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Avoid extremes; and fhun the fault of fuch,
Who ftill are pleas'd too little or too much.
At every trifle fcorn to take offence,
That always fhews great pride, or little sense;
Thofe heads, as ftomachs, are not fure the best,
Which nauseate all, and nothing can digeft.
Yet let not each gay turn thy rapture move;
For fools admire, but men of fense approve :
As things feem large which we through mists descry, Dulnefs is ever apt to magnify.
Some foreign writers, fome our own despise;
The Ancients only, or the Moderns prize;
Thus Wit, like Faith, by each man is apply'd
To one fmall fect, and all are damn'd befide.
Meanly they seek the bleffing to confine,
And force that fun but on a part to shine,
Which not alone the southern wit fublimes,
But ripens fpirits in cold northern climes
Which from the firft has fhone on ages past,
Enlights the prefent, and fhall warm the laft;
Though each may feel encreases and decays,
And fee now clearer and now darker days.
Regard not then if wit be old or new,
But blame the falfe, and value ftill the true.
Some ne'er advance a judgment of their own,
But catch the spreading notion of the town;
They reason and conclude by precedent,
And own ftale nonsense which they ne'er invent.
Ver. 394. Ed. 1. Some the French writers, &c.
Some judge of authors names, not works, and then
Nor praife nor blame the writings, but the men.
Of all this fervile herd, the worst is he
That in proud dulnefs joins with quality;
A conftant Critic at the great man's board,
To fetch and carry nonfenfe for my
What woful stuff this madrigal would be,
In fome starv'd hackney-fonneteer, or me!
But let a Lord once own the happy lines,
How the wit brightens! how the style refines!
Before his facred name flies every fault,
And each exalted stanza teems with thought!
The vulgar thus through imitation err;
As oft the Learn'd by being fingular;
So much they scorn the crowd, that if the throng
By chance go right, they purposely go wrong:
So Schifmatics the plain believers quit,
And are but damn'd for having too much wit.
Some praise at morning what they blame at night; 430 But always think the last opinion right.
A Mufe by these is like a mistress us'd,
This hour the 's idoliz'd, the next abus'd;
While their weak heads like towns unfortify'd,
"Twixt fenfe and nonfenfe daily change their fide. 435
Ask them the cause; they're wifer ftill, they fay;
And still to-morrow's wifer than to-day.
Ver. 413. Ed. 1. Nor praife nor damn, &c.
Ver. 428. So Schifmatics the dull, &c.
We think our fathers fools; fo wife we grow;
Our wifer fons, no doubt, will think us fo.
Once School-divines this zealous ifle o'erfpread;
Who knew moft fentences was deepest read:
Faith, gofpel, all, feem'd made to be disputed,
And none had fenfe enough to be confuted:
Scotifts and Thomifts, now in peace remain,
Amidst their kindred cobwebs in Duck-lane.
If Faith itself has different dreffes worn,
What wonder modes in Wit fhould take their turn?
Oft', leaving what is natural and fit,
The current folly proves the ready wit;
And authors think their reputation fafe,
Which lives as long as fools are pleas'd to laugh.
Some, valuing those of their own fide or mind,
Still make themselves the measure of mankind:
Fondly we think we honour merit then,
When we but praise ourselves in other men.
Parties in Wit attend on thofe of State,
And public faction doubles private hate.
Ver. 447. Between this and ver. 448.
The rhyming Clowns that gladded Shakespeare's age, No more with crambo entertain the stage.
Who now in Anagrams their Patron praise,
Or fing their Mistress in Acroftic lays;
Ev'n pulpits pleas'd with merry puns of yore;
Now all are banish'd to th' Hibernian shore !
Thus leaving what was natural and fit,
The current folly prov'd their ready wit;
And authors thought their reputation fafe,
Which liv'd as long as fools were pleas'd to laugh.
Pride, Malice, Folly, against Dryden rose,
In various fhapes of Parfons, Critics, Beaux;
But fenfe furviv'd, when merry jests were past;
For rifing merit will buoy up at last.
Might he return, and bless once more our eyes,
New Blackmores and new Milbourns muft arife:
Nay should great Homer lift his awful head,
Zoilus again would start up from the dead.
Envy will merit, as its shade, pursue;
But, like a shadow, proves the fubstance true :
For envy'd Wit, like Sol eclips'd, makes known
Th' oppofing body's groffnefs, not its own.
When first that fun too powerful beams difplays,
It draws up vapours which obfcure its rays;
But ev'n thofe clouds at last adorn its way,
Reflect new glories, and augment the day.
Be thou the first true merit to befriend; His praise is loft, who stays till all commend.
Short is the date, alas, of modern rhymes,
And 'tis but just to let them live betimes.
No longer now that golden age appears,
When Patriarch-wits furviv'd a thousand years:
Now length of Fame (our fecond life) is loft,
And bare threefcore is all ev'n that can boast;
Our fons their fathers' failing language fee,
And fuch as Chaucer is, fhall Dryden be.
So when the faithful pencil has defign'd
Some bright idea of the master's mind,
Ver. 485. Ed. 1. Some fair idea, &c.
Where a new world leaps out at his command,
And ready Nature waits upon his hand;
When the ripe colours soften and unite,
And sweetly melt into just shade and light;
When mellowing years their full perfection give, 490
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 praise we boast,
But foon the short-liv'd vanity is loft:
Like fome fair flower the early fpring fupplies,
That gayly blooms, but ev'n in blooming dies.
What is this Wit, which muft our cares employ? 500
The owner's wife, that other men enjoy;
The most our trouble still when most admir'd,
And still the more we give, the more requir'd;
Whose fame with pains we guard, but lose with ease, Sure fome to vex, but never all to please ;
Ver. 490. Ed. 1. When mellowing time does, &c.
Ver. 492. The treacherous colours in few
Ver. 495. Repays not half that envy, &c.
Like fome fair flower that in the spring does rise. Ver. 500. What is this wit that does our cares employ? Ver. 5c2.
The more his trouble as the more admir'd;
Where wanted, fcorn'd; and envy'd where acquir'd
Maintain❜d with pains, but forfeited with eafe, &c.