페이지 이미지


THIS is thought one of Dr Swift's correctest pieces; its chief merit, indeed, is the elegant ease with which a story, but ill conceived in itself, is told.


Πάντα γέλως, καὶ πάντα κόνις, καὶ πάντα τὸ μηδέν·
Πάντα γὰρ ἐξ ἀλόγων ἐςτὶ τὰ γιγνόμενα.

WHAT Prior meant by this poem I can't understand: by the Greek motto to it one would think it was either to laugh at the subject or his reader. There are some parts of it very fine; and let them save the badness of the rest.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

DOCTOR FORDYCE's excellent Sermons for Young Women, in some measure gave rise to the following compilation. In that work, where he so judiciously points out all the defects of female conduct to remedy them, and all the proper studies which they should pursue, with a view to improvement, Poetry is one to which he particularly would attach them. He only objects to the danger of pursuing this charming study through all the immoralities and false pictures of happiness with which it abounds, and thus becoming the martyr of innocent curiosity.

In the following compilation care has been taken to select, not only such pieces as innocence may read without a blush, but such as will even tend to strengthen that innocence. In this little work a lady may find the most exquisite pleasure, while she is at the same time learning the duties of life; and, while she courts only entertainment, be deceived into wisdom. Indeed, this would be too great a boast in the preface to any original work; but here it can be made with safety, as every poem in the following collection would singly have procured an author great reputation.

They are divided into Devotional, Moral, and Entertaining, thus comprehending the three great duties of life,that which we owe to God, to our neighbour, and to ourselves.

In the first part, it must be confessed, our English poets have not very much excelled. In that department, namely, the praise of our Maker, by which poetry began, and from which it deviated by time, we are most faultily deficient. There are one or two, however, particularly the Deity, by Mr Boyse; a poem, when it first came out, that lay for some time neglected, till introduced to public notice by Mr Hervey and Mr Fielding. In it the reader will perceive many striking pictures, and perhaps glow with a part of that gratitude which seems to have inspired the writer.

In the Moral part I am more copious, from the same reason, because our language contains a large number of the kind. Voltaire, talking of our poets, gives them the preference in moral pieces to those of any other nation; and indeed no poets have better settled the bounds of duty, or more precisely determined the rules for conduct in life, than ours. In this department the fair reader will find the Muse has been solicitous to guide her, not with the allurements of a syren, but the integrity of a friend.

In the Entertaining part my greatest difficulty was_what to reject. The materials lay in such plenty that I was bewildered in my choice; in this case, then, I was solely determined by the tendency of the poem; and where I found one, however well executed, that seemed in the least tending to distort the judgment, or inflame the imagination, it was excluded without mercy. I have here and there, indeed, when one of particular beauty offered with a few blemishes, lopped off the defects, and thus, like the tyrant,* who fitted all strangers to the bed he had prepared for them, I have inserted some, by first adapting them to my plan: we only differ in this, that he mutilated with a bad design, I from motives of a contrary nature.

It will be easier to condemn a compilation of this kind, than to prove its inutility. While young ladies are readers, and while their guardians are solicitous that they shall only read the best books, there can be no danger of a work of this kind being disagreeable. It offers, in a very small

* Procrustes. - B.



compass, the very flowers of our poetry, and that of a kind adapted to the sex supposed to be its readers. Poetry is an art, which no young lady can, or ought to be wholly ignorant of. The pleasure which it gives, and indeed the necessity of knowing enough of it to mix in modern conversation, will evince the usefulness of my design, which is to supply the highest and the most innocent entertainment at the smallest expense; as the poems in this collection, if sold singly, would amount to ten times the price of what I am able to afford the present.




[This Introduction is here printed for the first time with Goldsmith's Prefaces, a distinction which it certainly merits on account of its excellence. The work to which it properly belongs is little known :it is, indeed, superficial; but the author displays in it his usual art of communicating his knowledge in a pleasing manner; and the Survey of Experimental Philosophy may still be consulted with advantage by those whose acquaintance with science is too limited to enable them to understand more scientific works.-B.

In order to explain all the appearances of nature, the ancients usually considered man as a being newly introduced into the world, ignorant of all he saw, and astonished with every object around him. In this great variety, the first efforts of such a being would be to procure subsistence, and, careless of the causes of things, to rest contented with their enjoyment.

The next endeavour of such a creature would be to know by what means he became blest with such a luxuriance of possession; he feels the grateful vicissitudes of day and night-perceives the difference of seasons-he finds some things noxious to his health, and others grateful to his appetite he would therefore eagerly desire to be informed how these things assumed such qualities, and would himself, from want of experience, form some wild conjecture concerning them. He would, for instance, assert, as the primeval ancients have done, that the sun was made of red-hot iron, that at night it sunk into the sea to rest

« 이전계속 »