« PreviousContinue »
Our critics take a contrary extreme,
They judge with fury, but they write with phlegm ;
Nor suffers Horace more in wrong translations
By wits, than critics in as wrong quotations.
See Dionysius Homer's thoughts refine, 665
And call new beauties forth from ev'ry line !
Fancy and art in gay Petronius please,
The scholars learning with the courtier's ease.
In grave Quintillian's copious work we find
The justest rules and clearest methods join'd.
Thus useful arms in magazines we place,
All rang'd in order, and dispos'd with grace ;
But less to please the eye than arm the hand,
Still fit for use, and ready at command.
Thee, bold Longinus ! all the Nine inspire,
And bless their critic with a poet's fire:
An ardent judge, who, zealous in his trust,
With warmth gives sentence, yet is always just;
Whose own example strengthens all his laws,
And is himself the great sublime he draws. 680
Thus long succeeding critics justly reign’d,
License repress'd, and useful laws ordain'd:
Learning and Rome alike in empire grew,
And arts still follow'd where her Eagles flew ;
From the same foes at last both felt their doom, 685
And the same age saw learning fall and Rome.
With Tyranny then Superstition join'd,
As that the body, this enslav'd the mind;
Much was believ'd, but little understood,
And to be dull was constru’d to be good : 690
A second deluge Learning thus o'er-ran,
And the Monks finish'd what the Goths began.
At length Erasmus, that great injur'd name,
(The glory of the priesthood, and the shame!)
Stemm’d the wild torrent of a barb'rous age, 695
And drove those holy Vandals off the stage.
But see! each Muse in Leo's golden days Starts from her trance, and trims her wither'd bays; Rome's ancient Genius o'er its ruins spread, Shakes off the dust, and rears his rev'rend head. 700 Then Sculpture and her sister arts revive; Stones leap'd to form, and rocks began to live ; With sweeter notes each rising temple rung; A Raphael painted, and a Vida sung: Immortal Vida ! on whose honour'd brow 705 The poet's bays and critic's ivy grow ! Cremona now shall ever boast thy name, As next in place to Mantua, next in fame!
But soon by impious arms from Latium chas'd, Their ancient bounds the banish'd Muses pass’d: 710 Thence arts o'er all the northern world advance, But critic learning flourish'd most in France :
The rules a nation born to serve obeys,
And Boileau still in right of Horace sways.
But we, brave Britons ! foreign laws despis'd, 715
And kept unconquer'd and unciviliz'd;
Fierce for the liberties of wit, and bold,
We still defy'd the Romans, as of old.
Yet some there were, among the sounder few
Of those who less presum’d and better knew, 720
Who durst assert the juster ancient cause,
And here restor'd Wit's fundamental laws.
Such was the Muse whose rules and practice tell
« Nature's chief masterpiece is writing well.”
Such was Roscommon, not more learn'd than good,
With manners gen'rous as his noble blood; 726
To him the wit of Greece and Rome was known,
And ev'ry author's merit but his own.
Such late was Walsh–the Muse's judge and friend,
Who justly knew to blame or to commend ;
To failings mild, but zealous for desert,
The clearest head, and the sincerest heart.
This humble praise, lamented Shade! receive;
This praise at least a grateful Muse may give:
The Muse whose early voice you taught to sing, 735
Prescrib'd her heights, and prun'd her tender wing,
(Her guide now lost) no more attempts to rise,
But in low numbers short excursions tries;
Content if hence th' unlearn'd their wants may view,
The learn'd reflect on what before they knew : 740
Careless of censure, nor too fond of fame;
Still pleas’d to praise, yet not afraid to blame;
Averse alike to flatter or offend ;
Not free from faults, nor yet too vain to mend. 744
OF the end and efficacy of Satire. The love of glo«
ry, and fear of shame universal, ver. 29. This pas-
sion, implanted in man as a spur to virtue, is ge-
nerally perverted, ver. 41. and thus becomes the
occasion of the greatest follies, vices, and miseries,
ver. 61. It is the work of Satire to rectify this
passion, to reduce it to its proper channel, and to
convert it into an incentive to wisdom and virtue,
ver. 89. Hence it
appears that Satire may influ-
ence those who defy all laws, human and divine,
ver. 99. An objection answered, ver. 131.