Imágenes de páginas

47 I

For envy'd Wit, like Sol eclips'd, makes known
Th' oppofing body's groffness, not its own.
When first that fun too pow'rful beams difplays,
It draws up vapours which obscure its rays;
But ev❜n those clouds at laft adorn its way,
Reflect new glories, and augment the day.
Be thou the first true merit to befriend;
His praise is loft, who stays 'till all commend. 475
Short is the date, alas, of modern rhymes,
And 'tis but juft to let them live betimes.

No longer now that golden age appears,

When Patriarch-wits furviv'd a thousand years:
Now length of Fame (our fecond life) is loft, 480
And bare threescore is all ev'n that can boast;
Our fons, their fathers failing language fee,
And fuch as Chaucer is, fhall Dryden be.
So when the faithful pencil has defign'd
Some bright Idea of the master's mind,

485 Where

VER. 468. For envy'd Wit, like Sol eclips'd, etc.] This fimilitude implies a fact too often verified; and of which we need not feek abroad for examples. It is, that frequently thofe very Authors, who have at first done all they could to obfcure and depress a rifing genius, have at length, in order to keep themselves in fome little credit, been reduced to borrow from him, imitate his manner, and reflect what they could of his fplendor. Nor hath the poet been lefs artful, to infinuate alfo what is fometimes the cause. A youthful genius, like the Sun rifing towards the Meridian, difplays too firong and powerful beams for the dirty genius of inferior writers, which occafions their gathering, condenfing, and blackening. But as he defcends from the Meridian (the time when the Sun gives its gilding to the furrounding clouds) his rays grow milder, his heat more benign, and then

- ev'n thofe Clouds at laft adorn its way. Reflect new glories, and augment-the day.

Where a new world leaps out at his command,
And ready Nature waits upon his hand;
When the ripe colours foften and unite,
And sweetly melt into just shade and light;
When mellowing years their full perfection give,
And each bold figure juft begins to live,
The treach'rous colours the fair art betray,
And all the bright creation fades away!

Unhappy Wit, like most mistaken things,
Atones not for that envy which it brings.
In youth alone its empty praise we boast,
But foon the short-liv'd vanity is loft:



Like fome fair flow'r the early spring supplies,
That gayly blooms, but ev'n in blooming dies.
What is this Wit, which muft our cares employ?
The owner's wife, that other men enjoy ;
Then most our trouble still when moft admir'd,


[ocr errors]

And still the more we give, the more requir'd';, Whose fame with pains we guard, but lose with ease, Sure fome to vex, but never all to please ;


'Tis what the vicious fear, the virtuous shun,

By fools 'tis hated, and by knaves undone !

If Wit fo much from Ign'rance undergo, Ah let not Learning too commence its foe! Of old, thofe met rewards who could excell, 510 And fuch were prais'd who but endeavour'd well: Tho' triumphs were to gen'rals only due,

Crowns were referv'd to grace the foldiers too.

[blocks in formation]

VER. 507 by knaves undane!]. By which the Poet would infinuate, a common but fhameful truth, That Men in power, if they got into it by illiberal arts, generally left Wit and Science to ftarve

Now, they who reach Parnaffus' lofty crown,
Employ their pains to spurn some others down;
And while felf-love each jealous writer rules,
Contending wits become the fport of fools:
But ftill the worst with most regret commend,
For each ill Author is as bad a Friend.
To what base ends, and by what abject ways,
Are mortals urg'd thro' facred luft of praise!
Ah ne'er fo dire a thirst of glory boaft,


Nor in the Critic let the Man be loft.


Good-nature and good-fense must ever join; 525
To err is human, to forgive, divine.

But if in noble minds fome dregs remain
Not yet purg'd off, of spleen and four disdain;
Discharge that rage on more provoking crimes,
Nor fear a dearth in these flagitious times.
No pardon vile Obfcenity should find,


Tho' wit and art confpire to move your mind;
But Dulnefs with Obfcenity muft prove

As fhameful fure as Impotence in love.



VER. 519. But fill the Worft with moft regret commend, For each ill Author is as bad a Friend.] As Ignorance, when joined with Humility, produces ftupid admiration, on which account it is so commonly obferved to be the mother of Devotion and blind homage; fo when' joined with Vanity (as it always is in bad Critics) it gives birth to every iniquity of impudent abuse and flander. See an example (for want of a better) in a late worthlefs and now forgotten thing, called the Life of Socrates. Where the bead of the Author (as a man of wit obferved on reading the book) had just made a shift to do the office of a Camera obfcura, to represent things in an inverted order: himself above, and Sprat, Rollin, Voltaire, and every other Author of reputation, below.

[ocr errors]

In the fat age of pleasure, wealth, and ease,


Sprung the rank weed, and thriv'd with large in


When love was all an eafy Monarch's care;

Seldom at council, never in a war:

Jilts rul'd the state, and statesmen farces writ;

Nay wits had penfions, and young Lords had wit:

The Fair fate panting at a Courtier's play,


And not a Mask went unimprov'd away:

The modeft fan was lifted up no more,

And Virgins smil'd at what they blush'd before.
The following licence of a Foreign reign


Did all the dregs of bold Socinus drain;

Then unbelieving Priests reform'd the nation,

And taught more pleasant methods of falvation; Where Heav'n's free subjects might their rights difpute,

Left God himself fhould feem too abfolute : 550
Pulpits their facred fatire learn'd to spare,

And Vice admir'd to find a flatt'rer there!
Encourag'd thus, Wit's Titans brav'd the skies,
And the prefs groan'd with licens'd blafphemies.
These monsters, Critics! with your darts engage,
Here point your thunder, and exhaust your rage!
Yet fhun their fault, who, fcandalously nice,
Will needs mistake an author into vice;
All seems infected that th' infected spy,
As all looks yellow to the jaundic'd eye.

I 3


VER. 547. The author has omitted two lines which flood here, as containing a National Reflection, which in his stricter judgment he could not but difapprove on any People whatever. P.

LEARN then what MORALS Critics ought to fhow,
For 'tis but half a Judge's task, to know.
'Tis not enough, taste, judgment, learning, join ;
In all you speak, let truth and candour shine:
That not alone what to your fenfe is due
All may allow; but feek your friendship too.

Be filent always when you doubt your sense;
And speak, tho' fure, with feeming diffidence:
Some pofitive, perfifting fops we know,
Who, if once wrong, will needs be always fo;
with pleasure own your errors paft,
And make each day a Critic on the last.



'Tis not enough, your counsel still be true;
Blunt truths more mischief than nice falfhoods do;
Men must be taught as if you taught them not, 575
And things unknown propos'd as things forgot.
Without Good Breeding, truth is difapprov'd;
That only makes fuperior fenfe belov❜d.
Be niggards of advice on no pretence;

For the worst avarice is that of fenfe.
With mean complacence ne'er betray you trust,
Nor be fo civil as to prove unjuft.
Fear not the anger of the wife to raise ;
Those best can bear reproof, who merit praise.
'Twere well might Critics still this freedom take,
But Appius reddens at each word you speak,




VER. 562. For 'tis but balf a Judge's task, to know ] The Critic acts in two capacities, of Affeffor and of Judge: in the first, Science alone is fufficient; but the other requires morals likewise,

« AnteriorContinuar »