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Now with a touch more sacred and refin'd,
Call forth a CHESTERFIELD's or LONSDALE's mind.
THROUGH Ages thus has SATIRE keenly shin'd, The Friend to Truth, to Virtue, and Mankind : Yet the bright flame from Virtue ne'er had sprung, And Man was guilty ere the Poet sung. This Muse in silence joy'd each better Age, Till glowing crimes had wak'd her into rage. Truth saw her honest spleen with new delight, And bade her wing her shafts, and urge their flight. First on the Sons of Greece she prov'd her art, And Sparta felt the fierce IAMBIC dart.1 TO LATIUM next, avenging SATIRE flew: The flaming faulchion rough LuCILIUS drew; With dauntless warmth in Virtue's cause engag'd, And conscious Villains trembled as he rag'd.
Then sportive HORACE3 caught the gen'rous fire; For SATIRE's bow resign'd the sounding lyre: 376 Each arrow polish'd in his hand was seen, And, as it grew more polish'd, grew more keen. His art conceal'd in study'd negligence, Politely sly, cajol'd the foes of sense:
"Archilochum proprio rabies armavit Iambo." Hor.
• "Ense velut stricto quoties Lucilius ardens
Callidus excusso populum suspendere naso.”—-Pers. S. i.
He seem'd to sport and trifle with the dart,
In graver strains majestic PERSIUS wrote, Big with a ripe exuberance of thought: Greatly sedate, contemn'd a Tyrant's reign, And lash'd Corruption with a calm disdain. More ardent eloquence, and boundless rage, Inflame bold JUVENAL'S exalted page, His mighty numbers aw'd corrupted Rome, And swept audacious Greatness to its doom; The headlong torrent thund'ring from on high, Rent the proud rock that lately brav'd the sky. But lo! the fatal Victor of Mankind! Swoln Luxury!-pale Ruin stalks behind! As countless Insects from the north-east pour, 395 To blast the Spring, and ravage ev'ry flow'r : So barb'rous Millions spread contagious death: The sick ning Laurel wither'd at their breath. Deep Superstition's night the skies o'erhung, Beneath whose baleful dews the Poppy sprung. 400 No longer Genius woo'd the Nine to love, But Dulness nodded in the Muse's grove : Wit, Spirit, Freedom, were the sole offence, Nor aught was held so dangerous as Sense.
At length, again fair Science shot her ray, 405 Dawn'd in the skies, and spoke returning day. Now, SATIRE, triumph o'er thy flying foe, Now, load thy quiver, string thy slacken'd bow! 'Tis done! See, great ERASMUS breaks the spell, And wounds triumphant Folly in her cell! (In vain the solemn Cowl surrounds her face, Vain all her bigot cant, her sour grimace,)
With shame compell'd her leaden throne to quit, H And own the force of Reason urg'd by Wit.
'Twas then plain DONNE in honest vengeance rose, His Wit harmonious, tho' his Rhyme was prose: He 'midst an age of Puns and Pedants wrote 417 With genuine sense, and Roman strength of thought.
Yet scarce had SATIRE well resum'd her flame, (With grief the Muse records her Country's shame,). Ere Britain saw the foul revolt commence, 421 And treach'rous Wit began her war with Sense. Then rose a shameless mercenary train, Whom latest Time shall view with just disdain : A race fantastic, in whose gaudy line Untutor'd thought, and tinsel beauty shine; Wit's shatter'd Mirror lies in fragments bright, Reflects not Nature, but confounds the sight. Dry Morals the Court-Poet blush'd to sing : 'Twas all his praise to say, "the oddest thing." Proud for a jest obscene, a Patron's nod, To martyr Virtue, or blaspheme his God.
Ill-fated DRYDEN! who unmoy'd can see Th' extremes of wit and meanness join'd in Thee! Flames that could mount, and gain their kindred skies, Low creeping in the putrid sink of vice;
A Muse whom Wisdom woo'd, but woo'd in vain,
Him with her love propitious SATIRE blest,
And show'r her bounties o'er her favour'd Isle : 450 Behold for POPE she twines the laurel crown,
And centres ev'ry Poet's power in one:
Each Roman's force adorns his various page,
Gay smiles, corrected strength, and manly rage.
Here Vice, dragg'd forth by Truth's supreme decree,
With modest joy surveys her form divine.
Who paint a God, unless the God inspire?