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Shall we then doubt to fcorn all worldly views,
And not prefer the raptures of the Muse?
Thrice happy Bards! who, taught by heaven, obey These rules, and follow where they lead the way; And hear the faithful precepts I bestow'd,
Infpir'd with rage divine, and labouring with the God,
But art alone, and human means muft fail,
Nor thefe inftructive precepts will prevail,
Unless the Gods their prefent aid fupply,'
And look with kind indulgence from the sky.
I only pointed out the paths that lead
The panting youth to steep Parnaffus' head;
And show'd the tuneful Mufes from afar,
Mixt in a folemn choir, and dancing there.
Thither forbidden by the Fates to go,
I fink and grovel in the world below.
Deterr'd by them, in vain I labour up,
And stretch thefe hands to grafp the distant top.
Enough for me, at diftance if I view
Some Bard, fome happier Bard, the path purfue;
Who, taught by me to reach Parnaffus' crown.
Mounts up, and calls his flow companions on.
But yet thefe rules, perhaps, these humble lays,
May claim a title to a fhare of praise;
When, in a crowd, the gathering youths fhall hear
My voice and precepts with a willing ear;
Close in a ring fhall prefs the liftening throng,
And learn from me to regulate their fong.
Then, if the pitying Fates prolong my breath,
And from my youth avert the dart of death;
Whene'er I fink in life's declining ftage,
Trembling and fainting on the verge of age,
To help their wearied master shall they run,
And lend their friendly hands to guide him on ;
Through blooming groves his tardy progress wait,
And fet him gently down at Phoebus' gate,
The while he fings, before the hallow'd shrine,
The facred Poets, and the tuneful Nine.
Here then in Roman numbers will we rife,
And lift the fame of Virgil to the skies;
Aufonia's pride and boaft; who brings along
Strength to my lines, and spirit to my fong:
Firft how the mighty Bard tranfported o'er
The facred Mufes from th' Aonian fhore;
Led the fair fifters to th' Hefperian plains,
And fung in Roman towns the Grecian strains;
How in his youth to woods and groves he fled,
And fweetly tun'd the foft Sicilian reed;
Next, how, in pity to th' Aufonian fwains,
He rais'd to heaven the honours of the plains;
Rapt in Triptolemus's car on high,
He scatter'd peace and plenty from the fky;
Fir'd with his country's fame, with loud alarms,
At last he rous'd all Latium up to arms;
In just array the Phrygian troops bestow'd,
And spoke the voice and language of a God.
Father of verfe! from whom our honours fpring;
See! from all parts, our Bards attend their king;
Beneath thy banners rang'd, thy fame increase,
And rear proud trophies from the fpoils of Greece,
Low, in Elyfian vales, her tuneful throng
Bow to thy laurels, and adore thy song:
On thee alone thy country turns her eyes;
On thee her Poets future fame relies.
See! bow in crowds they court thy aid divine
(For all their honours but depend on thine);
Taught from the womb thy numbers to rehearse,
And fip the balmy sweets of every verse.
Unrival'd Bard! all ages thall decree
The firft unenvy'd palm of fame to thee;
Thrice happy Bard! thy boundless glory flies,
Where never mortal must attempt to rife;
Such heavenly numbers in thy fong we hear,
And more than human accents charm the ear!
To thee, his darling, Phoebus hands impart
His foul, his genius, and immortal art.
What help or merit in these rules are shown,
The youth muft owe to thy fupport alone.
The youth, whofe wandering feet with care I led
Aloft, o'er fteep Parnaffus' facred head';
Taught from thy great example to explore
Thofe arduous paths which thou haft trod before."
Hail, pride of Italy! thy country's grace!"
Hail, glorious light of all the tuneful race!
For whom, we weave the crown, and altars raife;
And with rich incenfe bid the temples blaze;
Our folemn hymns thall ftill refound thy praife.
Hail, holy Bard, and boundless in renown!
Thy fame, dependent on thyself alone,
Requires no fong, no numbers but thy own.
Look down propitious, and my thoughts inspire;
Warm my chafte bofom with thy facred fire!
Let all thy flames with all their raptures roll,
Deep in my breast, and kindle all my foul!
HORACE, Book II. EP. XIX. IMITATED.
AN EPISTLE TO MR. ROBERT LOWTH *.
IS faid, dear Sir, no poets please the town, Who drink mere water, though from Helicon For in cold blood they feldom boldly think; Their rhymes are more infipid than their drink. Not great Apollo could the train infpire, Till generous Bacchus help'd to fan the fire. Warm'd by two gods at once, they drink and write, Rhyme all the day, and fuddle all the night. Homer, fays Horace, nods in many a place, But hints, he nodded oftner o'er the glass. Infpir'd with wine old Ennius fung and thought With the same spirit, that his heroes fought: And we from Johnfon's tavern-laws divine, That bard was no great enemy to wine. 'Twas from the bottle King deriv'd his wit, Drank till he could not talk, and then he writ Let no coif 'd ferjeant touch the facred juice, But leave it to the bards for better ufe: Let the grave judges too the glafs forbear, Who never fing and dance but once a year,
Now Bishop of London.
This truth once known, our poets take the hint,
Get drunk or mad, and then get into print:
To raise their flames indulge the mellow fit,
And lose their senses in the search of wit:
And when with claret fir'd they take the pen,
Swear they can write, because they drink, like Ben.
Such mimic Swift or Prior to their coft,
For in the rash attempt the fools are lost.
When once a genius breaks through common rules,
He leads an herd of imitating fools.
If Pope, the prince of poets, fick a-bed,
O'er fteaming coffee bends his aching head,
The fools in public o'er the fragrant draught
Incline those heads, that never ach'd or thought.
This must provoke his mirth or his difdain,
Cure his complaint,—or make him fick again.
I too, like them, the poet's path pursue,
And keep great Flaccus ever in my view;
But in a diftant view-yet what I write,
In these loose sheets, must never fee the light;
Epiftles, odes, and twenty trifles more,
Things that are born and die in half an hour.
must dedicate, fays fneering Spence,
This year fome new performance to the prince :
Though money is your fcorn, no doubt in time
You hope to gain some vacant kall by rhyme;
Like other poets, were the truth but known,"
You too admire whatever is your own.