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the variations of his ftyle, and the different modulations of his numbers; to preferve, in the more active or descriptive parts, a warmth and elevation; in the more fedate or narrative, a plainnefs and folemnity; in the fpeeches, a fullnefs and perfpicuity; in the fentences, a fhortness and gravity: Not to neglect even the little figures and turns on the words, nor fometimes the very caft of the periods; neither to omit nor confound any rites or customs of antiquity: Perhaps too he ought to include the whole in a shorter compass than has hitherto been done by any translator, who has tolerably preferved either the fenfe or poetry. What I would farther recommend to him, is to ftudy his author rather from his own text, than from any commentators, how learned foever, or whatever figure they may make in the estimation of the world; to confider him attentively in comparison with Virgil above all the ancients, and with Milton above all the moderns. Next thefe, the Archbishop of Cambray's Telemachus may give him the trueft idea of the spirit and turn of our author, and Boffu's admirable treatife of the Epick poem, the juftest notion of his design ånd conduct. But after all, with whatever judgment and study a man may proceed, or with whatever happiness he may perform fuch a work, he must hope to please but a few; thofe only who have at once a taste of poetry, and competent learning. For to fatisfy fuch as want either, is not in the nature of this undertaking; fince a mere modern wit can like nothing that is not modern, and a pedant nothing that is not Greek.
What I have done is fubmitted to the Publick, from whofe opinions I am prepared to learn; though I fear no judges fo little as our beft Poets, who are most fenfible of the weight of this task. As for the worst, whatever they shall please to fay, they may give me fome
concern as they are unhappy men, but none as they are malignant writers. I was guided in this translation by judgments very different from theirs, and by perfons for whom they can have no kindness, if an old obfervation be true, that the ftrongest antipathy in the world is that of fools to men of wit. Mr. Addifon was the first whofe advice determined me to undertake this task, who was pleased to write to me upon that occasion, in such terms, as I cannot repeat without vanity. I was obliged to Sir Richard Steele for a very early recommendation of my undertaking to the Publick. Dr. Swift promoted my intereft with that warmth with which he always ferves his friend. The humanity and franknefs of Sir Samuel Garth are what I never knew wanting on any occafion. I must also acknowledge with infinite pleasure, the many friendly offices, as well as fincere criticisms of Mr. Congreve, who had led me the way in tranflating fome parts of Homer. I must add the names of Mr. Rowe and Dr. Parnell, though I fhall take a further opportunity of doing juftice to the laft, whofe good-nature (to give it a great panegyrick) is no less extenfive than his learning. The favour of these gentlemen is not entirely undeserved by one who bears them fo true an affection. But what can I fay of the honour fo many of the Great have done me, while the first names of the age appear as my fubfcribers, and the most distinguished patrons and ornaments of learning as my chief encouragers? Among these it is a particular pleasure to me to find, that my highest obligations are to fuch who have done most honour to the name of Poet: That his Grace the Duke of Buckingham was not displeased I should undertake the author to whom he has given (in his excellent Essay) fo complete a praise.
Read Homer once, and you can read no more;
That the Earl of Hallifax was one of the first to favour me, of whom it is hard to fay whether the advancement of the polite arts is more owing to his generofity or his example. That fuch a Genius as my Lord Bolingbroke, not more diftinguished in the great fcenes of business, than in all the useful and entertaining parts of learning, has not refused to be the critick of these theets, and the patron of their writer. And that the noble author of the Tragedy of Heroick Love, has continued his partiality to me, from my writing pastorals to my attempting the Iliad. I cannot deny myself the pride of confeffing,` that I have had the advantage not only of their advice for the conduct in general, but their correction of several particulars of this tranflation.
I could fay a great deal of the pleasure of being diftinguished by the Earl of Carnarvon; but it is almoft abfurd to particularize any one generous action in a person whose whole life is a continued series of them. Mr. Stanhope, the present Secretary of State, will pardon my defire of having it known that he was pleased to promote this affair. The particular zeal of Mr. Harcourt (the fon of the late Lord Chancellor) gave me a proof how much I am honoured in a fhare of his friendship. I must attribute to the fame motive that of feveral others of my friends, to whom all acknowledgments are rendered unnecessary by the privileges of a familiar correfpondence: And I am fatisfied I can no way better oblige men of their turn, than by my filence.
In fhort, I have found more patrons than ever Homer wanted. He would have thought himself happy to have met the fame favour at Athens, that has been shewn me by its learned rival, the Univerfity of Oxford. And I can hardly envy him those pompous honours he received after death, when I reflect on the enjoyment of fo many agreeable obligations, and easy friendships, which make the fatisfaction of life. This distinction is the more to be acknowledged, as it is fhewn to one whofe pen has never gratified the prejudices of particular parties, or the vanities of particular men. Whatever the success may prove, I fhall never repent of an undertaking in which I have experienced the candour and friendship of fo many persons of merit; and in which I hope to pafs fome of thofe years of youth that are generally loft in a circle of follies, after a manner neither wholly unuseful to others, nor disagreeable to myfelf.
WORKS OF SHAKESPEAR.
"T is not my design to enter into a criticism upon this author; though to do it effectually and not fuperficially, would be the best occafion that any juft writer could take, to form the judgment and tafte of our nation. For of all English poets Shakespear must be confeffed to be the fairest and fulleft fubject for criticism, and to afford the moft numerous, as well as moft confpicuous inftances, both of beauties and faults of all forts. But this far exceeds the bounds of a Preface, the business of which is only to give an account of the fate of his works, and the difadvantages under which they have been tranfmitted to us. We shall hereby extenuate many faults which are his, and clear him from the imputation of many which are not: A defign which, though it can be no guide to future criticks to do him` justice in one way, will at least be fufficient to prevent their doing him an injustice in the other.
I cannot however but mention fome of his principal and characteristick excellencies, for which (notwithftanding his defects) he is justly and univerfally elevated above all other dramatick Writers. Not that this is the proper place of praifing him, but because I would not omit any occafion of doing it.
If ever any author deserved the name of an Original, it was Shakespear. Homer himself drew not his art fo