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Then, at the last and only couplet, fraught
360 Where Denham's strength and Waller's sweetness
join. True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance. 'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence; The sound must seem an echo to the sense. 365 Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows, And the smooth stream in sinoother numbers flows; But when loud surges lash the sounding shore, The hoarse rough verse should like the torrent roar. When Ajax strives some rock’s vast weight to throw, The line too labours, and the words move slow: 371 Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain, Flieso'erth' unbending corn, andskimsalong the main. Hear how Timotheus' vary'd lays surprise, And bid alternate passions fall and rise,
375 While at each change the son of Lybian Jove Now burns with glory, and then melts with love: Now his fierce eyes with sparkling fury glow, Now sighs steal out, and tears begin to flow : Persians and Greeks like turns of Nature found, 380 And the world's victor stood subdu'd by sound!
The pow'r of music all our hearts allow,
Avoid extremes, and shun the fault of such
390 For fools admire, but men of sense approve.. As things seem large which we thro' mists descry, Dulness is ever apt to magnify.
Some foreign writers, some our own despise; The ancients only or the moderns prize. 395 Thus wit, like faith, by each man is apply'd To one small sect, and all are damn'd beside. Meanly they seek the blessing to confine, And force that sun but on a part to shine, Which not alone the southern wit sublimes,
400 But ripens spirits in cold northern climes; Which from the first has shone on ages past, Enlights the present, and shall warm the last; Tho' each may feel increases and decays, And see now clearer, and now darker days: 405 Regard not then if wit be old or new, But blame the false, and value still the true.
Some ne'er advance a judgment of their own, But catch the spreading notion of the town; They reason and conclude by precedent, 410 And own stale nonsense which they ne'er invent. Some judge of authors' names, not works, and then Nor praise nor blame the writings, but the men. Of all this servile herd, the worst is he That in proud dulness joins with quality : 415 A constant critic at the great man's board, To fetch and carry nonsense for my lord. What woful stuff this madrigal would be In some starv'd hackney sonnetteer or me! But let a lord once own the happy lines, 420 How the wit brightens! how the style refines ! Before his sacred name flies ev'ry fault, And each exalted stanza teems with thought !
The vulgar thus thro' imitation err, As oft the learn'd by being singular;
425 So much they scorn the crowd, that if the throng By chance go right, they purposely go wrong. So schismatics the plain believers quit, And are but damn'd for having too much wit. Some praise at morning what they blame at night, But always think the last opinion right.
431 A Muse by these is like a mistress us’d, This hour she's idoliz'd, the next abus'd;
While their weak heads, like towns unfortify'd,
450 Which lives as long as fools are pleas'd to laugh.
Some, valuing those of their own size or mind,
But sense surviv'd when merry jests were past; 460
Be thou the first true merit to befriend;