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'o Biagię i voze? 'xerwóvadlo ipya wédele Eurip. Siquis Deus mihi largiatur, ut ex hac ætate repuerafcam,
& in cunis vagiam, valde reculem. Cic. de Senect. The BEWAILING OF MAN'S MISERIES hath been ele.
gantly and copiously set forth by many, in the writings as well of philosophers, as of divines. And it is both 4 plealant and a profitable contemplation.
Lord Bacon's Advancement of Learning.
Τ Η Σ
P R E F A CE,
It is hard for a man to speak of himself wisla any tolerable satisfaction or success : he can be no more pleased in blaming himself, than in reading a fatyr 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 public 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 asserting too boldly, he may displease the court that fits upon him : his apology may only heighten his accusation. I would avoid those 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 is, or to excuse it for not being better.
The noble images and refiections, the profound reasonings upon human actions, and excellent precepts for the government of life, which are found in the Proverbs, Ecclefiaftes, and other books, commonly attributed to Solomon, afford subjects for finer poems in every kind, than have, I think, 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 digeit such observations, and apothegms, as most particularly tend to the proof of that great assertion, laid down in the beginning of the Ecclefiaftes, “ALL " IS VANITY!
Upon the subject thus chosen, fuch 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 disposing; or (as pairters term it) in grouping such a multitude of different objects, preserving still the justice
afflictions. Ulysses therefore is valiant, virtuous,
and conformity of style and colouring, for 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 some story, and give a kind of bod y to the poem. Under what species it may be comprehended, whether Didascalic or Heroic, I leave to the judgment of the critics ; de. firing them to be favourable in their censure; and not solicitous what the poem is called, provided it may be accepted.
The chief personage or character in the epic, is always proportioned to the design of the work, to carry on the narration and the moral. Homer intended to thew us in his Iliad, that diffentions
amongst great men obstruct the execution of the noblest enterprizes, and tend to the ruin of a state or kingdom. His Achilles therefore is haughty, and paflionate, impatient of any restraint by laws, and arrogant in arms.
In his Odysses the same poet, endeavours to explain, that the hardest difficulties may be overcome by Jabour, and our fortune restored after the feverest