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O chara ante alias, magnorum nomine regum
Ah mihi fi veftræ reddat bona gaudia fedis,
Quid mihi Sequanâ opus, Tamefifve aut Thybridis unda?
Tu quoque in hoc terræ tremuifti, Academia, motu, (Nec fruftrà) atque ædes contremuêre tuæ : Contremuêre ipfæ pacatæ Palladis arces;
Et timuit fulmen laurea fancta novum.
Ah quanquam iratum, peftem hanc avertere numen,
Nos, tua progenies, pereamus; & ecce, perimus!
THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE
HIS EDITION IN FOLIO, 1656.
AT my return lately into England. I met by great accident (for fuch I account
it to be, that any copy of it should be extant any where fo long, unless at his houfe who printed it) a book intituled, "The Iron Age," and published under my name, during the time of my abfence. I wondered very much how one who could be To foolish to write fo ill verses, fhould yet be fo wife to fet them forth as another man's rather than his own; though perhaps he might have made. a better choice, and not fathered the baftard upon fuch a perfon, whofe ftock of reputation is, I fear, little enough for maintenance of his own numerous legitimate offspring of that kind. would have been much less injurious, if it had pleafed the author to put forth fome of my writings under his own name, rather than his own under mine: he had been in that a more pardonable plagiary, and had done lefs wrong by robbery, than he does by fuch a bounty; for nobody can be justified by the imputation even of another's merit; and our own coarse cloaths are like to become us better than thofe of another man, though never fo rich: but thefe, to fay the truth, were fo beggarly, that I myself was ashamed to wear them. It was in vain for me, that I avoided cenfure by the concealment of my own writings, if my reputation could be thus executed in effigie; and impoffible it is for any good name to be in fafety, if the malice of witches have the power to confume and deftroy it in an image of their own making. This indeed was fo ill made, and fo unlike, that I hope the charm took no effect. So that I efteem myfelf lefs prejudiced by it, than by that which has been done to me fince, almoft in the fame kind; which is, the publication of fome things of mine without my confent or knowledge, and thofe fo mangled and imperfect, that I could neither with honour acknowledge, nor with honefty quite difavow them.
Of which fort, was a comedy called "The Guardian," printed in the year 1650; but made and acted before the Prince, in his paffage through Cambridge towards York, at the beginning of the late unhappy war; or rather neither made nor acted, but roughdrawn only, and repeated; for the hafte was fo great, that it could neither be revised or perfected by the author, nor learned without book by the actors, nor fet forth in any meafure tolerably by the officers of the college. After the reprefentation (which, I confefs, was fomewhat of the latest) I began to look it over, and changed it very much, ftriking out fome whole parts, as that of the poet and the foldier; but I have loft the copy, and dare not think it deferves the pains to write it again, which makes me omit it in this publication, though there be fome things in it which I am not ashamed of, taking the excufe of my age and fmall experience in human converfation when I made it. But, as it is, it is only the hafty first-fitting of a picture, and therefore like to refemble me accordingly.
From this which has happened to myfelf, I began to reflect on the fortune of almost all writers, and efpecially poets, whofe works (commonly printed after their deaths) we find ftuffed out, either with counterfeit pieces, like falfe money put in to fill up the bag, though it add nothing to the fum; or with fuch, which, though of their own coin, they would have called in themfelves, for the bafenefs of the allay: whether this proceed from the indifcretion of their friends, who think a vaft heap of ftones or rubbish a better monument than a little tomb of marble; or by the unworthy avarice of fome ftationers, who are content to diminish the value of the author, fo they may increafe the price of the book; and, like vintners, with fophifticate mixtures, fpoil the whole veffel of wine,
to make it yield more profit. This has been the cafe with Shakespeare, Fletcher, Jonfon, and many others; part of whofe poems I should take the boldnefs to prune and lop away, if the care of replanting them in print did belong to me: neither would 1 make any fcruple to cut off from fome the unneceffary young fuckers, and from others the old withered branches; for a great wit is no more tied to live in a vast volume, than in a gigantic body; on the contrary, it is commonly more vigorous, the less space it animates. And, as Statius fays of little Tydeus
Totos infufa per artus
Major in exiguo regnabat corpore virtus."
I am not ignorant, that, by faying this of others, I expofe myself to some raillery, for not ufing the fame fevere difcretion in my own cafe, where it concerns me nearer: but though I publish here more than in ftrict wisdom I ought to have done, yet I have fuppreft and caft away more than I publish; and, for the ease of myself and others, have loft, I believe too, more than both. And upon these confiderations 1 have been perfuaded to overcome all the juft repugnances of my own modefty, and to produce thefe poems to the light and view of the world; not as a thing that I approved of in itself, but as a lefs evil, which I chose rather than to ftay till it were done for me by somebody elfe, either furreptitiously before, or avowedly after, my death: and this will be the more excufable, when the reader fhall know in what refpects he may look upon me as a dead, or at least a dying perfon, and upon my Mufe in this action, as appearing, like the Emperor Charles the Fifth, and affifting at her own funeral.
For, to make my felf abfolutely dead in a poetical capacity, my refolution at prefent is, never to exercise any more that faculty. It is, I confefs, but feldom feen that the poet dies before the man; for, when we once fall in love with that bewitching art, we do not use to court it as a mistress, but marry it as a wife, and take it for better or worse, as an infeparable companion of our whole life. But as the marriages of infants do but rarely profper, so no man ought to wonder at the diminution or decay of my affection to poefy; to which I had contracted myself fo much under age, and fo much to my own prejudice in regard of thofe more profitable matches, which I might have made among the richer fciences. As for the portion which this brings of fame, it is an eftate (if it be any, for men are not oftener deceived in their hopes of widows, than in their opinion of, " Exegi monumentum ære perennius-") that hardly ever comes in whilft we are living to enjoy it, but is a fantastical kind of reverfion to our own felves: neither ought any man to envy poets this pofthumous and imaginary happiness, fince they find commonly fo little in prefent, that it may be truly applied to them, which St. Paul speaks of the first Chriftians, "If their reward be in this life, they are "of all men the most miferable."
And, if in quiet and flourishing times they meet with fo fmall encouragement, what are they to expect in rough and troubled ones? If wit be fuch a plant, that it scarce receives heat enough to preferve it alive even in the fummer of our cold climate, how can it choose but wither in a long and a fharp winter? A warlike, various, and a tragical age is beft to write of, but worst to write in. And I may, though in a very unequal proportion, affume that to myfelf, which was spoken by Tully to a much better person, upon occafion of the civil wars and revolutions in his time: "Sed in te intuens, Brute, doleo: cujus in adolefcentiam, per medias laudes, quadrigis vehentem, tranfverfa incurrit mifera fortuna reipublicæt."
Neither is the prefent conftitution of my mind more proper than that of the times for this exercife, or rather divertifment. There is nothing that requires so much ferenity and cheerfulness of fpirit; it must not be either overwhelmed with the cares of life, or overcaft with the clouds of melancholy and forrow, or shaken and disturbed by the storms of injurious fortune; it muft, like the halcyon, have fair weather to breed in. The foul must be filled with bright and delightful ideas, when it undertakes to communicate delight to others; which is the main end of poefy. One may fee through ⚫ Stat. Theb. lib. i. 416. ↑ Cic. de Clar. Orator, § 231.
the ftyle of Ovid de Trift. the humbled and dejected condition of spirit with which he wrote it; there fcarce remains any footstep of that genius,
-quem nec Jovis ira, nec ignes*, &c."
The cold of the country had ftrucken through all his faculties, and benumbed the very feet of his verfes. He is himfelf, methinks, like one of the ftories of his own Metamorpholis; and, though there remain fome weak refemblances of Ovid at Rome, it is but, as he fays of Niobet,
"In vultu color eft fine fanguine: lumina maftis
"Stant immota genis: nihil eft in imagine vivi.
The truth is, for a man to write well, it is neceffary to be in good humour; neither is wit lefs eclipfed with the unquietnefs of mind, than beauty with the indifpofition of body. So that it is almoft as hard a thing to be a poet in defpite of fortune, as it is in defpite of nature. For my own part, neither my obligations to the Mufes, nor expectations from them, are fo great, as that I fhould fuffer myfelf on ne confiderations to be divorced, or that I fhould fay like Horace ‡,
And this refolution of mine does the more befit me, because my defire has been for fome years paft (though the execution has been accidentally diverted) and does still vehemently continue, to retire myfelf to fome of our American plantations, not to feek for gold, or enrich myself with the traffic of those parts (which is the end of most men that travel thither; fo that of these Indies it is truer than it was, of the former,
"Impiger extremos currit mercator ad Indos,
but to forfake this world for ever, with all the vanities and vexations of it, and to bury myself there in fome obfcure retreat (but not without the confolation of letters and philofophy)
ແ Oblitúfque meorum, oblivifcendus & illis-¶"
as my former author fpeaks too, who has enticed me here, I know not how, into the pedantry of this heap of Latin fentences. And I think Dr. Donne's Sundyal in a grave is not more useless and ridiculous, than poetry would be in that retirement. As this therefore is in a true sense a kind of death to the Mufes, and a real literal quitting of this world; fo, methinks, I may make a juft claim to the undoubted privilege of deceafed poets, which is, to be read with more favour than the.living;
"Tanti eft ut placcam tibi, perire **."
Having been forced, for my own neceffary juftification, to trouble the reader with this long difcourfe of the reafons why I trouble him alfo with all the reft of the book; I fhall only add fomewhat concerning the feveral parts of it, and fome other pieces, which I have thought fit to reject in this publication: as, firit, all thofe which I wrote at fchool, from the age of ten years, till after fifteen; for even fo far backward there remain yet fome traces of me in the little footsteps of a child; which, though they were then looked upon as commendable extravagancies in a boy (men fetting a value upon any kind of fruit before the ufual feason of it) yet I would be loth to be bound now to read them all over myself; and therefore fhould do all to expect that patience from others. Befides, they have already past through feveral editions, which is Metam. 1. xv. 871. + Metam. 1. vi. 304. Hor. 2 Sat. i. 60. 3 Carm. Ode xxvi. « Vir ** Martial. lib viii. ep. 69. Hor. 1 Ep. i. 45. Hor. 1 Ep. xi. 9.
longer life than uses to be enjoyed by infants that are born before the ordinary terms. They had the good fortune then to find the world fo indulgent (for, confidering the time of their production, who could be so hard-hearted to be fevere?) that I fcarce yet apprehend fo much to be cenfured for them, as for not having made advances afterwards proportionable to the speed of my fetting out; and am obliged too in a manner by discretion to conceal and fupprefs them, as promises and inftruments under my own hand, whereby I ftood engaged for more than I have been able to perform; in which truly if I have failed, I have the real excuse of the honestest sort of bankrupts, which is, to have been made unfolvable not so much by their own negligence and ill-husbandry, as by fome notorious accidents and public disasters. In the next place, I have caft away all fuch pieces as I wrote during the time of the late troubles, with any relation to the differences that caused them; as, among others, three books of the civil war itself, reaching as far as the first battle of Newbury, where the fucceeding misfortunes of the party ftopt the work.
As for the enfuing book, it confifts of four parts. The first is a Mifcellany of feveral fubjects, and fome of them made when I was very young, which it is perhaps fuperfluous to tell the reader: I know not by what chance I have kept copies of them; for they are but a very few in comparison of those which I have loft; and I think they have no extraordinary virtue in them, to deferve more care in prefervation, than was bestowed upon their brethren; for which I am fo little concerned, that I am afhamed of the arrogancy of the word, when I said I had loft them.
The fecond, is called, "The Mittress," or "Love-Verses ;" for so it is, that poets are scarce thought freemen of their company, without paying fome duties, and obliging themselves to be true to love. Sooner or later they must all pafs through that trial, like fome Mahometan monks, that are bound by their order, once at least in their life, to make a pilgrimage to Mecca;
"In furias ignemque ruunt: amor omnibus idem f.”
But we must not always make a judgment of their manners from their writings of this kind; as the Romanifts uncharitably do of Beza, for a few lafcivious fonnets compofed by him in his youth. It is not in this fenfe that poefy is faid to be a kind of painting; it is not the picture of the poet, but of things and perfons imagined by him. He may be in his own practice and difpofition a philofopher, nay, a Stoic, and yet fpeak fometimes with the foftnefs of an amorous Sappho,
-ferat & rubus afper amomum.‡"
He profeffes too much the ufe of fables (though without the malice of deceiving) to have his teftimony taken even against himself. Neither would I here be misunderstood, as if I affected fo much gravity as to be ashamed to be thought really in love. On the contrary, I cannot have a good opinion of any man, who is not at leaft capable of being fo. But I fpeak it to excufe fome expreffions (if fuch there be) which may happen to offend the feverity of fupercilious readers: for much excefs is to be allowed in love, and even more in poetry; fo we avoid the two unpardonable vices in both, which are obfcenity and profanenefs, of which, I am fure, if my words be ever guilty, they have ill reprefented my thoughts and intentions. And if, notwithstanding all this, the lightnefs of the matter here difpleafe any body, he may find wherewithal to content his more ferious inclinations in the weight and height of the enfuing arguments.
For, as for the "Pindaric Odes" (which is the third part), I am in great doubt whether they will be understood by moft readers; nay, even by very many who are well enough acquainted with the common roads and ordinary tracts of poely. They either are, or at leaft were meant to be, of that kind of ftyle which Dion. Halicarnaffeus calls Mifax.quès nai hdù metà devotos, and which he attributes to Alceus. The digreffions are many, and fudden, and fometimes long, according to the fashion of
In the prefent collection, there are five parts; the first of which contains the juvenile Poema mentioned in p. vii. Their history may be seen in the prefaces prefixed to them.
Virg. Georg. iii. 241.
Virg. Ecl. iii. 89.