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Our Descartes, who was the greatest Philosopher in Europe, before Sir Isaac Newton appeared, dedicated his Principles to the celebrated Princess Palatine Elizabeth; not, said he, because she was a Princess, for true Philosophers respect Princes, and never flatter them; but because of all his Readers she understood him the best, and loved Truth the most.
I'Beg Leave, MADAM, (without comparing myself to Descartes) to dedicate the HENRiADEtoYOUR MAJESTY upon the like Account; not only as the Protetlress of all Arts and Sciences, but as the Best Judge of them.
1am with that profound Respect,which is due to the Great
A 3 est
est Virtue, as well as to the Highest Rank,
May it please your Majesty,
Tour Majesty s
T has been customary for Authors to recommend their Writings, by telling us on what Occasion it was written, as during Confinement by bad Weather, or bad Constitution, Want of other Business, and not knowing what else to do; so they thought os obliging their Readers with their waste Time at the Expence of wasting their own. But I can truly fay, that this Translation was the Effect of a very agreeable Leisure last Summer in the Country, where having not the Temptation of Books to keep me in a Closet, I whil'd away the pleasant Hours in Walks and Shades, which have ever been the Haunts of the Muses; and no wonder if I fancy'd at least
A 4 the the Infection had seiz'd me, and a Fit of versifying enfu'd.
Gaudentes rure Camœnae.
But being loath to venture upon my own Strength, I took to my Assistance a late Performance of a French Poet, Monsieur de Voltaire, whose Poem, the Henriade, was in good Esteem, before some other Performances of his gave Offence to those who had before esteem'd him.
TheHENRiADE, with all its Faults, is the best Heroick Poem in the French Tongue; and I was willing my Countrymen, who do not understand it, should fee what the French are capable of in Epick Poetry, which will appear to. be very little to those that are acquainted with Milton, and who is there in England that can read, and is not acquainted with him, or will dare own it? Dry den affirms, that the French Genius and Language are not capable of Heroick Poetry. The French, fays he, have set up Purity for the Standard of their Language, and a Masculine Vigour is that of ours. Like their Tongue is
the, the Genius of their Poets, light and trifling in Comparison of the English, more proper for Sonnets, Madrigals and Elegies, than Heroick Poetry. And in another Place of his Dedication of the Æneis, I said before, and I repeat it, that the affected Purity of the French has unfmew'd their Language.
These Criticisms of his are as just as most of his other Criticisms, that is, they must be understood in a limited Sense: For there are Instances of Diction in Corneille and Segrais, where the Language does not want Sinews, and it may well be objected to me, that if the French Genius and Tongue are incapable of Epick Poetry, it ought to have discourag'd me from undertaking this Version; but Dry den had not seen the Henriade when he. wrote what we have cited out of his Epistle to the Lord Normanby, and it must be own'd, that Mr. Volt A Ire's Poem has Beauties in it, which are well worth reading. We hope they are not all lost in the Translation. I chose to render it in Blank Verse to have the more Liberty in rendring it: For confining myself to the Author's Sense, and pretty much to his Words, I should have