_WHAT I propose in this Preface, is only to bespeak the Reader's Good-nature, and to say some|thing which may incline him to pardon what he cannot com|mend. I have indeed but a poor Defence to make for the Things I have wrote: I don't think them good, and better Judges will doubtless think worse of them than I do. Only this, I believe, I may say of them, That, if they have nothing to delight those who may Page viii chance to read them, they have nothing to give Modesty a Blush; if nothing to entertain and improve the Mind, they have nothing to debauch and corrupt it.
ANOTHER Motive, that I hope may in|duce the Reader to overlook the Defects in this Volume, is, That the oldest Poem in it is little more than six Years of Age; and a considerable Part of the Time since that was writ, has been spent in endeavouring to learn a Language, of which I was then intirely ignorant; tho' I fear, the few Attempts I have made in Translations, will too well convince the Public, to how little Purpose I have employ'd my Time. I confess myself guilty of a great Presumption in publish|ing Imitations of HORACE, when many eminent Hands have done it much better before me: But when I was only endeavouring to understand him, I found it difficult to conquer a Temptation I had to imitate some of his Thoughts, which mightily pleas'd me. If I may be forgiven this Experiment, I promise to trouble the World with nothing of this Nature again, at least, till I may be able to do my Author more Justice.
Page ix I have not myself been so fond of writing, as might be imagin'd from seeing so many Things of mine as are got together in this Book. Se|veral of them are on Subjects that were given me by Persons, to whom I have such great Ob|ligations, that I always thought their Desires Commands. My want of Education will be too evident from them, for me to mention it here: And I hope, when the Reader weighs my Performances, he will put that, and other Disadvantages into the Scale.
I am afraid, the Letter relating to myself, wrote by a worthy and learned Gentleman, will be thought an improper Thing in a Publication made by myself: But, as I was desir'd to prefix it, by Persons whom I think it an Honour to obey, I hope it will be pardon'd; and the rather, because a very false Account had been publish'd before, by a Person who seems to have had as little Regard for Truth, as he had for Honesty, when he stole my Poems.
Page x I would willingly here make known my Obli|gations to those worthy Persons who first took notice of me in the midst of Poverty and La|bour, were I not afraid, my Gratitude, thus publicly express'd, would offend them more than my Silence. However, I must beg leave to re|turn my Thanks to a Reverend Gentleman of Wiltshire, and to another of Winchester: The former made my Life more comfortable, as soon as he knew me; the latter, after giving me several Testimonies of his Bounty and Good|ness, presented my first Essays to a Lady of Quality, attending on the Queen, who made my low Circumstances known to Her Majesty.
I hope too, that all those Honourable Per|sons, whose Names do me so much Credit at the Beginning of my Book, will accept my Ac|knowledgments and Thanks for so liberal a Subscription: And as this Volume, I fear, will tell them, they have not encourag'd a Poet, I will endeavour to let them see they have been generous to an honest Man.