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PREFACE BY THE EDITOR.
The Poems which I take the liberty of publishing were never intended by the Author to pass beyond the circle of his friends. He thought, with some justice, that what are called Occasional Poems must be always insipid and uninteresting to the greater part of their readers. The particular situations in which they were written; the character of the author and of his associates ;all these peculiarities must be known and felt before we can enter into the spirit of such compositions. This consideration would have always, I believe, prevented Mr. Little from submitting these trifles of the moment to the eye of dispassionate criticism ; and if their posthumous introduction to the world be injustice to his memory, or intrusion on the public, the error must be imputed to the injudicious partiality of friendship.
Mr. Little died in his one-and-twentieth year; and most of these Poems were written at so early a period, that their errors may claim some indulgence from the critic : their author, as unambitious as indolent, scarce ever looked beyond the moment of composition ; he wrote as he pleased, careless whether he pleased as he wrote. It may likewise be remembered, that they were all the productions of an age when the passions very often give a colouring too warm to the imagination ; and this may palliate, if it cannot excuse, that air of levity which pervades so many of them.
aurea legge, sei piace ei lice,' he too much pursued, and too much inculcates. Few can regret this more sincerely than myself; and if my friend had lived, the judgment of riper years would have chastened his mind, and tempere1 the luxuriance of his fancy.
Mr. Little gave much of his time to the study of the amatory writers. If ever he expected to find in the ancients that delicacy of sentiment and variety of fancy which are so necessary to refine and animate the poetry of love, he wils much disappointed. I know not any one of them who can be regarded as a model in that style : Ovid made love like a rake, and Propertius like a schoolmaster. The mythological allusions of the latter are called erudition by his commentators ; but such ostentatious display, upon a subject so simple as love, would be now esteemed vague and puerile, and was, even in his own times, pedantic. It is astonishing that so many critics have preferred him to the pathetic Tibullus ; but I believe the defects which a common reader condemns have been looked upon rather as beauties by those erudite men, the commentators, who find a field for their ingenuity and research in his Greciau learning and quaint obscurities.
Tibullus abounds with touches of fine and natural feeling. The idea of bis unexpected return to Delia, • Tunc veniam subito,' &c., is imagined with all the delicate ardour of a lover; and the sentiment of 'nec te posse carere velim,' however colloquial the expression may have been, is natural and from the heart. But, in my opinion, the poet of Verona posseesed more genuine feeling than any of them. His life was, I believe, unfortunate; his associates were wild and abandoned; and the warmth of his nature took too much advantage of the latitude which the morals of those times so criminally allowed to the passions. All this depraved his imagination, and made it the slave of his senses; but still a native sensibility is often very warmly eptibl and when he touches on pathos he reaches the heart immediately. They who have felt the sweets of return to a home from which they have long been absent, will confess the beauty of those simple, unaffected lines :
O quid solutis est beatius curis ?
Desideratoque acquiescimus lecto.'-Carm. xxxii. His sorrows on the death of his brother are the very tears of poesy; and when he complains of the ingratitude of mankind, even the inexperienced cannot but sympathize with him. I wish I were a poet; I should endeavour to catch, by translation, the spirit of those beauties which I admirel so warmly.
It seems to have been peculiarly the fate of Catullus, that the better and more valuable part of his poetry has not reached us; for there is confessedly nothing in his extant works to authorize the epithet doctus,' so universally bestowed upon him by the ancients. If time had suffered the rest to escape, we perhaps should have found among them some more purely amatory ; but of those we possess, can there be a sweeter specimen of warm, yet chastened description, than his loves of Acme and Septimius? and the few little songs of dalliance to Lesbia are distinguished by such an exquisite playfulness, that they have always been assumed as models by the most elegant modern Latinists. Still I must confess, in the inidst of these beauties,
Medio de fonte leporum Surgit amari aliquid, quod in ipsis floribus angat.' ? It has often been remarked, that the ancients knew nothing of gallantry; and we are told there was too much sincerity in their love to allow them to trifle with the semblance of passion. But I cannot perceive that they were anything more constant than the moderns; they felt all the same dissipation of the heart, though they knew not those seductive graces by which gallantry almost teaches it to be amiable. Watton, the learned advocate for the moderns, deserts them in considering this point of comparison, and praises the ancients for their ignorance of such a refinement; but he seems to have collected his notions of gallantry from the insipid fadeurs of the French romances, which are very unlike the sentimental levity, the 'grata protervitas,' of a Rochester or a Sedley.
From what I have had an opportunity of observing, the early poets of our own language were the models which Mr. Little selected for imitation. To atts in their simplicity (ævo rarissima nostro simplicitas) was his fondest
I In the following Poens there is a trans- serves to be praised for little more than the lation of one of his finest Carmina; but I attempt. fancy it is only a schoolboy's essay, and de- 2 Lucretius.
ambition. He could not have aimed at a grace more difficult of attainment, and his life was of too short a date to allow him to perfect such a taste ; but how far he was likely to have succeeded, the critic may judge from his productions.
I have found among his papers a novel, in rather an imperfect state, which, as soon as I have arranged and collected it, shall be submitted to the public eye.
Where Mr. Little was born, or what is the genealogy of his parents,” are points in which very few readers can be interested. His life was one of those humble streams which have scarcely a name in the map of life, and the traveller may pass it by without inquiring its source or direction. His character was well known to all who were acquainted with him ; for he had too much vanity to hide its virtues, and not enough of art to conceal its defects. The lighter traits of his mind may be traced perhaps in his writings; but the few for which he was valued live only in the remembrance of his friends.
' It is a curious illustration of the labour which dnction of painful labour, pausing on every word, simplicity requires, that the Ramblers of Johnson, and balancing every sentence. elaborate as they appear, were written with 2 It need scarcely be said that “Little flueney, and seldom required revision; while the the nom de plume of Moore himself, under which simple language of Rousseau, which seems to he published his juvenile poems. This Preface come flowing from the heart, was the slow pro. was prefised to them.
TO J. ATKINSON, Esq.
MY DEAR SIR,
I feel a very sincere pleasure in dedicating to you the Second Edition of our friend Little's Poems. I am not unconscious that there are many in the collection which perhaps it would be prudent to have altered or omitted ; and, to say the truth, I more than once revised them for that purpose. But, I know not why, I distrusted either my heart or my judgment; and the consequence is, you have them in their original form :
Non possunt nostros multæ, Faustine, lituræ
Emendare jocos; una litura potest.'
I am convinced, however, that though not quite a casuiste relâché, you have charity enough to forgive such inoffensive follies : you know the pious Beza was not the less revered for those sportive juvenilia which he published under a fictitious name; nor did the levity of Bembo's poems prevent him from making a very good cardinal.
Believe me, my dear friend,
T. M. April 19, 1802.
FRAGMENTS OF COLLEGE EXERCISES.
Nobilitas sola est atque unica virtus.-Juv.
Ask the proud train who glory's shade pursue,
Justum bellum quibus necessarium, et pia arma quibus nulla nisi in armis relinquitur
Is there no call, no consecrating cause,