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That people live and die, I knew
An hour ago, as well as you.
And, if Fate spins us longer years,
Or is in haste to take the shears,
I know we must both fortunes try,
And bear our evils, wet or dry.
Yet, let the goddess smile or frown,
Bread we shall eat, or white or brown;
And in a cottage, or a court

Drink fine champaigne, or muddled port.
What need of books these truths to tell,
Which folks perceive who cannot spell?
And must we spectacles apply,
To view what hurts our naked eye!
"Sir, if it be your wisdom's aim
To make me merrier than I am,
I'll be all night at your devotion-
Come on, friend; broach the pleasing notion:
But, if you would depress my thought,
Your system is not worth a groat-

"For Plato's fancies what care I?
I hope you would not have me die,
Like simple Gato in the play,
For any thing that he can say?
E'en let him of ideas speak
To heathens in his native Greck.
If to be sad is to be wise,
I do most heartily despise
Whatever Socrates has said,
Or Tully writ, or Wanley read.

"Dear Drift, to set our matters righ
Remove these papers from my sight;
Burn Mat's Des-cart, and Aristotle :
Here! Jonathan, your master's bottle."

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few to read it. It is harder for him to speak of his own writings. An author is in the condition of a culprit: the public are his judges: by allowing too much, and condescending too far, he may injure his own cause, and become a kind of felo de se; and, by pleading and asserting too boldly, he may displease the court that sits upon him: his apology may only heighten his accusation. I would avoid these extremes; and though, I grant, it would not be very civil to trouble the reader with a long preface, before he enters upon an indifferent poem : I would say something to persuade him to take it as it is, or to excuse it for not being better.

The noble images and reflections, the profound reasonings upon human actions, and excellent precepts for the government of life, which are found in the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and other books commonly attributed to Solomon, afford subjects for finer poems in every kind, than have, I think, as yet appeared in the Greek, Latin, or any modern language: how far they were verse in their original is a dissertation not to be entered into at present.

Out of this great treasure, which lies heaped up together in a confused magnificence, above all' order, I had a mind to collect and digest such observations and apophthegms, as most particularly tend to the proof of that great assertion, laid down in the beginning of the Ecclesiastes, All is vanity.

Upon the subject thus chosen, such various images present themselves to a writer's mind, that he must find it easier to judge what should be rejected, than what ought to be received. The difficulty lies in drawing and disposing; or (as the painters term it) in grouping such a multitude of different objects, preserving still the justice and conformity of style and colouring, the "simplex duntaxat & unum," which Horace prescribes, as requisite to make the whole picture beautiful and perfect.

As precept, however true in theory, or useful in practice, would be but dry and tedious in verse, especially if the recital be long, I found it necessary to form some story, and give a kind of body to the poem. Under what species it may be comprehended, whether didascalic or heroic, I leave to the judgment of the critics, desiring them to be favourable in their censure; and not solicitous what the poem is called, provided it may be accepted.

The chief personage, or character, in the epic to carry on the narration and the moral. Homer is always proportioned to the design of the work, intended to show us, in his Iliad, that dissensions amongst great men obstruct the execution of the noblest enterprizes, and tend to the ruin of a state or kingdom. His Achilles therefore is haughty and passionate, impatient of any restraint by laws, and arrogant in arms. In his Odysseïs, the same Poet endeavours to explain, that the hardest fortune restored after the severest afflictions. difficulties may be overcome by labour, and our Ulysses therefore is valiant, virtuous and patient. Virgil's design was to tell us, how, from a small colony established by the Trojans in Italy, the families Augustus (who was his prince and patron) Roman empire rose; and from what ancient

descended. His hero therefore was to fight his way to the throne, still distinguished and pro

tected by the favour of the gods. The poet to this end takes off from the vices of Achilles, and adds to the virtues of Ulysses; from both perfecting a character proper for his work in the person of Æneas.

I presume this poetical liberty may be very justly allowed me on so solemn an occasion.

In my description I have endeavoured to keep to the notions and manners of the Jewish nation at the time when Solomon lived: and, where i allude to the customs of the Greeks, I believe I may justified by the strictest chronology; though a poet is not obliged to the rules that confine an historian. Virgil has anticipated two hundred years; or the Trojan Hero and Carthaginian queen could not have been brought together: and without the same anachronism several of the finest parts of his neis must have been omitted. Our countryman Milton goes yet further. He takes up many of his material images some thousands of years after the fall of man: nor could he otherwise have written, or we read, one of the sublimest pieces of invention that was ever yet produced. This likewise takes off the objection, that some names of countries, terms of art, and notions in natural philosophy, are otherwise expressed than can be warranted by the geography or astronomy of Solomon's time. Poets are allowed the same liberty in their descriptions and comparisons, as painters in their draperies and ornaments: their personages may be dressed, not exactly in the same habits which they wore, but in such as make them appear most graceful. In this case probability must atone for the want of truth. This liberty has indeed been abused by masters in either science. Raphael and Tasso have shown their discretion, where Paul Veronese and Ariosto are to answer for their· extravagances. It is the excess, not the thing itself, that is blameable.

As Virgil copied after Homer, other epic poets have copied after them both. Tasso's Gierrusa-be lemme Liberata is directly Troy town sacked; with this difference only, that the two chief characters in Homer, which the Latin poet had joined in one, the Italian has separated in his Godfrey and Rinaldo: but he makes them both carry on his work with very great success. Ronsard's Franciade (incomparably good as far as it goes) is again Vigil's Aneis. His Hero comes from a foreign country, settles a colony, and Jays the foundation of a future empire. 1 instance in these, as the greatest Italian and French poets in the epic. In our language, Spenser has not contented himself with this submissive manner of imitation: he lanches out into very flowery paths, which still seem to conduct him into one great road. His Fairy Queen | (had it been finished) must have ended in the account which every knight was to give of his adventures, and in the accumulated praises of his heroine Gloriana. The whole would have been an heroic poem, but in another cast and figure than any that ever had been written before. Yet it is observable, that every hero (as far as we can judge by the books still remain-eminent ing) bears his distinguished character, and represents some particular virtue conducive to the whole design.

To bring this to our present subject. The pleasures of life do not compensate the miseries: age steals upon us unawares; and death, as the only cure of our ills, ought to be expected, but not feared. This instruction is to be illustrated by the action of some great person. Who therefore more proper for the business, than Solomon himself? And why may he not be supposed now to repeat what, we take it for granted, he acted almost three thousand years since? If, in the fair situation where this prince was placed, he was acquainted with sorrow; if, endowed with the greatest perfections of nature, and possessed of all the advantages of external condition, he could not find happiness: the rest of mankind may safely take the monarch's word for the truth of what he asserts. And the author, who would persuade that we should bear the ills of life patiently, merely because Solomon felt the same, has a better argument than Lucretius had, when, in his imperious way, he at once convinces and commands, that we ought to submit to death without repining, because Epicurus died.

The whole poem is a soliloquy: Solomon is the person that speaks: he is at once the hero and the author, but he tells us very often what others say to him. Those chiefly introduced are his rabbies and philosophers in the first book; and his women and their attendants in the second: with these the sacred history mentions him to have conversed; as likewise with the angel brought down in the third book, to help him out of his difficulties, or at least to teach him how to overcome them.

Nec Deus intersit nisi dignus vindice node--

I would say one word of the measure in whick this and most poems of the age are written. Heroic with continued rhyme, as Donne and his contemporaries used it, carrying the sense of one verse most commonly into another, was found too dissolute and wild, and came very often too near prose. As Davenant and Waller corrected, and Dryden perfected it, it is too confined: it cuts off the sense at the end of every first line, which must always rhyme to the next following; and consequently produces too frequent an identity in the sound, and brings every couplet to the point of an epigram. It is indeed too broken and weak, to convey the sentiments and represent the images proper for epic. And, as it tires the writer while he composes, it must do the same to the reader while he repeats; especially in a poem of any considerable length.

If striking out into blank verse, as Milton did, (and in this kind Mr. Phillips, had he lived, would have excelled), or running the thought into alternate and stanza, which allows a greater variety, and still preserve the dignity of the verse, as Spenser and Fairfax have done; if either of these, I say, be a proper remedy for my poetical complaint, or if any other may be found, I dare not determine; I am only inquiring in order to be better informed, without presuming to direct the judgment of others. And, while I am speaking of the verse itself, I give all just praise to many of my friends now living, who have in epic carried the harmony of their numbers as far as the nature of this measure will permit. But, once more: he, that writes in rhymes, dances in

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fetters; and, as his chain is more extended, he may certainly take larger steps.

I need make no apology for the short digressive panegyric upon Great Britain in the first book. I am glad to have it observed, that there appears throughout all my verses a zeal for the honour of my country: and I had rather be thought a good Englishman, than the best poet, or the greatest scholar that ever wrote.


"I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” Ver. 16.

"He spake of trees, from the cedar-tree that is in
Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth
out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of
fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes."
1 Kings, chap. iv. ver. 33.

"I know, that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be .
for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing
taken from it; and God doeth it, that men should
fear before him." Eccles. chap. iii. ver. 14.
"He hath made every thing beautiful in his time:
also he hath set the world in their heart, so that
no man can find out the work that God maketh
from the beginning to the end.” Ver. 11.

"For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that
increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow." Ch. i.
ver. 18.

"And further, by these, my son, be admonished : of making many books there is no end: and much study is a weariness of the flesh." Ch. xin

And now as to the publishing of this piece, though I have in a literal sense observed Horace's Nonum prematur in annum; yet have I by no means obeyed our poetical lawgiver, according to the spirit of the precept. The poem has indeed been written and laid aside much longer than the term prescribed; but in the meantime I had little leisure, and less inclination, to revise or print it. The frequent interruptions I have met with in my private studies, and great variety of public life in which I have been employed, my thoughts (such. as they are) having generally been expressed in foreign language, and even formed by a habitude very different from what the beauty and elegance of English poetry requires: all these, and some other circumstances which we had as good pass by at present, do justly contribute to make my excuse in this behalf very plausible. Far indeed fron designing to print, I had locked up these papers in my scritoire, there to lie in peace till my executors might have taken them out. altered this design, or how my scritoire came to be unlocked before my coffin was nailed, is the question, The true reason I take to be the best: many of my friends of the first quality, finest learning, and greatest understanding, have wrested the key from my hands by a very kind and irresistible violence: and the poem is published, not without my consent indeed, but a little against my opinion; and with an implicit submission to the partiality of their judgment. As I give up here the fruits of many of any vacant hours to their amusement and pleasure, I shall always think myself happy, if I may dedicate my most serious endeavours to their interest and service. And I am proud to finish this preface by saying, that the violence of many enemies, whom I never justly offended, is abundantly recompensed by the goodness of more friends, whom I can never sufficiently oblige. And if I here assume the liberty of mentioning my lord Harley and lord Bathurst as the authors of this amicable confederacy, among all those whose names do me great honbur at the beginning of my book; these two only ought to be angry with me: for I disobey their positive order, whilst I make even this small acknowledgment of their particular kindness.


ver. 12.




SOLOMON, seeking happiness from knowledge, convenes the learned men of his kingdom; requires them to explain to him the various operations and effects of Nature; discourses of vegetables, animals, and man; proposes some questions. concerning the origin and situation of the habitable Earth; proceeds to examine the system of the visible Heaven; doubts if there may not be a plurality of worlds; inquires into the nature of spirits and angels; and wishes to be more fully informed as to the attributes of the Supreme Being. He is imperfectly answered by the rabbins and doctors; blames his own curiosity; and concludes, that, as to human science, All is vanity.

Ye sons of men, with just regard attend, Observe the preacher, and believe the friend, Whose serious Muse inspires him to explain, That all we act, and all we think, is vain; That, in this pilgrimage of seventy years, O'er rocks of perils, and through vales of tears, Destin'd to march, our doubtful steps we tend, Tir'd with the toil, yet fearful of its end: That from the womb we take our fatal shares Of follies, passions, labours, tumults, cares; And, at approach of Death, shall only know "Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of The truth, which from these pensive numbers flow, vanities, all is vanity." Ver..2.


"THE words of the Preacher the son of David, king of Jerusalem." Eccles. chap. i. ver. 1.

1 As subscribers to the edition in folio, 1718.

That we pursue false joy, and suffer real woe.
Happiness, object of that waking dream,
Which we call life, mistaking: fugitive theme

Of my pursuing verse, ideal shade,
Notional good, oy fancy only made,
And by tradition nurs'd, fallacious fire,
Whose dancing beams mislead our fond desire,
Cause of our care, and errour of our mind;
Oh! hadst thou ever been by Heaven design'd
To Adam, and his mortal race; the boon
Entire had been reserv'd for Solomon:
On me the partial lot had been bestow'd,
And in my cup the golden draught had flow'd.
But O ere yet original man was made,
Ere the foundations of this Earth were laid,
It was, opponent to our search, ordain'd
That joy, still sought, should never be attain'd.
This sad experience cites me to reveal,
And what I dictate is from what I feel.

Born, as I was, great David's favourite son,
Dear to my people, on the Hebrew throne,
Sublime my court, with Ophir's treasures blest,
My name extended to the farthest east,
My body cloth'd with every outward grace,
Strength in my limbs, and beauty in my face,
My shining thought with fruitful notions crown'd,
Quick my invention, and my judgment sound:
"Arise," I commun'd with myself, "arise;
Think, to be happy; to be great, be wise:
Content of spirit must from science flow,
For 'tis a godlike attribute to know."

I said; and sent my edict through the land:
Around my throne the letter'd rabbins stand;
Historic leaves revolve, long volumes spread,
The old discoursing as the younger read:
Attent I heard, propos'd my doubts, and said:
"The vegetable world, cach plant and tree,
Its seed, its name, its nature, its degree,
I am allow'd, as Fame reports, to know,
From the fair cedar on the craggy brow
Of Lebanon, nodding supremely tall,
To creeping moss and hyssop on the wall:
Yet, just and conscious to myself, I find
A thousand doubts oppose the searching mind.

"I know not why the beech delights the glade
With boughs extended, and a rounder shade;
Whilst towering firs in conic forms arise,
And with a pointed spear divide the skies:
Nor why again the changing oak should shed
The yearly honour of his stately head;
Whilst the distinguish'd yew is ever seen,
Unchang'd his branch, and permanent his green.
Wanting the Sun, why does the caltha fade?
Why does the cypress flourish in the shade?
The fig and date, why love they to remain
In middle station, and an even plain;
While in the lower marsh the gourd is found,
And while the hill with olive-shade is crown'd?
Why does one climate and one soil endue
The blushing poppy with a crimson hue,
Yet leave the lily pale, and tinge the violet blue?
Why does the fond carnation love to shoot
A various colour from one parent root;
While the fantastic tulip strives to break
In twofold beauty, and a parted streak?
The twining jasmine and the blushing rose,
With lavish grace, their morning scents disclose:
The smelling tuberose and jonquil declare
The stronger impulse of an evening air.
Whence has the tree, (resolve me) or the flower,
A various instinct, or a different power? [breath,
Why should one earth, one clime, one stream, one
Raise this to strength, and sicken that to death?

"Whence does it happen, that the plant, which well

We name the Sensitive, should move and feel?
Whence know her leaves to answer her command,
And with quick horrour fly the neighbouring hand?
"Along the sunny bank, or watery mead,
Ten thousand stalks the various blossoms spread &
Peaceful and lowly in their native soil,
They neither know to spin, nor care to toil;
Yet with confess'd magnificence deride
Our vile attire, and impotence of pride.
The cowslip smiles, in brighter yellow dress'd
Than that which veils the nubile virgin's breast:
A fairer red stands blushing in the rose
Than that which on the bridegroom's vestment

Take but the humblest lily of the field;
And, if our pride will to our reason yield,
It must, by sure comparison, be shown
That on the regal seat great David's son,
Array'd in all his robes and types of power,
Shines with less glory than that simple flower.

"Of fishes next, my friends, I would inquire:
How the mute race engender, or respire,
From the small fry that glide on Jordan's stream,
Unmark'd, a multitude without a name,

To that Leviathan, who o'er the seas
Immense rolls onward his impetuous ways,
And mocks the wind, and in the tempest plays?
How they in warlike bands march greatly forth
From freezing waters and the colder north,
To southern climes directing their career,
Their station changing with th' inverted year?
How all with careful knowledge are endued,
To choose their proper bed, and wave, and food;
To guard their spawn, and educate their brood?
"Of birds, how each, according to her kind,
Proper materials for her nest can find,
And build a frame, which deepest thought in man
Would or amend or imitate in vain?

How in small flights they know to try their young,
And teach the callow child her parent's song?
Why these frequent the plain, and those the wood?
Why every land has her specific brood?
Where the tall crane, or winding swallow, goes,
Fearful of gathering winds and falling snows;
If into rocks, or hollow trees, they creep,
In temporary death confin'd to sleep;
Or, conscious of the coming evil, fly
To milder regions, and a southern sky?

"Of beasts and creeping insects shall we trace
The wondrous nature, and the various race;
Or wild or tame, or friend to man or foe,
Of us what they, or what of them we know?
"Tell me, ye studious, who pretend to see
Far into Nature's bosom, whence the bee
Was first inform'd her venturous flight to steer
Through trackless paths, and an abyss of air?
Whence she avoids the slimy marsh, and knows
The fertile hills, where sweeter herbage grows,
And honey-making flowers their opening buds dis-

How from the thicken'd mist, and setting sun,
Finds she the labour of her day is done?
Who taught her against winds and rains to strive,
To bring her burthen to the certain hive;
And through the liquid fields again to pass,
Duteous, and hearkening to the sounding brass?

And, O thou sluggard, tell me why the ant, 'Midst summer's plenty, thinks of winter's want,

By constant journies careful to prepare
Her stores; and, bringing home the corny ear,
By what instruction does she bite the grain,
Lest, hid in earth, and taking root again,
It might elude the foresight of her care?
Distinct in either insect's deed appear

The marks of thought, contrivance, hope, and fear.
"Fix thy corporeal and internal eye
On the young gnat, or new-engender'd fly;
On the vile worm that yesterday began
To crawl; thy fellow-creatures, abject man!
Like thee they breathe, they move, they taste,
they see,

They show their passions by their acts, like thee:
Darting their stings, they previously declare
Design'd revenge, and fierce intent of war:
Laying their eggs, they evidently prove
The genial power, and full effect of love.
Fach then has organs to digest his food,
One to beget, and one receive the brood;
Has limbs and sinews, blood and heart, and brain,
Life and her proper functions to sustain,
Though the whole fabric smaller than a grain.
What more can our penurious reason grant
To the large whale, or castled elephant;
To those enormous terrours of the Nile,
The crested snake, and long-tail'd crocodile ;
Than that all differ but in shape and naine,
Each destin'd to a less or larger frame?

"For potent Nature loves a various act,
Prone to enlarge, or studious to contract ;.
Now forms her work too small, now too immense,
And scorns the measures of our feeble sense.
The object, spread too far, or rais'd too high,
Denies its real image to the eye;
Too little, it eludes the dazzled sight,
Becomes mixt blackness, or unparted light.
Water and air the varied form confound;

The straight looks crooked, and the square grows


"Thus, while with fruitless hope and weary pain,
We seek great Nature's power, but seek in vain,
Safe sits the goddess in her dark retreat;
Around her myriads of ideas wait,

And endless shapes, which the mysterious queen
Can take or quit, can alter or retain,
As from our lost pursuit she wills, to hide
Her close decrees, and chasten human pride.
"Untam'd and fierce the tiger still remains;
He tires his life in biting on his chains:
For the kind gifts of water and of food
Ungrateful, and returning ill for good,
He seeks his keeper's flesh, and thirsts his blood:
While the strong camel, and the generous horse,
Restrain'd and aw'd by man's inferior force,
Do to the rider's will their
rage submit,
And answer to the spur, and own the bit;
Stretch their glad mouths to meet the feeder's
Pleas'd with his weight, and proud of his command.
Again: the lonely fox roams far abroad,

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On secret rapine bent, and midnight fraud;
Now haunts the cliff, now traverses the lawn,
And flies the hated neighbourhood of man:
While the kind spaniel, and the faithful hound,
Likest that fox in shape and species found,
Refuses through these cliffs and lawus to roam,
Pursues the noted path, and covets home,
Does with kind joy domestic faces meet,
Takes what the glatted child denies to eat,
And, dying, licks his long-lov'd master's feet.

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By what immediate cause they are inclin'd, In many acts, 'tis hard, I own, to find.

I see in others, or I think I see,

That strict their principles and ours agree.
Evil like us they shun, and covet good;
Abhor the poison, and receive the food.
Like us they love or hate; like us they know
To joy the friend, or grapple with the foe.
With seeming thought their action they intend;
And use the means proportion'd to the end.
Then vainly the philosopher avers,

That reason guides our deed, and instinct theirs
How can we justly different causes frame,
When the effects entirely are the same?
Instinct and reason how can we divide?
'Tis the fool's ignorance, and the pedant's pride.
"With the same folly, sure, man vaunts his sway,
If the brute beast refuses to obey.

For tell ine, when the empty boaster's word
Proclaims himself the universal lord,
Does he not tremble, lest the lion's paw
Should join his plea against the fancy'd law?
Would not the learned coward leave the chair,
If in the schools or porches should appear
The fierce hyena, or the foaming bear?

"The combatant too late the field declines,
When now the sword is girded to is loins.
When the swift vessel flies before the wind,
Too late the sailor views the land behind.
And 'tis too late now back again to bring
Inquiry, rais'd and towering on the wing:
Forward she strives, averse to be withheld
From nobler objects, and a larger field.

"Consider with me this ethereal space,
Yielding to earth and sea the middle place.
Anxious I ask you, how the pensile ball
Should never strive to rise, nor fear to fall?
When I reflect how the revolving Sun
Does round our globe his crooked journies run,
I doubt of many lands, if they contain
Or herd of beast, or colony of man;
If any nation pass their destin'd days.
Beneath the neighbouring Sun's directer rays;
If any suffer on the polar coast
The rage of Arctos and eternal frost.

166 May not the pleasure of Omnipotence
To each of these some secret good dispense?
Those who amidst the torrid regions live,
May they not gales unknown to us receive?
See daily showers rejoice the thirsty earth,
And bless the flowery buds' succeeding birth?
May they not pity us, condemn'd to bear
The various heaven of an obliquer sphere;
While by fix'd laws, and with a just return,
They feel twelve hours that shade, for twelve that

And praise the neighbouring Sun, whose constant


Enlightens them with seasons still the same
And may not those, whose distant lot is cast
North beyond Tartary's extended waste;
Where through the plains of one continual day
Six shining months pursue their even way,
And six succeeding urge their dusky flight,
Obscur'd with vapours, and o'erwhelm'd in night:
May not, I ask, the natives of these climes
(As annals may inform succeeding times)
To our quotidian change of heaven prefer
Their own vicissitude, and equal share

Of day and night, disparted through the year?


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