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Inftruct the listening world how Maro fings
Of useful subjects and of lofty things.
These will fuch true, such bright ideas raise,
As merit gratitude, as well as praise :
But foul descriptions are offensive still,
Either for being like, or being ill.
For who, without a qualm, hath ever look'd
On holy garbage, though by Homer cook'd ?
Whofe railing heroes, and whose wounded Gods,
Makes fome fufpect he fnores, as well as nods.
But I offend---Virgil begins to frown,
And Horace looks with indignation down;
My blushing Mufe with confcious fear retires,
And whom they like, implicitly admires.
On fure foundations let your fabric rife,
And with attractive majefty surprise,
Not by affected meretricious arts,
But ftrict harmonious fymmetry of parts;
Which through the whole insensibly must pass,
With vital heat to animate the mass:
A pure, an active, an aufpicious flame,
And bright as heaven, from whence the blessing came;
But few, oh few fouls, præordain'd by fate,
The race of Gods, have reach'd that envy'd height. No Rebel-Titan's facrilegious crime,
By heaping hills on hills can hither climb:
The grizly ferryman of hell deny'd
Æneas entrance, till he knew his guide:
How justly then will impious mortals fall,
Whose pride would foar to heaven without a call!
Pride (of all others the most dangerous fault)
Proceeds from want of sense, or want of thought.
who labour and digest things most,
Will be much apter to despond than boast:
For if your author be profoundly good,
Twill cost you dear before he 's understood.
How many ages fince has Virgil writ!
How few are they who understand him yet!
Approach his altars with religious fear,
No vulgar deity inhabits there :
Heaven shakes not more at Jove's imperial nod,
Than poets fhould before their Mantuan God.
Hail mighty Maro! may that facred name
Kindle my breast with thy celestial flame;
Sublime ideas and apt words infuse.
The Muse instruct my voice, and thou inspire the Mufe! What I have inftanc'd only in the best,
Is, in proportion, true of all the rest.
Take pains the genuine meaning to explore,
There fweat, there ftrain, tug the laborious oar;
Search every comment that your care can find,
Some here, fome there, may hit the poet's mind ;
Yet be not blindly guided by the throng;
The multitude is always in the wrong.
When things appear unnatural or hard,
Confult your author, with himself compar'd;
Who knows what bleffing Phoebus may bestow,
And future ages to your labour owe?
Such fecrets are not eafily found out,
But, once difcover'd, leave no room for doubt.
Truth ftamps conviction in your ravish'd breast,
And peace and joy attend the glorious guest.
Truth ftill is one; truth is divinely bright,
No cloudy doubts obfcure her native light;
While in your thoughts you find the least debate,
You may confound, but never can tranflate.
Your ftyle will this through all disguises show,
For none explain more clearly than they know.
He only proves he understands a text,
Whofe expofition leaves it unperplex'd.
They who too faithfully on names infift,
Rather create than dissipate the mist;
And grow unjust by being over-nice,
(For fuperftitious virtue turns to vice.)
Let Craffus's + ghoft and Labienus tell
How twice in Parthian plains their legions fell.
Since Rome hath been fo jealous of her fame,
That few know Pacorus' or Monæfes' name.
Words in one language elegantly us'd,.
Will hardly in another be excus’d..
And fome that Rome admir'd in Cæfar's time,.
May neither fuit our genius nor our clime.
The genuine fenfe, intelligibly told,
Shews a tranflator both difcreet and bold,
Excurfions are inexpiably bad;
And 'tis much fafer to leave out than add.
Abftrufe and myftic thoughts you must express
With painful care, but feeming eafinefs;
For truth fhines brightest through the plainest drefs.
Th' Enean Mufe, when the appears in state,
Makes all Jove's thunder on her verses wait.
Yet writes fometimes as foft and moving things
As Venus fpeaks, or Philomela fings.
Your author always will the best advise,
Fall when he falls, and when he rifes rife.
Affected noife is the most wretched thing,
That to contempt can empty fcriblers bring.
Vowels and accents, regularly plac'd,
On even fyllables (and ftill the last)
Though grofs innumerable faults abound,
In fpite of nonfenfe, never fail of found.
But this is meant of even verfe alone,
As being moft harmonious and most known:
For if you will unequal numbers try,
There accents on odd fyllables must lie.
Whatever fifter of the learned Nine
Does to your fuit a willing ear incline,
Urge your fuccess, deserve a lasting name,
She'll crown a grateful and a conftant flame.
But, if a wild uncertainty prevail,
And turn your veering heart with every gale,
You lofe the fruit of all your former care
For the fad profpect of a juft defpair.
A quack (too fcandalously mean to name)
Had, by man-midwifery, got wealth and fame :
As if Lucina had forgot her trade,
The labouring wife invokes his furer aid.
Well-feafon'd bowls the goffip's spirits raise,
Who, while fhe guzzles, chats the doctor's praife;
And largely, what fhe wants in words, supplies,
With maudlin-eloquence of trickling eyes.
But what a thoughtlefs animal is man!
(How very active in his own trepan!)
For, greedy of phyficians frequent fees,
From female mellow praise he takes degrees;
Struts in a new unlicens'd gown, and then
From faving women falls to killing men.
Another fuch had left the nation thin,
In fpite of all the children he brought in.
His pills as thick as hand-granadoes flew ;
And where they fell, as certainly they flew ;
His name ftruck every where as great a damp,
As Archimedes through the Roman camp.
With this, the doctor's pride began to cool;
For fmarting foundly may conyince a fool.
But now repentance came too late for grace;
And meagre Famine star'd him in the face :
Fain would he to the wives be reconcil'd,
But found no husband left to own a child.
The friends, that got the brats, were poison'd too;
In this fad cafe, what could our vermin do?
Worry'd with debts and past all hope of bail,
Th' unpity'd wretch lies rotting in a jail :
And there with basket-alms, fcarce kept alive,
Shews how mistaken talents ought to thrive.
I pity, from my foul, unhappy men,
Compell'd by want to prostitute their pen ;
Who muft, like lawyers, either ftarve or plead,
And follow, right or wrong, where guineas lead !