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cept. The Poem has indeed been written and laid aside much longer than the term prescribed; but in the mean time I had little leisure, and less inclination, to revise or print it. The frequent interruptions lhave met with in my private studies, and great variety of publiclife 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 ot Eng
poetry requires; all these, and some other cire cumstances, which we had as good pass by at present, do justly contribute to make my excuse in this behalf very plausible. Far, indeed, from designing to print, I had locked up these papers in my 'scritoire, there to lie in peace
my executors might have taken them What altered this design, or how my 'scritoire canie to be unlocked before my coffin was nailed, is the question. The true reason I take to be the best; many 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 indecd, but a little against my opinion, and with an implicit submission to the partiality of their judge
As I give up here the fruits of inany of my vacant hours to their amusement and pleasure, I skall always think myself happy if I may dedicate my most Volume III.
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 honour in 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 kindKNOWLEDGE.
* The folio edition of 1718, to which is prefixed a most numerous list of honourable and ceiebrated names as subscribers,
TEXTS CHIEFLY ALLUDED TO IN THIS BOOK,
THE words of the Preacher, the son of David, king of Je
rusalem, Eccles. chap i. ver. 1. Varity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities 3
all is vanity, ver. 2. I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come
to great estate, and have getten 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 byssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes,
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 doetk 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,
Eccles. chap. iii. ver, 11. For in much wisdom is much grief: and be that increaseth
knowledge, increaseth sorrow, chap. i. ver. 18. And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making
mary books there is no end : and much study is a weariness of the flesh, chap. xii, ver. 12.
Ο Βίος γαρ όνομ' έχει, πονος δ έργο πίλα.
Siquis Deus mihi largiatur, ut ex hac ætate repuerascam, et in cunis vagiam, valde recusem.
Cic. de Senect. The bewailing of man's miseries hath been elegantly and copiously set
forth by many, in the writings as well of philosophers as divines, and it is both a pleasant and a profitable contemplation.
Lord Bacon's advancement of Learning.
co'omon, seeking happiness from knowledge, convenes the learned mer
of his kingdom; requires them to explain to him the various cpe rations and effects of Nature; discourses of vegetables, animals, and man ; proposes some questions concerning the origin and situati o 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 inper. fectly answered by the Rabbins and Doctors ; blames his own curio. sity; and concludes that, as to human science, ALL IS VANITY,
Ye sons of men, with just regard attend,