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A LADY OF HIGH METAPIYSICAL ATTAINMENTS,
As it hath been customary with writers to dedicate their works to patrons whose position in the republic of letters would seem to entitle them to the honour of protectorship: so I have yielded to habit on this occasion; and though I have no pretentions to wear the laurel crown of the poet founded on the possession either of poetic feeling or romantic sentiment , yet the early habits of education having made prosody a favourite study, while certain cerebral devellopements favoured the conception of the beau ideal , I acquired the habit of turning every thing in to verse, perhaps for the sake of the rythm than the sense ; and thus a volume has at length been completed, almost without my knowing how; which has acquired bulk enough to deserve a dedication.
Sic canibus catulos similes, sic matribus hædos
Noram, sic parvis componere magna solebam. Thus, under an idea that my wild effusions of momentary fancy might be worthy of your notice; although they do not pretend to the merit of those of the great masters whose works were the subject of infantine study, I have neverthless ventured to sollicite your protection; in the hope that they may derive consequencc by association with yourself, at some distant period of time, when the diffidence that belongs to real merit, on your part, shall be overcome by your kind permission to dedicate a new edition to you by name.
I cannot say, Madam, that I ever participated in the wish of Horace and of some other poets, to acquite posthumons fame : it is no consolation to me to believe that
Multaque pars mei vitabit Libitinam. Indeed , I never could understand that sentiment unless, at least, it were pretended that we should know, in a future state, that the works which we had left behind us in the present would insure a name which
Cantantes sublime ferent ad sidera cygni. When the Roman lustist, exulted in his monumentum ære perennius and, when Ovid said, perhaps faceciously
Jamque opus exegi quod nec Jovis ira nec imbres
Nec poterit ferrum nec edax abolere vetustas, One can hardly persuade one self that these writers did not possess some belief in the doctrine, not altogether foreign to the antients, that all our merits here, became, as it were , heir looms to some estate intailed hereafter. Otherwise the wish alluded to is inexplicable. Milton, with the advantage of Christian doctrine, admirably expresses this sentiment as properly belonging to a consciousness of future retributive justice.
Alas! what boots it with incessant care
Phoebus reply'd and touch'd my trembling ears:
Of so much fame in Heav'n expect thy meed. Be this as it may, with respect to reward in Heaven, I feel no such desire to be applauded on Earth when dead; and consequeutly I am indifferent to the patronage of those whose names might carry my own down to posterity with them. But I confess I am not indifferent to obtain, while living, your distinguissing approbation, capable as it is of giving even -
To airy nothing A local habitation and a name. With these nugae I take my farewell of literature of which I am tired. No person better than yourself can understand the disgust which follows fruitless research in the attempted solution of questions at once the most interesting and the most difficult. From metaphysicks, which occupied my time in early life, I proceeded to cultivate the physicalsciences, though with too little practical advantage. My life has been one of almost perpetual labour , in so much that I often felt like une chandelle épuisée. It was during a slowly progressive convalescence, after an illness brought on by hard work and nocturnal vigilance, while making a series of interessing experiments, that, as a relief lo ennui , I took to writing songs. And if you will deign to place the lay of my Muse, under your patronage, as the music of the expiring swan; and, putting the work or your shelf, will be pleased to regard me as the
Dignior argutos interstrepere anser olores; I shall be fully rewarded for the time lost in committing to paper a number of odes, songs and descriptive verses, which, though particular circumstances in the history of my life suggested them, were all nevertheless composed rather for the purpose of indulging a natural fondness for metrical numbers than for the sentiments which they convey. When you told me, during our last interview, that you had read and commented on my verses, I felt for the first time that I had ever
written any: for agreeing with Martial that
Non scribit cujus carmina nemo legit, And not being aware that my rhymes 'jingled agreably in any body's ears but my own, I did not before regard my self as a writer. You may judge therefore of the pleasure I must have felt on discovering that a person with whom I should be proud to say sensible of sympathics, arising from similarity of opinions, and of whose talents I think so highly, had been the first to give to the Philosophia Musarum the character of a work, by assuring its author that it had been perused. Allow me therefore to hope, since your predominant characteristic is benevolence, that you will not take amiss this mark of my approbation, flattering as it is, not to your self so much as to me, who ought to felicitate my self on having enjoyed a distinguished acquaintance so capable as you are of adding a new charm to every study ; derived from the conformity which I sometimes flatter my self I have found in our thoughts, a discovery culcalated to raise