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Title: Poems
Release Date: 2018-09-30
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
Count views: 49
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Ipse per Ausonias Æneïa carmina gentes
Qui sonat, ingenti qui nomine pulsat Olympum;
Mæöniumque senem Romano provocat ore:
Forsitan illius nemoris latuisset in umbrâ
Quod canit, et sterili tantum cantâsset avenâ
Ignotus populi; si Mæcenate careret.
Paneg. ad Pisones, Lucan.

Brettell & Co. Printers,
Marshall-Street, Golden-Square.



L O R D   H O L L A N D,



That the longest Poem in this Collection was honoured by the notice ofyour Lordship’s Right Honourable and ever-valued Relation, Mr. Fox; thatit should be the last which engaged his attention; and that some partsof it were marked with his approbation; are circumstances productive ofbetter hopes of{vi} ultimate success, than I had dared to entertain beforeI was gratified with a knowledge of them: And the hope thus raised,leads me to ask permission that I may dedicate this Book to yourLordship, to whom that truly great and greatly lamented Personage was sonearly allied in family, so closely bound in affection, and in whosemind presides the same critical taste which he exerted to the delight ofall who heard him. He doubtless united with his unequalled abilities, afund of good-nature; and this possibly led him to speak favourably of,and give satisfaction to writers, with whose productions he might not beentirely satisfied; nor must I allow myself to suppose his desire ofobliging was withholden, when he honoured any effort of mine with hisapprobation: But, my Lord, as there was discrimination in the opinion hegave; as he did not veil indifference for insipid mediocrity ofcomposition under any general expression of cool approval; I allowmyself to draw a favourable conclusion from the verdict of One who hadthe superiority of intellect few would dispute, which he made mani{vii}festby a force of eloquence peculiar to himself; whose excellent judgement,no one of his friends found cause to distrust, and whose acknowledgedcandour no enemy had the temerity to deny.

With such encouragement, I present my Book to your Lordship: the Accountof the Life and Writings of Lopez de Vega, has taught me what I am toexpect; I there perceive how your Lordship can write, and am theretaught how you can judge of writers: my faults, however numerous, I knowwill none of them escape through inattention, nor will any merit be lostfor want of discernment: My verses are before him who has writtenelegantly, who has judged with accuracy, and who has given unequivocalproof of abilities in a work of difficulty;—a translation of poetry,which few persons in this kingdom are able to read, and in theestimation of talents not hitherto justly appreciated: In this view, Icannot but feel some apprehension: but I know also, that your Lordshipis apprised of the great difficulty of writing well; that you will makemuch allowance for failures, if not too frequently repeated;{viii} and, asyou can accurately discern, so you will readily approve, all the betterand more happy efforts of one, who places the highest value upon yourLordship’s approbation; and who has the honour to be,

Your Lordship’s most faithful,
obliged humble Servant,


About twenty-five years since, was published a Poem called TheLibrary; which, in no long time, was followed by two others, TheVillage, and The Newspaper: These, with a few alterations andadditions, are here reprinted; and are accompanied by a Poem of greaterlength, and several shorter attempts, now, for the first time, beforethe Public; whose reception of them creates in their Author, somethingmore than common solicitude, because he conceives that, with thejudgement to be formed of these latter productions, upon whatever may befound intrinsically meritorious or defective, there will be united anenquiry into the relative degree of praise or blame, which they may bethought to deserve, when compared with the more early attempts of thesame Writer.{x}

And certainly, were it the principal employment of a man’s life, tocompose Verses, it might seem reasonable to expect, that he wouldcontinue to improve as long as he continued to live; though, even then,there is some doubt whether such improvement would follow, and perhapsproof might be adduced to shew, it would not: but when to this “idletrade,” is added some “calling,” with superior claims upon his timeand attention, his progress in the art of Versification will probably bein proportion neither to the years he has lived, nor even to theattempts he has made.

While composing the first-published of these Poems, the Author washonoured with the notice and assisted by the advice of the RightHonourable Edmund Burke: Part of it was written in his presence, andthe whole submitted to his judgement; receiving, in its progress, thebenefit of his correction: I hope therefore to obtain pardon of thereader, if I eagerly seize the occasion, and, after so long a silence,endeavour to express a grateful sense of the benefits I have receivedfrom this Gentleman, who was solicitous for my more essential interests,as well as benevolently anxious for my credit as a writer.

I will not enter upon the subject of his extraordinary abilities; itwould be vanity, it would be weakness{xi} in me to believe that I couldmake them better known or more admired than they now are; but of hisprivate worth, of his wishes to do good, of his affability andcondescension; his readiness to lend assistance when he knew it waswanted, and his delight to give praise where he thought it was deserved;of these I may write with some propriety: all know that his powers werevast, his acquirements various, and I take leave to add, that he appliedthem, with unremitted attention, to those objects which he believedtended to the honour and welfare of his country; but it may not be sogenerally understood that he was ever assiduous in the more privateduties of a benevolent nature, that he delighted to give encouragementto any promise of ability and assistance to any appearance of desert; towhat purposes he employed his pen, and with what eloquence he spake inthe senate, will be told by many, who yet may be ignorant of the solidinstruction as well as the fascinating pleasantry found in his commonconversation, among his friends, and his affectionate manners, amiabledisposition, and zeal for their happiness, which he manifested in thehours of retirement with his family.

To this Gentleman I was indebted for my knowledge of Sir JoshuaReynolds, who was as well known to{xii} his friends, for his perpetual fundof good-humour, and his unceasing wishes to oblige, as he was to thepublic, for the extraordinary productions of his pencil and his pen: Byhim I was favoured with an introduction to Doctor Johnson, whohonoured me with his notice and assisted me, as Mr. Boswell has told,with Remarks and Emendations for a Poem I was about to publish[1]: TheDoctor had been often wearied by applications, and did not readilycomply with requests, for his opinion; not from any unwillingness tooblige, but from a painful contention in his mind, between a desire ofgiving pleasure and a determination to speak truth. No man can, I think,publish a work without some expectation of satisfying those who are tojudge of its merit: but I can, with the utmost regard to veracity, speakmy fears, as predominating over every pre-indulged thought of a morefavourable nature, when I was told that a judge so discerning, hadconsented to read and give his opinion of the Village, the poem I hadprepared for publication. The time of suspence was not long protracted;I was soon favoured with a few words from Sir Joshua, whoobserved,—‘If I knew how cau{xiii}tious Doctor Johnson was in givingcommendation, I should be well satisfied with the portion dealt to me inhis letter.’—Of that letter the following is a copy:


“I have sent you back Mr. Crabbe’s Poem; which I read with greatdelight. It is original, vigorous, and elegant.—The alterationswhich I have made, I do not require him to adopt; for, my linesare, perhaps, not often better [than] his own: but he may take mineand his own together, and perhaps, between them, produce somethingbetter than either.—He is not to think his copy wantonly defaced:A wet sponge will wash all the red lines away, and leave the pagesclean.—His Dedication[2] will be least liked: it were better tocontract it into a short sprightly Address.—I do not doubt of Mr.Crabbe’s success.

“I am, Sir, your most humble servant,

March 4 1783.



That I was fully satisfied, my readers will do me the justice tobelieve; and I hope they will pardon me, if there should appear to themany impropriety in publishing the favourable opinion expressed in aprivate letter; they will judge, and truly, that by so doing I wish tobespeak their good opinion, but have no design of extorting theirapplause: I would not hazard an appearance so ostentatious, to gratifymy vanity, but, I venture to do it, in compliance with my fears.

After these was published the Newspaper: it had not the advantage ofsuch previous criticism from my friends, nor perhaps so much of my ownattention as I ought to have given to it; but the impression wasdisposed of, and I will not pay so little respect to the judgement of myreaders, as now to suppress, what they then approved.

Since the publication of this Poem, more than twenty years have elapsed,and I am not without apprehension, lest so long a silence should beconstrued into a blameable neglect of my own interest which thoseexcellent friends were desirous of promoting; or what is yet worse, intoa want of gratitude for their assistance; since it becomes me tosuppose, they considered these first attempts as promises of betterthings, and their favours as stimulants to{xv} future exertion; and here,be the construction put upon my apparent negligence what it may, letme not suppress my testimony to the liberality of those who are lookedup to, as patrons and encouragers of literary merit, or indeed of meritof any kind: their patronage has never been refused, I conceive, when ithas been reasonably expected or modestly required, and it would bedifficult, probably, to instance, in these times and in this country,any one who merited or was supposed to merit assistance, but whonevertheless languished in obscurity or necessity for want of it; unlessin those cases, where it was prevented by the resolution of impatientpride, or wearied by the solicitations of determined profligacy.—Andwhile the subject is before me, I am unwilling to pass silently over thedebt of gratitude which I owe to the memory of two deceased noblemen,His Grace the late Duke of Rutland, and The Right Honourable theLord Thurlow: sensible of the honour done me by their notice and thebenefits received from them, I trust this acknowledgement will beimputed to its only motive, a grateful sense of their favours.

Upon this subject I could dwell with much pleasure; but to give a reasonfor that appearance of neglect, as it is more difficult, so happily itis less required: In truth I have, for many years, intended are{xvi}publication of these Poems, as soon as I should be able to join withthem, such other of later date, as might not deprive me of the littlecredit, the former had obtained. Long indeed has this purpose beenprocrastinated: and if the duties of a profession, not before pressingupon me; if the claims of a situation, at that time untried; ifdiffidence of my own judgement, and the loss of my earliest friends,will not sufficiently account for my delay,

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