Metamorphoses (tr. Garth, Dryden, et al.)/Dedication
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SINCE I am allow'd the Honour, and Privilege of so easy Access to Your Royal Highness, I dare say, I shall not be the worse receiv'd for bringing Ovid along with me. He comes from Banishment to the Fautress of Liberty; from the Barbarous to the Polite; and has this to recommend him, which never fails with a Clemency, like Your's; He is Unfortunate.
Your Royal Highness, who feels for every one, has lately been the mournful Occasion of a like Sensibility in many Others. Scarce an Eye, that did not tell the Danger You were in: Ev'n Parties, tho' different in Principles, united at that time in their Grief, and affectionate Concern, for an event of so much Consequence to the Interest of Humanity, and Virtue; whilst Your Self was the only Person, Then, unmov'd.
It was remarkable, That She, who, with a Manner most engaging, taught the innocent Pleasures to appear more desirable, than the Criminal; who was every Day the Life of some new agreeable Diversion; should behave Her self, upon that cruel Tryal, with a Magnanimity so unshaken, that those who were Witnesses might have imagin'd, She scarce ever had done any thing, but study how to Dye.
It is the greatest Happiness can attend an Age under a long Depravation of Morals, to be blest with Examples, where Virtue is set off by the Advantage of Birth. Such Qualifications, when united, do not only Persuade an Imitation, but Command it. Human Nature is always more affected by what it sees, than what it hears of; And as those Ideas, which enter by the Eye, find the surest Passage to the Heart; so the more the Object, whatever it be, seems desirable to the One, the longer it continues in the Other.
There are Perfections so shining, that one must be the very Worst of Mortals, or the very Best, not to admire in all Those, who possess them. To be blest with a Disposition to Charity, not confin'd by any other Limits, than the Modesty of those who ask It: To know, and be ready to excuse Faults; yet, so strict in Life, as not to want the like Indulgence; To have a Superiority of Genius capable of judging of the highest Affairs, and an Application so observant, as to penetrate into the most Minute: To be easy to lay down Grandeur upon familiar Occasions, and discerning to take It up, when Dignity of Station requires; To know the politer Languages of the present Age, as a Native, and the greater Occurrences, and Periods of the Past, as an Historian, make up a Character, which is so obvious, that Every one will know where to apply it, except the Person, whose it really is: and if in this Your Royal Highness be at a Loss, I think it is the only thing within the Province of Your Sex You are ignorant of.
I shall take up no more of Your time in this Dedication; because, to do every thing that may be most acceptable to You, shall always be the Endeavour of,
Your Royal Highness's most Humble,
and most Obedient Servant,