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of this Nature in feveral Languages plentifully furnish'd.
Now, tho' I have differ'd from them in Method, yet I am of Opinion this Collection may serve to the fame End, with equal Profit and greater Pleasure to the Reader. For, what are Epithets, but Adjectives that denote and exprefs the Qualities of the Subftantives to which they are join'd? as Purple, Rofie, Smiling, Dewy, Morning: Dim, Gloomy, Silent, Night. What Synonymes, but Words of a like Signification? as Fear, Dread, Terrour, Confternation, Affright, Difmay, &c. Are they not then naturally to be fought for in the Defcriptions of Perfons and Things? And can we not better judge by a Piece of Painting, how Beautifully Colours may be difpos'd; than by feeing the fame feveral Colours fcatter'd without Defign on a Table? When you are at a Lofs therefore for pro per Epithets or Synonymes, look into this Alphabetical Collection for any Word under which the Subject of your Thought may most probably be rang'd; and you will find what have been imploy'd by our beft Writers, and in what Manner."
It would have been as eafie a Task for me as it has been to others before me, to have threaded tedious Bead-rolls of Synonymes and Epithets together, and put them by themselves: But when they stand alone, they appear bald, infipid, uncouth, and offenfive both to the Eye and Ear. In that Disposition they may indeed help the Memory, but cannot direct the Judgment in the Choice.
But befides, to confess a Secret, I am very unwilling it fhould be laid to my Charge, that I have furnish'd Tools, and given a Temptation of Verfifying, to fuch as in fpight of Art and Nature undertake to be Poets; and who mistake their Fondnefs to Rhyme, or Neceffity of Writing, for a true Genius of Poetry, and lawful Call from Apollo. Such Debafers of Rhyme and Dablers in Poetry would do well to confider, that a Man would justly deserve a higher Esteem in the World by being a good Mafon or Shoo-maker, or by excelling in any other Art that his Talent inclines him to, and that is useful to Mankind, than by being an indifferent or fe
cond-Rate Poet. Such have no Claim to that Divine Appellation:
Neque enim concludere Verfum
Dixeris effe fatis: Neque, fi quis fcribat, uti nos,
Procul o procul efte Profani!
But let Men of better Minds be excited to a generous Emulation.
I have inserted not only Similes, Allufions, Characters, and Defcriptions; but also the moft Natural and Sublime Thoughts of our Modern Poets on all Subjects whatever. I fay, of our Modern; for tho' fome of the Antient, as Chaucer, Spencer, and others, have not been excell'd, perhaps not equall'd, by any that have fuc ceeded them, either in Juftnefs of Defcription, or in Propriety and Greatnels of Thought; yet their Language is now become fo antiquated and obfolete, that moft Readers of our Age have no Ear for them: And this is the Reason that the good
ly in Paffages that are purely Satirical, where fome Allowance must be given: For Satire may be fine and true Satire, tho' it be not directly and according to the Letter, true: 'tis enough that it car ry with it a Probability or Semblance of Truth. Let it not here be objected, that I have from the Tranflators of the Greek and Roman Poets, taken fome Descriptions meerly fabulous: for the well-invented Fables of the Antients were defign'd only to inculcate the Truth with more Delight, and to make it shine with greater Splendour.
Rien n'eft beau que le Vrai. Le Vrai feul eft Aimable :
Ne tend qu'à faire aux yeuz briller la Verité. Boileau.
I have upon every Subject given both Pro and Con whenever I met with them, or that I judg'd them worth giving: and if both are not always found, let none imagine that I wilfully fuppress'd either; or that what is here uncontradicted must be unanswerable.
If any take Offence at the Loofnefs of some of the Thoughts, as particularly up
on Love, where I have given the different Sentiments which Mankind, according to their feveral Temperaments, ever had, and ever will have of it; fuch may observe, that I have strictly avoided all manner of Obscenity throughout the whole Collection: And tho' here and there a Thought may perhaps have a Caft of Wantonnefs, yet the cleanly Metaphors palliate the Broadnefs of the Meaning, and the Chaftnefs of the Words qualifies the Lasciviousness of the Images they represent. And let them farther know, that I have not always chofen what I moft approv'd, but what carries with it the best Strokes for Imitation: For, upon the whole matter, it was not my Business to judge any farther, than of the Vigour and Force of Thought, of the Purity of Language, of the Aptnefs and Propriety of Expreffion; and above all, of the Beauty of Colouring, in which the Poet's Art chiefly confifts. Nor, in fhort, would I take upon me to determine what things should have been faid; but have fhewn only what are faid, and in what manner.