« הקודםהמשך »
If to be fad is to be wise ;
Dear Drift *, to set our matters right,
Ο Βίος γάρ όνομ' έχει, πόνος δ' έργω σέλι.
Siquis Deus mihi largiatur, ut ex hac ætate repu; “ erascam, & in cunis vagiam, valde recufem.”
Cic. de Senect.
The bewailing of man's miseries hath been elegantly “ and copiously set forth by many in the writings as “ well of Philosophers as Divines; and is both a “ pleasant and a profitable contemplation.”
T is hard for a man to speak of himself with any to
lerable satisfaction or success: he can be more pleased in blaming himself, than in reading a satire made on him by another: and though he may justly desire that a friend should praise him ; yet, if he makes his own panegyrick, he will get very few to read it. It is harder for him to speak of his own writings. An author is in the condition of a culprit: the publick are his: judges : by allowing too much, and condescending too far, he may injure his own cause, and become a kind of felo de se; and, by pleading and afferting too boldly, he may displease the court that fits upon him : his apology may only heighten his accusation. I would avoid these extremes : and though, I grant, it would not be very civil to trouble the reader with a long preface, before he enters upon an indifferent poem; I. would say something to persuade him to take it as it isg or to excuse it for not being better.
The noble images and reflections, the profound reafonings upon human actions, and excellent precepts
for the government of life, which are found in the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and other books commonly attributed to Solomon, afford subjects for finer poems in every kind,
than have, think, as yet appeared in the Greek, Latin, or any modern language : how far they were verse in their original is a dissertation not to be entered into at present.
Out of this great treasure, which lies heaped up together in a confused magnificence, above all order, I had a mind to collect and digest such observations and apophthegms, as most particularly tend to the proof of that great assertion, laid down in the beginning of the Ecclesiastes, ALL IS VANITY.
Upon the subject thus chosen, such various images present themselves to a writer's mind, that he must find it easier to judge what should be rejected, than what ought to be received. The difficulty lies in drawing and dispofing; or (as the painters term it) in grouping such a multitude of different objects, preferving still the justice and conformity of style and colouring, the “ fimplex duntaxat & unum,” which Horace prescribes, as requisite' to make the whole picture beautiful and perfect.
As precept, however true in theory, or useful in practice, would be but dry and tedious in verse, especially if the recital be long; I found it necessary to form fome story, and give a kind of body to the poem. Under what species it may be comprehended, whether Didascalic or Heroic, I leave to the judgement of the critics; defiring them to be favourable in their censure; and not solicitous what the poem is called, provided it may be accepted.