« הקודםהמשך »
=o HE greatest part of what I have written 9 having already been published, either R singly or in some of the Miscellanies, it - would be too late for me to make any excuse for appearing in print. But a collection of poems has lately appeared under my name, though without my knowledge, in which the publisher has given me the honour of some things that did not belong to me; and has transcribed others so im– perfectly, that I hardly knew them to be mine. This has obliged me, in my own defence, to look back upon some of those lighter studies, which I ought long since to have quitted, and to publish an indifferent collection of poems, for fear of being thought the author of a worse. Thus I beg pardon of the public for reprinting some pieces, which as they came singly from their first impression, have (I fancy) lain long and quietly in Mr. Tonson's shop; and adding others to them, which were never before printed, and might have lain as quietly, and perhaps more safely, in a corner of my own study. The reader will, I hope, make allowance for their having been written at very distant times, and on very different occasions, and take them as they happen to come. Public panegyrics, amorous odes, serious reflections, or idle tales, the product of his leisure hours, who had business enough upon his hands, and was only a poet by accident.
I own myself obliged to Mrs. Singer, who has given me leave to print a pastoral of her writing; that poem having produced the verses immediately following it. I wish she might be prevailed with to publish some other pieces of that kind, in which the softness of her sex, and the fineness of her genius, conspire to give her a very distinguishing character.
I must help my preface by a postscript, to tell the reader, that there is ten years' distance between my writing the one and the other; and that (whatever I thought then, and have somewhere said, that I would publish no more poetry) he will find several copies of verses scattered through this edition, which were not printed in the first. Those relating to the public stand in the order they did before, and according to the several years in which they were written, however the disposition of our national affairs, the actions, or the fortunes of some men, and the opinions of others may have changed. Prose, and other human things may take what turn they can; but poetry, which pretends to have something of divinity in it, is to be more permanent. Odes once printed cannot well be altered, when the author has already said, that he expects his works should live for ever. And it had been very foolish in my friend Horace, if some years after his Exegi Monumentum, he should have desired to see his building taken down again. The dedication, likewise, is reprinted to the Earl of Dorset, in the foregoing leaves, without any alteration; though I had the fairest opportunity, and the strongest inclination to have added a great deal to it. The blooming hopes, which I said the world expected from my then very young patron, have been confirmed by most noble and distinguished first-fruits; and his life is going on towards a plentiful harvest of all accumulated virtues. He has in fact exceeded whatever the fondness of my wishes could invent in his favour: his equally good and beautiful lady enjoys in him an indulgent and obliging husband; his children, a kind and careful father; and his acquaintance, a faithful, generous, and polite friend. His fellow peers have attended to the persuasion of his eloquence; and have been convinced by the solidity of his reasoning. He has long since deserved and attained the honour of the Garter. He has managed some of the greatest charges of the kingdom with known ability; and laid them down with entire disinterestment. And as he continues the exercises of these eminent virtues (which that he may do to a very old age, shall be my perpetual wish) he may be one of the greatest men that our age, or possibly our nation has bred; and leave materials for a panegyric, not unworthy the pen of some future Pliny. From so noble a subject as the Earl of Dorset, to so mean a one as myself, is (I confess) a very Pindaric transition. I shall only say one word, and trouble the reader no further. I published my poems formerly, as Monsieur Jourdain sold his silk: he would not be thought a tradesman, but ordered some pieces to be measured out to his particular friends. Now I give up my shop, and dispose of all my poetical goods at once: I must therefore desire, that the public would please to take them in the gross; and that everybody would turn over what he does not like.