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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.

POSTSCRIPT.

I must help my preface by a postscript, to tell the reader, that there are 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

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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 readernofarther. I published my poems formerly, as Monsieur Jourdain sold his silk: he would not be thoughta 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 every body
would turn over what
he does not
like.

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THE

POEMS OF MATTHE W PRIOR.

ON EXOD. III. 14.—I AM THAT I AM.
AN ODE. WRITTEN IN 1688, AS AN EXERCISE AT

ST. JOHN’s COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.

MAN! foolish man! .
Scarce know'st thou how thyself began;
Scarce hast thou thought enough to prove thou art;
Yet, steel'd with studied boldness, thou dar'st try
To send thy doubting reason's dazzled eye
Through the mysterious gulf of vast immensity.
Much thou canst there discern, much thence impart.
Vain wretch! suppress thy knowing pride;
Mortify thy learned lust!
Wain are thy thoughts, while thou thyself art dust.

Let Wit her sails, her oars let Wisdom lend;
The helm let politic Experience guide:
Yet cease to hope thy short-liv'd bark shall ride
Down spreading Fate's unnavigable tide.

What, though still it farther tend?

Still 'tis farther from its end; And, in the bosom of that boundless sea, Still finds its error lengthen with its way.

VOL. I. 6

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With daring pride and insolent delight
Your doubts resolv'd you boast, your labours
crown'd;
And "EYPHKA your god, forsooth is found
Incomprehensible and infinite.
But is he therefore found? vain searcher! no:
Let your imperfect definition show
That nothing you, the weak definer, know.

Say, why should the collected main
Itself within itself contain?
Why to its caverns should it sometimes creep,
And with delighted silence sleep
On the lov’d bosom of its parent deep?
Why should its numerous waters stay
In comely discipline, and fair array,
Till winds and tides exert their high command?
Then prompt and ready to obey,
Why do the rising surges spread
Their op'ning ranks o'er earth's submissive head,
Marching through different paths to different lands;

Why does the constant sun
With measur’d steps his radiant journeys run?
Why does he order the diurnal hours
To leave earth's other part, and rise on ours?
Why does he wake the correspondent moon,
And fill her willing lamp with liquid light,
Commanding her with delegated powers
To beautify the world, and bless the night?

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