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HIS translation of monsieur Boileau's Art of
ThPoetry was made in the year 1680, by Sir
William Soame of Suffolk, Baronet; who being very intimately acquainted with Mr. Dryden, desired his revisal of it. I saw the manuscript lie in Mr, Dryden's hands for above fix months, who made very considerable alterations in it, particularly the beginning of the fourth Canto : and it being his opinion that it would be better to apply the poem to English writers, than keep to the French names, as it was first translated, Sir William defired he would take the pains to make that alteration ; and accordingly that was entirely done by Mr. Dryden.
The poem was first published in the year 1683; Sir William was after fent ambassador to Constantinople, in the reign of King James, but died in the voyage.
To undertake the sacred art of rhime;
If at thy birth the stars that rul'd thy sepse
Shone nat with a poetic influence;
In thy strait genius thou wilt still be bound,
Find Phæbus deaf, and Pegasus unfound.
You then that burn with the desire to try
The dangerous course of charming poetry;
Forbear in fruitless verse to lose your time,
Or take for genius the desire of rhyme :
Fear the allurements of a specious bait,
And well consider your own force and weight.
Nature abounds in wits of every kind, .
And for each author can a talent find :
One may in verse describe an amorous flame,
Another sharpen a fhort epigram:
Waller a hero's mighty acts extol,
Spencer fing Rosalind in paftoral :
But authors that themselves too much esteem,
Lose their own genius, and mistake their theme;
Thus in times paft Dubartas vainly writ,
Allaying facred truth with triling wit,
Impertinently, and without delight,
Describ’d the Israelites triumphant flight,
And following Moses o'er the fandy plain,
Perilh'd with Pharaoh in th’ Arabian main.
write of pleasant or sublime,
Always let sense accompany your rhyme :
Falsely they seem each other to oppose ;
Rhyme must be made with reason's laws to close;
And when to conquer her you bend your force,
The mind will triumph in the noble courte :
To reason's yoke she quickly will incline,
Which, far from hurting, renders her divine :
But if neglected will as easily stray,
And master reason which she should obey.
Love reason then ; and let whate'er you write
Borrow from her its beauty, force, and light.
Most writers mounted on a refty muse,
Extravagant and senseless objects chufe;
They think they err, if in their verse they fall
On any thought that's plain or natural :
Fly this excess; and let Italians be
Vain authors of false glitt'ring poetry.
All ought to aim at sense ; but most in vain
Strive the hard pafs and flippery path to gain :
You drown, if to the right or left you stray;
has often but one way.
Sometimes an author fond of his own thought,
Pursues its object till it's over-wrought:
If he describes a house, he shews the face,
And after walks you round from place to place ;
Here is a vista, there the doors unfold,
Balconies here are balluftred with gold;
Then counts the rounds and ovals in the halls,
4 The feftoons, freezes, and the aftragals :"
Tir'd with his tedious pomp away I run,
And skip o'er twenty pages. gone,
Of such descriptions the vain folly see,
And shun their barren superfluity.
All that is needless carefully avoid ;
The mind once fatisfy'd is quickly cloyd :
He cannot write who knows not to give o'er ;
To mend one fault he makes a hundred more :
A verse was weak, you turn it, much too strong,
obscure for fear
Thould be long
Some are not gaudy but are flat and dry;
Not to be low, another foars too high,
of every one deserve the praise?
In writing vary your discourse and phrase;
A frozen style that neither ebbs nor flows,
Instead of pleasing make us gape and doze.
Those tedious author's are efteem'd by none
Who tire us, humming the same heavy tone.
Happy who in his verse can gently steer,
From grave to light ; from pleasant to severe :
His works will be admir'd where-ever found,
And oft with buyers will be compass'd round.
In all you write be neither low nor vile:
The meanest theme may have a proper style.
The dull burlesque appear'd with impudence,
And pleas'd by novelty in spite of fense.
All, except trivial points, grew out of date;
Parnafsus spoke the cant of Billingsgate :
Boundless and mad, disorder'd rhyme was seen:
Disguis’d Apollo chang'd to Harlequin.
This plague which first in country towns began,
Cities and kingdoms quickly over-ran;
The dullest scribblers fome admirers found,
And the 1 Mock Tempest was a while renown's:
But this low stuff the town at Jaft despis’d,
And scorn'd the folly that they once had priz'd;
Diftinguith'd dull from natural and plain,
And left the villages to Fleckno's reign.
Let not so mean a style your muse debase ;
Búc learn from Butler the buffooning grace:
And let burlesque in ballads be employ'd;
Yet noisy bombast carefully avoid,
Nor chink to raise, tho' on Pharsalia's plain,
“ Millions of mournirg mountains of the flain :"
I The Tempeft being revived at the Duke's theatre in 1675, a
farce called The Mock-Tempeft, or the Inchanted Castle, was brought
out at the theatre-royal. It was purposely written in a burlesque
stile, and designed to draiv people from the representation of the
Tenpest, which was greatly followed.
Nor with Dubartas bridle up the floods,
And perriwig with wool the baldpate woods.
Chufe a just style; be grave without constraint,
Great without pride, and lovely without paint:
Write what your reader may be pleas’d to hear;
And for the measure have a careful ear.
On eafy numbers fix your happy choice ;
Of jarring sounds avoid the odious noise :
The fullest verse and the most labour'd sense,
Dilplease us, if the car once take offence.
Our ancient verse, as homely as the times,
Was rude, unmeasur'd, only tagg'd with rhimes ;
Number and cadence that have since been shown,
To those unpolish'd writers were unknown.
Fairfax 2 was he, who, in that darker age,
By his juft rales reftrain'd poetick rage;
Spencer did next in Pastorals excel,
And taught the noble art of writing well :
To ftricter rules the stanza did restrain,
And found for poetry a richer vein.
Than D'Avenant came; who, with a new-found art,
Chang'd ail, spoil'd all, and had his way a-part:
His haughty, mule all others did despise
And thought in triumph to bear off the prize,
'Till the tharp-lighted criticks of the times
In their Mock-Gondibert expos'd his rhimes ;
The laurels he pretended did refuse,
And dath'd the hopes of his aspiring muse.
This headstrong writer falling from on high,
Made following authors take less liberty.
Waller came laft, but was the first whole art
Juft weight and measure did to verfe impart;
That of a well-plac'd word could teach the force,
And Thew'd for poetry a nobler course :
2 Edmund Fairfax flourished in the time of Charles I. He trané. lated Godirey of Bulloign, from the Italian of Tailo, into alternate verfe : and his cranilation is even at this time e teemed. His