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Agredior primufque novis Helicona movere
By JAMES GRAIN GE R, M. D. &c.
Printed for R. and J. DODSLEY, in Pall-mall.
OON after my arrival in the West-Indies, I conceived the de
sign of writing a poem on the cultivation of the Sugar-Cane. My inducements to this arduous undertaking were, not only the importance and novelty of the subject, but more especially this confideration; that, as the face of this country was wholly different from that of Europe, fo whatever hand copied its appearances, however rude, could not fail to enrich poetry with many new and picturesque images.
I ÇANNOT, indeed, say I have satisfied my own ideas in this particular : yet I must be permitted to recommend the precepts contained in this Poem. They are the children of Truth, not of Genius; the result of Experience, not the productions of Fancy. Thus, though I may not be able to please, I shall stand some chance of instructing the Reader ; which, as it is the nobler end of all poetry, so should it be the principal aim of every writer who wishes to be thought a good man.
It must, however, be observed, that, though the general pré. cepts are suited to every climate, where the Cane will grow ; yet, the more minute rules are chiefly drawn from the practice of St. Christopher. Some selection was necessary ; and I could adopt no
modes of planting, with such propriety, as those I had seen practised in that island, where it has been my good fortune chiefly to reside since I came to the West-Indies.
I have often been astonished, that so little has been published on the cultivation of the Sugar-Cane, while the press has groaned under folios on every other branch of rural oeconomy. It were unjust to suppose planters were not solicitous for the improvement of their art, and injurious to affert they were incapable of obliging mankind with their improvements..
And yet, except some scattered hints in Pere Labat, and other French travellers in America ; an Effay, by Colonel Martyn of Antigua, is the only piece on plantership I have seen deserving a perufal. That gentleman's pamphlet is, indeed, an excellent perform ance ;. and to it I own myself indebted.
It must be confeffed, that terms of art look awkward in poetry; yet didactic compositions cannot wholly dispense with them. Accordingly we find that Hesiod and Virgil, among the ancients, with. Philips and Dyer, (not to mention some other poets now living in. our own country); haye been obliged to insert them in their poems. Their example is a sufficient apology for me, for in their steps. I. shall always be proud to tread.
Vos sequor, ó Graiæ gentis decus, inque vestris nunc
Quod vos imitari aveo. Yet, like them too, I have generally preferred the way of description, wherever that could be done without hurting the subject.
Such words as are not common in Europe, I have briefly explained : because an obscure poem affords both less pleasure and profit to the reader. — For the same reason, some notes have been added, which, it is presumed, will not be disagreeable to those who have never been in the West-Indies.
In a West-India georgic, the mention of many indigenous remedies, as well as diseases, was unavoidable. The truth is, I have rather courted opportunities of this nature, than avoided them. Medicines of such amazing efficacy, as I have had occasion to make trials of in these islands, deserve to be universally known. And wherever, in the following poem, I recommend any such, I beg leave to be understood as a physician, and not as a poet.
Basseterre, Jan. 1763.
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