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When the ripe colours foften and unite,
Unhappy wit, like most mistaken things, Atones not for that envy which it brings; In youth alone its empty praife we boast," But foon the fhort-liv'd vanity is loft: Like some fair flower the early spring supplies, That gaily blooms, but ev'n in blooming dies. What is this wit, which muft our cares employ? The owner's wife, that other men enjoy ; The most our trouble ftill when most admir'd, And ftill the more we give, the more requir'd; Whofe fame with pains we guard, but lofe with
Sure fome to vex, but never all to please;
If wit fo much from ignorance undergo,
To what base ends, and by what abject ways, 5 20
But if in noble minds feme dregs remain,
But dulnefs with abfcenity must prove
When love was all in cafy monarch's care; Seldom at council, never in a war:
Jilts rul'd the ftate, and statesmen farces writ;
Left God himself fhould feem too abfolute :
Learn then what morals critics ought to fhow.
Be filent always, when you doubt your fense: And speak, though fure, with feeming diffidence ; Some pofitive, perfifting fops we know, Who, if once wrong, will needs be always fo; But you, with pleasure, own your errors past, 579 And make each day a critic on the last.
'Tis not enough your counfel ftill be true; Blunt truths more mischief than nice falfhoods do; Men must be taught as if you taught them not, And things unknown propos'd as things forgot. Without good breeding truth is difapprov'd; That only makes fuperior fenfe belov'd.
Be niggards of advice on no pretence; For the worst avarice is that of sense.
Name a new play, and he's the poet's friend, 620 Nay show'd his faults-but when would poets mend?
With mean complacence, ne'er betray your trust, Nor be fo civil as to prove unjust. Fear not the anger of the wife to raise; Thole beft can bear reproof, who merit praise. Twere well might critics ftill this freedom take: But Appius reddens at each word you speak, And fares tremendous, with a threatening cye, Like fome fierce tyrant in old tapestry. Fear moft to tax an honourable fool, Whole right it is, uncenfur'd, to be dull! Such, without wit, are poets when they please. As without learning they can take degrees. Leave dangerous truths to unfuccefsful fatires, And flattery to fulfome dedicators, Whom, when they praife, the world believes no
Than when they promise to give fcribbling o'er.
No place fo facred from fuch fops is barr'd,
Nay, fly to altars; there they'll taik you dead;
But where's the man, who counsel can bestow,
There are as mad, abandon'd critics too.
Not dully prepoffefs'd, nor blindly right; [fincere;
Such once were critics; such the happy few
Ver. 586. And ftares tremendous, &c.] This picture was taken to himself by John Dennis, a furious old critic by profeffion, who, upon no other provocation, wrote against this effay, and its author, in a manner perfectly lunatic: For, as to mention made of him in ver. 270, he took it as a compliment, and faid it was treacherously meant to cause him to overlook this abuse of his perfon. Ver. 597. And charitably let dull fools be vain. Ver. 600.
Still humming on, their old dull courfe they keep.
Ver. 619. Garth did not write, &c.] A common flander at that time in prejudice of that deferving author. Our poet did him this juftice, when that flander moft prevailed; and it is now (perhaps the fooner for this very verfe) dead and forgotten.
Ver. 623. Between this and ver. 624. In vain you shrug and sweat, and strive to fly; These know no manners but of poetry : They'll flop a hungry chaplain in his grace, To treat of unities of time and place. Ver. 624. Nay run to altars, &c. Ver. 634. Not dully prepoffefs'd, or blindly right. Between ver. 646 and 649, I found the following lines, fince fuppreffed by the author: That bold Columbus of the realms of wit, Whose first discovery 's not exceeded yet, Led by the light of the Mæonian star, He fteer'd fecurely, and discover'd far. He, when all nature was fubdued before, Like his great pupil, figh'd, and long'd for more: Fancy's wild regions yet unvanquish'd lay. A boundless empire, and that own'd no sway. Poets, &c.
After ver. 648. the first edition reads, Not only nature did his laws obey, But fancy's boundle's empire own'd his sway. Ver. 655. Does, like a friend, &c.
Ver. 655, 656. These lines are not in Ed. I.
He, who fupreme in judgment, as in wit,
See Dionyfius Homer's thoughts refine, And call new beauties forth from every line!
Fancy and art in gay Petronius please, The fcholar's learning, with the courtier's ea'e. In grave Quintilian's copious work, we find The juftest rules and clearest method join’d : 670 Thus ufeful arms in magazines we place, All rang'd in order, and difpos'd with grace, But lefs to please the eye, than arm the hand, Still fit for use, and ready at command.
Thee, bold Longinus! all the Nine inspire, And bless their critic with a poet's fire. An ardent judge, who, zealous in his truft, With warmth gives fentence, yet is always juft; Whofe own example strengthens all his laws; And is himself that great fublime he draws.
Thus long fucceeding critics juftly reign'd, License repress'd, and useful laws ordain'd. Learning and Rome alike in empire grew, And arts ftill follow'd where her eagles flew; From the fame foes, at laft, both felt their doom, And the fame age faw learning fall, and Rome. With tyranny, then fuperftition join'd, As that the body, this enflav'd the mind; Much was believ'd, but little understood, And to be dull was conftrued to be good: A fecond deluge learning thus o'er-ran, And the Monks finifh'd what the Goths began.
At length Erafmus, that great injur'd name, (The glory of the priesthood, and the shame!) Stemm'd the wild torrent of a barbarous age, And drove thofe holy Vandals off the stage.
The scholar's learning, and the courtier's cafe. Ver. 673, &c.
Nor thus alone the curious eye to please,
But fee! each mufe, in Leo's golden days, Starts from her trance, and trims her wither'd bays;
Rome's ancient genius, o'er its ruins spread,
But foon, by impious arms from Latium chas'd,
Such late was Walsh--the mufe's judge and friend,
THE RAPE OF THE LOCK.
AN HEROIC-COMICAL POEM,
WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 17II.
"Nolueram, Belinda, tuos violare capillos,
TO MRS. ARABELLA FERMOR.
It will be in vain to deny that I have some regard for this piece, fince I dedicate it to you; yet you may bear me witness, it was intended only to divert a few young ladies, who have good fenfe and good humour enough to laugh not only at their fex's little unguarded follies, but at their own. But as it was communicated with the air of a fecret, it foon found its way into the world. An imperfect copy having been offered to a bookfeller, you had the good nature, for my fake, to confent to the publication of one more correct: This I was forced to, before I had executed half my defign, for the machinery was entirely wanting to complete it.
The machinery, Madam, is a term invented by the critics, to fignify that part which the deities, angels, or dæmons, are made to act in a poem: For the ancient poets are in one respect like many modern ladies; let an action be never fo trivial in itself, they always make it appear of the utmost importance. These machines I determin-beauty. ed to raise on a very new and odd foundation, the Roficrufian doctrine of fpirits.
I know how disagreeable it is to make ufe of hard words before a lady; but it is fo much the concern of a poet to have his works understood, and particularly by your fex, that you must give me leave to explain two or three difficult terms.
The Roficrufians are a people I must bring you acquainted with. The best account I know of then, is in a French book called Le Comte de Ga
balis, which, both in its title and fize, is fo like a novel, that many of the fair fex have read it for one by mistake. According to these gentlemen, the four elements are inhabited by fpirits, which they call fylphs, gnomes, nymphs, and falamanders. The gnomes, or dæmons of earth, delight in mifchief; but the fylphs, whofe habitation is in the air, are the beft-conditioned creatures imaginable; for they fay, any mortals may enjoy the most intimate familiarities with thefe gentle fpirits, upon a condition very eafy to all true adepts, an inviolate prefervation of chastity.
As to the following cantos, all the paffages of them are as fabulous as the vifion at the beginning, or the transformation at the end (except the lofs of your hair, which I always mention with reverence). The human perfons are as fictitious as the airy ones; and the character of Belinda, as it is now managed, resembles you in nothing but in
If this poem had as many graces as there are in your perfon, or in your mind, yet I could never hope it fhould pass through the world half fo uncenfured as you have done. But let its fortune be what it will, mine is happy enough, to have given me this occafion of affuring you that I am, with the trueft esteem,
Your most obedient, humble fervant,
THE RAPE OF THE LOCK.
WHAT dire offence from amorous caufes fprings,
Say what strange motive, goddefs! could compel
Sol through white curtains fhot a timorous ray,
That all her vanities at once are dead.
Faireft of mortals, thou diftinguish'd care
Of all the nurse and all the prieft have taught; 30 Mount up, and take a falamander's name,
Soft yielding minds to water glide away,
Ver. 11, 12. It was in the firft editions:
Ver. 13, &c. flood thus in the first edition:
Of airy elves by moonlight fhadows feep,
With golden crowns and wreaths of heavenly
Hear and believe thy own importance know,
Think not, when women's tranfient breath is
Shock juft had given himfelf the rouzing fhake,
Know farther yet; whoever fair and chafte
And ftriking watches the tenth hour refound.
hence to the end of this canto were added after-Tis but their fylph, the wife celeftials know,