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But you, Pompilian, wealthy, pamper'd heirs,
Who to your country owe your fwords and cares,
Let no vain hope your eafy mind feduce,
For rich ill poets are without excuse.
'Tis very dangerous, tampering with a Mufe,
The profit's small and you have much to lose ;
For though true wit adorns your birth or place,
Degenerate lines degrade th' attainted race.
No poet any paffion can excite,
But what they feel transport them when they write...
Have you been led through the Cumæan cave,
And heard th' impatient maid divinely rave?
I hear her now; I fee her rolling eyes :
And panting; Lo! the god, the god, fhe cries;
With words not hers, and more than human found
She makes th' obedient ghofts peep trembling through
But, though we must obey when heaven commands,»
And man in vain the facred call withstands,
Beware what fpirit rages. in your breast;
For ten infpir'd, ten thousand are possest.
Thus make the proper ufe of each extreme,
And write with fury, but correct with phlegm..
As when the chearful hours too freely pass,
And fparkling wine fmiles in the tempting glafs,
Your pulfe advises, and begins to beat
Through every swelling vein a loud retreat :
So when a Muse propitiously invites,
Improve her favours, and indulge her flights;
But when you find that vigorous heat abate,
Leave off, and for another fummons wait.
Before the radiant fun, a glimmering lamp,
Adulterate metals to the fterling stamp,
Appear not meaner, than mere human lines,
Compar'd with those whose inspiration fhines:
These nervous, bold; those languid and remifs
There, cold falutes; but here, a lover's kifs.
Thus have I seen a rapid, headlong tide,
With foaming waves the paffive Soane divide;
Whose lazy waters without motion lay,
While he, with eager force, urg'd his impetuous way.
The privilege that ancient poets claim,
Now turn'd to license by too just a® name,
Belongs to none but an establish'd fame,
Which fcorns to take it---
Abfurd expreffions, crude, abortive thoughts,
All the lewd legion of exploded faults,
Bafe fugitives to that afylum fly,
And facred laws with infolence defy.
Not thus our heroes of the former days,
Deferv'd and gain'd their never-fading bays;
For I miftake, or far the greatest part
Of what fome call neglect, was study'd art.
When Virgil feems to trifle in a line,
'Tis like a warning-piece, which gives the fign
To wake your fancy, and prepare your fight,
To reach the noble height of fome unufual flight.
I lose my patience, when with faucy pride,
By untun'd ears I hear his numbers try'd.
Reverse of nature! fhall fuch copies then
Arraign th' originals of Maro's pen!
And the rude notions of pedantic schools
Blafpheme the facred founder of our rules!
The delicacy of the nicest ear
Finds nothing harsh or out of order there.
Sublime or low, unbended or intense,
The found is ftill a comment to the sense.
A skilful ear in numbers fhould prefide,
And all difputes without appeal decide.
This ancient Rome and elder Athens found,
Before mistaken ftops debauch'd the found.
When, by impulfe from heaven, Tyrtæus fung,.
In drooping foldiers a new courage sprung;
Reviving Sparta now the fight maintain'd,
And what two generals loft a poet gain'd..
By fecret influence of indulgent fkies,
Empire and poefy together rife.
True poets are the guardians of a state,
And, when they fail, portend approaching fate..
For that which Rome to conqueft did infpire,
Was not the Veftal, but the Mufes' fire;
Heaven joins the bleffings: No declining age
E'er felt the raptures of poetic rage.
Of many faults, rhyme is (perhaps) the cause;
Too ftrict to rhyme, we flight more useful laws,
For that, in Greece or Rome, was never known,
Till by barbarian deluges o'erflown:
Subdued, undone, they did at last obey,
And change their own for their invaders' way.
I grant that from some moffy, idol oak,
In double rhymes our Thor and Woden fpoke;
And by fucceffion of unlearned times,
As Bards began, fo Monks rung on the chimes.
But now that Phoebus and the facred Nine,
With all their beams on our bleft ifland fhine,
Why should not we their ancient rites restore,
And be, what Rome or Athens were before?
<* Have we forgot how Raphael's numerous profe • Led our exalted fouls through heavenly camps,
• And mark'd the ground where proud apostate thrones 'Defy'd Jehovah! Here, 'twixt host and host,
(A narrow, but a dreadful interval)
Portentous fight! before the cloudy van
• Satan with vaft and haughty strides advanc'd, Came towering arm'd in adamant and gold. • There bellowing engines, with their fiery tubes, • Difpers'd æthereal forms, and down they fell By thoufands, angels on arch-angels roll'd; Recover'd, to the hills they ran, they flew, Which (with their ponderous load, rocks, waters, • woods)
From their firm feats torn by the fhaggy tops
They bore like fhields before them through the air, • Till more incens'd they hurld them at their foes. All was confufion, heaven's foundations fhook, • Threatning no less than univerfal wreck,
For Michael's arm main promontories flung,
* An essay on blank verfe, out of Paradise Loft, B. VI.
And over-prest whole legions weak with fin:
Yet they blafphem'd and ftruggled as they lay, 'Till the great enfign of Meffiah blaz'd,
• And (arm'd with vengeance) God's victorious Son (Effulgence of paternal deity)
• Grasping ten thousand thunders in his hand,
• Drove th' old original rebels headlong down,
And sent them flaming to the vast abyss.'
O may I live to hail the glorious day,
And fing loud pæans through the crowded way,
When in triumphant state the British Muse,
True to herself, fhall barbarous aid refuse,
And in the Roman majesty appear,
Which none know better, and none come fo near.
Azure vaults! O crystal sky!
The world's transparent canopy,
Break your long filence, and let mortals know
With what contempt you look on things below.
Wing'd squadrons of the god of war,
Who conquer wherefoe'er you are,
Let echoing anthems make his praises known
On earth his footstool, as in heaven his throne.