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and turns on the words, nor sometimes the very cast of the periods; neither to omit nor confound any rites or customs of antiquity: perhaps too he ought to include the whole in a shorter compass than has hitherto been done by any translator, who has tolerably preserved either the sense or poetry. What I would farther recommend to him, is to study his Author rather from his own text than from any commentaries, how learned soever, or whatever figure they may make in the estimation of the world; to consider him attentively in comparison with Virgil above all the ancients, and with Milton above all the moderns. Next these, the Archbishop of Cambray's Telemachus may give him the truest idea of the spirit and turn of our Author, and Bossu's admirable treatise of the Epic Poem the justest notion of his design and conduct. But after all, with whatever judgment and study a man may proceed, or with whatever happiness he may perform such a work, he must hope to please but a few; those only who have at once a taste of poetry, and competent learning. For to satisfy such as want either, is not in the nature of this undertaking; since a mere modern wit can like nothing that is not modern, and a pedant nothing that is not Greek.
What I have done is submitted to the public, from
The chief fault of which is, the mixture of ancient and modern manners; and an introduction of sentiments too pure and refined for old heroes to utter or think of.
• Notwithstanding the manifold and importanf improvements, in philosophy, and sciences, and the arts; yet, what has Epic Poetry profited by these discoveries, which, it might have been expected, would have been improved by them?
whose opinions I am prepared to learn; though I fear no judges so little as our best poets, who are most sensible of the weight of this task. As for the worst, whatever they shall please to say, they may give me some concern as they are unhappy men, but none as they are malignant writers. I was guided in this translation by judgments very different from theirs, and by persons for whom they can have no kindness, if an old observation be true, that the strongest antipathy in the world is that of fools to men of wit. Mr. Addison was the first whose advice determined me to undertake this task, who was pleased to write to me upon that occasion in such terms as I cannot repeat without vanity. I was obliged to Sir Richard Steele for a very early recommendation of my undertaking to the public. Dr. Swift promoted my interest with that warmth with which he always serves his friend. The humanity and frankness of Sir Samuel Garth are what I never knew wanting on any occasion. I must also acknowledge with infinite pleasure, the many friendly offices, as well as sincere criticisms, of Mr. Congreve, who had led me the way in translating some parts of Homer. I must add the names of Mr. Rowe and Dr.
7 In former editions it followed, "as I wish, for the sake of the world, he had prevented me in the rest;" also in page 408, in former editions, speaking of Lord Lansdown, it was said, “that so excellent an Imitator of Homer as the Author,"—which words are now omitted. Several other expressions are altered, up and down, as in p. 367, "must not contribute," instead of "owing to the insertion;" p. 368, common critics," for "most ;" p. 372, "to furnish," instead of "supply" p. 376, "that of Ajax," instead of "we see in Ajax." These alterations, it is presumed, were made by Dr. Warburton, who tells us, Pope desired him
Parnell, though I shall take a farther opportunity of doing justice to the last, whose good-nature (to give it a great panegyric) is no less extensive than his learning. The favour of these gentlemen is not entirely undeserved by one who bears them so true an affection. But what can I say of the honour so many of the Great have done me, while the first names of the age appear as my subscribers, and the most distinguished patrons and ornaments of learning as my chief encouragers? Among these it is a particular pleasure to me to find that my highest obligations are to such who have done most honour to the name of Poet: that his Grace the duke of Buckingham was not displeased I should undertake the Author to whom he has given (in his excellent Essay) so complete a PraiseR:
to correct this Preface: such was the partiality of Pope to his friend!
8 In the former editions it was, "the finest praise he ever received;" and the two last lines here quoted from Buckingham stood thus,
Verse will seem Prose: but still persist to read,
And Homer will be all the Books you need.
But Buckingham was for ever altering and revising his Essay. It concluded with these lines,
Must above Milton's lofty flights prevail,
Succeed where great Torquato, and where greater Spenser fail; which he thus at last corrected,
Must above Tasso's lofty flights prevail,
Succeed where Spenser, and e'en Milton fail.
Boileau's praise of Homer is surely far more complete than these prosaic lines of Buckingham, so much extolled by our Author:
"On diroit que pour plaire, instruit par la nature,
Read Homer once, and you can read no more;
That the Earl of Halifax was one of the first to favour me, of whom it is hard to say whether the advancement of the polite arts is more owing to his generosity or his example. That such a Genius as my Lord Bolingbroke, not more distinguished in the great scenes of business, than in all the useful and entertaining parts of learning, has not refused to be the critic of these sheets, and the patron of their writer. And that the noble author of the Tragedy of Heroic Love, has continued his partiality to me, from my writing Pastorals, to my attempting the Iliad. I cannot deny myself the pride of confessing, that I have had the advantage, not only of their advice for the conduct in general, but their correction of several particulars of this translation.
Son livre est d'agrémens un fertile trésor,
No nation in Europe can boast of having such excellent translations of the more eminent Greek Poets, as the Homer of Pope, the Pindar of West, the Sophocles of Franklin, the Eschylus and Euripides of Potter.
I could say a great deal of the pleasure of being distinguished by the Earl of Carnarvon, but it is almost absurd to particularize any one generous action in a person whose whole life is a continued series of them. Mr. Stanhope, the present Secretary of State, will pardon my desire of having it known that he was pleased to promote this affair. The particular zeal of Mr. Harcourt (the son of the late Lord Chancellor) gave me a proof how much I am honoured in a share of his friendship. I must attribute to the same motive that of several others of my friends, to whom all acknowledgments are rendered unnecessary by the privileges of a familiar correspondence: and I am satisfied I can no way better oblige men of their turn, than by my silence.
In short, I have found more patrons than ever Homer wanted. He would have thought himself happy to have met the same favour at Athens that has been shewed me by its learned rival, the University of Oxford. And I can hardly envy him those pompous honours he received after death, when I reflect on the enjoyment of so many agreeable obligations, and easy friendships, which make the satisfaction of life. This distinction is the more to be acknowleged, as it is shewn to one whose pen has never gratified the prejudices of particular parties, or the vanities of particular men. Whatever the success may prove, I shall never repent of an undertaking in
It is remarkable that in the long list of his Subscribers prefixed to the first quarto Edition, ten Colleges in Oxford subscribed for their respective Libraries, and not a single College in Cambridge.