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Foes to all living worth except your own,
And Advocates for folly dead and gone.
Authors, like coins, grow dear as they grow old; 35
1 Chaucer's worft ribaldry is learn'd by rote,
And beaftly Skelton Heads of houses quote:
One likes no language but the Faery Queen;
A Scot will fight for Chrift's Kirk o' the Green; 40
He fwears the Mufes met him at the Devil.
Tho' juftly" Greece her eldeft fons admires,
We build, we paint, we fing, we dance as well,
Could she behold us tumbling thro' a hoop.
If a Time improve our Wit as well as Wine,
Shall we, or fhall we not, account him fo,
Who dy'd, perhaps, an hundred years ago P
When British bards begin t' immortalize?
VER. 40. Chrift's Kirk o' the Green ;] A Ballad made by a King of Scotland. P.
VER. 42. met him at the Devil] The Devil Tavern, where Ben Johnfon held his Poetical Club.
Eft vetus atque probus,
centum qui perficit annos..
Quid? qui deperiit minor uno menfe vel anno,
An quos et praefens et poftera refpuat aetas?
Ifte quidem veteres inter ponetur honeste,
Qui vel menfe brevi, vel toto eft junior anno.
Utor permiffo, caudaeque pilos ut equinae
Paulatim vello: et demo unum, demo et item unum; Dum cadat elufus ratione ruentis acervi,
Qui redit in * faftos, et virtutem aeftimat annis,
Miraturque nihil, nifi quod y Libitina sacravit.
z Ennius et fapiens, et fortis, et alter Homerus,
Ut critici dicunt, leviter curare videtur
Quo a promissa cadant, et fomnia Pythagorea.
VER. 69. Shakespear.] Shakespear and Ben Johnson may truly be faid not much to have thought of this Immortality, the one in many pieces compofed in hafte for the Stage; the other in his latter works in general, which Dryden call'd his Dotages. P.
Ibid. and ev'ry Playhouse bill] A ridicule on those who talk of Shakespear, because he is in fashion; who, if they
"Who lasts a century can have no flaw, "I hold that Wit a Claffic, good in law.
Suppose he wants a year, will you compound? And shall we deem him Ancient, right and found, Or damn to all eternity at once,
At ninety nine, a Modern and a Dunce?
"We shall not quarrel for a year or two;
"By courtesy of England, he may do.
Then, by the rule that made the ▾ Horse-tail bare, I pluck out year by year, as hair by hair, And meltdown Ancients like a heap of fnow: While you, to measure merits, look in Stowe, And eftimating authors by the year,
Bestow a Garland only on a Bier.
z Shakespear (whom you and ev'ry Play-house bill Style the divine, the matchlefs, what you will) 70 For gain, not glory, wing'd his roving flight, And grew Immortal in his own defpight. Ben, old and poor, as little feem'd to heed
a The Life to come, in ev'ry Poet's Creed.
dared to do justice, either to their tafte or their confcience, would own they liked Durfey better.
VER. 74. The life to come, in ev'ry Poet's Creed.]
The beauty of this arifes from a circumftance in Ennius's ftory. But as this could not be imitated, our Poet endea
voured to equal it; and has fucceeded.
Naevius in manibus non eft; at mentibus haeret
Pene recens : adeo fanctum eft vetus omne poema.
Ambigitur quoties, uter utro fit prior; aufert
Pacuvius docti famam fenis, Accius alti:
Dicitur Afranî toga conveniffe Menandro;
Plautus ad exemplar Siculi properare Epicharmi
Spectat Roma potens; habet hos numeratque poetas Ad noftrum tempus, Livî fcriptoris ab aevo.
* Interdum vulgus rectum videt: eft ubi peccat.
Sih veteres ita miratur laudatque poetas,
VER. 77. Pindaric Art,] which has much more merit than his Epic, but very unlike the Character, as well as Numbers, of Pindar. P.
VER. 81. In all debates etc.] The Poet has here put the bald cant of women and boys into extreme fine verse. This is in ftrict imitation of his Original, where the farṇe impertinent and gratuitous criticifm is admirably ridiculed.
VER. 85. Shadwell hafty, Wycherly was flow.] Nothing was lefs true than this particular: But the whole paragraph has a mixture of Irony, and muft not altogether be taken for Horace's own Judgment, only the com
Who now reads Cowley? if he pleases yet,
But ftill I love the language of his heart.
"Yet furely, furely, these were famous men! "What boy but hears the fayings of old Ben?
"In all debates where Critics bear a part,
"Not one but nods, and talks of Johnfon's Art, "Of Shakespear's Nature, and of Cowley's Wit; "How Beaumont's judgment check'd what Fletcher
"How Shadwell hafty, Wycherly was flow;
It is, and it is not, the voice of God.
mon Chat of the pretenders to Criticism; in fome things right, in others, wrong; as he tells us in his answer,
Interdum vulgus rectum videt: eft ubi peccat. P.
hafty Shadwell and flow Wycherley, is a line of Wilmot, Earl of Rochefter; the fense of which seems to have been generally mistaken. It gives to each his epithet, not to design the difference of their talents, but the number of their productions.
VER. 91. Gammer Gurton] A piece of very low hu