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Then saints and angels shall agree
In one eternal jubilee : All heav'n shall echo with their hymns divine,
And God himself with pleasure see The whole creation in a chorus join.
Consecrate the place and day,
To music and Cecilia.
Let no rough winds approach, nor dare
Invade the hallow'd bounds,
Nor rudely shake the tuneful air,
Nor spoil the fleeting sounds.
Nor mournful sigh nor groan be heard,
But gladness dwell on ev'ry tongue ; Whilst all, with voice and strings prepar'd, Keep up the loud harmonious song,
And imitate the blest above,
In joy, and harmony, and love.
TO MR. HENRY SACHEVERELL,
SINCE, dearest Harry, you will needs request
A short account of all the muse possest,
That, down from Chaucer's days, to Dryden's times,
Have spent their noble rage
in British rhymes ;
Without more preface, writ in formal length,
To speak the undertaker's want of strength,
I'll try to make their sev'ral beauties known,
And show their verses worth, though not my own.
Long had our dull forefathers slept supine,
Nor felt the raptures of the tuneful nine ;
Till Chaucer first, a merry bard, arose,
And many a story told in rhyme and prose.
But age has rusted what the poet writ,
Worn out his language, and obscur'd his wit :
In vain he jests in his unpolish'd strain,
And tries to make his readers laugh in vain.
Old Spenser next, warm’d with poetic rage,
In ancient tales amus'd a barb'rous age;
An age that yet uncultivate and rude,
Where'er the poet's fancy led, pursu'd
Through pathless fields and unfrequented floods,
To dens of dragons and enchanted woods.
But now the mystic tale, that pleas'd of yore,
Can charm an understanding age no more ;
The long-spun allegories fulsome grow,
While the dull moral lies too plain below.
We view well pleas’d at distance all the sights
Of arms and palfries, battles, fields, and fights,
And damsels in distress, and courteous knights.
But when we look too near, the shades decay,
And all the pleasing landscape fades away.
Great Cowley then, a mighty genius, wrote,
O'er-run with wit, and lavish of his thought :
His turns too closely on the reader press :
He more had pleas'd us, had he pleas'd us less.
One glittering thought no sooner strikes our eyes
With silent wonder, but new wonders rise.
As in the milky-way a shining white
O'erflows the heav'ns with one continued light;
That not a single star can show his rays,
Whilst jointly all promote the common blaze.
Pardon, great poet, that I dare to name
Th’unnumber'd beauties of thy verse with blame;
Thy fault is only wit in its excess,
But wit like thine in any shape will please.
What muse but thine can equal hints inspire,
And fit the deep-mouth'd Pindar to thy lyre :
Pindar, whom others in a labour'd strain,
And forc'd expression, imitate in vain ?
Well pleas’d in thee he soars with new delight,
And plays in more unbounded verse, and takes a no-
bler flight. Blest man! whose spotless life and charming lays Employ'd the tuneful prelate in thy praise :
Blest man! who now shall be for ever known,
In Sprat's successful labours and thy own.
But Milton next, with high and haughty stalks,
Unfetter'd in majestic numbers walks;
No vulgar hero can his muse engage ;
Nor earth's wide scene confine his hallow'd rage.
See ! see, he upward springs, and tow'ring high
Spurns the dull province of mortality,
Shakes heav'n's eternal throne with dire alarms,
And sets th’ Almighty thunderer in arms.
Whateer his pen describes I more than see,
Whilst ev'ry verse, array'd in majesty,
Bold and sublime, my whole attention draws,
And seems above the critic's nicer laws.
How are you struck with terror and delight,
When angel with archangel copes in fight!
When great Messiah's out-spread banner shines,
How does the chariot rattle in his lines !
What sounds of brazen wheels, what thunder, sčare,
And stun the reader with the din of war !
With fear my spirits and my blood retire,
To see the seraphs sunk in clouds of fire ;
But when, with eager steps, from hence I rise,
And view the first gay scenes of Paradise ;
What tongue, what words of rapture can express
A vision so profuse of pleasantness.
Oh, had the poet ne'er profan'd his pen,
To varnish o'er the guilt of faithless men ;
His other works might have deserv'd applause!
But now the language can't support the cause ;
While the clean current, though serene and bright,
Betrays a bottom odious to the sight.
But now my muse a softer strain rehearse, Turn ev'ry line with art, and smooth thy verse ;
The courtly Waller next commands thy lays :
Muse, turn thy verse, with art, to Waller's praise.
While tender airs and lovely dames inspire
Soft melting thoughts, and propagate desire ;
So long shall Waller's strains our passion move,
And Sacharissa's beauties kindle love.
Thy verse, harmonious bard, and flatt’ring song,
Can make the vanquish'd great, the coward strong.
Thy verse can show ev'n Cromwell's innocence,
And compliment the storms that bore him hence.
Qh had thy muse not come an age too soon,
But seen great Nassau on the British throne !
How had his triumphs glitter'd in thy page,
And warm’d thee to a more exalted rage !
What scenes of death and horror had we view'd,
And how had Boyne's wide current reek'd in blood !
Or if Maria's charms thou would'st rehearse,
In smoother numbers and a softer verse;
Thy pen had well describ'd her graceful air,
And Gloriana would have seem'd more fair.
Nor must Roscommon pass neglected by,
That makes ev’n rules a noble poetry :
Rules whose deep sense and heav'nly numbers show
The best of critics and of poets too.
Nor, Denham, must we e'er forget thy strains,
While Cooper's Hillcommands the neighb'ring plains.
But see where artful Dryden next appears, Grown old in rhyme, but charming ev’n in years. Great Dryden next, whose tuneful muse affords The sweetest numbers and the fittest words. Whether in comic sounds or tragic airs She forms her voice, she moves our smiles or tears. If satire or heroic strains she writes, Her hero pleases, and her satire bites.