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Where his rich waves fair Windsor's towers surround,
And bounteous rush amid poetic ground.
In mighty Pope's immortalizing strains,
Go on, and, with thy rare resistless art,
Now war and arms thy mighty aid demand,
But, when Achilles, panting for the war,
So the bright magic of the painter's hand Can cities, streams, tall towers, and far stretch'd plains command;
Here spreading woods embrown the beauteous
LORD MIDDLESEX TO MR. POPE.
ON READING MR. ADDISON'S ACCOUNT OF THE ENGLIS
If all who e'er invok'd the tuneful Nine,
How am I fill'd with rapture and delight,
But when some fair-one guides your softer verse, Her charms, her godlike features, to rehearse; See how her eyes with quicker lightnings arm, And Waller's thoughts in smoother numbers charm! When fools provoke, and dunces urge thy rage, Flecknoe improv'd bites keener in each page. Give o'er, great bard, your fruitless toil give o'er, For still king Tibbald scribbles as before; Poor Shakespeare suffers by his pen each day, While Grub street alleys own his lawful sway.
Now turn, my Muse, thy quick, poetic eyes, And view gay scenes and opening prospects rise. Hark! how his rustic numbers charm around, While groves to groves, and hills to hills resound! The listening beasts stand fearless as he sings, And birds attentive close their useless wings. The swains and satyrs trip it o'er the plain, And think old Spencer is reviv'd again, But when once more the godlike man begun In words smooth flowing from his tuneful tongue Ravish'd they gaze, and struck with wonder say, Sure Spenser's self ne'er sung so sweet a lay: Sure once again Eliza glads the Isle, That the kind Muses thus propitious smileWhy gaze ye thus? Why all this wonder, swains?'Tis Pope that sings, and Carolina reigns.
But hold, my Muse! whose aukward verse betrays, Thy want of skill, nor shows the poet's praise; Cease then, and leave some fitter bard to tell How Pope in every strain can write, in every strain excel,
TO MR. POPE.
ON THE PUBLISHING HIS WORKS.
He comes, he comes! bid every bard prepare
Such as th' ambitious vainly think their due,
But what are they that turn the sacred page?
TO MR. POPE.
BY MR. HARTE.
To move the springs of nature as we please;
'Tis yours, like these, with curious toil to trace
Yet Envy still with fiercer rage pursues,
I cannot rival-and yet dare to praise.
A thousand charms at once my thoughts engage;
So seems some picture, where exact design, And curious pains, and strength, and sweetness join; Where the free thought its pleasing grace bestows, And each warm stroke with living colour glows; Soft without weakness, without labour fair, Wrought up at once with happiness and care!
How blest the man that from the world removes, To joys that Mordaunt', or his Pope, approves; Whose taste exact each author can explore, And live the present and past ages o'er; Who, free from pride, from penitence, or strife, Moves calmly forward to the verge of life: Such be my days, and such my fortunes be, To live by reason, and to write by thee!
Nor deem this verse, though humble, a disgrace: 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, First learn'd from thee to animate her lays: A Muse as yet unhonour'd, but unstain'd, Who prais'd no vices, no preferment gain'd; Unbiass'd or to censure or commend,
Who knows no envy, and who grieves no friend; Perhaps too fond to make those virtues known, And fix her fame immortal on thy own.
THE TRIUMVIRATE OF POETS.
BRITAIN with Rome and Greece contended long
Till this Augustan age with Three was blest,
1 Earl of Peterborough, conqueror of Valencia. D. 2 Of whom see in Congreve's Poems, vol. x.
ALEXANDER POPE, ESQ.
WITH HIS LAST
CORRECTIONS, ADDITIONS, AND IMPROVEMENTS;
PRINTED VERBATIM FROM THE OCTAVO EDITION OF
Horace avec Boileau ;
Vous y cherchiez le vrai, vous y goûtiez le beau;
Voltaire, au Roi de Prusse.
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 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 passed upon poems. A critic supposes he has done bis 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 despises 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 consequence 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 please 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 sa 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 discredited, as to be but of small service to them. For (what is the bardest 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 season, when we have least judgment to direct us.
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 ta 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 no 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 given 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 genius, as with a fine fashion, 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
cause 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 credit 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 be pleased with them at last. But I have 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 my own ideas of poetry.
If any one should imagine I am not in earnest, I desire him to reflect, that the ancients (to saj the least 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 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 posterity. If we can pretend to have psed 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 writ 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 been 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 predecessors. 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 means 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 unreasonable, as not to leave a man time enough for any more serious employment, or more agreeable amusement?
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 some particular lines for the sake of a whole poem, and, vice versa, a whole poem for the sake of some particular lines. I believe, no one qualification is so 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 pardoned; but for what I have burned, I deserve to be praised. On this account the world is under some obligation to me, and owes 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 immoral 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 miscellanies, or works of other men; a thing I never thought becoming a person who has hadly 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 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 renders 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