Page images
PDF
EPUB

BEFORE I conclude, I would say something in favour of the old-fashioned triplet, which I have here ventured to use so often. Dryden seems to have delighted in it, and in many of his poems has used it much oftener than I have done, as for instance in the Hind and Panther, * and in Theodore and Honoria, where he introduces it three, four, and even five times in succession.

If I have erred any where in the structure of my verse from a desire to follow yet earlier and higher examples, I rely on the forgiveness of those in whose ear the music of our old versification is still sounding.

* Pope used to mention this poem as the most correct specimen of Dryden's versification. It was indeed written when he had completely formed his manner, and may be supposed to exhibit, negligence excepted, his deliberate and ultimate scheme of metre.-JOHNSON.

AN EPISTLE

TO

A FRIEND.

Villula,

et pauper agelle, Me tibi, et hos unà mecum, quos semper amavi, Commendo.

[graphic]

PREFACE.

Every reader turns with pleasure to those passages of Horace, and Pope, and Boileau, which describe how they lived and where they dwelt; and which, being interspersed among their satirical writings, derive a secret and irresistible grace from the contrast, and are admirable examples of what in Painting is termed repose.

We have admittance to Horace at all hours. We enjoy the company and conversation at his table; and his suppers, like Plato's, "non solum in præsentia, sed etiam postero die jucundæ sunt.” But, when we look round as we sit there, we find ourselves in a Sabine farm, and not in a Roman villa. His windows have every charm of prospect; but his furniture might have descended from Cincinnatus; and gems, and pictures, and old marbles, are mentioned by him more than once with a seeming indifference.

His English Imitator thought and felt, perhaps, more correctly on the subject; and embellished his garden and grotto with great industry and success. But to these alone he solicits our notice. On the ornaments of his house he is silent; and he appears to have reserved all the minuter touches of his pencil for the library, the chapel, and the banquetingroom of Timon.

« Le savoir de notre siècle," says Rousseau, “tend beaucoup plus à détruire qu'à édifier. On censure d'un ton de maître; pour proposer, il en faut prendre un autre."

It is the design of this Epistle to illustrate the virtue of True Taste; and to show how little she requires to secure, not only the comforts, but even the elegancies of life. True Taste is an excellent Economist. She confines her choice to few objects, and delights in producing great effects by small means: while False Taste is for ever sighing after the new and the rare; and reminds us, in her works, of the Scholar of Apelles, who, not being able to paint his Helen beautiful, determined to make her fine.

« PreviousContinue »