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leisure, nor the means, for such an undertaking. 'Tis ill going to law for an estate, with him who is in possession of it, and enjoys the present profits, to feed his cause. . But the quantum mutatus may be remembered 5 in due time. In the meanwhile, I leave the world to

I judge, who gave the provocation.

This, my Lord, is, I confess, a long digression, from Miscellany Poems to Modern Tragedies; but I have the

ordinary excuse of an injured man, who will be telling 10 his tale unseasonably to his betters; though, at the

same time, I am certain you are so good a friend, as to take a concern in all things which belong to one who so truly honours you. And besides, being yourself

a critic of the genuine sort, who have read the best 15 authors in their own languages, who perfectly distinguish

of their several merits, and in general prefer them to the Moderns, yet, I know, you judge for the English tragedies, against Greek and Latin, as well as against

the French, Italian, and Spanish, of these latter ages. 20 Indeed, there is a vast difference betwixt arguing like

Perrault, in behalf of the French poets, against Homer and Virgil, and betwixt giving the English poets their undoubted due, of excelling Æschylus, Euripides, and

Sophocles. For if we, or our greater fathers, have not 25 yet brought the drama to an absolute perfection, yet at

least we have carried it much further than those ancient Greeks; who, beginning from a Chorus, could never totally exclude it, as we have done; who find it an un

profitable encumbrance, without any necessity of enter30 taining it amongst us, and without the possibility of

establishing it here, unless it were supported by a public charge. Neither can we accept of those Lay-Bishops, as some call them, who, under pretence of reforming

the stage, would intrude themselves upon us, as our 35 superiors; being indeed incompetent judges of what is manners, what religion, and, least of all, what is poetry and good sense. I can tell them, in behalf of all my fellows, that when they come to exercise a juris. diction over us, they shall have the stage to themselves, as they have the laurel. As little can I grant, that the 3 French dramatic writers excel the English. Our authors as far surpass them in genius, as our soldiers excel theirs in courage. 'Tis true, in conduct they surpass us either way; yet that proceeds not so much from their greater knowledge, as from the difference of 10

. tastes in the two nations. They content themselves with a thin design, without episodes, and managed by few persons. Our audience will not be pleased, but with variety of accidents, an underplot, and many actors. They follow the ancients too servilely in the 13 mechanic rules, and we assume too much licence to ourselves, in keeping them only in view at too great a distance. But if our audience had their tastes, our poets could more easily comply with them, than the French writers could come up to the sublimity of our 20 thoughts, or to the difficult variety of our designs. However it be, I dare establish it for a rule of practice on the stage, that we are bound to please those whom we pretend to entertain; and that at any price, religion and good manners only excepted. And I care not 25 much if I give this handle to our bad illiterate poetasters, for the defence of their scriptions, as they call them. There is a sort of merit in delighting the spectators, which is a name more proper for them, than that of auditors; or else Horace is in the wrong, when 30 he commends Lucilius for it. But these common-places I mean to treat at greater leisure; in the meantime submitting that little I have said to your Lordship's approbation, or your censure, and choosing rather to entertain you this way, as you are a judge of writing, 35 than to oppress your modesty with other commendations; which, though they are your due, yet would not be equally received in this satirical and censorious

age. That which cannot, without injury, be denied to 5 you, is the easiness of your conversation, far from

affectation or pride; not denying even to enemies their just praises. And this, if I would dwell on any theme of this nature, is no vulgar commendation to your Lordship. Without flattery, my Lord, you have it in

, 10 your nature to be a patron and encourager of good

poets; but your fortune has not yet put into your hands the opportunity of expressing it. What you will be hereafter, may be more than guessed by what

you are at present. You maintain the character of 15 a nobleman, without that haughtiness which generally

attends too many of the nobility; and when you converse with gentlemen, you forget not that you have been of their order. You are married to the daughter

of a King, who, amongst her other high perfections, 20 has derived from him a charming behaviour, a winning

goodness, and a majestic person. The Muses and the Graces are the ornaments of your family; while the Muse sings, the Grace accompanies her voice: even the

servants of the Muses have sometimes had the happiness 25 to hear her, and to receive their inspirations from her.

I will not give myself the liberty of going further; for 'tis so sweet to wander in a pleasing way, that I should never arrive at my journey's end. To keep

myself from being belated in my letter, and tiring 30 your attention, I must return to the place where I was

setting out. I humbly dedicate to your Lordship my own labours in this Miscellany; at the same time not arrogating to myself the privilege, of inscribing to you

the works of others who are joined with me in this 35 undertaking, over which I can pretend no right. Your Lady and you have done me the favour to hear me read my translations of Ovid; and you both seemed not to be displeased with them. Whether it be the partiality of an old man to his youngest child, I know not; but they appear to me the best of all my endeavours 5 in this kind. Perhaps this poet is more easy to be translated than some others whom I have lately attempted; perhaps, too, he was more according to my genius. He is certainly more palatable to the reader, than any of the Roman wits; though some of them are 10 more lofty, some more instructive, and others more correct. He had learning enough to make him equal to the best; but, as his verse came easily, he wanted the toil of application to amend it. He is often luxuriant both in his fancy and expressions, and, as it has lately 15 been observed, not always natural. If wit be pleasantry, he has it to excess; but if it be propriety, Lucretius, Horace, and, above all, Virgil, are his superiors. I have said so much of him already in my Preface to his Heroical Epistles, that there remains little to be 20 added in this place. For my own part, I have endeavoured to copy his character, what I could, in this translation; even, perhaps, further than I should have done; to his very faults. Mr. Chapman, in his Translation of Homer, professes to have done it somewhat 25 paraphrastically, and that on set purpose; his opinion being that a good poet is to be translated in that manner. I remember not the reason which he gives for it; but I suppose it is for fear of omitting any of his excellencies. Sure I am, that if it be a fault, ’tis 30 much more pardonable than that of those, who run into the other extreme of a literal and close translation, where the poet is confined so straitly to his author's words, that he wants elbow-room to express his ele. gancies. He leaves him obscure; he leaves him prose, 35 where he found him verse; and no better than thus has Ovid been served by the so-much-admired Sandys. This is at least the idea which I have remaining of his translation; for I never read him since I was a boy. 5 They who take him upon content, from the praises which their fathers gave him, may inform their judgment by reading him again, and see (if they understand the original) what is become of Ovid's poetry in his

version; whether it be not all, or the greatest part of 10 it, evaporated. But this proceeded from the wrong

judgment of the age in which he lived. They neither knew good verse, nor loved it; they were scholars, 'tis true, but they were pedants; and for a just reward of

their pedantic pains, all their translations want to be 15 translated into English.

If I flatter not myself, or if my friends have not flattered me, I have given my author's sense for the most part truly; for, to mistake sometimes is incident

to all men; and not to follow the Dutch commentators 20 always, may be forgiven to a man who thinks them, in

the general, heavy gross-witted fellows, fit only to gloss on their own dull poets. But I leave a further satire on their wit, till I have a better opportunity to show

how much I love and honour them. I have likewise 25 attempted to restore Ovid to his native sweetness,

easiness, and smoothness; and to give my poetry a kind of cadence, and, as we call it, a run of verse, as like the original, as the English can come up to the Latin. As he seldom uses any synalæphas, so I have endeavoured to avoid them as often as I could. I have likewise given him his own turns, both on the words and on the thought; which I cannot say are inimitable, because I have copied them, and so may others, if they

use the same diligence; but certainly they are wonder35 fully graceful in this poet. Since I have named the

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