« VorigeDoorgaan »
of this fort may be useful; since, if compiled with any
share of judgement, it may at once unite precept and example, fhew then what is beautiful, and inform them why it is fo: I therefore offer this, to the best of my judgement, as the best collection that has yet appeared: though, as tastes are various, numbers will be of a very different opinion. Many perhaps may wish to see in it the poems of their favourite Authors, others may wifh that I had selected from works less generally read, and others still may wish, that I had felected from their own. But my design was to give a useful, unaffected compilation; one that might tend to advance the reader's taste, and not impress him with exalted ideas of mine. Nothing so common, and yet so absurd, as affectation in criticism. The desire of being thought to
have a more difcerning taste than others, has often led writers to labour after error, and to be foremoft in promoting deformity. In this compilation I run but few risques of that kind; every poem here is well known, and possessed, or the public has been long mistaken, of peculiar merit: every poem has, as Aristotle expresses it, a beginning, a. middle, and an end, in which, however trifling the rule may feem, most of the poetry in our language is deficient: I claim no merit in the choice, as it was obvious, for in all languages. the best productions are most easily found. As to the short introductory criticisms to: each poem, they are rather designed for boys than men; for it will be seen that I declined all refinement, satisfied with being obvious and sincere. In short, if this work be useful in schools, or amusing in
the closet, the merit all belongs to others; I have nothing to boast, and, at best, can expect, not applause, but pardon.
This seems to be Mr. Pope's most finished produc
tion, and is, perhaps, the most perfect in our language. It exhibits stronger powers of imagination, more harmony of numbers, and a greater knowledge of the world, than any other of this poet's works: and it is probable, if our country were called upon toʻlhew a specimen of their genius to foreigners, this would be the work here fixed upon.
THAT dire offence from am'rous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things, I fing-This verse to CARYL, Muse! is due : This, ev'n Belinda may vouchsafe to view : Slight is the subject, but not fo the praise,
Say what frange motive, Goddess ! could compel A well-bred Lord t'assault a gentle Belle ? O say what stranger cause, yet unexplor'd, Could make a gentle Belle reject a Lord ? In tasks so bold, can little men engage, And in soft bofoms dwells such mighty rage? Sol thro’ white curtains shot a tim'rous ray, And ope'd those eyes that must eclipfe the day: Now lap-dogs gave themselves the rouzing shake, And sleepless lovers, just at twelve, awake: Thrice rung the bell, the slipper knock'd the ground, And the press'd watch return’d a silver found. Belinda still her downy pillow prest; Her guardian SYLPH prolong'd the balmy reft: 'Twas He had summon’d to her filent bed The morning dream that lover'd o'er her head. A youth more glitt'ring than a birth night beau, (That ev’n in fiumber caus'd her cheek to glow) Seem'd to her ear his winning lips to lay, And thus in whispers faid, or seem'd to say. Fairest of mortals, thou distinguish'd care Of thousand bright inhabitants of air ! If e'er one Vision touch thy infant thought, Of all the Nurse and all the Priest have taught; Of airy Elves by moonlight shadows feen, The silver token, and the circled green, Or virgins visited by Angel-pow'rs, With golden crowns and wreaths of heav'nly flow'rs; Hear and believe ! thy own importance know, Nor bound thy narrow views to things below.