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If human woes her soft attention claim,
A tender sympathy pervades the frame ;

She pours a sensibility divine
Along the nerves of every feeling line.
But if a deed not tamely to be borne
Fire indignation and a sense of scorn,
The strings are swept with such a pow'r so loud, 490
The storm of musick shakes th' astonish'd crowd.
So, when remote futurity is brought
Before the keen inquiry of her thought,
A terrible sagacity informs
The poet's heart; he looks to distant storms; 495
He hears the thunder ere the tempest low'rs;
And, arm’d with strength surpassing human pow'rs,
Seizes events as yet unknown to man,
And darts his soul into the dawning plan.
Hence in a Roman mouth, the gracrul name 500
Of prophet and of poet was the same ;
Hence, British poets, too, the priesthood shar'd,
And every hallow'd druid was a bard.
But no prophetick fires to me belong ;
I play with syllables, and sport in song.

505 A. At Westminster, where little poets strive To set a distich upon six and five, Where Discipline helps th' op’ning buds of sense', And makes his pupils proud with silver pence, I was a poet too : but modern taste

510 Is so refin'd, and delicate, and chaste, That verse, whatever fire the fancy warms, Without a creamy smoothness has no charms. Thus, all success depending on an ear, And thinking I might purchase it too dear, 515 If sentiment were sacrific'd to sound, And truth cut short to make a period round, I judg'd a man of sense could scarce do worse, Than caper in the morris-dance of verse. B. Thus reputation is a spur to wit,

520 And some wits flag through fear of losing it.

Give me the line that ploughs its stately course Like a proud swan, conqu’ring the stream by force ; That, like some cottage beauty, strikes the heart, Quite unindebted to the tricks of art.

525 When Labour and when Dulness club in hand, Like the two figures at St. Dunstan’s, stand, Beating alternately in measur'd time, The clock-work tintinabulum of rhyme, Exact and regular the sounds will be ;

530 But such mere quarter-strokes are not for me.

From him who rears a poem lank and long, To him who strains his all into a song ; Perhaps some bonny Caledonian air, All birks and braes, though he was never there ; 535 Or, having whelp'd a prologue with great pains, Feels himself spent, and fumbles for his brains ; A prologue interdash'd with many a strokeAn art contriv'd to advertise a joke, So that the jest is clearly to be seen,

550 Not in the words--but in the gap between : Manner is all in all, whate'er is writ To substitute for genius, sense, and wit.

To dally much with subjects mean and low Proves that the mind is weak, or makes it so.

545 Neglected talents rust into decay, And ev'ry effort ends in pushpin play. The man that means success should soar above A soldier's feather, or a lady's glove ; Else, summoning the muse to such a theme, 550 The fruit of all her labour is whipp'd cream, As if an eagle flew aloft, and thenStoop'd from its highest pitch to pounce a wren. As is the poet, purposing to wed, Should carve himself a wife in gingerbread.

555 Ages elaps'd ere Homer's lamp appear’d, And ages ere the Mantuan swan was heard, To carry Nature's lengths unknown before, To give a Milton birth, ask'd ages more. VOL. I.


Thus Genius rose and set at order'd times, 560
And shot a day-spring into distant climes,
Ennobling ev'ry region that he chose ;
He sunk in Greece, in Italy he rose ;
Ard, tedious years of Gothick darkness pass’d,
Emerg'd all splendour in our isle at last.

565 Thus lovely halcyons dive into the main, Then show far off their shining plumes again.

A. Is genius only found in epick lays ? Prove this, and forfeit all pretence to praise. Make their heroick pow'rs your own at once,

570 Or candidly confess yourself a dunce.

B. These were the chief: each interval of night
Was grac'd with many an undulating light.
In less illustrious bards his beauty shone
A meteor or a star; in these the sun.

The nightingale may claim the topmost bough,
While the poor grasshopper must chirp below.
Like him unnotic'd I, ard such as I,
Spread little wings, and rather skip than fly;
Perch'd on the meagre produce of the land, 580
An ell or two of prospect we command ;
But never peep beyond the thorny bound,
Or oaken fence that hems the paddock round.

In Eden, ere yet innocence of heart Had faded, poetry was not an art:

535 Language above all teaching, or, if taught, Only by gratitude and glowing thought, Elegant as simplicity, and warm As ecstasy, unmanacled by form, Not prompted, as in our degen’rate days,

590 By low ambition and the thirst of praise, Was natural as is the flowing stream, And yet magnificent-A God the theme ! That theme on Earth exhausted, though above 'Tis found as everlasting as his love,

595 Man lavish'd all his thoughts on human things Itho feats of heroes, and thc wrath of kings;

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But still, while virtue kindled his delight,
The song was moral, and so far was right.
Twas thus till Luxury seduc'd the mind

To joys less innocent, as less refin'd;
Then Genius danc'd a bacchanal; he crown'd
The brimming goblet, seiz'd the thyrsus, bound
His brows with ivy, rush'd into the field
Of wild imagination, and there reeld,

605 The victim of his own lascivious fires, And, dizzy with delight, profan'd the sacred wires. Anacreon, Horace, play'd in Greece and Rome This bedlam part, and others nearer home. When Cromwell fought for pow's, and while he reign'd The proud protector of the power he gain’d, 611 Religion harsh, intolerant, austere, Parent of manners like herself severe, Drew a rough copy of the Christian face, Without the smile, the sweetness, or the grace ;

615 The dark and sullen humour of the time Judg'd ev'ry effort of the muse a crime; Verse, in the finest mould of fancy cast, Was lumber in an age so void of taste : But when the second Charles assum'd the sway, 620 And arts reviv'd beneath a softer day, Then like a bow long forc'd into a curve, The mind, releas'd from too constrain'd a nerve, Flew to its first position with a spring, That made the vaulted roofs of Pleasure ring. 625 His court, the dissolute and hateful school Of Wantonness, where vice was taught by rule, Swarm’d with a scribbling herd, as deep inlaid With brutal lust as ever Circe made. From these a long succession, in a rage

630 Of rank obscenity debauch'd their age : Nor ceas'd till ever anxious to redress The abuses of her sacred charge, the press, Tlie muse instructed a well-nurtur'd train Of abler votaries to cleanse the stain,


And claim the palm for purity of song,
That Lewdness had usurp'd and worn so long.
Then decent Pleasantry, and sterling Sense,
That neither gave nor would endure offence,
Whipp'd out of sight, with satire just and keen, 640
The puppy pack, that had defild the scene.

In front of these came Addison. In him
Humour in holiday and sightly trim,
Sublimity and attick taste combin'd,
To polish, furnish, and delight the mind.

Then Pope, as harmony itself exact,
In verse well disciplin'd, complete, compact,
Gave virtue and morality a grace,
That quite eclipsing Pleasure's painted face,
Levied a tax of wonder and applause,

650 E'en on the fools that trampled on their laws. But he, (his musical finesse was such, So nice his ear, so delicate his touch,) Made poetry a mere mechanick art; And ev'ry warbler has his tune by heart.

655 Nature imparting her satirick gift, Her serious mirth, to Arbuthnot and Swift, With droll sobriety they rais'd a smile At Folly's cost, themselves unmov'd the while. That constellation set, the world in vain

660 Must hope to look upon their like again.

A. Are we then left-B. Not wholly in the dark;
Wit now and then, struck smartly, shows a spark,
Sufficient to redeem the modern race
From total night and absolute disgrace.

While servile trick and imitative knack
Confine the million in the beaten track.
Perhaps some courser, who disdains the road,
Snuffs up the wind, and flings himself abroad.
Contemporaries all surpass'd, see one;

670 Short his career, indeed, but ably run; Churchill, himself unconscious of his pow'rs, In penury consum'd his idle hours;

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