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Where chance presides, all obje&ts wildly join'd,
Crowd on the reader, and distract his mind i
From theme to theme unwilling is he toit,
And in the dark variety is loft.
You see some Bards, who bold excursions make
In long digressions from the beaten track;
And paint a wild unnecessary throng
Of things and objects foreign to the fong;
For new defcriptions from the road depart,
Devoid of order, discipline, and art.
So, many an anxious toil and danger past,
Some wretch returns from banishment at last;
With fond delay to range the shady wood,
Now here, now there, he wanders from the road;
Froin field to field, from stream to strearn he roves,
And courts the cooling shelter of the groves.
For why should Homer * deck the gorgeous car,
When our rais'd fouls are eager for the war ?
Or dwell on every wheel, when loud alarms,
And Mars in thunder calls the hosts to arms?
When with his heroes we fome daftard † find,
Of a vile aspect, and malignant mind;
His awkward figure is not worth our care ;
His monstrous length of head, or want of hair,
Not, though he goes with mountain shoulders by,
Short of a foot, or blinking in an eye.
Such trivial objects call us off too long
From the main drift and tenor of the song.
* Vid. Hom. Iliad, Lib. V. v. 722.
+ Ibid. Lib. II. v. 212.
Drances * appears a juster character,
In council bold, but cautious in the war;
Factious and loud the listening throng he draws,
And swells with wealth, and popular applause ;
But, wirat in our's would never find a place,
The bold Greek language may admit with grace.
Why should I here the stratagems recite,
And the low tricks of every little wit?
Some out of time their stock of knowledge boaft,
Till in the pedant all the Bard is loft.
Such without care their useless lumber place ;
One black, confus'd, and undigested mass,
With a wild heap encumbers every part,
Nor rany'd with grace, nor methodiz'd with art.
But then in chief, when things abstruse they teach,
Themes too abstracted for the vulgar reach;
The hidden nature of the deities;
The secret laws and motions of the skies;
Or from what dark original began
The fiery soul, and kindled up the man :
Oft they in odious instances engage,
And for examples ransack every age,
With every realm ; no hero will they pass,
But act against the rules of time and place.
Avoid, ye youths, these practices ; nor raise
Your swelling souls to such a thirst of praise.
Sonie Bards of eminence there are, we own,
Who sing sometimes the journies of the fun,
The rising stars, and labours of the moon :
* Æneid. Lib. XI. v. 336.
What impulse bids the ocean rise and fall ;
What motions shake and rock the trembling ball.
Though foreign subjects had engag'd their care,
The rage, the din and thunder of the war,
Through the loud field; the genius of the earth;
Or rules to raise the vegetable birth :
Yet ’tis but seldom, and when time and place
Require the thing, and reconcile to grace.
Those foreign objects necessary feem,
And flow, to all appearance, from the theme ;
With so much art so well conceal’d they please,
When wrought with skill, and introduc'd with ease.
Should not * Anchises, such occasion shown,
Resolve the questions of his god-like son ?
If souls depriv’d of heaven's fair light repair
Once more to day, and breathe the vital air ?
Or if from high Olympus first they came,
Inspir'd with portions of ethereal fame,
Though here encumber'd with the mortal frame ?
Tire not too long one subject when you write,
For 'tis variety that gives delight;
But when to that variety inclin'd,
You seek new objects to relieve the mind,
Be sure let nothing forc'd or labour'd seem,
But watch your time, and steal from off your theme,
Conceal with care your longing to depart,
For art's chief pride is still to cover art.
So * Mulciber, in future ages skill'd,
Engrav’d Rome's glories on Æneas' shield,
On the bright orb her future fame enrollid,
And with her triumphs charg'd the rising gold;
Here figur'd fights the blazing round adorn,
There his long line of heroes yet unborn.
But if a + Poet of Ausonian birth
Describes the various kingdoms of the earth,
Wide intersperst; the Medes, or swarthy Moors;
The different natures of their foils explores,
And paints the trees that bloom on India's shores :
On his own land he looks with partial eyes,
And lifts the fair Hesperia to the fkies;
To all the fair Hesperia le prefers,
And makes the woods of Bactria yield to her's,
With proud Panchaia; though her groves the boasts,
And breathes a cloud of incense from her coasts.
Hear then, ye generous youths, on this regard
I should not blame the conduct of the Bard,
Who in soft numbers, and a flowing strain,
Relieves and reconciles our ears again.
When I the various implements had sung
That to the fields, and rural trade belong,
In sweet harmonious measures would I tell
How s nature mourn’d when the great Cæsar fell.
When Bacchus' curling vines had grac'd my lays,
"The rural pleasures || next should fare my praise.
Virg. Æneid. Lib. VIII. v. 626. † Virg. Georgic. Lib. II. v. 136. Georg. Lib. I. v. 466. U Ibid. Lib. II. v. 458.
The labour ended, and compleat the whole,
Some Bards with pleasure wander round the goal,
The flights and fallies of the Muse prolong,
And add new beauties to the finish'd song;
Pleas’d with th' excursion of the charming strain,
We strive to quit the work, but strive in vain.
Thus, were the bees the subject of my Muse,
Their laws, their natures, and celestial dews ;
Poor * Ariftæus fhould his fate disclose,
His mother's counsel should affwage his woes ;
Old Proteus here should struggle in his chain,
There in soft verse the Thracian Bard complain
(As Philomela on a poplar's bough
Bewails her young, melodious in her woe).
Pangæan steeps his sorrows should return,
And vocal Thrace with Rhodope should mourn ;
Hebrus should roll low-murmuring to the decp,
And barbarous nations wonder why they weep.
Thus too the Poets, who the names declare
Of kings and nations gathering to the war,
Sometimes diversify the strain, and fing
The wondrous change of the † Ligurian kinga
While for his Phaëton his forrows flow,
And his harmonious strains beguile his woe,
O’er all the man the snowy feathers rise,
And in a tuneful swan he mounts the skies.
Thus too § Hippolitus, by Dian's care
And Pæan's art, returns to upper air.
Georg. Lib. XI. v. 317. † Æneid. Lib. X. v. 1853 § Æneid. Lib. VII. v. 756. Z 4