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If humin woes her soft attention claim,
500 Of prophet and of poet was the same; Hence, British poets, too, the priesthood shard, And every hallow'd druid was a bard. But no prophetick fires to me belong; I play with syllables, and sport in song.
505 A. At Westminster, where little poets strive To set a distich upon six and five, Where Discipline helps th' op'ning huds of sense, And makes his pupils proud with silver pence, I was a poet too: but modern taste
510 Is so refind, and delicate, and chaste, That verse, whatever fire the fancy warms, Without a creamy smoothness has no charms. Thus, all success depending on an ear, And thinking I might purchase it too dear,
515 If sentiment were sacrific'd to sound, And truth cut short to make a period round, I judg'd a man of sense could scarce do worse, Than caper in the morris-dance of verse. B. Thus reputation is a spur to wit,
520 And some wits flag through fear of losing it
Give me cila line that ploughs its stately course
530 But such mere quarter-strokes are not for me.
From him who rears a poem lank and long; To him who strains his all into a song ; Perhaps some bonny Caledonian air, All birks and braes, though he was never there ; 5535 Or, having whelp'd a prologue with great pains, Feels himself spent, and fumbles for his brains ; A prologue interdash'd with many a strokeAn art contriv'd to advertise a joke, So that the jest is clearly to be seen,
340 Not in the words—but in the gap between: Manner is all in all, whate'er is writ To substitute for genius, sense, and wit.
To dally much with subjects inean and low Proves that the mind is weak, or makes it so. Neglected talents rust into decay, And ev'ry effort ends in pushpin play. The man that means success should soar above A soldier's feather, or a lady's glove ; Else, summoning the muse to such a theme, 550 The fruit of all her labour is whipp'd cream, As if an eagle flew aloft, and then Stoop'd from its highest pitch to pounce a wron As if the poet, purposing to wed, Should carve himself a wife in gingerbread.
555 Ayos claps'd erc Homer's lamp appear'd, And ages ere the Mantuan swan was heard; To carry Nature's lengths unknown before, To give a Milton birth, ask'd ages more. Vol. I.
Thus Genius rose and set at order'd times,
500 And shot a day-spring into distant climes, Ennobling ev'ry region that he chose; He sunk in Greece, in Italy he rose ; Ard, tedious years of Gothick darkness pass'd, Emerg'd all splendour in our isle at last.
505 Thus lovely halcyons dive into the main, Then show far off their shining plumes again.
A. Is genius only found in epick lays? Prove his, and forfeit all pretence to praise. Make their heroick pow'rs your own at once,
570 Or candidly confess yourself a dunce.
B. These were the chief: each interval of night
530 An ell or two of prospect we command; But never peep beyond the thorny bound, Or oaken fer.ce that hems the paddock round.
In Eden, ere yet innocence of heart Had faded, poetry was not an art:
535 Language above all teaching, or, if taught, Only by gratitude and glowing thought, Elegant as simplicity, and warm As ecstasy, unmanacled by forın, Not prompted, as in our degen'rate days,
5.00 By low ambition and the thirst of praise, Was natural as is the flowing stream, And yet magnificent-A God the theme ! That theme on Earth exhausted, though above 'Tis found as everlasting as his love,
595 Mun lavish'd all his thoughts on human thing The feais of heroes, and tho wrath of kings;
But still, while virtue kindled his delight,
605 The victim of his own lascivious fires, And, dizzy with delight, profan'd the sacred wires. Anacreon, Horace, play'd in Greece and Rome This bedlarn part, and others nearer home. When Cromwell fought for pow'r, and while he reign'd The proud protector of the power he gain'd,
611 Religion harsh, intolerant, austere, Parent of manners like herself scvere, Drew a rough copy of the Christian face, Without the sinile, the sweetness, or the grace ;
615 The dark and sullen humour of the time Judy'd ev'ry effort of the muse a crime ; Verse, in the finest mould of fancy cast, · Was luinber in an age so void of taste : But when the second Charles assum'd the sway, 020 And arts reviv'd beneath a softer day, Then like a bow long forc'd into a curve, The mind, releas'd from too constrain'd a nerve, Flew to its first position with a spring, That made the vaulted roofs of Pleasure ring.
025 His court, the dissolute and hateful school Of Wantonness, where vice was taught by rule, Swarm'd with a scribbling herd, as deep inlaid With brutal lust as ever Circe made. From these a long succession, in a rage Of rank obscenity debauch'd their age : Nor ceas'd till ever anxious to redress The abuses of her sacred charge, the poors, T'i.e muse instructed a well-nurtur'd train Of ahler votaries to cleanse the stain,
Aud claim the palm for purity of song,
610 The puppy pack, that had defil'd the scene.
In front of these came Addison. In him
050 E'en on the fools that trampled on their laws. But he, (his musical finesse was such, So nice his ear, so delicate his touch,) Made poetry a mere mechanick art ; And ev'ry warbler has his tune by heart.
655 Nature imparting her satirick gift, Her serious mirth, to Arbuthnot and Swift, With droll sobriety they rais'd a smile At Folly's cost, themselves unmov'd the while. That constellation sot, the world in vain
660 Must hope to look upon their like again.
A. Are we then left-B. Not wholly in the dark ;
670 Short his career, indeed, but ably run; Churchill, himself unconscious of his pow'rs, (u penury consumil his id!c hours;