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HROUGH Ages thus has Satire keenly shin'd,
The Friend to Truth, to Virtue
Yet the bright flame from Virtue ne'ct a fprung,
And Man was guilty ere the Poet fung.
This Mufe in filence joy'd each better Age,
Till glowing crimes had wak'd her into rage.
Truth faw her honest spleen with new delight,
And bade her wing her fhafts, and urge their flight.
Firft on the Sons of Greece the prov'd her art,
And Sparta felt the fierce Iambic dart.
To Latium next, avenging Satire flew :
The flaming falchion rough Lucilius drew ;
With dauntlefs warmth in Virtue's caufe engag'd,
And confcious Villains trembled as he rag'd.
Then sportive Horace caught the generous fire; 375 For Satire's bow refign'd the founding lyre:
Each arrow polish'd in his hand was seen,
And, as it grew more polifh'd, grew more keen.
His art, conceal'd in ftudy'd negligence,
Politely fly, cajol'd the foes of fenfe:
He feem'd to sport and trifle with the dart,
But, while he fported, drove it to the heart.
In graver ftrains majestic Perfius wrote,
Big with a ripe exuberance of thought:
Greatly fedate, contemn'd a Tyrant's reign,
And lafh'd Corruption with a calm difdain.
More ardent eloquence, and boundless rage,
Inflame bold Juvenal's exalted page,
His mighty numbers aw'd corrupted Rome,
And fwept audacious greatness to its doom;
The headlong torrent, thundering from on high,
Rent the proud rock that lately brav'd the sky.
fatal Victor of Mankind,
Swoln Luxury!-pale Ruin ftalks behind!
As countless Infects from the north-east pour,
To blaft the Spring, and ravage every flower:
So barbarous Millions fpread contagious death:
The fickening Laurel wither'd at their breath.
Deep Superftition's night the skies o'erhung,
Beneath whose baleful dews the Poppy sprung.
No longer Genius woo'd the Nine to love,
But Dulness nodded in the Muse's grove :
Wit, Spirit, Freedom, were the fole offence,
Nor aught was held fo dangerous as Sense.
At length, again fair Science shot her ray,
Dawn'd in the skies, and spoke returning day.
Now, Satire, triumph o'er thy flying foe,
Now load thy quiver, ftring thy flacken'd bow!
'Tis done-See great Erasmus breaks the spell,
And wounds triumphant Folly in her Cell!
(In vain the folemn Cowl surrounds her face,
Vain all her bigot cant, her four grimace)
With fhame compell'd her leaden throne to quit,
And own the force of Reafon urg'd by Wit.
'Twas then plain Donne in honeft vengeance rofe, His Wit harmonious, though his Rhyme was profe: VOL. II.
He 'midft an Age of Puns and Pedants wrote
With genuine fenfe, and Roman ftrength of thought.
Yet fcarce had Satire well relum'd her flame,
(With grief the Mufe records her Country's fhame) 420
Ere Britain faw the foul revolt commence,
And treacherous Wit began her war with Senfe.
Then rose a shameless mercenary train,
Whom latest Time shall view with just disdain:
A race fantastic, in whofe gaudy line
Untutor'd thought and tinsel beauty shine:
Wit's fhatter'd Mirror lies in fragments bright,
Reflects not Nature, but confounds the fight.
Dry Morals the Court-Poet blush'd to sing;
"Twas all his praise to say "the oddeft thing."
Proud for a jeft obfcene, a Patron's nod,
To martyr Virtue, or blafpheme his God,
Ill-fated Dryden! who unmov'd can see
Th' extremes of wit and meannefs join'd in Thee!
Flames that could mount, and gain their kindred skies,
Low creeping in the putrid fink of vice:
A Mufe whom Wisdom woo'd, but woo'd in vain,
The Pimp of Power, the Prostitute to Gain :
Wreaths, that should deck fair Virtue's form alone,
To Strumpets, Traitors, Tyrants, vilely thrown:
Unrival'd Parts, the fcorn of honeft fame ;
And Genius rife, a Monument of shame!
More happy France: immortal Boileau there
Supported Genius with a Sage's care:
Him with her love propitious Satire bleft,
And breath'd her airs divine into his breast:
Fancy and Senfe to form his line confpire,
And faultlefs Judgment guides the purest Fire.
But fee, at length, the British Genius fimile,
And fhower her bounties o'er her favour'd Isle:
Behold for Pope fhe twines the laurel crown,
And centers every Poet's power in one:
Each Roman's force adorns his various page;
Gay fmiles, collected strength, and manly rage.
Defpairing Guilt and Dulness loath the fight,
As Spectres vanish at approaching light:
In this clear Mirror with delight we view
Each Image juftly fine, and boldly true:
Here Vice, dragg'd forth by Truth's fupreme decree, Beholds and hates her own deformity;
While felf-feen Virtue in the faithful line
With modeft joys furveys her form divine.
But oh, what thoughts, what numbers fhall I find,
But faintly to exprefs the Poet's mind!
Who yonder Stars effulgence can display,
Unless he dip his pencil in the ray ?
Who paint a God, unless the God inspire?
What catch the lightning, but the speed of fire?
So, mighty Pope, to make thy Genius known,
All power is weak, all numbers-but thy own.
Each Mufe for thee with kind contention ftrove,
For thee the Graces left th' Idalian grove;
With watchful fondness o'er thy cradle hung,
Attun'd thy voice, and form'd thy infant tongue.
Next, to her Bard majestic Wisdom came;
The bard enraptur'd caught, the heavenly flame:
With tafte fuperior fcorn'd the venal tribe,
Whom fear can fway, or guilty greatness bribe;
At Fancy's call who rear the wanton fail,
Sport with the ftream, and trifle in the gale:
Sublimer views thy daring Spirit bound;
Thy mighty Voyage was Creation's round;
Intent new Worlds of Wisdom to explore,
And blefs Mankind with Virtue's facred ftore 5
A nobler joy than Wit can give, impart :
And pour a moral transport o'er the heart.
Fantastic Wit fhoots momentary fires,
And, like a meteor, while we gaze, expires:
Wit kindled by the fulphurous breath of Vice,
Like the blue lightning, while it fhines, deftroys: 490
But Genius, fir'd by Truth's eternal ray,
Burns clear and conftant, like the fource of day:
Like this its beam, prolific and refin'd,
Feeds, warms, infpirits, and exalts the mind;
Mildly difpels each wintery Paffion's gloom,
And opens all the Virtues into bloom.
This praife, immortal Pope, to thee be given.
Thy Genius was indeed a Gift from Heaven.
Hail, Bard unequal'd, in whose deathlefs line
Reafon and wit with strength collected shine;
Where matchlefs Wit but wins the second praise,
Loft, nobly loft, in Truth's fuperior blaze.
Did Friendship e'er mislead thy wandering Mufe?
That Friendship fure may plead the great excufe:
That facred Friendship which infpir'd thy Song,
Fair in defect, and amiably wrong.