Page images

Which, but proportion'd to their light, or place, A perfect judge will read each work of Wit
Due distance reconciles to form and grace. With the same fpirit that its author writ :
A prudent chief not always mus display Survey the whole, nor seck flight faults to find,
His pow'rs in equal ranks, and fair array; Where nature moves, and rapture warms the mind;
But with th'occasion and the place comply, Nor lose, for that malignant dull delight,
Conceal his force, nay seem sometimes to fly. The gen'rous pleasure to be charm’d with wit.
Those oft are stratagems which errors seem; But in such lays as neither ebb nor flow,
Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream. Correctly cold, and regularly low;

Still green with bays each ancient altar stands, That, shunning faults, one quict tenor keep; Above the reach of facrilegious hands;

We cannot blame indeed—but we may sleep. Secure from Flames, from Envy's fiercer rage, In Wit, as Nature, what affects our hearts Destructive War, and all-involving Age.

Is not th'exactness of peculiar parts ; See from each clime the learn’d their incense bring! 'Tis not a lip, or eye, we beauty call, Hear, in all tongues consenting Pæans ring! But the joint force and full result of all. In praise fo just let ev'ry voice be join'd, Thus when we view foine well-proportion'd dome, And fill the gen’ral chorus of mankind.

The world's just wonder, and ev’n thine, O Rome! Hail, Bards triumphant! born in happier days; No single parts unequally surprise ; Immortal heirs of universal praise !

All comes united to th’admiring eyes:
Whole honours with increase of ages grow, No monstrous height, or breadth, or length ap-
As streams roll down, enlarging as they flow;

Nations unborn your mighty names Thall sound, The whole at once is bold and regular,
And worlds applaud that must not yet be found ! Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see,
O may some spark of your celestial fire

Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er thall be
The last, the meanest of your sons inspire[ Aights; In ev'ry work regard the writer's end,
(That on weak wings, from far, pursues your Since none can compass more than they intend
Glows while he reads, but trembles as he writes), And if the means be just, the conduct true,
To teach vain Wits a science little known; Applause, in spite of trivial faults, is due,
T'admire superior sense, and doubt their own! As men of breeding, sometimes men of wit,

Of all the causes which conspire to blind T'avoid great crrors, must the less commit; Man's erring judgment, and misguide the mind, Neglect the rules each verbal Critic lays, What the weak head with strongett bias rules, For not to know some trifles is a praile. Is Pride, the never-failing vice of fools.

Most Critics, fond of some subservient art, Whatever Nature has in worth denied,

Still make the Whole depend upon a Part : She gives in large recruits of needful Pride; They talk of principles, but notions prize; For as in bodies, thus in fouls we find [wind : And all to one lov’d folly sacrifice. What wants in blood and spirits, swell with Once on a time, LaMancha's Knight, they say, Pride, where Wit fails, lieps in to our defence, A certain Bard encount'ring on the way, And fills up all the mighty void of sense. Discours’d in terms as juft, with looks as sage, If once right reason drives that cloud away, As e'er could Dennis, of the Grecian stage; Truth breaks upon us with resistless day. Concluding all were desp’rate sots and fools Trust not yourlclf; but, your defects to know, Who durft depart from Aristotle's rules. Make use of ev'ry friend—and ev'ry foe. Our Author, happy in a judge so nice, A little learning is a dang'rous thing ;

Produc'd his play, and begg’d the Knight's advice; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring : Made him observe the subject and the plot, There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, The manners, patsions, unities ; what not ? And drinking largely sobers us again.

All which, exact to rule, were brought about, Fir'd at first fight with what the Muse imparts, Were but a Combat in the lifts left out. In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Arts, “ What! leave the Combat out?" exclaims the While from the bounded level of our mind Yes, or we must renounce the Stagyrite. (Knight; Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind; “ Not so, by heaven !” he answers in a rage; But, more advanc'd, behold with strange surprise Knights, 'squires, and steeds, must enter on the New distant scenes of endless science rile!

stage.' So pleas'd at first the tow'ring Alps we try *, So vast a throng the stage can ne'er contain. Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky; “* Then build a new, or act it in a plain.” Th'eternal snows appear already past,

Thus Critics of less judgment than caprice, And the first clouds and mountains seem the last : Curious, not knowing; not exact, but nice, But, those attain'd, we tremble to survey Form short ideas; and offend in arts The growing labours of the lengthen'd way; (As most in manners) by a love to parts. Th’increasing prospect tires our wand'ring eyes, Some to Conceit alone their taste confine, Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise! And glitt’ring thoughts struck out at ev'ry line;

VARIATION. So pleas'd at fiift the tow'ring Alps to try,

The traveller beholds, with cheerful eyes, Filled with ideas of fais Italy,

The less’ning vales, and seems to tread the skies.






Pleas'd with a work where nothing's just or fit; Then, at the last and only couplet fraught
One glaring Chaos and wild heap of wit. With some unmeaning thing they call a thought,
Poets, like painters, thus, unskill'd to trace A needless Alexandrine ends the song, (along,
The naked nature and the living grace, That, like a wounded snake, drags its low length
With gold and jewels cover ev'ry part, Leave such to tune their own dull rhymes, and
And hide with ornaments their want of art.

know True wit is Nature to advantage dress’d; What’s roundly smooth, or languishingly slow; What oft was thought, but ne'er

so well express’d; And praise the easy vigour of a line Something, whofe truth convinc'd at fight we find, Where Denham's strength and Waller's sweetness That gives us back the image of our mind.

join. As shades more sweetly recommend the light, True ease in writing comes from art, not chance; So modeft plainnels fets off sprightly wit. As those move easicst who have learn'd to dance, For works may have more wit than does 'em good, 'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence, As bodies perish thro' excess of blood.

The sound must seem an echo to the sense : Others for language all their care express, Soft is the strain when zephyr gently blows, And value books, as women men, for dress : And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows; Their praise is still-- The Style is excellent ; But when loud surges lath the founding shore, The Sense they humbly take upon content. The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent Words are like leaves; and, where they most abound,

When Ajaxstrives some rock's vastweight tothrow, Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found. The line too labours, and the words move flow : Falle eloquence, like the prismatic glass, Not so, when swift Camilla fcours the plain, Its gaudy colours spreads on ev'ry place; Flies o'er th’unbending corn, and kims along the The face of Nature we no more survey;

main. All glares álike, without distinction gay: Hear how Timotheus' varied lays surprise But true Expression, like th' unchanging Sun, And bid alternate passions fall and rise! Clears and improves whate'er it shines upon; While, at each change, the son of Libyan Jove It gilds all objects, but it alters none.

Now burns with glory, and then melts with love: Exprefsion is the dress of thought, and still Now his fierce eyes with sparkling fury glow, Appears more decent as more luitable;

Now fighs steal out, and tears begin to Aow: A vile conceit, in pompous words exprefs'd, Perfians and Greeks like turns of nature found, Is like a clown in regal purple drets'd : And the world's victor stood subdued by sound! For diffrent styles with diffrent subjects fort, The pow'r of music all our hearts allow; As sev'ral garbs with country, town, and coure. And what Timotheus was, is Dryden now. Some, by old words, to fame have made pretence; Avoid extremes, and thun the fault of such Ancients in phrase, mere moderns in their tente: Who still are pleas'd too little or too much. Such labour'd nothings, in 10 strange a style, At ev'ry trifle scorn to take offence; Amaze th’unlearn’d, and make the learned 1mile. That always shews great pride, or little sense: Unlucky as Fungofo in the play,

Those heads, as stomachs, are not sure the best, These sparks, with aukward vanity, display Which nauseate all, and nothing can digeft. What the fine gentleman wore yetterday ; Yet let not each gay turn thy rapture move; And but so mimic ancient wits at best,

For fools admire, but men of sense, approve: As apes our grandfires, in their doublets drest.

As things seem large which we thro' mifts descry; In words, as fashions, the fame rule will hold; Dulness is ever apt to magnify. Alike fantastic, if too new or old.

Some foreign writers, some our own, despisc; Be not the first by whom the new are tried, The ancients only, or the moderns, prize. Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.

Thus wit, like faith, by each man is applied But most by numbers judge a poet's song; To one small foct, and all are damn'd beside. And smooth or rough with them is right or wrong: Meanly they seek the blessing to confine, In the bright Muse tho’thoufand charms conspire, And force that sun but on a part to shine, Her voice is all thele tuneful fools admire ; Which not alone the southern wit sublimes, Who haunt Parnafsus but to please their ear, But ripens spirits in cold northern climes; Not mend their minds; as some tochurch repair Which from the first has thone on ages past, Not for the doctrine, but the music there.

Enlights the present, and shall warm the last; These equal fyllables alone require,

Tho' each may feel increases and decays, Tho' oft the ear the open vowels tire ;

And see now clearer and now darker days. While expletives their feeble aid do join, Regard not then if wit be old or new, And ten low words oft creep in one dull line : But blame the false, and value ftill the true. While they ring round the same unvaried chimes, Some ne'er advance a judgment of their own, With suré returns of ftill expected rhymes; But catch the spreading notion of the town; Where'er you find “the cooling western breeze," They reason and conclude by precedent, In the next line, “it whispers thro' the trees : And own stale nonsense which they ne'erinvent If crystal ítreains “with pleasing murmurs creep, Some judge of authors cames, not works;s nd then The reader'sthreaten’d (not in vain) with“sleep.'' Nor praise nor blame the writings, but i emer.







Of all this servile herd, the worst is he When first that fun too pow'rful beams displays,
That in proud dulness joins with quality : It draws up vapours which obscure its rays;
A constant critic at the great man's board, But ev'n those clouds at last adorn its way,
To fetch and carry nontense for my lord : Refleet new glories, and augment the day.
What woful stuff this madrigal would be, Be thou the first true merit to befriend;
In some ftarv'd hackney funnetteer, or me! His praise is loft who stays till all commend.
But let a lord once own the happy lines, Short is the date, alas ! of modern rhymes,
How the wit brightens ! how the style refines! And 'tis but juít to let them live betimes.
Before his sacred name fies ev'ry fault, No longer now that golden age appears,
And each exalted stanza teems with thought ! When patriarch wits surviv'd a thouland years:

The vulgar thus thro' imitation err; Now length of fame (our second life) is loft, As oft the learn’d, by being fingular :

And bare threescore is all e'en that can boast; So much they fcorn the crowd, that if the throng Our fons their fathers failing language see, By chance go right, they purposely go wrong: And such as Chaucer is thall Dryden be. Só schismatics the plain believers quit,

So when the faithful pencil has design'd And are but damn'd for having too much wit. Some bright idea of the matter's mind, Some praisc at morning what they blame at night; Where a new world Icaps out at his command, But always think the last opinion right. And ready Nature waits upon his hand; A Mufe by these is like a mistress us'd; When the ripe colours foften and unite, This hour the's idoliz'd, the next abus’d; And sweetly melt into just Thade and light; While their weak heads, like towns unfortified, When mellowing years their full perfection give, 'Twixt fenfe and nonsense daily change their fide. And each bold figure just begins to live ; Ask them the cause ; they're wiser ftill, they say; The treach'rous colours the fair art betray, And still to-morrow's wifer than to-day. And all the bright creation fades away! We think our fathers fools, so wisc we grow; Unhappy wit, like most villaken things, Our wiser fons, no doubt, will think us fo. Atones not for that envy which it brings. Once school-divines this zealous ille o'erspread; In youth alone its empty praise we boaft ; Who knew most sentences was deepest read: But soon the short-liv'd vanity is lost : Faith, Gospel, all seem'd made to be disputed, Like some fair tiow'r the early spring supplies, And none had sense enough to be confuted: That gaily blooms, but ev’n in blooming dies. Scotists and Thomists now in peace remain What is this wit, which must our cares cmploy! Amidt their kindred cobwebs in Duck-lane. The owner's wife, that other men enjoy : If faith itself has diff'rent dresses worn,

Then most our troubie full when most admir'd, What wonder modes in wit should take their turn! And still the more we give, the more requir’d; Oft, leaving what is natural and fit,

Whofefame with painsweguard, but lose with case, The current folly proves the ready wit* ; Sure fome to vex, but never all to please : And authors think the reputation safe,

'Tis what the vicious fear, the virtuous shun; Which lives as long as fools are pleas'd to laugh. By fools 'tis hated, and by knaves undone !

Some valuing those of their own fide or inind, If wit so much from ign'rance undergo, Seill make themselves the measure of mankind! Ah let not learning too cominence its foe! Fondly we think we honour merit then,

Of old, those met rewards who could excel, When we but praise ourselves in other men. And such were prais'd who but endeavour'd well: Parties in wit attend on those of state,

Tho' triumphs were to gen'rais only due, And public faction doubles private hate. Crowns were reserv'd to grace the foldiers too. Pride, malice, folly, against Dryden rose, Now, they who reach Parnaisus' lofty crown, In various shapes of parsons, critics, beaux : Employ their pains to fpurn fome others down; But fenfe furviv'd when merry jefts were past, And while felf-love each jealous writer rules, For rising merit will buoy up at last.

Contending wits become the sport of fools : Might he return, and bless once more our eyes, But still the worst with most regret commend, New Blackmores and new Milbournsmus arise: For each ill author is as bad a friend. Nay, should great Homer lift his awful head, To what base ends, and by what abject ways, Zoilus again would start up from the dead. Are mortals urg'd thro' sacred lust of praite ! Envy will merit, as its ihade, pursue;

Ah! ne'er so dire a thirst of glory boast, Bur, like a shadow, proves the substance true : Nor in the critic let the man be loft. For envied wit, like fol eclips'd, makes known Good-nature and good sense muft ever join : Th’opposing body's grosincís, not its own. To err is human; to forgive, divine.


VARIATION. * The shviming clowns that gladded Shakespear's age Now all are banish'd to th' Hibernian shore ! No more with crambo entertain the stage.

Thus leaving what was natural and fit, Who now in anagrams their patron praise,

The current folly prov'd their ready wit: Or sing their mistress in acrostic lays ;

And authors thought their reputation safe, Ev’n pulpits pleas’d with merry puns of yore- Which liv'd as long as fools were pleas’d to laugh.


But if in noble minds some dregs remain, 'Twere well might critics still this freedom take;
Not yet purg'd ott, of spleen-and lour disdain, But Appius reddens at each word you speak,
Discharge that rage on more provoking crimes, And stares tremendous, with a thrcat'ning cyc,
Nor fcar a dearth in these fiagitious times. Like fome fierce tyrant in old tapestry.
No pardon vile obscenity should find,

Fear most to tax an honourable fool,
Tho' wit and art conspire to move your mind;

Whose right it is, unconfir'd, to be dull; But dulness with obicenity must prove

Such, without wit, are poets when they please, As shameful fure as impotence in love.

As without learning they can take degrees. In the fat age of pleasure, wealth, and ease, Leave dang'rous truths to unsuccessful satires, Sprung the rank weed, and thriv'd with large And farcry to fulsome dedicators, [more incrcale :

Whom, when they praise, the world believes no When love was all an easy monarch's care ; Than when they promise to give scribbling o'er. Seidom at council, never in a war,

'Tis best sometimes your censure to restrain, Jils rul'd the state, and statesmen farces writ; And charitably let the dull be vain : Nay, wirs nad pensions, and young lords had wit: Your filence there is better than your spite; The fair fat panting at a courtier's play, For who can rail so long as they can write ? And not a mask went unimprov'd away : Still humming on, their drowzy course they keep, The modeft fan was lifted up no more ; And lath'd fo long, like tops, are lath'd alleep. And virgins (mil'd at what they blush'd before. False steps but help them to renew the race; The following licence of a foreign reign As, after stumbling, jades will mend their pace. Did all the dregs of bold Socinus drain ; What crowds of these, impenitently bold, Then unbelieving priests reform’d the nation, In founds and jingling fillables grown old, And taught more pleasant methods of salvation ; Still run on poets in a raging vein, Vfhere Heaven's free subjects might their rights Ev'n to the dregs and squeczings of the brain; dispute,

Strain out the last dull droppings of their sense, Left God himself should seem too absolute : And rhyme with all the rage of impotence ! Pulpits their sacred satire learn’d to spare,

Such shameless bards we have; and yet ʼtis true, And vice admir'd to find a flatt'rer there ! There are as mad abandon'd critics too. Encourag‘d thus, wit's Titans brav'd the skies, The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read, And the press groan’d with licens'd blafphemies. With loads of learned lumber in his head, These monsters, critics ! with your darts engage, With his own tongue still edifies his ears, Here point your thunder, and exhaust your rage! And always list’ning to himself appears. Yet thun their fault, who, scandalously nice, All books he reads, and all he reads assails, Will needs mistake an author into vice: From Dryden's Fables down to Durfey's Tales : All seems infcêted that th’infected spy, With him, most authors steal their works, or buy; As all looks yellow to the jaundic d eye.

Garth did not write his own Dispensary. Learn then what morals critics ought to shew, Name a new Play, and he's the Poet's friend, For 'tis but half a judge's talk to know. Nay shew'dhis faults; but when would Poetsmend? 'Tis not enough, tose, judgment, learning, join ; No place fo facred from fuch fops is barr’d, In all you speak, let truth and candour shine : Noris Paul's church more safe than Paul's churchThat not alone what to your sense is due

yard : All may allow, but seek your friendship too. Nay, fly to altars; there they'll talk


dead; Be filent always when you doubt your sense; For Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread. And speak, tho’ sure, with seeming diffidence : Distrustful sense with modeft caution speaks, Some positive, perfifting fops we know,

It still looks home, and thort excursions makes; Who, if once wrong, will needs be always so; But rattling nonsense in full vollies breaks,

you with pleasure own your errors past, And never shock'd, and never turn'd aside, And inake each day a critique on the last. Bursts out, refiftlefs, with a thund'ring tide.

"Tis not enough your counsel still be true; But where's the man who countel can bcftow,
Blunt truths more mischief than nice falsehoods do: Still pleas'd to teach, and yet not proud to know:
Men must be taught as if you taught them not, Unbiass'd or by favour or by fpite;
And things unknown propos'd as things forgot. Nor dully prepoitofs'd, nor blindly right;
Without good-breeding, truth is disapprov'd ; Tho'lcarn dwell-bred, and tho'well-bred sincere,
That only makes superior sense belov'd. Modeftly bold, and humanly fevere;
Be niggards of advice on no pretence ;

Who to a friend his faults can freely Thew, For the worst avarice is that of fenfe.

And gladly praise the merit of a foe: With mean complacence ne'er betray your trust, Bleft with a taste exact, yet unconfin’d; Nor be so civil as to prove unjust.

A knowledge both of books and human kind; Fear not the anger of the wise to raise ;

Gen'rous converse ; a soul exempt from pride; Those beft can bear reproof who merit praise. And love to praise, with reason on his fide ?

In vain you fhrug and sweat, and strive to fly : They'll stop a hungry chaplain in his grace,
These know no manners but of poetry.

To treat of unities of time and place.




[ocr errors]


Such once were Critics; such the happy few Rome's ancient Genius, o'er its ruins spread, Athens and Rome in better ages knew.

Shakes off the dust, and rears his rev'rend head. The mighty Stagyrite first left the shore, Then Sculpture and her sister-arts revive; Spread all his fails, and durft the deeps explore * ; Stones leap'd to form, and rocks began to live; He steer'd securely, and discover'd far,

With sweeter notes each rising Temple rung; Led by the light of the Mæonian Star.

A Raphael painted, and a Vida sung: Poets, a race long unconfin'd and free,

Immortal Vida! on whose honour'd brow Still fond and proud of savage liberty,

The Poet's bays and Critic's ivy grow, Receiv'd his laws, and stood convinc'd; 'twas fit, Cremona now shall ever boast thy name; Who conquer'd Nature should preside o'er Wit. As next in place to Mantua, next in fame!

Horace still charms with graceful negligence, But soon by impious arms from Latium chas'd, And without method talks us into sense ; Their ancient bounds the banilh’d Muses pals d; Will, like a friend, familiarly convey

Thence Arts o'er all the northern world advance, The truest notions in the casiest way.

But Critic-learning flourish'd most in France : He who, supreme in judgment as in wit, The rules a nation, born to serve, obeys; Might boldly censure, as he boldly writ; And Boileau still in right of Horace sways. Yet judg'd with coolness, tho' he sung with fire; But we, brave Britons, foreign laws despis d, His Precepts teach but what his Works inspire. And kept unconquer'd and unciviliz'd ; Our Critics take a contrary extreme;

Fierce for the liberties of wit, and bold, They judge with fury,but they write with phlegm; We still defied the Romans, as of old. Nor suffers Horace more in wrong translations Yet some there were, among the founder few By wits, than critics in as wrong quotations. Of those who less presum'd, and better knew,

See Dionysius Homer's thoughts refine, Who durst assert the juster ancient cause, And call new beauties forth from ev'ry line! And here restor'd Wit's fundamental laws;

Fancy and art in gay Petronius plcase; Such was the Mule whose rules and practice tell,
The scholar's learning, with the courtier's ease. “ Nature's chief Mafter-piece is writing well.”.

In grave Quintilian's copious work we find Such was Roscommon, not more learn'd than good,
The justest rules and clearest method join'd: With manners gen’rous as his noble blood;
Thus useful arms in magazines we place, To him the wit of Greece and Rome was known,
All rang'd in order, and dispos’d with grace; And ev'ry author's merit, but his own.
But less to please the eye than arm the hand; Such late was Walth, the Muse's judge and friend,
Still fit for use, and ready at command. Who justly knew to blame or to commend;

Thee, bold Longinus ! all the Nine inspire, To failings mild, but zealous for defert;
And bless their Critic with a Poet's fire.

The clearest head, and the sincerelt heart. An ardent Judge, who, zealous in his trust, This humble praise, lamented shade! receive, With warmth gives sentence, yet is always just: This praise at least a grateful Muse may give. Whose own example strengthens all his laws; The Muse whose carly voice you taught to fing, And is himself that great Sublime he draws. Prescrib'd her heights, and prun'd hertender wing,

Thus long fucceeding Critics juftly reign'd, (Her guide now loft) no more attempts to rise, Licence repress’d, and useful laws ordain'd. But in low numbers thort excursionstries: (view; Learning and Rome alike in empire grew, Content, if hence th' unlearn'd their wants may And Arts still follow'd where her Eagles Hew: The learn'd reflect on what before they knew : From the same foes, at last, both felt their doom; Careless of censure, nor too fond of fame; And the same age saw Learning fall, and Rome. Still pleas'd to praile, yet not afraid to blame: With Tyranny then Superstition join'd;

Averle alike to flatter, or offend; As that the body, this ensay'd the mind : Not free from faults, nor yet too vain to mend. Much was believ'd, but little understood; And to be dull was construed to be good † : A second deluge Learning thus o'er-run,

§ 8. The Rape of the Lock. POPE. And the Monks finish'd what the Goths begun.

Sed jurat, hoc prccibus me tribuise tuis.
At length Erasmus, that great injur'd name,

The glory of the Priesthood, and the shame!
Stemm'd the wild torrent of a barb’rous age,

C Α Ν Τ Ο Ι.
And drove those holy Vandals off the stage.

WHAT dire offence from am'rous causes But see! each Muse, in Leo's golden days,

springs, Starts from her trance, and trims her wither'd bays; ( What mighty contests rise from trivial things,

Nolueram, Belinda, tuos violare capillos

[ocr errors]

VARIATIONS. That bold Columbus of the realms of wit,

Fancy's wild regions yet unvanquish'd lay, Whose first discov'ry not exceeded yet,

A boundless empire, and that own'd no sway.
Led by the light of the Mæonian Star,

Poets, &c.
He steer'd securely, and discover'd far.
He, when all Nature was subdued before,

+ Vain wits and critics were no more allow'd, Like his gicat Pupil, sigh’d, and long'd for more ; When none but saints had licence to be proud,

« PreviousContinue »