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And these once paid to obligations
Repeated thanks grow ftale vexations,
And hurt the liberal donor more
Than all his lavish gifts before)
I skip about, as whim prevails,
Like your own frisky goats in WALES,
And follow where the Muse shall lead,
O'er hedge and ditch, o'er hill or mead.
Well might the * Lordly writer praise
The first inventor of Esays,
Where wanton fancy gaily rambles,
Walks, paces, gallops, trots, and ambles;
And all things may be sung or said,
While drowsy Method's gone to bed.
And bleft the poet, or the rhymist,
(For surely none of the sublimest)
Who prancing in his easy mode,
Down this epistolary road;
First taught the Muse to play the fool,
A truant from the pedant's school,
And skipping, like a tasteless dunce,
O'er all the UNITIES at once;
(For so we keep but clink and rhyme,
A fig for Action, Place, and Time.)
But critics (who still judge by rules,
Transmitted down as guides to fools,
And howsoe'er they prate about 'em,
Drawn from wife folks who writ without 'em)
Will blame this frolic, wild excursion,
Which fancy takes for her diversion,
As inconsistent with the law,
Which keeps the sober Muse in awe,
Who dares not for her life dispense,
With such mechanic chains for sense.
Yet men are often apt to blame
Those errors they'd be proud to claim,
And if their skill, of pigmy size,
To glorious darings cannot rise,
From critic spleen and pedant phlegm,
Would make all genius creep with them.
Nay, e'en professors of the art,
To prove their wit betray their heart,
And speak against themselves, to show,
What they would hate the world shou'd know.
As when the measur'd couplets curse,
The manacles of Gothic verse,
While the trim bard in easy strains,
Talks much of fetters, clogs, and chains ;
He only aims that you should think,
How charmingly he makes them clink.
So have I seen in tragic stride,
The hero of the Mourning Bride,
Sullen and sulky tread the stage,
Till, fixt attention to engage,
He flings his fetter'd arms about,
That all may find ALPHONSO out.
Oft have I heard it said by those,
Who most shou'd blush to be her foes,
That rhyme's impertinent vexation,
Shackles the brave imagination,
Which longs with eager zeal to try
Her trackless path above the sky,
But that the clog upon her feet,
Restrains her fight, and damps her heat.
From BOILEAU down to his translators,
Dull paraphrafts, and imitators,
All rail at metre at the time
They write and owe their sense to rhyme.
Had he fo mauld his gentle foe,
But for that lucky word QUINEAUT?
Or had his strokes been half so fine,
Without that closing name COTIN ?
Yet dares He on this very theme,
His own APOLLO to blafpheme,
And talk of wars 'twixt rhyme and sense,
And murders which ensu'd from thence,
As if they both resolv’d to meet,
Like Theban fons, in mutual heat,
Forgetful of the ties of brother,
To maim and massacre each other.
'Tis true, sometimes to costive brains,
A couplet costs exceeding pains;
But where the fancy waits the skill
Of Auent easy dress at will,
The thoughts are oft, like colts which stray
From fertile meads, and lose their way,
Clapt up and fasten'd in the pound
Of measur'd rhyme, and barren found.
-What are these jarring notes I hear,
Grating harsh discord on my ear !
How fhrill, how coarse, th' unsettl'd tone,
Alternate 'twixt a squeak and drone,
Worse than the scrannel pipe of straw,
Or music grinding on a saw!
Will none that horrid fiddle break?
- O spare it for GIARDINI's fake.
'Tis His, and only errs by chance,
Play'd by the hand of ignorance.
From this allufion I infer,
'Tis not the art, but artists err,
And rhyme's a fiddle, sweet indeed,
When touch'd by those who well can lead,
Whose varied notes harmonious Aow,
In tones prolong'd from sweeping bow;
But harsh the sounds to ear and mind,
From the poor fidler lame and blind,
Who begs in music at your door,
And thrums Jack Latin o'er and o'er.
Some MILTON-mad (an affectation
Glean'd up from college education)
Approve no verse, but that which flows
In epithetic measur'd profe,
With trim expressions gaily drest
Stoln, misapply'd, and not confeft,
And call it writing in the stile
Of that great HOMER of our isle.