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mean and unworthy ends of Party or Self-interest ; the gratification of public prejudices, or private palfions; the flattery of the undeserving, or the insult of the unfortunate. If I have written well, let be consider'd that 'tis what no man can do without good sense, a quality that not only renders one capable of being a good writer, but a good man. And if I have made any acquisition in the opinion of any one under the notion of the former, let it be continued to me under no other title than that of the latter.
But if this publication be only a more solemn funeral of my remains, I desire it may be known that I die in charity, and in my senses ; without any murmurs against the justice of this
age, or any
mad appeals to posterity. I declare I shall think the world in the right, and quietly submit to every truth which time shall discover to the prejudice of these writings ; not so much as wishing so irrational a thing, as that every body should be deceived merely for
credit. However, I desire it may then be considered, That there are very few things in this collection which were not written under the age of five and twenty: so that my youth may be made (as it never fails to be in Executions) a case of compaflion. That I was never so concerned about my works as to vin, dicate them in print, believing, if any thing was good, it would defend itself, and what was bad could never be defended. That I used no artifice to raise or continue a reputation, depreciated no dead author I was obliged to, bribed no living one with unjust praise, insulted no adversary with ill language; or when I could not attack a Rival's works, encouraged reports against his Morals. To conclude, if this volume perish, let it serve as a warning to the Critics, not to take too much pains for the future to destroy such things as will die of themselves; and a Memento mori to fome of my vain cotemporaries the Poets, to teach ihem that, when real merit is wanting, it avails nothing to have been encouraged by the great, commended by the eminent, and favoured by the public in general.
Nov. 10, 1716.
Variations in the Author's Manuscript
FTER pag. v.
it followed thus - For my part, I confess, had I seen things in this view, at first, the public had never been troubled either with my writings, or with this apology for them. I am sensible how difficult it is to speak of ones self with decency: but when a man must speak of himself, the best way is to speak truth of himself, or, he may depend upon it, others will do it for him.
I'll therefore make this Preface à general confeffion of all my thoughts of my own Poetry, resolving with the same freedom to expose myself, as it is in the power of any other to expose them. In the firit place, I thank God and nature; triat I was born with a love to poetry; for nothing more conduces to fill up all the intervals of our time, or, if rightly used, to make the whole course of life entertaining: Cantantes licet usque (minus via lædet.) 'Tis a vast happiness to poffers the pleasures of the head, the only pleasures in which a man is suficient to himself, and the only part of him which, to his fatisfaction, he can employ all day long. The Muses are amicæ omnium horarum; and, like our gay acquaintance, the best company in the world as long as one expects no real service from them. I confess there was a time when I was in love with myself, and my first productions were the children of self-love upon innocence. I had made an Epic Poem, and Panegyrics on all the Princes in Europe, and thought myself the greatest genius that ever was. I can't but regret those delightful visions of my childhood, which, like the fine colours we see when our eyes are shut, are vanished for ever. Many trials and fad experience have so undeceived me by degrees, that I am utterly at a loss at what rate to value myself. As for fame I shall be glad of any I can get, and not repine at any I miss ; and as for vanity, I have enough to keep me from hanging myself, or even from wishing those hanged who would take it away. It was this that made me write. The sense of my faults made me correct : besides that it was as pleasant to me to correct as to write.
At p. vii. 1. 11. In the first place I own that I have used my best endeavours to the finishing these pieces. That I made what advantage I could of the judgment of authors dead and living; and that I omitted no means in my power to be informed of my errors by my friends and my enemies. And that I expect no favour on account of my youth, business, want of health, or any such idle excuses. But the true reason they are not yet more correct is owing to the consideration how short a time they, and I, have to live. A man that can expect but fixty years may be ashamed to employ thirty in measuring syllables and bringing sense and rhyme together. We spend our youth in pursuit of riches or fame, in hopes to enjoy them when we are old; and when we are old, we find it is too late to enjoy any thing. I therefore hope the Wits will pardon if I reserve some of
my and that some wise men will be of my opinion, even if I should think a part of it better spent in the enjoyments of life than in pleasing the critics,
On Mr. POPE and his Poems,
By His GRACE
Duke of BUCKINGHAM.
ITH Age decay’d, with Courts and bus’ness
Encomiums suit not this censorious time,
But to this Genius, joind with so much Art,