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detract from this : it will shine in history; and, like fwans, grow whiter the longer it endures : and the name of ORMOND

will be more celebrated in his captivity, 'than in his greatest triumphs.

But all actions of your grace are of a piece; as waters keep the tenor of their fountains: your compassion is general, and has the same effe&t as well on enemies as friends. It is so much in your nature to do good, that your

life is but one continued act of placing benefits on many, as the sun is always carrying his light to fome part or other of the world: and were it not that your reason guides you where to give, I might almost fay that you could not help bestowing more, than is. consisting with the fortune of a private man, or with the will of

any

but an Alexander. What wonder is it then, that, being born for a blesfing to mankind, your supposed death in that engagement was so generally lamented through the nation! The concernment for it was as universal as the loss : and though the gratitude might be counterfeit in fome, yet the tears of all were real : where every man deplored his private part in that calamity, and even those, who had not tasted of

your a

rafavours, yet built so much on the fame of your beneficence, that they bemoaned the lofs of their expectations.

This brought the untimely death of your great father into fresh remembrance; as if the fame decree had passed on two, short fucceffive generations of the virtuous; and I repeated to myself the fame verses, which I had formerly applied to him: “Oftendunt terris hunc tantùm

fata,

fata, ne: ultrà esse finunt.” But to the joy not only of all good men, but of mankind in general, the unhappy omen took not place. You are still living to enjoy the blessings and applause of all the good you have performed, the

prayers of multitudes whom you have obliged, for your long prosperity; and that your power of doing generous and charitable actions may be as extended as your will ; which is by none more zealously desired than by

Your GRACE'S

Most humble,

Most obliged, and

Most obedient servant,

JOHN DRYDEN.

PRE

PREFACE prefixed to the FABLES.

IT
T is with a poet as with a man who designs to build,

and is very exact, as he supposes, in casting up the coft beforehand; but, generally speaking, he is mistaken in his account, and reckons short in the expence he first intended : he alters his mind as the work proceeds, and will have this or that convenience more, of which he had not thought when he began. So has it happened to me: I have built a house, where I intended but a lodge : yet with better success than a certain nobleman, who, beginning with a dog-kennel, never lived to finish the palace he had contrived.

From translating the first of Homer's Iliads (which I intended as an essay to the whole work) I proceeded to the tr:nslation of the twelfth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, because it contains, among other things, the causes, the beginning, and ending of the Trojan war : here I ought in reason to have stopped ; but the speeches of Ajax and Ulysses lying next in my way, I could not balk them. When I had compassed them, I was so taken with the former part of the fifteenth book (which is the master-piece of the whole Metamorphoses), that I enjoined myself the pleasing task of rendering it into English. And now I found, by the number of my verfes, that they began to swell into a little volume;

which gave me an occasion of looking backward on some beauties of my author, in his former books: there occurred to me the hunting of the boar, Cinyras and Myrrha, the good-natured story of Baucis and Philemon, with the rest, which I hope I have translated closely enough, and given them the same turn of verse which they had in the original ; and this, I may say without vanity, is not the talent of every poet: he who has arrived the nearest to it, is the ingenious and learned Sandys, the best verfifier of the former age ;

if I

niay properly call it by that name which was the former part of this concluding century. For Spenser and Fairfax both flourished in the reign of queen Elizabeth ; great masters in our language; and who saw much farther into the beauties of our numbers, than thofe who immediately followed them. Milton was the poetical son of Spenfer, and Mr. Waller of Fairfax; for we have our lineal descents and clans, as well as other families : Spenser more than once insinuates, that the soul of Chaucer was transfused into his body; and that he was begotten by him two hundred years after his decease, Milton has acknowledged to me, that Spenser was his original; and many besides inyself have heard our famous Waller own, that he derived the harmony of his numbers from the Godfrey of Bulloign, which was turned into English by Mr. Fairfax. But to return : having done with Ovid for this time, it came into my mind, that our old English poet Chaucer in many things resembled him, and that with no disadvantage on

the

the side of the modern author, as I shall endeayour to prove when I compare them : and as I am, and always have been, studious to promote the honour of my native country, so I soon resolved to put their merits to the trial, by turning some of the Canterbury tales into our language, as it is now refined ; for by this means both the poets being set in the same light, and dressed in the same English habit, story to be compared with story, a certain judgment may be made betwixt them, by the reader, without obtruding my opinion on him : or if I seem partial to my countryman, and predecessor in the laurel, the friends of antiquity are not few: and besides many of the learned, Ovid has almost all the beaux, and the whole fair sex, his declared patrons. Perhaps I have assumed somewhat more to myself than they allow me : because I have adventured to sum up the evidence : but the readers are the jury; and their privilege remains entire to decide according to the merits of the cause, or if they please, to bring it to another hearing, before some other court. In the mean time, to follow the thread of my discourse (as thoughts, according to Mr. Hobbes, have always some connexion) fo from Chaucer I was led to think on Boccace, who was not only his contemporary, but also pursued the fame studies; wrote novels in prose, and many works in verse; particularly is said to have invented the octave rhyme, or stanza of eight lines, which ever since has been maintained by the practice of all Italian writers, who are, or at least assume the title of, Heroic Paets : he and Chaucer, among

other

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