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poems are not mine. If it had been true, that I had taken their verses for my own, I might have gloried in their aid, and, like Terence, have fathered the opinion
that Scipio and Lælius joined with me. But the same 5 style being continued through the whole, and the same
laws of versification observed, are proofs sufficient, that this is one man's work : and your Lordship is too well acquainted with my manner, to doubt that any part of it is another's.
That your Lordship may see I was in earnest when I promised to hasten to an end, I will not give the reasons why I writ not always in the proper terms of navigation, land-service, or in the cant of any profes
sion. I will only say, that Virgil has avoided those 1; proprieties, because he writ not to mariners, soldiers,
astronomers, gardeners, peasants, etc., but to all in general, and in particular to men and ladies of the first quality, who have been better bred than to be too nicely
knowing in the terms. In such cases, it is enough for 20 a poet to write so plainly, that he may be understood
by his readers; to avoid impropriety, and not affect to be thought learned in all things.
I have omitted the four preliminary lines of the First Æneid, because I think them inferior to any four others 25 in the whole poem, and consequently believe they are
not Virgil's. There is too great a gap betwixt the adjective vicina in the second line, and the substantive arva in the latter end of the third, which keeps his
meaning in obscurity too long, and is contrary to the 30 clearness of his style.
Ut quamvis avido is too ambitious an ornament to be his; and
Gratum opus agricolis,
i farther'd, ed. 1697.
are all words unnecessary, and independent of what he had said before.
is worse than any of the rest. Horrentia is such a flat 5 epithet, as Tully would have given us in his verses. It is a mere filler, to stop a vacancy in the hexameter, and connect the preface to the work of Virgil. Our author seems to sound a charge, and begins like the clangour of a trumpet
Arma, virumque cano, Trojæ qui primus ab oris
scarce a word without an r, and the vowels, for the greater part, sonorous. The prefacer began with Ille ego, which he was constrained to patch up in the fourth line with at nunc, to make the sense cohere; and, if 15 both those words are not notorious botches, I am much deceived, though the French translator thinks otherwise. For my own part, I am rather of the opinion that they were added by Tucca and Varius, than retrenched.
I know it may be answered, by such as think Virgil the author of the four lines, that he asserts his title to the Æneis in the beginning of his work, as he did to the two former in the last lines of the Fourth Georgic. I will not reply otherwise to this, than by desiring them 25 to compare these four lines with the four others, which we know are his, because no poet but he alone could write them. If they cannot distinguish creeping from flying, let them lay down Virgil, and take up Ovid de Ponto, in his stead. My master needed not the assist- 30 ance of that preliminary poet to prove his claim. His own majestic mien discovers him to be the king, amidst a thousand courtiers. It was a superfluous office; and, therefore, I would not set those verses in
the front of Virgil, but have rejected them to my own preface.
I, who before, with Shepherds in the Groves,
If there be not a tolerable line in all these six, the 10 prefacer gave me no occasion to write better. This is a just apology in this place; but I have done great wrong to Virgil in the whole translation : want of time, the inferiority of our language, the inconvenience of rhyme, and all the other excuses I have made, may 15'alleviate my fault, but cannot justify the boldness of my
undertaking. What avails it me to acknowledge freely, that I have not been able to do him right in any line? For even my own confession makes against me; and
it will always be returned upon me, 'Why then did you 20 attempt it?' To which no other answer can be made,
than that I have done him less injury than any of his former libellers.
What they called his picture, had been drawn at length, so many times, by the daubers of almost all 25 nations, and still so unlike him, that I snatched up the
pencil with disdain ; being satisfied beforehand, that I could make some small resemblance of him, though I must be content with a worse likeness. A Sixth
Pastoral, a Pharmaceutria, a single Orpheus, and some 30 other features, have been exactly taken : but those
holiday authors writ for pleasure; and only shewed us what they could have done, if they would have taken pains to perform the whole.
Be pleased, my Lord, to accept, with your wonted 35 goodness, this unworthy present which I make you.
I have taken off one trouble from you, of defending it, by acknowledging its imperfections : and, though some part of them are covered in the verse, (as Erichthonius rode always in a chariot, to hide his lameness, such of them as cannot be concealed, you will please to connive 5 at, though, in the strictness of your judgment, you can. not pardon. If Homer was allowed to nod sometimes in so long a work, it will be no wonder if I often fall asleep. You took my Aureng-sebe into your protection, with all his faults: and I hope here cannot be so many, 10 because I translate an author who gives me such examples of correctness. What my jury may be, I know not; but it is good for a criminal to plead before a favourable judge: if I had said partial, would your Lordship have forgiven me ? or will you give me leave to 15 acquaint the world, that I have many times been obliged to your bounty since the Revolution ? Though I never was reduced to beg a charity, nor ever had the impudence to ask one, either of your Lordship, or your noble kinsman the Earl of Dorset, much less of any 20 other; yet, when I least expected it, you have both remembered me: so inherent it is in your family not to forget an old servant. It looks rather like ingratitude on my part, that, where I have been so often obliged, I have appeared so seldom to return my 25 thanks, and where I was also so sure of being well received. Somewhat of laziness was in the case, and somewhat too of modesty, but nothing of disrespect or of unthankfulness. I will not say that your Lordship has encouraged me to this presumption, lest, if my 30 labours meet with no success in public, I may expose your judgment to be censured. As for my own enemies, I shall never think them worth an answer; and, if your Lordship has any, they will not dare to arraign you for want of knowledge in this art, till they can produce 35 somewhat better of their own, than your Essay on Poetry. 'Twas on this consideration, that I have drawn out my Preface to so great a length. Had I not addressed to a poet and a critic of the first magnitude, I had 5 myself been taxed for want of judgment, and shamed my patron for want of understanding. But neither will you, my Lord, so soon be tired as any other, because the discourse is on your art; neither will the learned
reader think it tedious, because it is ad Clerum. At least, 10 when he begins to be weary, the church doors are open.
That I may pursue the allegory with a short prayer, after a long sermon :
May you live happily and long, for the service of your Country, the encouragement of good Letters, and 15 the ornament of Poetry; which cannot be wished more earnestly by any man, than by Your Lordship's most humble, Most obliged, and most obedient Servant,
POSTSCRIPT TO THE READER
What Virgil wrote in the vigour of his age, in plenty and at ease, I have undertaken to translate in my declining years; struggling with wants, oppressed with sickness, curbed in my genius, liable to be misconstrued
in all I write; and my judges, if they are not very 25 equitable, already prejudiced against me, by the lying
character which has been given them of my morals. Yet steady to my principles, and not dispirited with my afflictions, I have, by the blessing of God on my endeavours, overcome all difficulties, and, in some