Page images


HE Reflections of Horace, and the Judgments past in his Epistle to Auguftus, seem'd so seafonable to the present Times, that I could not help applying them to the use of my own Country. The Author thought them confiderable enough to address them to his Prince; whom he paints with all the great and good qualities of a Monarch, upon whom the Romans depended for the Encrease of an Abfolute Empire. But to make the Poem entirely English, I was willing to add one or two of those which contribute to the Happiness of a Free People, and are more confiftent with the Welfare of our Neighbours.

This Epiftle will fhow the learned World to have fallen into Two mistakes: one, that Auguftus was a Patron of Poets in general; whereas he not only prohibited all but the Best Writers to name him, but recommended that Care even to the Civil Magiftrate: Admonebat Praetores, ne paterentur Nomen fuum obfolefieri, etc. The other, that this Piece was only a general Difcourfe of Poetry; whereas it was an Apology for the Poets, in order to render Auguftus more their Patron. Horace here pleads the Cause of his Cotemporaries, firft against the Tafte of the Town, whofe humour it was to magnify the Authors of the preceding Age; fecondly against the Court and Nobi

lity, who encouraged only the Writers for the Theatre; and laftly against the Emperor himself, who had conceived them of little Ufe to the Government. He fhews (by a view of the Progress of Learning, and the Change of Taste among the Romans) that the Introduction of the Polite Arts of Greece had given the Writers of his Time great advantages over their Predeceffors; that their Morals were much improved, and the Licence of those ancient Poets restrained: that Satire and Comedy were become more just and useful; that whatever extravagancies were left on the Stage, were owing to the Ill Taste of the Nobility; that Poets, under due Regulations, were in many respects useful to the State, and concludes, that it was upon them the Emperor himself muft depend, for his Fame with Pofterity.

We may farther learn from this Epiftle, that Horace made his Court to this Great Prince by writing with a decent Freedom toward him, with a juft Contempt of his low Flatterers, and with a manly Regard to his own Character. P.

[ocr errors]



UM tota fuftineas et tanta negotia folus,
Res Italas armis tuteris, moribus ornes,


Legibus emendes; in publica commoda peccem,
Si longo fermone morer tua tempora, Caefar.


Romulus, et Liber pater, et cum Castore Pollux, Poft ingentia facta, & Deorum in templa recepti,


Dum terras hominumque colunt genus, afpera bella
Componunt, agros adfignant, oppida condunt;
• Ploravere fuis non refpondere favorem
Speratum meritis. diram qui contudit Hydram,
Notaque fatali portenta labore fubegit,


Comperit invidiam fupremo fine domari.


Book ii. Epift. 1.] The Poet always rifes with his original; and very often, without. This whole Imitation is extremely noble and sublime.

VER. 7. Edward and Henry, etc.] Romulus, et Liber Pater, etc. Horace very judiciously praises Auguftus for the colonies he founded, not for the victories he won; and therefore compares him, not to those who desolated,





you, great Patron of Mankind! a sustain The balanc'd World, and open all the Main;

Your Country, chief, in Arms abroad defend,
At home, with Morals, Arts, and Laws amend;
b How fhall the Mufe, from fuch a Monarch, fteal 5
An hour, and not defraud the Public Weal?

[ocr errors]

• Edward and Henry, now the Boaft of Fame,
And virtuous Alfred, a more facred Name,
After a Life of gen'rous Toils endur'd,
The Gaul fubdu'd, or Property fecur'd,
Ambition humbled, mighty Cities ftorm'd,
Or Laws eftablish'd, and the world reform'd;
* Clos'd their long Glories with a figh, to find
Th' unwilling Gratitude of base mankind!

All human Virtue, to its lateft breath,

f Finds Envy never conquer'd, but by Death.




but to those who civilized mankind. The imitation wants this grace; and, for a very obvious reafon, could not aim at it.

VER. 13. Clos'd their long Glories with a figh,] The expreffion is extremely beautiful; and the ploravert judiciously placed.

VIR. 16. Finds envy never conquer'd, etc.] It hath been

8 Urit enim fulgore fuo, qui praegravat artes

Infra fe pofitas: extinctus amabitur idem.

h Praefenti tibi maturos largimur honores, i Jurandafque tuum per numen ponimus aras, * Nil oriturum alias, nil ortum tale fatentes. Sed tuus hoc populus fapiens et justus in uno, * Te noftris ducibus, te Graiis anteferendo,

Caetera nequaquam fimili ratione modoque


the common practice of those amongst us, who have diftinguished themselves in the learned world, to ascribe the ill treatment they meet with, from thofe they endeavour to oblige, to fo bad a cause as envy. But furely without reafon; for we find our Countrymen of the fame candid difpofition which Socrates, in the Euthypbro of Plato, afcribes to the Athenians of his time, They are well content (fays he) to allow the Pretenfions of reputed eminence ; it is only when a man will write, and prefume to give a proof of it, that they begin to grow angry. And how readily do we allow the reputation of eminence, in all the Arts, to those whofe modefty has made them decline giving us a fpecimen of it in any. A temper furely very diftant from envy. We ought not then to afcribe that" violent ferment good men are apt to work themselves into, and the ftruggle they make to fupprefs the reputation

« PreviousContinue »