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For who have long'd, or who have labour'd more
To search the treasures of the Roman store;
Or dig in Grecian mines for purer ore?
The nobleft fruits tranfplanted in our ifle
With early hope and fragrant bloffoms smile.
Familiar Ovid tender thoughts infpires,
And nature feconds all his foft defires :
Theocritus does now to us belong;
And Albion's rocks repeat his rural fong.
Who has not heard how Italy was bleft,
Above the Medes, above the wealthy East?
Or Gallus' fong, so tender and so true,
As ev'n Lycoris might with pity view!
When mourning nymphs attend their Daphnis' hearfe,
Who does not weep that reads the moving verfe!
But hear, oh hear, in what exalted strains
Sicilian Mufes through these happy plains
Proclaim Saturnian times---our own Apollo reigns!
When France had breath'd, after inteftine broils,
And peace and conqueft crown'd her foreign toils,
There (cultivated by a royal hand)
Learning grew fast, and spread, and bleft the land;
The choiceft books that Rome or Greece have known,
Her excellent tranflators made her own:
And Europe still confiderably gains,
Both by their good example and their pains.
From hence our generous emulation came,
We undertook, and we perform'd the fame.
But now, we fhew the world a nobler way,
And in tranflated verfe do more than they;
Serené, and clear, harmonious Horace flows,
With sweetness not to be exprest in profe':
Degrading profe explains his meaning ill,
And fhews the ftuff, but not the workman's fkill:
I (who have ferv'd him more than twenty years)
Scarce know my mafter as he there appears.
Vain are our neighbours hopes, and vain their cares,
The fault is more their language's than theirs :
'Tis courtly, florid, and abounds in words
Of softer found than ours perhaps affords ;
But who did ever in French authors fee
The comprehenfive English ener y?
The weighty bullion of one fterling line,
Drawn to French wire, would through whole pages fhine.
I fpeak my private, but impartial fenfe,
With freedom, and (I hope) without offence;
For I'll recant, when France can fhew me wit,
As ftrong as ours, and as fuccinctly writ.
'Tis true, compofing is the nobler part,
But good tranflation is no eafy art.
For though materials have long fince been found,
Yet both your fancy and your hands are bound;
And by improving what was writ before,
Invention labours lefs, but judgment more.
The foil intended for Pierian feeds
Must be well purg'd from rank pedantic weeds.
Apollo ftarts, and all Parnaffus thakes,
At the rude rumbling Baralipton makes.
For none have been with admiration read,
But who (befide their learning) were well bred.
The first great work (a task perform'd by few)
Is, that yourself may to yourself be true :
No mask, no tricks, no favour, no referve;
Diffect your mind, examine every nerve.
Whoever vainly on his ftrength depends,
Begins like Virgil, but like Mævius ends.
That wretch (in spite of his forgotten rhymes)
Condemn'd to live to all fucceeding times,
With pompous nonfenfe and a bellowing found
Sung lofty Ilium, tumbling to the ground.
And (if my Mufe can through past ages see)
That noify, nauseous, gaping fool was he;
Exploded, when with univerfal fcorn,
The mountains labour'd and a moufe was born.
Learn, learn, Crotona's brawny wrestler cries,.
Audacious mortals, and be timely wife!
'Tis I that call, remember Milo's end,
Wedg'd in that timber, which he ftrove to rend.
Each poet with a different talent writes,
One praises, one inftructs, another bites.
Horace did ne'er afpire to Epic bays,
Nor lofty Maro ftoop to Lyric lays.
Examine how your humour is inclin❜d,
And which the ruling paffion of your mind ;
Then, feek a poet who your way does bend,
And choose an author as you choose a friend,
United by this fympathetic bond,
You grow familiar, intimate, and fond;
Your thoughts, your words, your ftyles, your
No longer his interpreter, but he.
With how much eafe is a young Mufe betray'd! How nice the reputation of the maid ! Your early, kind, paternal care appears, By chafte inftruction of her tender years. The first impreffion in her infant breast Will be the deepest, and should be the best. Let not aufterity breed fervile fear, No wanton found offend her virgin ear. Secure from foolish pride's affected state, And fpecious flattery's more pernicious bait, Habitual innocence adorns her thoughts, But your neglect must answer for her faults. Immodeft words admit of no defence;
For want of decency is want of sense.
What moderate fop would rake the Park or stews, Who among troops of faultless nymphs may choose? Variety of fuch is to be found;
Take then a fubject proper to expound :
But moral, great, and worth a poet's voice,
For men of fenfe defpife a trivial choice:
And fuch applause it must expect to meet,
As would fome painter busy in a street,
To copy bulls and bears, and every fign,
That calls the staring fots to nafty wine..
Yet 'tis not all to have a fubject good,
It muft delight us when 'tis understood.
He that brings fulfome objects to my view,
(As many old have done, and many new)
With nauseous images my fancy fills,
And all goes down like oxymel of fquills..
Instruct the listening world how Maro fings
Of useful fubjects and of lofty things.
These will fuch true, fuch bright ideas raise,
As merit gratitude, as well as praise :
But foul defcriptions are offenfive ftill,
Either for being like, or being ill.
For who, without a qualm, hath ever look'd
On holy garbage, though by Homer cook'd?
Whose railing heroes, and whofe wounded Gods,
Makes fome fufpect he fnores, as well as nods.
But I offend---Virgil begins to frown,
And Horace looks with indignation down ;
My blushing Mufe with confcious fear retires,
And whom they like, implicitly admires.
On fure foundations let your fabric rise,
And with attractive majesty surprise,
Not by affected meretricious arts,
But ftrict harmonious fymmetry of parts ;
Which through the whole infenfibly must pass,
With vital heat to animate the mafs :
A pure, an active, an aufpicious flame,
And bright as heaven, from whence the bleffing came;
But few, oh few fouls, præordain'd by fate,
The race of Gods, have reach'd that envy'd height.
No Rebel-Titan's facrilegious crime,
By heaping hills on hills can hither climb:
The grizly ferryman of hell deny'd
Eneas entrance, till he knew his guide:
How justly then will impious mortals fall,
Whose pride would foar to heaven without a call!