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Must they be Blockheads, Dolts, and Fools,
Who write not up to Grecian Rules?
Who tread in Buskins or in Socks,
Must they be damn'd as Hetorodox,
Nor Merit of good Works prevail,
Except within the classic Pale?
'Tis Stuff that bears the Name of Knowledge,
Not current half a Mile from College ;
Where half their Lectures yield no more
(Before I speak of Times of Yore)
Than just a niggard Light, to mark
How much we all are in the Dark.
As Rushlights in a spacious Room,
Just burn enough to form a Gloom.
When Shakespeare leads the Mind a Dance,
From France to England, hence to France,
Talk not to me of Time and Place;
I own I'm happy in the Chace.
Whether the Drama's here or there,
'Tis Nature, Shakespeare every where.
The Poet's Fancy can create,
Contract, enlarge, annihilate,
Bring past and present close together,
In Spite of Distance, Seas, or Weather.
And shut up in a single Action,
What coit whole Years in its Transaction.
So, Ladies at a Play, or Rout,
Can flirt the Universe about,
Whose geographical Account
Is drawn and pictur’d on the Mount.
Yer, when they please, contract the Plan,
And ihut the World up in a Fan.
True Genius, like Armida’s Wand,
Can raise the Spring from barren Land.
While all the Art of Imitation,
Is piif'ring from the first Creation;
Transplanting flowers with useless Toil,
Which wither in a foreign Soil.
As Conscience often sets us right,
By its interior active Light,
Without th’ Aslistance of the Laws
So combat in the moral Cause ;
To Genius, of itself discerning,
Without the mystic Rules of Learning,
Can from its present Intuition,
Strike at the Truth of Composition.
Yet those who breathe the classic Vein,
Enlisted in the mimic Train,
Who ride their Steed with double Bit,
Not run away with by their Wit,
Delighted with the Pomp of Rules,
The Specious Pedantry of Schools ;
(Which Rules, like Crutches, ne'er became
Of any Use but to the Lame)
Pursue the Method set before 'em,
Talk much of Order and Decorum,
Of Probability of Fiction,
Of Manners, Ornament, and Diction,
And with a Jargon of hard Names,
(A Privilege which Dulness claims)
And merely us'd by way of Fence,
To keep out plain and common Sense,
Extol the Wit of antient Days,
The simple Fabric of their Plays ;
Then from the Fable, all so chaste,
Trick'd up in antient-modern Taste,
So mighty gentle all the While,
In such a sweet descriptive Stile,
While Chorus marks the servile Mode
With fine Reflexion, in an Ode,
Present you with a perfect Piece,
Form’d on the Model of old Greece.
Come, prithee Critic, set before us,
The Use and Office of a Chorus.
What! filent! Why then, I'll produce
Its Services from antient Use.
'Tis to be ever on the Stage, Attendants upon Grief or Rage, To be an arrant Go-between, Chief-Mourner at each dismal Scene; Shewing its Sorrow, or Delight, By shifting Dances, left and right. Not much unlike our modern Notions, Adagio or Allegro Motions ; To watch upon the deep Distress, And Plaints of Royal Wretchedness ; And when, with Tears, and Execration, They've pour'd out all their Lamentation, And wept whole Cataracts from their Eyes, To call on Rivers for Supplies, And with their Hais and Hees and Hoes To make a Symphony of Woes.
Doubtless the Antients want the Art To strike at once upon the Heart. Or why their Prologues of a Mile In simple - call it -humble Stile, In unimpassion’d Phrafe to say « 'Fore the beginning of this Play, « I, hapless Poiydore, was found < By Filhermen, or others, drown'd! < Or, I, a Gentleman, did wed, • The Lady I wou'd never bed,
Great Agamemnon's royal Daughter, " Who's coming hither to draw Water.'
Or need the Chorus to reveal Reflexions, which the Audience feel ; And jog them, left Attention sink, To tell them how and what to think?
Oh, where's the Bard, who at one View, Cou'd look the whole Creation through, Who travers'd all the human Heart, Without Recourse to Grecian Art? He scorn'd the Modes of Imitation, Of Altering, Pilfering, and Tranflation,
Nor painted Horror, Grief, or Rage,
From Models of a former Age ;
The bright Original he took,
And tore the Leaf from Nature's Book.
'Tis Shakespeare, thus who stands alone
Why need I tell what you have shown?
How true, how perfect, and how well,
The Feelings of our Hearts must tell.
THOU Child of Nature, Genius strong,
Thou Master of the Poet's Song,
Buiore whore Light, Art's dim and feeble Ray
Gleams like the Taper in the Blaze of Day:
Thou lov'st to steal along the secret Shade,
Where Fancy, bright aërial Maid !
Awaits thee with her thousand Charms,
And revels in thy wanton Arms.
She to thy Bed, in Days of Yore,
The sweetly-warbling Shakespeare bore ;
Whom every Muse endow'd with every Skill,
And dipt him in that sacred Rill, · Whose silver Streams flow musical along, WherePhoebus' hallow'd Mount resounds with raptur'd
Forfake not Thou the vocal Choir,
Their Breasts revisit with thy genial Fire,
Else vain the studied Sounds of mimic Art,
Tickle the Ear, but come not nigh the Heart.
Vain every Phrase in curious Order set,
On each Side leaning on the [stop-gap] Epithet. .
Vain the quick Rime still tinckling in the Close,
While pure Description shines in measur'd Prose.
Thou bear'st a-loof, and look'st with high Disdain,
Upon the dull mechanic Train ;
Whofe nerveless Strains flag on in languid Tone,
Lifeless and lumpish as the Bag-pipe's drowzy Drone.