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For who have longd, or who have labour'd more
To search the treasures of the Roman store ;
Or dig in Greciani mines for purer ore ?
The noblest fruits transplanted in our isle
With early hope and fragrant blossoms smile.
Familiar Ovid tender thoughts inspires,
And nature feconds all his foft desires :
Theocritus does now to us belong ;
And Albion's rocks repeat his rural song.
Who has not heard how Italy was blest,
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' hearse,
Who does not weep that reads the moving verse !
But hear, oh hear, in what exalted strains
Sicilian Muses through these happy plains
Proclaim Saturnian times--
---our own Apollo reigns ! When France had breath'd, after intestine broils, And
peace and conquest crown'd her foreign toils, There (cultivated by a royal hand) Learning grew fast, and spread, and blest the land ; The choiceft books that Rome or Greece have known, Her excellent translators made her own : And Europe still considerably gains, Both by their good example and their pains. From hence our generous emulation came, We undertook, and we perform'd the same. But now, we thew the world a nobler way, And in translated verse do more than they ;
Serene, and clear, harmonious Horace flows,
With sweetness not to be exprest in profe':
Degrading profe explains his meaning ill,
And shews the stuff, but not the workman's skills
I (who have serv'd him more than twenty years)
Scarce know my master 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 comprehensive English ener.y?
The weighty bullion of one sterling line,
Drawn to French wire, would throughwhole pages shine.
I speak my private, but impartial sense,
With freedom, and (I hope) without offence;
For I 'll recant, when France can shew me wit,
As strong as ours, and as succinctly writ.
'Tis true, composing is the nobler part,
But good tranfiation is no easy art.
For though materials have long since been found,
Yet both your fancy and your hands are bound;
And by improving what was writ before,
Invention labours less, but judgment more.
The soil intended for Pierian feeds
Must be well purg'd from rank pedantic weeds.
Apollo starts, and all Parnassus shakes,
At the rude rumbling Baralipton makes.
For none have been with admiration read,
But who (beside 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 reserve ;
Diffect your mind, examine every nerve.
Whoever vainly on his strength depends,
Begins like Virgil, but like Mævius ends.
That wretch (in spite of his forgotten rhymes)
Condemn'd to live to all succeeding times,
With pompous nonsense and a bellowing found
Sung lofty Ilium, tumbling to the ground.
And (if my Mufe can through past ages see)
That noisy, nauseous, gaping fool was he ;
Exploded, when with universal fcorn,
The mountains labour'd and a mouse 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 strove to rend.
Each poet with a different talent writes,
One praises, one instructs, another bites..
Horace did ne'er aspire to Epic bays,
Nor lofty Maro stoop to Lyric lays.
Examine how your humour is inclin’d,
And which the ruling passion of your mind ;
Then, seek a poet who your way does bend,
And choose an author as you choose a friend,
United by this sympathetic bond,
You grow familiar, intimate, and fond ;
Your thoughts, your words, your styles, your souls agree,
No longer his interpreter, but he,
With how much ease is a young Muse betray'd ! How nice the reputation of the maid ! Your early, kind, paternal care appears, By chaste instruction of her tender years. The first impression in her infant breast Will be the deepest, and should be the best. Let not austerity breed servile fear, No wanton sound offend her virgin ear. Secure from foolish pride's affected state, And specious flattery's more pernicious bait, Habitual innocence adorns her thoughts, But your neglect must answer for her faults.
Immodest 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 such is to be found ;.
Take then a subject proper to expound :
But moral, great, and worth a poet's voice,
For men of sense despise a trivial choice :
And such applause it must expect to meet,
As would fome painter busy in a street,
To copy bulls and bears, and every sign,
That calls the staring fots to nasty wine..
Yet 'tis not all to have a subject good,
It must delight us when 'tis understood.
He that brings fulsome 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 squills..
Instruct the listening world how Maro fings
Of useful subjects and of lofty things.
These will such true, such bright ideas raise,
As merit gratitude, as well as praise :
But foul descriptions are offensive still,
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 some suspect he snores, as well as nods.
But I offend---Virgil begins to frown,
And Horace looks with indignation down;
My blushing Muse with conscious fear retires,
And whom they like, implicitly admires.
On sure foundations let your fabric rise,
And with attractive majesty surprise,
Not by affected meretricious arts,
But strict harmonious fymmetry of parts ;
Which through the whole insensibly must pass,
With vital heat to animate the mass :
A pure, an active, an auspicious flame,
And bright as heaven, from whence the blessing camc;
But few, oh few souls, 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
Æneas entrance, till he knew his guide :
How justly then will impious mortals fall,
Whose pride would foar to heaven without a call !