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Eft vetus atque probus, centum qui perficit annos.
Quid? qui deperiit minor uno, menfe vel anno,
Utor permiffo, caudaeque pilos ut equinae
* Ennius et sapiens, et fortis, et alter Homerus, Ut critici dicunt, leviter curare videtur
Quo 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 lafts 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: 65
Beftow a Garland only on a ▾ Bier.
Shakespear (whom you and ev'ry Play-house bill Style the divine, the matchless, what you will) 70 For gain, not glory, wing'd his roving flight, And grew Immortal in his own despight. Ben, old and poor, as little feem'd to heed a The Life to come, in ev'ry Poet's Creed.
dared to do juftice, 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 endeavoured 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:
Spectat Roma potens; habet hos numeratque poetas
* Interdum vulgus rectum videt: est ubi peccat. Sib 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 fame impertinent and gratuitous criticism 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,
"Yet furely, furely, these were famous men! "What boy but hears the sayings of old Ben? "In all debates where Critics bear a part, "Not one but nods, and talks of Johnson's Art, "Of Shakespear's Nature, and of Cowley's Wit; "How Beaumont's judgment check'd what Fletcher " writ;
"How Shadwell hafty, Wycherly was flow;
mon Chat of the pretenders to Criticism; in fome things right, in others, wrong; as he tells us in his anfwer,
Interdum vulgus rectum videt: eft ubi peccat. P.
hafty Shadwell and flow Wycherley, is a line of Wilmot, Earl of Rochefter; the fenfe of which feems to have been generally mistaken. It gives to each his epithet, not to defign the difference of their talents, but the number of their productions.
VER. 91. Gammer Gurton] A piece of very low hu
Ut nihil anteferat, nihil illis comparet; errat:
Si quaedam nimis i antique, fi pleraque * dure
fed emendata videri
Pulchraque, et exactis minimum diftantia, miror:
mour, one of the firft printed Plays in English, and therefore much valued by fome Antiquaries. P.
Ibid. To Gammer Gurton, And yet deny, etc.] i. e. If they give the bays to one play because it is old, and deny it to another as good, because it is new; why then, I say, the Public acts a very foolish part.
VER. 97. Spencer himself affects the Obfolete,] This is certainly true; he extended, beyond all reafon, that precept of Horace,
Obfcurata diu populo bonus eruet, atque