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And you shall see, the first warm weather, Me and the butterflies together.
My lord, your favours well I know; 'Tis with distinction you bestow, And not to every one that comes, Just as a Scotsman does his plums. 'Pray take them, sir-enough's a feast: Eat some, and pocket up the rest'— What, rob your boys? those pretty rogues; No, sir, you'll leave them to the hogs.' Thus fools with compliments besiege ye, Contriving never to oblige ye. Scatter your favours on a fop, Ingratitude's the certain crop; And 'tis but just, I'll tell
You give the things you never care for.
Now this I'll say, you'll find in me
To give me back
The sprightly wit, the lively eye,
The' engaging smile, the gaiety
That laugh'd down many a summer sun,
But having amply stuff'd his skin,
All that may make me none of mine.
'Twas what I said to Craggs and Child,
There died my father, no man's debtor,
To set this matter full before
Our old friend Swift will tell his story.
Harley, the nation's great support'
But you may read it, I stop short.
BOOK II. EPISTLE I.
The reflections of Horace, and the judgments passed in his epistle to Augustus, seemed so seasonable to the present times, that I could not help applying them to the use of my own country. The author thought them considerable 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 increase of an absolute 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 consistent with the welfare of our neighbours.
This epistle will show the learned world to have fallen into two mistakes: one, that Augustus 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 magistrate; Admonebat prætores, ne paterentur nomen suum obsolefieri, &c.; the other, that this piece was only a general discourse of poetry; whereas it was an apology for the poets, in order to render Augustus more their patron. Horace here pleads the cause of his contemporaries; first, against the taste of the town, whose humour it was to magnify the authors of the preceding age; secondly, against the court and nobility, who encouraged only the writers for the theatre; and, lastly, against the emperor himself, who had conceived them of little use to the government. He shows (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 predecessors; that their morals were much improved, and the license of those ancient poets restrained; that satire and comedy were become more just and useful; that whatever extravagances 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 must depend for his fame with posterity.
We may further learn from this epistle, that Horace made his court to this great prince, by writing with a decent freedom towards him, with a just contempt of his low flatterers, and with a manly regard to his own character.
Edward and Henry, now the boast of fame,
Whose word is truth, as sacred and revered
Just in one instance, be it yet confess'd
Chaucer's worst ribaldry is learn'd by rote,
He swears the Muses met him at the Devil.
We build, we paint, we sing, we dance, as well;
'Who lasts a century can have no flaw; I hold that wit a classic, good in law.'
Suppose he wants a year, will you compound? And shall we deem him ancient, right, and sound, Or damn to all eternity at once
At ninety-nine a modern and a dunce?