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THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY bereits i n
ASTOR, LENCX AND TILDEN FOUNDATIONS.
Printed by D. & G. Bruce,
WITHOUT increasing his genius, the Author may have improved his language, in the thirteen years that the following Poems have been in the hands of the Public. Errors in diction might have been committed at twenty-four, which the experience of a riper age may remove; and some exuberances in imagery may be restrained with advantage, by a degree of judgment acquired in the progress of time. Impressed with this opinion, he ran over the whole with attention and accuracy; and, he hopes, he has brought the work to a state of correctness which will preclude all future, improvements.
The eagerness with which these Poems have been received abroad, is a recompense for the coldness with which a few have affected to treat them at home. All the polite nations of Europe lave transferred them into their respective languages; and they speak of him who brought them to light in terms that might flatter the vanity of one fond of fame. In a convenient indifference for a literary reputation, the author hears praise without being elevated, and ribaldry without being depressed. He has frequently seen the first bestowed too precipitately; and the latter is so
faithless to its purpose, that it is often the only, index to merit in the present age.
Though the taste which defines genius, by the points of the compass, is a subject fit for mirth in itself, it is often a serious matter in the sale of a work. When rivers define the limits of abilities, as well as the boundaries of countries, a writer may measure his success by the latitude under which he was born. It was to avoid a part of this inconvenience that the Author is said, by some, who speak without any authority, to have ascribed his own productions to another name. If this was the case, he was but young in the art of deception. When he placed the Poet in antiquity, the Translator should have been born on this side of the Tweed.
These observations regard only the frivolous in matters of literature; these, however, form a majority in every age and nation. In this country, men of genuine taste abound; but their still voice is drowned in the clamours of a multitude, who judge by fashion, of poetry, as of dress. The truth is, to judge aright requires almost as much genius as to write well; and good critics are as rare as great poets. Though two hundred thousand Romans stood up when Virgil came into the theatre, Varius only could correct the Æneid. He that obtains fame must receive it through miere fashion; and gratify his vanity with the applause of men, of whose judgment he cannot approve.