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PO E T S.
D E DI C Α Τ Ι ο Ν.
To my Lady * * MADAM, VOUR commands for the gathering these sticks into a faggot had sooner been
obeyed; but, intending to present you with my whole vintage, I stayed till the latest grapes were ripe : for here your ladyfhip has not only all I have done, but all I ever mean to do of this kind. Not but that I may defend the attempt I have made upon poetry, by the examples (not to trouble you with hiftory) of many wife and worthy persons of our own times; as Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Francis Bacon, Cardinal Perron (the ableft of his countrymen), and the former Pope; who, they say, inftead of the triple crown, wore sometimes the Poet's ivy, as an ornament, perhaps, of less weight and trouble. But, Madam, these Nightingales sung only in the spring; it was the diversion of their youth'; as ladies learn to fing, and play, when they are children, what they forgot when they are women. The resemblance holds further; for, as you quit the lute the sooner, because the posture is fufpected to draw the body awry; so this is not always practised without some villany to the mind; wresting it from present occasions; and accuftoming us to a style somewhat removed from common ufe. But that you may not think his case deplorable who made these verses; we are told that Tully (the greateft Wit among the Romans) was once fick of this disease; and yet recovered fo well, that of almost as bad a Poet as your servant, he became the most perfect Orator in the world. So that, not fo much to have made verses, as not to give over in time, leaves a man without excufe: the former presenting us with an opportunity at leaf of doing wifely, that is, to conceal those we have made; which I fall yet do, if my humble requeft may be of as much force with your Ladyship, as your commands have been with me. Madam, I only whisper these in your ear; if you publish them, they are your own: and therefore as you apprehend the reproach of a Wit and a Poet, caft them into the fire: or, if they come where green boughs are in the chimney, with the help of your fair friends, (for, thus bound, it will be too hard a task for your hands alone) tear them in pieces, wherein you will honour me with the fate of Orpheus, for só his Poems, whereof we only hear the form, (not his limbs, as the story will have it) I suppose were scattered by the Thracian dames. Here, Madam, I might take an opportunity to celebrate your virtues, and to instruct you how unhappy you are, in that you know not who you are: how much you excel the moft excellent of your own, and how much you amaze the least inclined to wonder of our, sex. But as they will be apt to take your lady ship's for a Roman name, so would they believe that I endeavoured the character of a perfect Nymph, worshipped an image of my own making, and dedicated this to the Lady of the brain, not of the heart, of
EDM. WALLIR VOL. II.
WHEN the Author of these verses (written only to please himself, and fuch
particular persons to whom they were directed) returned from aboard fome years fince, he was troubled to find his name in Print; but, fomewhat satisfied, to fee his Lines fo ill rendered that he might juftly disown them; and say to a mistaking Printer, as one did to an ill Reciter,
• • * Male dum recitas, incipit effe tuus. Having been ever fince pressed to correct the many and gross faults (such as use is be in impressions wholly neglected by the Authors); his answer was, that he mai these when ill Verses had more favor, and escaped better, than good ones do in th age; the severity whereof he thought not unhappily diverted by those faults in the impreffion, which hitherto have hung upon his Book, as the Turks hang old raç or luch-like ugly things upon their faireft horses, and other goodly creatures
, secure thém against fascination. And, for those of a more confined understanding who pretend not to cenfure; as they admire moft what they leaft comprehend, in his verses (maimed to that degree that himself scarce knew what to make of me of them) might, that way, at least, have a title to some admiration : which is s small matter, if what an old Author observes be true, that the aim of Orators, victory, of Hiftorians, truth; and of Poets, admiration. He had reaton thereto? to indulge those faults in his Book, whereby it might be reconciled to fome, as commended to others. .
The Printer also he thought woul fare the worse, if those faults were amende for we fee maimed ftatues fell better than whole ones ; and clipped and wati. money goes about, when the entire and weighty lies hoarded up.
These are the reasons, which for above iwelve years paft he has opposed to the request ; to which it was replied, that as it would be too late to recall that bu had so long been made public; fo, might it find excuse from his youth, the lea: it was produced in. And, for what had been done fince, and now added, i commend not his Poetry, it might his Philosophy, which teaches him fo chear." to bear fo great a calamity, as the loss of the beft part of his fortune, torn from : 1 in prison-(in which, and in banihment, the best portion of his life hath also befpent), that he can still fing under the burthen, not unlike that Romant,
Martial, Lib. i. Ep. 39.
+ Horace, Lib. II. Epit. ü.
Quem demifere Philippi
And him of his old patrimony strip'd;
Mufis amicus, triftitiam & metus
Lib. I. Ode xxvi.
They that acquainted with the Muses be,
Send care, and sorrow, by the winds to sea. Not so much moved with these reasons of ours (or pleas'd with our rhymes), as wearied with our importunity, he has at last given us leave to affure the Reader, that the Poems which have been so long, and so ill set forth under his name, are here to be found as he first writ them: as alfo, to add some others which have since been composed by him." And though his advice to the contrary might have discouraged us; yet, observing how often they have been reprinted, what price they have borne, and how earnestly they have been always enquired after, but especially of late; (making good that of Horace, Meliora dies, ut vina, poemata reddit;
Lib. II. Epift. i. " Some verses being, like some vines recommended to our tafte by time and
"age,") We have adventured upon this new and well-corrected Edition, which for own fakes as well as thine, we hope will fucceed better than he apprehended. Vivitur ingenio, cætera mortis erunt.
HE Reader needs be told no more in commendation of these Poems, than that
they are Mr. Waller's: a name that carries every thing in it that is either great, or graceful, in Poetry! He was indeed the Parent of Englith Verse, and the firi that shewed us our Tongue had Beauty, and Numbers, in it. Our language ors more to Hiin than the French does to Cardinal Richelieu and the whole Academy. A Poet cannot think of Him, without being in the same rapture Lucretius is is, when Epicurus comes in his way;
Tu pater, & rerum inventor; Tu patria nobis
Lib. III. ver. 9. The Tongue came into His hands, like a rough diamond : He polished it firt: and to that degree, that all artists fince him have admired the workmanship, withou
: pretending to mend it. Suckling and Carew, I must confess, wrote fome few things imoothly enough : but, as all they did in this kind was not very confiderable; for was a little later than the earlieft pieces of Mr. Waller. He undoubtedly ftands firi in the list of refiners; and, for aught I know, last too ; for I question, whether i: Charles the second's reign, Englith did not come to its full perfeion; and whethe: it has not had its Auguftan Age, as well as the Latin. It seems to be already miza with foreign languages as far as its purity will bear; and, as Chemists say of the Menftruums, to be quite fated with the infufion. But pofterity will best judge.com this. In the mean time, it is a surprising reflection, that between what Spene. wrote last, and Waller first, there should not be much above twenty years
distance and yet the one's language, like the money of that time, is as current now as eve whilft the other words are like old coins, one must go to an antiquary to underftes: their true meaning and value. Such advances may a great genius make, when undertakes any thing in earnest!
Some Painters will hit the chief lines and master-strokes of a face fo truly, the through all the differences of age, the picture shall ftill bear a resemblance
. Ta art was Mr. Waller's: He fought out, in this flowing Tongue of ours, what pe would laft, and be of standing use and ornament: and this he did so successfu. that his language is now as fresh as it was at his first setting out. Were we judge barely by the wording, we could not know what was wrote at twents, what at fourscore. He complains, indeed, of a tide of words that comes in una the English Poet, and overflows whatever he builds : but this was lefs His cafeter any man's that ever wrote; and the mischief of it is, this very complaint will be long enough to confute itself; for, though English be mouldering fione, as he te. us there, yet he has certainly picked the best out of a bad quarry.