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Addresses to your Lordship, in my Essay of Dramatick Poetry; and therein bespoke you to the World; wherein I have the Right of a First Difcoverer. When I was my self, in the Rudiments of my Poetry, without Náme or Reputation in the World, having rather the Ambition of a Writer, than the Skill, when I was drawing the Out-lines of an Art, without any living Master to inftru& me in it; an Art which had been better prais'd than study'd here in England, wherein Shakespear, who created the Stage among us, had rather written happily, than knowingly and jufly: and Johnson, who by studying Horace, had been acquainted with the Rules, yet seemed to envy to Polterity that Knowledge, and like an Inventer of some useful Art, to make a Monopoly of his Learning: When thus, as I may fay, before the Use of the Loadstone, or Knowledge of the Compals, I was sailing in a vast Ocean, 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 oppolite Taste; yet even then, I had the Presumption to Dedicate to your Lordship: A very unfinith'd Piece, I must confess, and which only can be excus'd by the little Experience of the Author, and the Modesty of the Title, An Elay. Yet I was stronger in Prophecy than I was in Criticism; I was inspir'd to foretel You to Mankind, as the Restorer of Poetry, the greatelt Genius, the truest Judge, and the best Patron.
Good Sense and good Nature are never separated, tho' the ignorant World has thought otherwise. Good Nature, by which I mean Benefi. cence and Candor, is the Product of right Reafon; which of necessity will give allowance to the Failings of others, by confidering that there is 110
thing perfect in Mankind; and by distinguishing that which comes nearest to Excellency, tho' not absolutely free from Faults, will certainly produce a Candor in the Judge. 'Tis incident to an elevated Understanding, like your Lordship's, to find out the Errors of other Men: But 'tis 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 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 Shakespear; and for ought I know, to Homer; in either of whom we find all Arts and Sciences, all Moral and Natural Philofophy, without knowing that they ever study'd them.
There is not an English Writer this Day living, who is not perfectly convinc'd, that your Lord fhip excels all others, in all the sevenal parts of Poetry which you have undertaken to adorn. The most Vain, and the most Ambitious of our Age, have not dar'd to assume so much, as the Competitors of Themistocles: They have yielded the first Place without dispute; and have been arrogantly 'content to be esteem'd as Second to your Lord. ship; and even that also with a Longo fed proximi Intervallo. If there have been, or are any, who go farther in their Self-conceit, they must be very fingular in their Opinion : They must be like the Officer, in a Play, who was callid Captain, Lieu. tenant' and Company. The World will eafily conclude, whether such unattended Generals can ever be capable of making a Revolution in Parnalus.
I will not attempt, in this place, to say any thing particular of your Lyrick Poems, tho' 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 Satyr; and in that, an Author of your own Quality, (whose Ames I will not disturb,) has given you all the Commendation, which his Self-sufficiency cou'd afford to any Man: The best good Man, with the worst-natur's Mufe. In that Character, methinks, I am reading Jhonson's Verses ro the Meinory of Shakespear : An Infolent, Sparing, and 'Invidious Panegyrick: Where good Nature, the most Godlike Commendation of a Man, is only
attributed to your Perfon, and deny'd to your Writings: For they are every-where so full of Candor, that, like Horáce, 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 vifibly wanting in our great Roman. 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 pleas'd all Readers, and offended
Donn alone, of all our Country-men, had your Talent; but was not happy enough to arrive at your Verfification. And were he transaced into Numbers, and English, he wou'd 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, is so conspicuous in your Verses, that it cafts a Shadow on all your Contemporaries; we cannot be seen, or but obscurely, while you are present. You equal. Dögn in the Variety, Multiplicity, and Choice of Thoughts; you excel him in the Manner, and the Words. I read you both, with the fame Admiration, but not with the fame Delight. He affects the Metaphysičks, rot only in his
Satyrs, 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 thou'd engage their Hearts, and entertain them with the Softness of Love. In this (if I may be pardon'd for so bold a Truth) Mr. Cowley has copy'd him to a Fault; so great a one in my Opinion, that it throws his Miftress infinitely below his Pindariques, and his latter Compositions, 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 any thing in Satyr, wherein I have not study'd your Writings as the most perfe& Model. I have continually laid them before me; and the greatest Commendation, which my own Partiality can give to my Productions, is, that they are Copies, and no farther to be allow'd, than as they bave something more or lefs of the Original. Some few Touches of your Lordship, fome secret Graces which I have endeavour'd 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, 'tis because you have not written more. You have not set me fufficient Copy to transcribe; and I cannot add one Letter of my own Invention, of which I have not the Example there.
"Tts a general Complaint against your Lordship, and 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 Profperity, have their Intervals of withing for themselves, and are within a little of grudging you the Fulness of your Fortune: They wou'd be mors malicious if you us'd it not so well, and with fo inuch Generosity.
Fame is in it self 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 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, wou'd be content to allow you a Seventh Day for Rest; or if you thought that hard upon you, we wou'd not refuse you half your time: If you came out, like some Great Monarch, to take a Town but once a Year, as it were for your Diversion, tho' you had no need to extend your Territories: Iu short, if you were a bad, or, which is worse, an indifferent Poet, we wou'd thank you for our own Quiet, and not expose you to the want of yours. But when you are so great and so successful, and when we have that neceffity of your Writing, that we cannot sublift intirely without it; any more (I may almost fay( than the World without the daily Course of ordinary Providence, methinks this Argument might prevail with you, my Lord, to forego a little of your Repose for the publick Benefit. 'Tis not that you are under any force of working daily Miracles, to prove your Being; but now and then somewhat of extraordinary, that is any thing of your Produftion, is requisite to refresh your Character.
This, I think, my Lord, is a fufficient Reproach to you; and should I carry it as far as Mankind wou'd authorize me, wou'd be little less than Satyr. And, indeed, a Provocation is almolt peces fary, in behalf of the World, that you might be induc'd sometimes to write; and in relation to a: multitude of Scriblers, who daily penter the World with their insufferable ituff, that they might be