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A POETICAL EPISTLE TO THE AUTHORS OF THE MONTHLY
Multa quidem nobis facimus mala sæpe poetæ,
HOR. Lib. ii. Ep. 1.
AN INTRODUCTORY ADDRESS OF THE AUTHOR
TO HIS POEMS.
Ye idler things, that soothed my hours of care,
(1) [For particulars respecting the original edition of this Poem, see ande, VOL I. p. 55.]
But thus ye'll grieve, Ambition's plumage stript,
- For few will read, and none admire like me. —
Yet rush not all, but let some scout go forth,
And thou, the first of thy eccentric race,
Before the lords of verse a suppliant stand, And beg our passage through the fairy land: Beg more- to search for sweets each blooming field, And crop the blossoms, woods and valleys yield ; To snatch the tints that beam on Fancy's bow; And feel the fires on Genius' wings that glow; Praise without meanness, without flattery stoop, Soothe without fear, and without trembling hope.
TO THE READER.
The following Poem being itself of an introductory nature, its author supposes it can require but little preface.
It is published with a view of obtaining the opinion of the candid and judicious reader, on the merits of the writer, as a poet ; very few, he apprehends, being in such cases sufficiently impartial to decide for themselves.
It is addressed to the Authors of the Monthly Review, as to critics of acknowledged merit; an acquaintance with whose labours has afforded the writer of this Epistle a reason for directing it to them in particular, and, he presumes, will yield to others a just and sufficient plea for the preference.
Familiar with disappointment, lie shall not be much surprised to find he has mistaken his talent. However, if not egregiously the dupe of his vanity, he promises to his readers some entertainment, and is assured, that however little in the ensuing Poem is worthy of applause, there is yet less that merits contempt.
TO THE AUTHORS OF THE MONTHLY REVIEW.
The pious pilot, whom the Gods provide,
Thus as on fatal floods to fame I steer, I dread the storm, that ever rattles here, Nor think enough, that long my yielding soul Has felt the Muse's soft, but strong control, Nor think enough that manly strength and ease, Such as have pleased a friend, will strangers please ; But, suppliant, to the critic's throne I bow, Here burn my incense, and here pay my vow ; That censure hushid, may every blast give o'er, And the lash'd coxcomb hiss contempt no more. And ye, whom authors dread or dare in vain, Affecting modest hopes, or poor disdain, Receive a bard, who, neither mad nor mean, Despises each extreme, and sails between ; Who fears; but has, amid his fears confess'd, The conscious virtue of a Muse oppress’d; A Muse in changing times and stations nursed, By nature honour'd, and by fortune cursed.
No servile strain of abject hope she brings, Nor soars presumptuous, with unwearied wings, But, pruned for flight — the future all her care — Would know her strength, and, if not strong, forbear.
The supple slave to regal pomp bows down, Prostrate to power, and cringing to a crown; The bolder villain spurns a decent awe, Tramples on rule, and breaks through every law; But he whose soul on honest truth relies, Nor meanly flatters power, nor madly flies. Thus timid authors bear an abject mind, And plead for mercy they but seldom find. Some, as the desperate, to the halter run, Boldly deride the fate they cannot shun; But such there are, whose minds, not taught to stoop, Yet hope for fame, and dare avow their hope,
Who neither brave the judges of their cause,
When in the man the flights of fancy reign, Rule in the heart, or revel in the brain, As busy Thought her wild creation apes, And hangs delighted o'er her varying shapes, It asks a judgment, weighty and discreet, To know where wisdom prompts, and where conceit; Alike their draughts to every scribbler's mind (Blind to their faults as to their danger blind); We write enraptured, and we write in haste, Dream idle dreams, and call them things of taste, Improvement trace in every paltry line, And see, transported, every dull design ; Are seldom cautious, all advice detest, And ever think our own opinions best; Nor shows my Muse a muse-like spirit here, Who bids me pause, before I persevere.
But she - who shrinks while meditating flight
Such was his fate, who flew too near the sun, Shot far beyond his strength, and was undone ;