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world; and people will establish their opinion of us, from what we do at that season when we have leaft judgment to direct us.

On the other hand, a good Poet no fooner communicates his works with the fame defire of information, but it is imagined he is a vain young creature given up to the ambition of fame; when perhaps the poor man is all the while trembling with the fear of being ridiculous. If he is made to hope he may please the world, he falls under very unlucky circumstances: for, from the moment he prints, he must expect to hear no more truth, than if he were a Prince, or a Beauty. If he has not very good sense (and indeed there are twenty men of wit for one man of fenfe) his living thus in a courfe of flattery may put him in no fmall danger of becoming a Coxcomb: if he has, he will confequently have so much diffidence as not to reap any great fatisfaction from his praise; fince, if it be given to his face, it can scarce be distinguished from flattery, and if in his abfence, it is hard to be certain of it. Were he fure to be commended by the best and most knowing, he is as fure of being envied by the worst and most ignorant, which are the majority; for it is with a fine Genius as with a fine fashion, all those are displeased at it who are not able to follow it and it is to be feared that efteem will feldom do any man fo much good, as ill-will does him harm. Then there is a third clafs of people, who make the largest


part of mankind, those of ordinary or indifferent capacities; and thefe (to a man) will hate, or fufpect him: a hundred honeft Gentlemen will dread him as a Wit, and a hundred innocent women as a Satirist. In a word, whatever be his fate in Poetry, it is ten to one but he must give up all the reasonable aims of life for it. There are indeed fome advantages accruing from a Genius to Poetry, and they are all I can think of: the agreeable power of felf-amufement when a man is idle or alone; the privilege of being admitted into the beft company; and the freedom of faying as many careless things as other people, without being fo feverely remarked upon.

I believe, if any one, early in his life, should contemplate the dangerous fate of authors, he would scarce be of their number on any confideration. The life of a Wit is a warfare upon earth; and the present spirit of the learned world is fuch, that to attempt to serve it (any way) one must have the conftancy of a martyr, and a refolution to fuffer for its fake. I could wifh people would believe, what I am pretty certain they will not, that I have been much lefs concerned about Fame than I durft declare till this occafion, when methinks I fhould find more credit than I could heretofore: fince my writings

This fate and thefe dangers have been the fubject of an ingenious epiftle by the amiable Mr. Whitehead, The Danger of writing Verfe; one of the happieft imitations of our Author's didactic manner; in which are many particulars fuggested or borrowed from this preface.


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have had their fate already, and it is too late to think of prepoffeffing the reader in their favour. I would plead it as fome merit in me, that the world has never been prepared for thefe Trifles by Prefaces*, byaffed by recommendation, dazzled with the names of great Patrons, wheedled with fine reafons and pretences, or troubled with excufes. I confefs it was want of confideration that made me an author; writ because it amused me; I corrected because it was as pleasant to me to correct as to write; and I published because I was told, I might please such as it was a credit to pleafe. To what degree I have done this, I am really ignorant; I had too much fondness for my productions to judge of them at first, and too much judgment to be pleafed with them at laft. But I have reafon to think they can have no reputation which will continue long, or which deferves to do fo: for they have always fallen fhort not only of what I read of others, but even of my own ideas of Poetry.

If any one fhould imagine I am not in earneft, I defire him to reflect, that the Ancients (to fay the

*As was the practice of his mafter Dryden, who is feverely lafhed for this in the Tale of a Tub, and of as great a Genius P. Corneille, whofe pieces of bafe adulation are a difgrace to Poetry and Literature. Our Author was accuftomed to mention Locke's dedication to Lord Pembroke with trong marks of disapprobation.

Il n'y a prefque aucun de mes ouvrages dont je fois content, & il y en a quelques uns que je voudrais n'avoir jamais faits, fays Voltaire.


least of them) had as much Genius as we: and that to take more pains, and employ more time, cannot fail to produce more complete pieces. They conftantly apply'd themselves not only to that art, but to that fingle branch of an art, to which their talent was most powerfully bent; and it was the bufinefs of their lives to correct and finish their works for pofterity. If we can pretend to have used the fame industry, let us expect the fame immortality: Tho' if we took the fame care, we fhould still lie under a further misfortune: they writ in languages that became univerfal and everlafting, while ours are extremely limited both in extent and in duration. A mighty foundation for our pride! when the utmost we can hope, is but to be read in one Island, and to be thrown afide at the end of one Age.

All that is left us is to recommend our productions by the imitation of the Ancients: and it will be found true,

I have frequently heard Dr. Young fpeak with great difapprobation of the doctrine contained in this paffage; with a view to which he wrote his difcourfe on Original Compofition: in which he fays, "Would not Pope have fucceeded better in an original attempt? Talents untried are talents unknown. All that I know, is, that, contrary to these fentiments, he was not only an avowed profeffor of imitation, but a zealous recommender of it alfo. Nor could he recommend any thing better, except emulation, to those who write. One of thefe, all writers must call to their aid; but aids they are of unequal repute. Imitation is inferiority confeffed; emulation is fuperiority contested or denied; imitation is fervile, emulation generous; that fetters, this fires; that may give a name; this, a name immortal. This made Athens to fucceeding ages the rule of tafte, and the standard

true, that in every age, the highest character for fense and learning has been obtained by those who have been most indebted to them. For, to fay truth, whatever is very good sense, must have been common fense in all times; and what we call learning, is but the knowledge of the fenfe of our predeceffors. Therefore they who fay our thoughts are not our own, because they resemble the Ancients, may as well fay our faces are not our own, because they are like our Fathers: And indeed it is very unreasonable,

of perfection. Her men of genius ftruck fire against each other; and kindled, by conflict, into glories, which no time fhail extinguish. We thank Efchylus for Sophocles, and Parrhafius for Zeuxis; Emulation for both. That bids us fly the general fault of imitators; bids us not be ftruck with the loud report of former fame, as with a knell, which damps the fpirits; but, as with a trumpet, which infpires ardour to rival the renowned. Emulation exhorts us, inftead of learning our difcipline for ever, like raw troops, under ancient leaders in composition, to put those laurel'd veterans in fome hazard of lofing their fuperior pofts in glory. Such is Emulation's high-fpirited advice, fuch her immortalizing call. Pope would not hear, pre-engaged with imitation, which bleffed him with all her charms. He chofe rather, with his namefake of Greece, to triumph in the old world, than to look out for a new. His tafte partook the error of his religion it denied not worship to faints and angels; that is, to writers, who, canonized for ages, have received their apotheofis from established and univerfal fame." It might, perhaps, have been replied to Young; you, indeed, have given us a confiderable number of original thoughts in your works, but they would have been more chafte and correct if you had imitated the ancients more. There are entertaining differtations on plagiarism and borrowing in Le Motthe le Vayer, tom. ii. 344.


The opinion of Longinus deferves our attention. 'Esì¿¿ κλοπή το πρᾶγμα, ἀλλ ̓, ὡς ἀπὸ καλῶν ἠθῶν, ἤ πλασμάτων, ἢ Inμssfynμáτwv áπólómwo. Sect. 13. p. 88. edit. Pearce. Of this opinion alfo were Addifon and Boileau.



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