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could not be more intimately known to himself, than he to Erasmus. YET ERASMUS
MISTAKEN ENTIRELY. His judgment and sagacity will not be questioned. But hear his own words, for on such an occasion, as the present, they are particularly remarkable.
phrasi, ex ore, ex locutione, aliisque compluribus, mihi
persuafi HOC OPUS, maximâ faltem ex parte, esse Hier“ onimi Alexandri. Nam mihi Genius illius ex domestico “ convictu adeo cognitus perspcctusque est, ut ipse sibi non
poflit esse notior !! (a)"
I recommend this anecdote to the confideration of those persons who, from random conjecture, without any knowledge, or any proof whatsoever, continue to afcribe the following work to men, who are all equally guiltless of my labours, and all equally ignorant of my intentions. But I believe, no gentleman to whom it cither has been, or may hereafter be, liberally or illiberally attributed, will so far forget his chara&er, as to appropriate my composition to himself.
“ The Town's enquiring yet;” and will enquire, as I think, for a long time.
I am of opinion, that if the Poem is read once without reference to the notes, the plan, connection, and manner of it will be perceived. I may add, that, The First Dialogue was first published in May 1794, the Second and Third in June 1796, and the Fourth in July 1797.
(a) Erasmi Epift. a 70. C. 1755. Op. Fol. Ed. Opt. Lugd.
On the general Subje&t of the following Poem on the
Pursuits of Literature.
Nel cerchio accolto,
Onde tanto indugiar? FORSE ATTENDETE
Tallo G. L. Cant. 13.
As the public have thought proper to pay some attention to the following Poem on the Pursuits of Literature, the parts of which I have presented to their consideration, and for their use, at various intervals ; I have now collected the whole into one volume, after such a revision
(a) This Letter was first prefixed to the Fifth Edition of the P. of L. collected for the first time into one volume in December 1797, and published in January 1798.
and correction as appeared to be necessary. It gives me pleasure to address this introduâion to you. As a mark of my friendship, I trust it is decisive. I always thought with Junius, that a printed paper receives very little confideration from the most respectable signature ; but I would not be understood to infinuate, with that great and confummate writer, that my name would carry any weight with it. I must own, however, that I smile at the various authors to whom my work has been ascribed. Doctors, Dramatick Writers, Royal Treasurers, Divines, Orators, Lawyers, Greek ProfesTors, School-masters, Bath Guides, and Physicians, have all been named with confidence. Sometimes the whole is written by one man, at others, ten or perhaps twenty are concerned in it.
Criticisms and diffenting conje&tures on the subje&t are -alike the obje& of my ineffable contempt. , More sagacity must be exerted than the Ardelios of the day are masters of, who are so kind as to think of me, who most certainly never think of them. It is, however, my resolution, that not one of these idle conjectures shall ever be extended to you. “ Quid de me alii loquantur, IPSI VIDEANT ; sed
loquentur tamen.” (6) It is a voice ; nothing more. Prudence indeed suggests a caution which I unwillingly adopt, and restrains the eagerness I feel for the display of your virtues and of your talents. . But those virtues must at present be left to the testimony of your own conscience ; and your talents within thofe limits of exertion, in which an undiscerning spirit has too long suffered them to be confined. The bird of day, however, always looks to the fun.
In regard to writing in general, the public expect neither thanks, nor gratitude from an author for their favourable
(b) Cic. Somn. Scip. Sect. 7.
reception of his work. If it is unworthy of their notice, it is left to perish with the poetry of Knight, or the prose of Lauderdale. “ I cannot indeed affect to believe, “ that “ Nature has wholly disqualified me for all literary pursuits."(c) - Yet I would not trouble the public, or myself, with this new edition of my Poem, if I did not think it agreeable to their wishes. I am fatisfied with the attention which has been given to it. And when I have commanded, a filence within my own breast, I think a ftill small voice may whisper those gratulations, from which an honest man may beft derive comfort from the past, and motives for future action.
The wayward nature of the time, and the paramount necessity of securing to this kingdom her political and seligious existence, and the rights of society, have urged and stimulated me, as you well know, to offer this endeavour to preserve them, by a solemn, laborious, and disinterested appeal to my countrymen. It is designed to condu& them through the labyrinths of literature; to convince them of the manner in which the understanding and affections are either bewildered, darkened, enervated, or degraded; and to point out the fatal paths which would lead us all either to final deftru&ion, or to complicated misery,
I am not yet so old as to say, with the desponding bard, “ Vitæ est avidus, quisquis non vult, MUNDO SECUM PEREUNTE, mori." Yet I see, with sorrow and fear, the political constitutions of Europe falling around us, crumbling into dust, under the tyrannical Republic of France. She commenced with an imperious injunction
(c) The words of Mr. Gibbon. Pofthumous Works, ato. rol, In to the surrounding nations not to interpose in her domestic government, while at the very fame moment, she herself was interfering and disturbing them all. She has indeed terminated in the change or overthrow of each of them, but of this kingdom.
Frenchmen were always brutal, when unrestrained. With their own domestick misery and wickedness they never were satisfied. In these latter days they have been neighing after the constitution of their neighbours, in their lawless luftihood. They first deflower the purity of the struggling or half-consenting vi&ims, and then with their ruffian daggers they stille at once the voice, and the remembrance of the pollution. Such are their abominations : such are their orgies of blood and luft. And when their cruelty is at last wearied out and exhausted, and demands a pause, they call it clemency.
FRANCE had been long looking for that, which ber pbilosophers had taught her to term, THE PARALLELISM OF THE SWORD; and she has found it. That sword has indeed swept doan not only every royal crest, but every head which raised itself above the plain of their equality. Such is their quaint and ferocious language. And now, when Englishmen are to be warned against the introdu&ion of the horrid system, no appeal is to be made to the common feelings and passions of our nature, (this, it seems, is declamation ;) no scenes of terror, and cruelty, and defolation, are to be laid before them, but dry reasoning and mathematical calculations of the quantum of misery, plunder, and blood, necessary for the produâion, and establishment in England, of this blessed revolutionary government.