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Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 1.djvu/445

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HINTS FROM HORACE.

And yet, perchance, 'tis wiser to prefer
A hackneyed plot, than choose a new, and err;
Yet copy not too closely, but record,
More justly, thought for thought than word for word;
Nor trace your Prototype through narrow ways,
But only follow where he merits praise.190


For you, young Bard! whom luckless fate may lead[1]

To tremble on the nod of all who read,

    of Mr. D. prevents Mr. G. from saying any more on the matter. A better poet than Boileau, and at least as good a scholar as Mr. de Sévigné, has said,

    "A little learning is a dangerous thing."

    And by the above extract, it appears that a good deal may be rendered as useless to the Proprietors. [Byron chose the words in question, Difficile, etc., as a motto for the first five cantos of Don Juan.]

  1. About two years ago a young man named Townsend was announced by Mr. Cumberland, in a review (since deceased) [the London Review], as being engaged in an epic poem to be entitled "Armageddon." The plan and specimen promise much; but I hope neither to offend Mr. Townsend, nor his friends, by recommending to his attention the lines of Horace to which these rhymes allude. If Mr. Townsend succeeds in his undertaking, as there is reason to hope, how much will the world be indebted to Mr. Cumberland for bringing him before the public! But, till that eventful day arrives, it may be doubted whether the premature display of his plan (sublime as the ideas confessedly are) has not,—by raising expectation too high, or diminishing curiosity, by developing his argument,—rather incurred the hazard of injuring Mr. Townsend's future prospects. Mr. Cumberland (whose talents I shall not depreciate by the humble tribute of my praise) and Mr. Townsend must not suppose me actuated by unworthy motives in this suggestion. I wish the author all the success he can wish himself, and shall be truly happy to see epic poetry weighed up from the bathos where it lies sunken with Southey, Cottle, Cowley (Mrs. or Abraham), Ogilvy, Wilkie,