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POEMS OF THE PLEASURES:
THE PLEASURES OF IMAGINATION,
BY MARK AKENSIDE, M. D.;
THE PLEASURES OF MEMORY,
BY SAMUEL ROGERS, ESQ.;
THE PLEASURES OF HOPE,
BY THOMAS CAMPBELL, A.M.;
THE PLEASURES OF FRIENDSHIP,
BY JAMES M'HENRY, M. D.
A MEMOIR OF EACH AUTHOR,
A Dissertation on each Poem,
PREPARED EXPRESSLY FOR THIS WORK.
CORNER OF FOURTH AND RACE ST.
11426.2 Harvard College Library
July 1, 1915
ENTERED according to Act of Congress, in the year 1840,
by J. B. LIPPINCOTT & Co. in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Eastern District of
STEREOTYPED BY L. JOHNSON,
A CLASS of ethical poems on the PLEASURES derivable from the mental faculties and emotions, appears to be peculiar to modern times and to British literature. Among the poems transmitted to us by the ancients, that which makes the nearest approach to the character of these productions, is the Art of Love, by Ovid. Had this poem been entitled the Pleasures of Love, it might have been supposed, not only as legitimately belonging to the class in question, but as being its earliest successful example.
But if Ovid's poem even possessed the family name, it would not, in truth, be entitled to claim relationship to the British productions. It differs from them in characteristics much more essential than the mere name. They investigate the sources of our nobler faculties and feelings, and celebrate the enjoyments which those faculties and feelings confer. These are employments worthy of the philosophical and moral
Not so were the purposes for which Ovid wrote. It is not the nature of love, but the art of seduction that he teaches. It is not the joys of affection, but the excitements of appetite that he depicts. To have called his poem the Pleasures of Love, would tish poetry
have been misnaming it, for it is not rational love, but animal passion that is his theme; nor is it true pleasure
-it is loathsome indulgence that he celebrates. Sound judgment, therefore, will combine with good taste in rejecting the pretensions of Ovid's poem to be classified with the valuable works under consideration.
The poetry of some of the existing nations of the European continent, may possibly contain some work worthy of being admitted into the family of the British “ Pleasures." But any such work is unknown to the present writer, who, after taking some pains to inquire, feels satisfied that there exists, at least no series of such works, out of the pale of Bri
He is also persuaded that to the author of the Pleasures of Imagination alone, justly belongs the honour of originating a species of poetical compositions by which modern literature has been so greatly enriched.
It is true that the faculties and feelings of Imagination, Memory, Hope, Friendship, Love, Charity, Piety, Melancholy, Mirth, &c., have, from the very origin of poetry, been the favourite themes of its cul. tivators. But until the production of “The Pleasures of Imagination,” these themes were most frequently treated in connexion with others, as topics of illustration or digression; or when treated separately, it was in such compositions as odes, pastorals, songs, sonnets, &c.--compositions which, however pleasing in themselves, are of a structure and character quite different from the more extensive, philosophical, and preceptive productions, of which Akenside, in the above-mentioned splendid poem, set the example.
Previous to Akenside's poem there, indeed, existed in our own language two exquisite productions, which have a claim much superior to that of Ovid's licentious work, to be classed with the poetical series now before us. These are the Il Penseroso and L’Allegro of Milton, which might with propriety have been called “The Pleasures of Melancholy,” and “The Pleasures of Mirth." But names cannot impart natures, and even with such titles, these poems could not with propriety have been placed in the class of productions under consideration. Their brevity precludes the range and variety of philosophical and moral reflection so characteristic of the Poems of the Pleasures--they are purely descriptive, consisting altogether of a grouping of poetical images exquisitely conceived and expressed, delineating Melancholy and Mirth, but without investigating the natural sources of these feelings,or deducing precepts from their operation.
Besides the productions selected for this volume, there have been published in our language, since the time of Akenside, several poems of kindred titles and, in some respects, of kindred structure, but not of kindred poetical spirit. Among these have been The Pleasures of Melancholy, The Pleasures of Religion, The Pleasures of Love, The Pleasures of Retirement, and notwithstanding the absurdity of its title, The Pleasures of Poverty. But, if T. Warton's