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Panegyric upon Great Britain, in the First Book:
dignity of the verse, as Spencer and Fairfax have done; if either of these, I say, be a proper remedy for my poetical complaint, or if any other may be found, I dare not determine: I am only enquiring, in order to be better informed; without presuming to direct the judgment of others.
And while I am speaking of the verse itself, I give all just praise to many of my friends
now living; who have in Epic carried the harmony of their numbers as far, as the nature of this measure will permit. But once more : he that writes in rhymes, dances in fetters: and as his chain is more extended, he may certainly take larger steps.
I need make no apology for the short digressive
I am glad to have it observed, that there appears throughout all my verses a zeal for the honour of my country; and I had rather be thought a good Englishman, than the best poet, or greatest fcholar that ever wrote. And
now as to the publishing of this piece, though I have in a literal sense observed Horace's
prematur in Annum; yet have I by no means obeyed our poetical lawgiver, according to the spirit of the precept. The poem has indeed been written and laid alide much longer
than the term prescribed ; but in the mean time I had little leisure, and less inclination to revise or print it. The frequent interruptions I have met with in my private studies, and great variety of publick life in which I have been employed ; my thoughts (such as they are) having generally been expressed in foreign language, and even formed by a habitude very different from what the beauty and elegance of English Poetry requires : all thete, and some other circumstances which we had as good pass by at present, do justly contribute to make my excuse in this behalf very plausible. Far indeed from designing to print I had locked up these papers
my scritoire, there to lie in peace 'till my executors might have taken them out. What altered this design, or how
my scritoire came to be unlocked before my coffin was nailed, is the question. The true reason I take to be the best : many of my friends of the firft quality, finest learning, and greatest understanding, have wrested the key from my hands by a very kind and irresistible yioJence: and the poem is published, not without my consent indeed, but a little against my opinion; and with an implicit fubmission to the partiality of their judgment. As I give up here the fruits of many of my vacant hours to their
for I disobey their positive order, whilst I make
amusement and pleasure ; I shall always think myself happy, if I may dedicate my most serious endeavours to their interest and service. And I am proud to finish this preface by saying, that the violence of many enemies, whom I never justly offended, is abundantly recompensed by the goodness of more friends, whom I can never suficiently oblige. And if I here aflume the liberty of mentioning my Lord Harley and Lord Bathu r st as the authors of this amicable confederacy, among all those whose names do me great honour at the beginning of my book, * these two only ought to be angry
with me; even this small acknowledgment of their parti
* As fub fcribers to the edition in folio, 1718.
wisdom and knowledge. Verf. 16. He spake of trees, from the cedar-tree that is in LeI know, that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for
E x T S
ALLUDED TO IN THE FIRST BOOK. The Words of the Preacher the Son of David King of Jerusalem. Ecclefiaftes, cap. I. ver. 1. Vanity of vanities, faith the Preacher, vanity of
vanities, all is vanity. Vers. 2. I com m uned with mine own heart, saying, lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wis
than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem : yea my heart had great experience of
even unto the hyllop that springeth out of the wall: he spaké also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. 1 Kings, ever : nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. Ecclefiaftes, chap. iii. verf. 14.
chap. iv. verf. 33.