city and innocence; but then there is a degree of clegance and refinement no way inconsistent with these rural virtues, and that raises Elegy above that merum rus, that unpolished rusticity, which has given our Pastoral writers their highest reputation.

Wealth and splendor will never want their proper weight ; the danger is, lest they should too much preponderate; a kind of poetry, therefore, which throws its chief influence into the other scale, that magnifies the sweets of liberty and independence, that endears the honest delights of love and friendship, that celebrates the glory of a good name after death, that ridicules the futile arrogance of birth, that recommends the innocent amusement of letters, and insensibly prepares the mind for that humanity it inculcates; such a kind of poctry may chance to please, and if it please, should seem to be of service,

As to the style of Elegy, it may be well enough determined from what has gone before: it should imigate the voice and language of grief, or if a metaphor of dress be more agreeable, it should be simple and diffuse, and flowing as a mourner's vale. A versification, therefore, is desirable, which, by indulging a free and unconstrained expression, may admit of that simplicity which Elegy requires.

Heroic metre, with alternate rhyme, seems well cnough adapted to this species of poetry; and, however cxceptionable upon other occasions, its inconveniences

appear to lose their weight in shorter Elegies, and its advantages seem to acquire an additional importance. The world has an admirable example of its beauty in a collection of Elegies* not long since published, the product of a gentleman of the most exact taste, and whose untimely death merits all the tears that Elegy can shed.

It is not impossible that some may think this metre too lax and prosaic ; others, that even a more dissolute variety of numbers may have superior advantages : and in favour of these last might be produced the example of Milton in his Lycidas, together with one or two recent and beautiful imitations of his versification in that monody. But this kind of argument, I am apt to think, must prove too much, since the writers I have in view seem capable enough of recommending any metre they shall chuse; though it must be owned also, that the choice they make of any, is at the same time the strongest presumption in its favour.

Perhaps it may be no great difficulty to compromise the dispute. There is no one kind of metre, that is distinguished by rhymes, but is liable to some objection or other. Heroic verse, where every second line is terminated by a rhyme, (with which the judgment requires that the sense should in some measure also terminate) is apt to render the expres*N. B. This preface was written near twenty years ago.

sion either scanty or constrained; and this is sometimes observable in the writings of a poet lately deceased, though I believe no one ever threw so much sense together, with so much ease, into a couplet, as Mr. Pope : but as an air of constraint too often accompanies this metre, it seems by no means proper for a writer of Elegy.

. The previous rhyme in Milton's Lycidas is very frequently placed at such a distance from the following, that it is often dropt by the memory (much better employed in attending to the sentiment) before it be brought to join its partner; and this seems to be the greatest objection to that kind of versification : but then the peculiar ease and variety it ade mits of are, no doubt, sufficient to over balance the objection, and to give it the preference to any other, in an Elegy of length.

The chief exception, to which stanza of all kinds is liable, is, that it breaks the sense too regularly when it is continued through a long poem; and this may be, perhaps, the fault of Mr. Waller's excellent panegyric. But if this fault be less discern. ible in smaller compositions, as I suppose it is, I flatter myself that the advantages I have before mentioned, resulting from alternate rhyme, (with which stanza is, I think, connected) may at least, in shorter Elegies, be allowed to outweigh its imperfections.


I shall say but little of the different kinds of Elegy. The melancholy of a lover is different, no doubt, from what we feel on other mixed occasions. The mind in which love and grief at once predominate is softened to an excess. Love-elegy, therefore, is more negligent of order and design, and, being addressed chiefly to the ladies, requires little more than tenderness and perspicuity. Elegies that are formed upon promiscuous incidents, and addressed to the world in general, inculcate some sort of moral, and admit a different degree of reasoning, thought, and order.

The Author of the following Elegies entered on his subjects occasionally, as particular incidents in life suggested, or dispositions of mind recommended them to his choice. If he describes a rural landscape, or unfolds the train of sentiments it inspired, he fairly drew his picture from the spot, and felt very sensibly the affection he communicates : if he speaks of his humble shed, his flocks and his fleeces, he does not counterfeit the scene, who having (whether thro' choice or necessity is not material) retired betimes to country solitudes, and sought his happiness in rural employments, has a right to consider himself as a real shepherd. The flocks, the meadows, and the grottos, are his own, and the embellishment of his farm his sole amusement. the sentiments, therefore, were inspired by Nature,

and that in the earlier part of his life, he hopes they will retain a natural appearance, diffusing at least some part of that amusement which, he freely acknowledges, he received from the composition of them.

There will appear, perhaps, a real inconsistency in the moral tenor of the several Elegies, and the subsequent ones may sometimes seem a recantation of the preceding. The reader will scarcely impute this to oversight, but will allow that men's opinions, as well as tempers, vary; that neither pub. lic nor private, active nor speculative life, are un. exceptionably happy, and, consequently, that any change of opinion concerning them may afford an additional beauty to poetry, as it gives us a more striking representation of life.

If the Author has hazarded, throughout, the use of English or modern allusions, he hopes it will not be imputed to an entire ignorance, or to the least disesteem of the ancient learning. He has kept the ancient plan and method in his eye, though he builds his edifice with the materials of his own nation. In other words, through a fondness for his native country, he has made use of the flowers it produced, tho', in order to exhibit them to the greater advantage, he has endeavoured to weave his garland by the best model he could find; with what success, beyond his own amusement, must be left to judges

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