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When the ripe colours foften and unite,
And fweetly melt into juft fhade and light;
When mellowing years their full perfection give,
And each bold figure just begins to live;
The treacherous colours the fair art betray,
And all the bright creation fades away!


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;
'Tis what the vicious fear, the virtuous fhun;
By fools 'tis hated, and by knaves undone !

If wit fo much from ignorance undergo,
Ah, let not learning too commence its foe!
Of old, thofe met rewards, who could excel, 510
And fuch were prais'd who but endeavour'd well;
Though triumphs were to generals only due,
Crowns were referv'd to grace the foldiers too.
Now, they who reach Parnaffus' lefty crown,
Employ their pains to fpurn fome others down;
And while felf-love each jealous writer rules,
Contending wits become the fport of fools:
But ftill the worft with most regret commend,
For each ill author is as bad a friend.

To what base ends, and by what abject ways, 5 20
Are mortals urg'd through facred luft of praise!
Ah, ne'er fo dire a thirft of glory boast,
Nor in the critic let the man be loft.
Good-nature and good-fenfe muft ever join;
To crr, is human; to forgive, divine.

But if in noble minds feme dregs remain,
Not yet purg'd off, of fpleen and four difdain;
Difcharge that rage on more provoking crimes,
Nor fear a dearth in these flagitious times.
No pardon vile obfcenity fhould find, 539
Though wit and art confpire to move your mind;

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But dulnefs with abfcenity must prove
As fhameful fure as impotence in love.
In the fat age of pleasure, wealth, and ease,
Sprang the rank weed, and thriv'd with large in-


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;
Nay wits had penfions, and young lords had wit
The fair fat panting at a courtier's play, 549
And not a mask went unimprov'd away:
The modeft fan was lifted up no more,
And virgins Imil'd at what they blush'd before.
The following license of a foreign reign
Did all the dregs of bold Socinus drain;
Then unbelieving priests reform'd the nation,
And taught more pleasant methods of falvation;
Where heaven's free fubjects might their rights


Left God himself fhould feem too abfolute :
Pulpits their facred fatire learn'd to spare,
And vice admir'd to find a flatterer there!
Encourag'd thus, wit's Titans brav'd the skies,
And the prefs groan'd with licens'd blafphemies.
Thefe monsters, critics! with your darts engage,
Here point your thunder, and exhauft your rage!
Yet fun their fault, who, fcandalously nice,
Will needs mistake an author into vice;
All feems infected that th' infected spy,
As all looks yellow to the jaundic'd eye.

Learn then what morals critics ought to fhow.
For 'tis but half a judge's tafk, to know. 561
'Tis not enough, tafte, judgment, learning, join;
In all you fpeak, let truth and candour thine;
That not alone what to your fenfe is due
All may allow, but feek your friendship too.

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.


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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.
'Tis beft fometimes your cenfure to restrain,
And charitably let the dull be vain :
Your filence there is better than your spite,
For who can rail fo long as they can write? 599
Sall humming on, their drowsy course they keep,
And lafh'd fo long, like tops, are lash'd afleep.
Falfe fteps but help them to renew the race,
As, after stumbling, jades will mend their pace.
What crowds of these, impenitently bold,
In founds and jingling fyllables grown old,
Still run on poets, in a raging vein,
Ev'n to the dregs and fqueezings of the brain,
Strain out the last dull dropping of their fenfe,
And rhyme with all the rage of impotence !
Such fhameless bards we have: and yet 'tis


No place fo facred from fuch fops is barr'd,
Nor is Paul's church more fafe than Paul's church-

Nay, fly to altars; there they'll taik you dead;
For fools ruth in where angels fear to tread.
Distrustful sense with modeft caution speaks,
It still looks home, and short excurfions makes
But rattling nonfenfe in full vollies breaks,
And, never shock'd, and never turn'd afide,
Bursts out, refiftlefs, with a thundering tide. 630

But where's the man, who counsel can bestow,
Still pleas'd to teach, and yet not proud to know?
Unbiafs'd, or by favour, or by fpite;


There are as mad, abandon'd critics too.
The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read,
With loads of learned lumber in his head,
With his own tongue ftill edifies his ears,
And always liftening to himself appears.
All books he reads, and all he reads affails,
From Dryden's Fables down to Durfey's Tales:
With him, most authors fteal their works, or buy
Garth did not write his own Dispensary.

Not dully prepoffefs'd, nor blindly right; [fincere;
Though learn'd, well-bred; and though well-bred,
Modeftly bold, and humanely severe :
Who to a friend his faults can freely show.
And gladly praife the merit of a foe?
Bleft with a tafte exact, yet unconfin'd;
A knowledge both of books and human kind; 640
Generous converfe; a foul exempt from pride;
And love to praise, with reafon on his fide?

Such once were critics; such the happy few
Athens and Rome in better ages knew:
The mighty Stagyrite firft left the shore,
Spread all his fails, and durft the deeps explore;
He steer'd fecurely, and discover'd far,
Led by the light of the Mæonian star.
Poets, a race long unconfin'd and free,
Still fond and proud of favage liberty,
Receiv'd his laws; and flood convinc'd 'twas fit,
Who conquer'd nature, should prefide o'er wit.
Horace ftill charms with graceful negligence,
And without method talks us into fenfe,
Will, like a friend, familiarly convey
The trueft notions in the easiest way.



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,
Might boldly cenfure, as he boldly writ, [fire;
Yet judg'd with coolness, though he fung with
His precepts teach but what his works infpire.
Our critics take a contrary extreme,
They judge with fury, but they write with phlegm:
Nor fuffers Horace more in wrong tranflations
By wits, than critics in as wrong quotations.


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.


Ver. 668.

The scholar's learning, and the courtier's cafe. Ver. 673, &c.

Nor thus alone the curious eye to please,
But to be found, when need requires, with cafe.
The mufes fure Longinus did infpire,
And blefs'd their critic with a poet's fire.
An ardent judge, that zealous, &c.
Ver. 689. All was believ'd, but nothing understood.
Between ver. 690 and 691. the Author omitted
these two:
Vaia wits and critics were no more allow'd,
When none but faints had licenfe to be proud.

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,
Shakes off the duft, and rears his reverend head. 700
Then sculpture and her sister-arts revive;
Stones leap'd to form, and rocks began to live;
With fweeter notes each rifing temple rung;
A Raphael painted, and a Vida fung.
Immortal Vida! on whofe honour'd brow
The poet's bays and critic's ivy grow:
Cremona now fhall ever boat thy name,
As next in place to Mantua, next in fame!

But foon, by impious arms from Latium chas'd,
Their ancient bounds the banifh'd mufes pafs'd;
Thence arts o'er all the northern world advance,
But critic-learning flourish'd most in France:
The rules a nation, born to serve, obeys;
And Boileau ftill in right of Horace fways.
But we, brave Britons, foreign laws defpis'd,
And kept unconquer'd, and unciviliz'd;
Fierce for the liberties of wit, and bold,
We still defy'd the Romans, as of old.
Yet fome there were among the founder few
Of those who lefs prefum'd, and better knew, 720
Who durft affert the juster ancient cause,
And here reftor'd wit's fundamental laws.
Such was the mufe, whofe rules and practice tell,
"Nature's chief master-piece is writing well."
Such was Rofcommon, not more learn'd than good,
With manners generous as his noble blood;
To him the wit of Greece and Rome was known,
And every author's merit but his own.

Such late was Walsh--the mufe's judge and friend,
Who juftly knew to blame or to commend; 730
To failings mild, but zealous for defert;
The clearest head, and the fincerest heart.
This humble praife, lamented fhade! receive,
This praife at least a grateful muse may give :
The mufe, whofe early voice you taught to sing,
Prefcrib'd her heights, and prun'd her tender

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"Nolueram, Belinda, tuos violare capillos,
"Sed juvat, hoc precibus me tribuiffe tuis."



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,



WHAT dire offence from amorous caufes fprings,
What mighty contests rife from trivial things,
I fing-this verfe to Caryl, mufe! is due :
This ev'n Belinda may vouchfafe to view :
Slight is the fubject, but not fo the praise,
If the infpire, and he approve my lays.

Say what strange motive, goddefs! could compel
A well-bred lord t' assault a gentle belle?
O fay what stranger caufe, yet unexplor'd,
Could make a gentle belle reject a lord?
In tafks fo bold, can little men engage?
And in foft bofoms dwells fuch mighty rage?

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Sol through white curtains fhot a timorous ray,
And ope'd thofe eyes that must eclipfe the day:
Now lap-dogs give themselves the rouzing shake,
And fleepless lovers, just at twelve, awake :
Thricerung the bell, the flipper knock'd the ground,
And the prefs'd watch return'd a filver found.
Belinda ftill her downy pillow preft,
Her guardian fylph prolong'd the balmy reft: 20
'Twas he had fummon'd to her filent bed
The morning dream that hover'd o'er her head.
A youth more glittering than a birth-night beau
(That ev'n in flumber caus'd her cheek to glow)
Seem'd to her ear his winning lips to lay,
And thus in whispers said, or seem'd to say:

That all her vanities at once are dead.
Succeeding vanities fhe ftill regards,
And though the plays no more, o'erlooks the cards.
Her joy in gilded chariots, when alive,
And love of ombre, after death furvive,
For when the fair in all their pride expire,
To their firft elements their fouls retire:
The sprites of fiery termagants in flame

Faireft of mortals, thou diftinguish'd care
Of thousand bright inhabitants of air!
If e'er one vifion touch thy infant thought,

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,
And fip, with nymphs, their elemental tea.
The graver prude finks downward to a gnome,
In fearch of mischief still on earth to roam.
The light coquettes in fylphs aloft repair,
And fport and flutter in the fields of air.


Ver. 11, 12. It was in the firft editions:
And dwells fuch rage in fofteft bofoms then,
And lodge fuch daring fouls in little men?

Ver. 13, &c. flood thus in the first edition:
Sol through white curtains did his beams difplay,
And ope'd thofe eyes which brighter fhone than

Of airy elves by moonlight fhadows feep,
The filver token, and the circled green,
Or virgins vifited by angel-powers,

With golden crowns and wreaths of heavenly


Hear and believe thy own importance know,
Nor bound thy narrow views to things below,
Some fecret truths, from learned pride conceal'd,
To maids alone and children are reveal'd:
What though no credit doubting wits may give?
The fair and innocent shall still believe.
Know then, unnumber'd spirits round thee fly,
The light militia of the lower fky:
These, though unseen, are ever on the wing,
Hang o'er the box, and hover round the ring.
Think what an equipage thou haft in air.
And view with scorn two pages and a chair.
As now your own, our beings were of old,
And once enclos'd in woman's beauteous mould;
Thence, by a foft tranfition, we repair
From earthly vehicles to thefe of air.

Think not, when women's tranfient breath is


Shock juft had given himfelf the rouzing fhake,
And nymphs prepar'd their chocolate to take;
Thrice the wrought flipper knock'd against the

Know farther yet; whoever fair and chafte
Rejects mankind, is by fome fylph embrac'd :
For, fpirits, freed from mortal laws, with cafe
Affume what fexes and what shape they pleafe. 70
What guards the purity of melting maids,
In courtly balls, and midnight mafquerades,
Safe from the treacherous friends, the daring fpark,
The glance by day, the whisper in the dark,
When kind occafion prompts their warm defires,
When mufic foftens, and when dancing fires?

And ftriking watches the tenth hour refound.
Ver. 19. Belinda ftill, &c.] All the verfes from

hence to the end of this canto were added after-Tis but their fylph, the wife celeftials know,
Though honour is the word with men below.

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