 genè ral confeffion of all my thoughts of my own Poetry, refolving with the fame 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 poffefs the pleasures of the head, the only pleasures in which a man is fufficient to himself, and the only part of him which, to his fatisfaction, he can employ all day long. The Mufes are amicæ omnium horarum; and, like oùr gay acquaintance, the best company in the world as long as one expects no real fervice from them. I confefs there was a time when I was in love with myfelf, and my first productions were the children of felf 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 thofe delightful vifions of my childhood, which, like the fine colours we see when our eyes are shut, are vanished for ever. Ma ny tryals and fad experience have fo undeceived me VOL. I. Pref.
by degrees, that I am utterly at a lofs at what rate to value myself. As for fame I fhall 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 wifhing thofe hanged who would take it away. It was this that made me write. The fense of my faults made me correct: befides that it was as pleasant to me to correct as to write.
At p. v. 1. 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, bufinefs, want of health, or any fuch idle excufes. But the true reason they are not yet more correct is owing to the confideration how fhort 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 fenfe 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 foul; and that fome wife men will be of my opinion, even if I fhould think a part of it better fpent in the enjoyments of life than in pleafing the critics.
On Mr. PO PE and his Poems,
By His GRACE
Duke of BUCKINGHAM.
ITH Age decay'd, with Courts and bus❜ness
Caring for nothing but what Ease requir'd ;
But to this Genius, join'd with fo much Art,
And yet so wonderful, fublime a thing,
One moral, or a mere well-natur'd deed
'Tis great delight to laugh at fome mens ways, But a much greater to give Merit praise.
To Mr. POPE, on his Paftorals.
N these more dull, as more cenforious days,
When few dare give, and fewer merit praife, A Mufe fincere, that never Flatt'ry knew,
Pays what to friendship and defert is due.
And write not to the head, but to the ear:
So purling streams with even murmurs creep,