Lutrin/Preface

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Boileau Lutrin - fleuron.png

Monsieur BOILEAU's

PREFACE.

' TWERE in vain now to deny that the following Poem was occasion'd by a petty Quarrel that happen'd in one of the most celebrated Churches of Paris, between the Treasurer of the Relicks, and the Master of the Choir; otherwise call'd the Prelate and the Chanter. [The latter it seems being a Man of a forward encroaching Spirit, had made some Steps towards an Invasion of the Rights and Privileges of the former; which he not brooking, and being resolv'd to humble him, bethought himself of setting up in the Choir a sort of a Reading-Desk (Lutrin) upon the very Overture of the Chanter's Seat, and so block him up.] The Fact is true, and that's all. The rest is mere Fiction from the Beginning to the End; and all the Actors in it are not only invented, but industriously drawn quite opposite to the true Character of the Ministers of that Church, who for the most part, especially the Canons, are Men of great Virtue and as much Wit: There's one amongst them, whose Opinion I would as willingly have upon my Performances, as of a great many Gentlemen of the Academy. 'Tis not therefore to be wonder'd, that no Body took Offence at this Poem, since in Truth no Body is attack'd by it, A Spendthrift is not troubled to see a Miser expos'd; Nor does a Religious Person resent the ridiculing of a Rake. I shall not mention how I was engag'd in this Trifle upon a kind of a jocular Challenge made me by the late Monsieur Lamoignon, whom I paint under the Name of Aristus. A particular Narration of this Matter, does not seem to be at all necessary. But I should think I did my self a great deal of wrong, to let slip this Opportunity of informing those who are ignorant of it, how much I was honour'd with that great Man's Friendship, during his Life. I began to be known to him at the Time when my Satyrs made the greatest Noise, and the obliging Access he gave me into his illustrious Family, was a very advantageous Apology in my Behalf, against those who were minded to accuse me of Libertinism and ill Morals. He was a Man of an amazing Knowledge, and a passionate Admirer of all the good Books of Antiquity, and this was what made my Works the more tolerable to him; fancying he perceiv'd in 'em some Taste of the Ancients. His Piety was unfeign'd, and yet had nothing in it that was stiff or troublesome. He was not at all frighten'd at the Title of my Works, Satyrs, where in Truth he found only Verses and Authors expos'd. He was pleas'd often to commend me for having purg'd this Sort of Poetry from that Obscenity and Filth, which till then, had been as it were, peculiar to it. Thus I had the good Fortune not to be disagreeable to him. He let me into all his Pleasures and Diversions, that is to say, his Studies and Retirements. He favour'd me sometimes even with his strictest Confidence, and open'd to me the inmost Recesses of his Soul. And what did I not see there! What a surprising Treasure of Probity and Justice! What an inexhaustible Fund of Piety and Zeal! Tho' the outward Lustre of his Vertue was exceeding great, it was infinitely brighter within; and 'twas visible how carefully he temper'd the Rays of it, not to wound the Eyes of an Age so corrupt as ours. I was sincerely struck with so many admirable Qualities; and as he always discovered a great deal of Kindness for me, so I ever return'd it with the strongest Devotion for him. The Respects I paid him were not mixt with any Mercenary Leven of self-Interest, and I made it more my Business to profit by his Conversation, than his Credit at Court. He died at the Time when this Friendship was in its highest Point of Perfection, and the Remembrance of so great a Loss afflicts me daily. Why must those who are so worthy to live, be so soon snatch'd from the World, whilst the Worthless and Undeserving are crown'd with Length of Days! I shall say no more upon so sad a Subject, lest I wet with Tears the Preface of a Work purely Jocular.