Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

" Curi'd gently by the breeze, falutes the flowers « That grace its banks! in state the snowy swans « Arch their proud necks, and fowls of various plumo « Innumerous, native or exotic, cleave 56 The dancing wave ! while o'er th' adjoining lawns

6 Obverted to the southern suns, the deer • Wide-Spreading graze, or starting bound away 66 In crouds, then turning, filent stand, and gaze! « Such are thy beauties, Rainham, such the haunts « Of angels, in primaval guiltless days, “ When man imparadis'd convers’d with God.”

up with

This, my Lord, is but a faint picture of the place of your retirement, which no one ever enjoyed more

elegantly: no part of your life lies heavy upon you ; f there is no unealy vacancy in it; it is all fill study, exercise, or polite amusement: here

you

Thine in the most agreeable, though not most strong and dazzling į light : In your public station you commanded admira

tion and honour; in your private, you attract love and eitcem : The nobler parts of your life will be the subject of the historian; and the actions of the great faterman and patriot, will adorn many pages of our future annals : but the affectionate father, the indulgent malter, the condescending and benevolent friend, patron,

and companion, can only be described by those who * have the pleasure and happiness to see you act in all

those relations : I could with delight enlarge upon this ainiable part

of
your character; but am sensible that no

portion

[ocr errors]

B 3

portion of your time is so ill spent as in reading what write. I will therefore only beg the honour to fubfcribe myself,

MY LORD,

Your Lord hip's most obliged,

And molt obedient servant,

Pulham in Norfolk,

1739

WILLIAM BROOME,

P R E FACE.
R

E.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

:

I
AM

very sensible that many hard circumstances attend all authors : if they wsite ill, they are sure to be used with contempt; if well, too often with envy. Some men, even while they improve themselves with the sentiments of others, rail at their benefactors, and while they gather the fruit, tear the tree that bore it. I must confess, that mere idleness induced me to write ; and the hopes of entertaining a few idle men, to publish. I am not so vain as not to think there are many faults in the ensuing poems; all human works must fall sort of perfection, and therefore to acknowledge it, is no humility : howeve I am not like those authors, who, out of a false modesty, complain of the imperfections of their own works, yet would take it very ill if the world should believe them : I will not add hypocrisy to my other faults, or act so abfurdly as to invite the reader to an entertainment, and then tell him that there is nothing worth his eating; I have furnished out the table according to my best abilities, if not with a splendid elegance, yet at least with an innocent variety

But since this is the last time that I shall ever, perhaps, trouble the world in this kind, I will beg leave to speak fomething not as a poet, but a critic ; that if iny credit should fail as a poet, I may have recourse to my remarks upon Homer, and be pardoned for my industry as the annotator in part upon the Iliad, and entirely upon the Odyssey.

remarks

В 4

I will therefore offer a few things upon criticism in general, a study very necessary, but fallen into contempt through the abuse of it. At the restoration of learning, it was particularly neceffary ; authors had been long buried in obfcurity, and consequently had contracted fome rust through the ignorance and barbarism of preceding ages : it was therefore very requisite that they Thould be polished by a critical hand, and restored to their original purity : In this conlists the office of critics; but, instead of making copies agreeable to the manuscripts, they have long inserted their own conjectures; and from this licence arise most of the various readings, the burthens of modern editions : whereas books are like pictures, they may be new varnished, but not a feature is to be altered; and every stroke that is thus added, destroys in some degree the resemblance; and the original is no longer an Homer or a Virgil, but a mere ideal person, the creature of the editor's fancy. Whoever deviates froin this rule, does not correct, but corrupt his author: and therefore frnce molt books worth reading have now good impressions, it is a folly to devote too much time to this branch of criticisin; it is ridiculous to make it, the supreme business of life to repair the ruins of a decayed word, to trouble the world with vain niceties about a letter, or a syllable, or the transposition of a phrase, when the present reading is Luficiently intelligible. These learned triflers are mere

weeders 5

[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]

weeders of an author; they collect the weeds for their own use, and permit others to gather the herbs and flowers : it would be of more advantage to mankind, when once an author is faithfully published, to turn our thoughts from the words to the sentiments, and make them more easy and intelligible. A skill in verbal criticisin is in reality but a skill in guessing, and consequently he is the best critic who gueses best : a mighty attainment! And yet with what pomp is a trivial alteration ushered into the world ! Such writers are like Caligula, who raised a mighty army, and alarmed the whole world, and then led it to gather cockle-shells. In short, the question is not what the author might have said, but what he has actually said; it is not whether a different word will agree with the sense, and turn of the period, but whether it was used by the author'; if it was, it has a good title fill to maintain its post, and the au. thority of the manuscript ought to be followed rather than the fancy of the editor: for can a modern be a better judge of the language of the purest of the antients, than those antients who wrote it in the greatest purity? or if he could, was ever any author so happy, as always to choose the most proper word ? Experience thews the impossibility. Belides, of what use is verbal criticilin when once we have a faithful edition ? It embarralles the reader instead of giving new light, and binders his proficiency by engrossing his time, and calling off the attention from the author to the editor : it encreases the expence of books, and makes us pay an high price for trifics, and often for absurdities. I will only add, with

Sir

[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »