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to make when you went to bed, that the sun had shone upon you in vain, when you had the opportunity of relieving some unhappy man. This, my Lord, has justly acquired you as many friends as there are persons 5 who have the honour to be known to you. Mere acquaintance you have none; you have drawn them all into a nearer line; and they who have conversed with you are for ever after inviolably yours. This is a truth

so generally acknowledged, that it needs no proof: ’tis 10 of the nature of a first principle, which is received as

soon as it is proposed; and needs not the reformation which Descartes used to his; for we doubt not, neither can we properly say, we think we admire and love you

above all other men; there is a certainty in the proposi15 tion, and we know it. With the same assurance I can

say, you neither have enemies, nor can scarce have any; for they who have never heard of you, can neither love or hate you; and they who have, can have no other

notion of you, than that which they receive from the 20 public, that you are the best of men.

After this, my testimony can be of no further use, than to declare it to be daylight at high-noon; and all who have the benefit of sight, can look up as well, and see the sun.

'Tis true, I have one privilege which is almost par25 ticular to myself, that I saw you in the east at your first

arising above the hemisphere: I was as soon sensible as any man of that light, when it was but just shooting out, and beginning to travel upwards to the meridian.

I made my early addresses to your Lordship, in my 30 Essay of Dramatic Poetry; and therein bespoke you to the world, wherein I have the right of a first dis

When I was myself in the rudiments of my poetry, without name or reputation in the world, having

rather the ambition of a writer, than the skill; when 35 I was drawing the outlines of an art, without any living


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master to instruct me in it; an art which had been better praised than studied here in England, wherein Shakespeare, who created the stage among us, had rather written happily, than knowingly and justly, and John-7 son, who, by studying Horace, had been acquainted 5 with the rules, yet seemed to envy to posterity that knowledge, and, like an inventor of some useful art, to make a monopoly of his learning; when thus, as I may say, before the use of the loadstone, or knowledge of the compass, I was sailing in a vast ocean, 10 without other help than the pole-star of the Ancients, and the rules of the French stage amongst the Moderns, which are extremely different from ours, by reason of their opposite taste; yet even then, I had the presumption to dedicate to your Lordship : a very unfinished 15 piece, I must confess, and which only can be excused by the little experience of the author, and the modesty of the title An Essay. Yet I was stronger in prophecy than I was in criticism ; I was inspired to foretell you to mankind, as the restorer of poetry, the greatest 20 genius, the truest judge, and the best patron.

Good sense and good nature are never separated, though the ignorant world has thought otherwise. Good nature, by which I mean beneficence and candour, is the product of right reason; which of necessity will 25 give allowance to the failings of others, by considering that there is nothing perfect in mankind; and by distinguishing that which comes nearest to excellency, though not absolutely free from faults, will certainly produce a candour in the judge. 'Tis incident to an elevated 30 understanding, like your Lordship’s, to find out the errors of other men ; but it is your prerogative to pardon them; to look with pleasure on those things, which are somewhat congenial, and of a remote kindred to your own conceptions; and to forgive the many failings of 35


those, who, with their wretched art, cannot arrive to those heights that you possess, from a happy, abundant, and native genius : which are as inborn to you, as they

were to Shakespeare; and, for aught I know, to Homer; 5 in either of whom we find all arts and sciences, all moral and natural philosophy, without knowing that they ever studied them.

There is not an English writer this day living, who is not perfectly convinced that your Lordship excels all 10 others in all the several parts of poetry which you have

undertaken to adorn. The most vain, and the most ambitious of our age, have not dared to assume so much, as the competitors of Themistocles: they have

yielded the first place without dispute; and have been 15 arrogantly content to be esteemed as second to your

Lordship; and even that also, with a longo, sed proximi intervallo. If there have been, or are any, who go further in their self-conceit, they must be very singular in

their opinion; they must be like the officer in a play, 20 who was called Captain, Lieutenant, and Company. The

world will easily conclude, whether such unattended generals can ever be capable of making a revolution in Parnassus.

I will not attempt, in this place, to say anything par. 25 ticular of your lyric poems, though they are the delight

and wonder of this age, and will be the envy of the next. The subject of this book confines me to Satire; and in that, an author of your own quality, (whose ashes

I will not disturb,) has given you all the commendation 30 which his self-sufficiency could afford to any man: The

best good man, with the worst-natur'd Muse. In that character, methinks, I am reading Johnson's verses to the memory of Shakespeare; an insolent, sparing, and

invidious panegyric: where good nature, the most god35 like commendation of a man, is only attributed to your

person, and denied to your writings; for they are everywhere so full of candour, that, like Horace, you only expose the follies of men, without arraigning their vices; and in this excel him, that you add that pointedness of thought, which is visibly wanting in our great Roman. 5 There is more of salt in all your verses, than I have seen in any of the Moderns, or even of the Ancients; but you have been sparing of the gall, by which means you have pleased all readers, and offended_none. Donne alone, of all our countrymen, had your talent ; 10 but was not happy enough to arrive at your versification; and were he translated into numbers, and English, he would yet be wanting in the dignity of expression. That which is the prime virtue, and chief ornament, of Virgil, which distinguishes him from the rest of writers, 15 is so conspicuous in your verses, that it casts a shadow on all your contemporaries; we cannot be seen, or but obscurely, while you are present. You equal Donne in the variety, multiplicity, and choice of thoughts; you excel him in the manner and the words. I read you 20 both with the same admiration, but not with the same delight. He affects the metaphysics, not only in his satires, but in his amorous verses, where nature only should reign; and perplexes the minds of the fair sex with nice speculations of philosophy, when he should 25 engage their hearts, and entertain them with the softnesses of love. In this (if I may be pardoned for so bold a truth) Mr. Cowley has copied him to a fault; so great a one, in my opinion, that it throws his Mistress infinitely below his Pindarics and his latter composi- 30 tions, which are undoubtedly the best of his poems, and the most correct. For my own part, I must avow it freely to the world, that I never attempted anything in satire, wherein I have not studied your writings as the most perfect model. I have continually laid them before 35 me; and the greatest commendation, which my own partiality can give to my productions, is, that they are copies, and no further to be allowed, than as they have something more or less of the original. Some few 5 touches of your Lordship, some secret graces which

I have endeavoured to express after your manner, have made whole poems of mine to pass with approbation; but take your verses altogether, and they are inimitable.

If therefore I have not written better, it is because 10 you have not written more. You have not set me sufficient

copy to transcribe; and I cannot add one letter of my own invention, of which I have not the example there.

'Tis a general complaint against your Lordship, and 15 I must have leave to upbraid you with it, that, because

you need not write, you will not. Mankind, that wishes you so well in all things that relate to your prosperity, have their intervals of wishing for themselves, and are

within a little of grudging you the fulness of your for20 tune : they would be more malicious if you used it not so well, and with so much generosity.

Fame is in itself a real good, if we may believe Cicero, who was perhaps too fond of it. But even fame, as

Virgil tells us, acquires strength by going forward. Let 25 Epicurus give indolency as an attribute to his gods, and

place in it the happiness of the blest; the Divinity which we worship has given us not only a precept against it, but his own example to the contrary. The world,

my Lord, would be content to allow you a seventh day 30 for rest; or if you thought that hard upon you, we would not refuse

time : if

you came out, like some great monarch, to take a town but once a year, as it were for your diversion, though you had no

need to extend your territories. In short, if you were 35 a bad, or, which is worse, an indifferent poet, we would


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