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(So Sampson groped the temple's post in spight,)
The world o'erwhelming, to revenge his sight.
Yet as I read, still growing less severe,
I liked his project, the success did fear;
Through that wide field how he his way should find,
O'er which lame Faith leads Understanding blind;
Lest he'd perplex the things he would explain,
And what was easy he should render vain.
Or if a work so infinite he span'd,
Jealous I was, that some less skilful hand
(Such as disquiet always what is well,
And, by ill imitating, would excel,)
Might hence presume the whole Creation's day
To change in scenes, and show it in a play.
Pardon me, mighty Poet, nor despise
My causeless, yet not impious, surmise:
But I am now convinced; and none will dare
Within thy labours to pretend a share.
Thou hast not miss'd one thought that could be fit,
And all that was improper dost omit:
So that no room is here for writers left,
But to detect their ignorance or theft.
That majesty, which through thy work doth reign,
Draws the devout, deterring the profane :
And things divine thou treat'st of in such state
As them preserves, and thee, inviolate.
At once delight and horror on us seize,
Thou sing'st with so much gravity and ease;
And above human flight dost soar aloft
With plume so strong, so equal, and so soft:
The bird, named from that Paradise you sing,
So never flags, but always keeps on wing.
Where couldst thou words of such a compass find? Whence furnish such a vast expanse of mind?
Just Heaven thee, like Tiresias, to requite,
Rewards with prophecy thy loss of sight.
Well might'st thou scorn thy readers to allure With tinkling rhime, of thy own sense secure; While the Town-Bays writes all the while and spells,
And, like a pack-horse, tires without his bells:
Their fancies like our bushy points appear;
The poets tag them, we for fashion wear.
I too, transported by the mode, offend,
And, while I meant to praise thee, must commend:
Thy verse created, like thy theme, sublime,
In number, weight, and measure, needs not rhime.
EPIGRAM ON MILTON.
THREE Poets, in three distant ages born,
Greece, Italy, and England, did adorn:
The First in loftiness of thought surpass'd;
The Next, in majesty; in both the LAST.
The force of Nature could no farther
To make a third, she join'd the former two.
FROM AN ACCOUNT OF
THE GREATEST ENGLISH POETS.
BUT MILTON next, with high and haughty stalks,
Unfetter'd, in majestic numbers, walks:
No vulgar hero can his Muse engage,
Nor earth's wide scene confine his hallow'd rage.
See! see! he upward springs, and, towering high,
Spurns the dull province of mortality;
Shakes Heaven's eternal throne with dire alarms,
And sets the' Almighty Thunderer in arms !
Whate'er his pen describes I more than see,
Whilst every verse arrayed in majesty,
Bold and sublime, my whole attention draws,
And seems above the critic's nicer laws.
How are you struck with terror and delight,
When angel with archangel copes in fight!
When great Messiah's outspread banner shines,
How does the chariot rattle in his lines!
What sound of brazen wheels, with thunder, scare
And stun the reader with the din of war!
With fear my spirits and my blood retire,
To see the seraphs sunk in clouds of fire :
But when, with eager steps, from hence I rise,
And view the first gay scene of Paradise ;
What tongue, what words of rapture, can express
A vision so profuse of pleasantness!
ADDRESS TO GREAT BRITAIN.
FROM THOMSON'S SUMMER.
FOR lofty sense,
Creative fancy, and inspection keen
Through the deep windings of the human heart,
Is not wild Shakspeare thine and Nature's boast?
Is not each great, each amiable, Muse
Of classic ages in thy MILTON met?
A genius universal as his theme;
Astonishing as Chaos; as the bloom
Of blowing Eden fair; as Heaven sublime!
ACTED AT DRURY-LANE THEATRE, APRIL 5, 1750. For the Benefit of Milton's Grand-Daughter.
YE patriot crowds, who burn for England's fame, Yenymphs, whose bosoms beat at MILTON's name, Whose generous zeal, unbought by flattering rhimes,
Shames the mean pensions of Augustan times;
Immortal patrons of succeeding days,
Attend this prelude of perpetual praise!
Let Wit, condemn'd the feeble war to wage
With close malevolence, or public rage;
Let Study, worn with Virtue's fruitless lore,
Behold this Theatre, and grieve no more.
This night, distinguish'd by your smiles, shall tell,
That never Britain can in vain excel ;
The slighted arts futurity shall trust,
And rising ages hasten to be just.
At length our mighty Bard's victorious lays
Fill the loud voice of universal praise;
And baffled Spite, with hopeless anguish dumb,
Yields to renown the centuries to come;
With ardent haste each candidate of fame,
Ambitious, catches at his towering name :
He sees, and pitying sees, vain wealth bestow
Those pageant honours which he scorned below,
While crowds aloft the laureat bust behold,
Or trace his form on circulating gold.
Unknown,-unheeded, long his offspring lay,
And want hung threatening o'er her slow decay.
What though she shine with no Miltonian fire,
No favouring Muse her morning-dreams inspire ;
Yet softer claims the melting heart engage,
Her youth laborious, and her blameless
Her's the mild merits of domestic life,
The patient sufferer, and the faithful wife.
Thus graced with humble Virtue's native charms,
Her grandsire leaves her in Britannia's arms;
Secure with peace, with competence, to dwell,
While tutelary nations guard her cell.
Yours is the charge, ye fair, ye wise, ye brave!
"Tis yours to crown desert-beyond the
GRAY'S PROGRESS OF POESY.
NOR second HE that rode sublime
Upon the seraph-wings of ecstasy;
The secrets of the abyss to spy,
He pass'd the flaming bounds of place and time :
The living throne, the sapphire blaze,
Where Angels tremble while they gaze,
He saw; but, blasted with excess of light,
Closed his eyes in endless night.
HIGH on some cliff, to Heaven up-piled,
Of rude access, of prospect wild,
Where, tangled round the jealous steep,
Strange shades o'erbrow the vallies deep,