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Where a new world leaps out at his command,
And ready Nature waits upon his hand;
When the ripe colours soften and unite,
And sweetly melt into just shade and light;
When mellowing years their full perfection give, 490
And each bold figure just begins to live,
The treach'rous colours the fair art betray,
And all the bright creation fades away!
Unhappy wit, like most mistaken things,
Atones not for that envy which it brings: 495
In youth alone its empty praise we boast,
But soon the short-liv'd vanity is lost;
Like some fair flow'r the early spring supplies;
That gaily blooms, but ev’n in blooming dies.
What is this wit which must our cares employ? 500
The owner's wife that other men enjoy;
Then most our trouble still when most admir'd,
And still the more we give the more's requir'd;
Whose fame with pains we guard, but lose with ease,
Sure some to vex, but never all to please; 505
"Tis what the vicious fear, the virtuous shun;
By fools 'tis hated, and by knaves undone!
If wit so much from ign’rance undergo, Ah! let not learning too commence its foe. Of old those met rewards who could excel, 510 And such were prais'd who but endeavour'd well:
Tho' triumphs were to gen'rals only due,
Crowns were reservod to grace the soldiers too.
Now they who reach Parnassus' lofty crown,
Employ their pains to spurn some others down; 515
And while self-love each jealous writer rules,
Contending wits become the sport of fools ;
But still the worst with most regret commend,
For each ill author is as bad a friend.
To what base ends, and by what abject ways 520
Are mortals urg'd thro' sacred lust of praise !
Ah! ne'er so dire a thirst of glory boast,
Nor in the critic let the man be lost.
Good nature and good sense must ever join ;
To err is human, to forgive divine.
But if in noble minds some dregs remain,
Nor yet purg'd off, of spleen and sour disdain,
Discharge that rage on more provoking crimes,
Nor fear a dearth in these flagitious times.
No pardon vile obscenity should find,
530 Tho' wit and art conspire to move your mind; But dulness with obscenity must prove As shameful sure as impotence in love. In the fat age of pleasure, wealth, and ease, Sprang the rank weed, and thriv'd with large increase: When love was all an easy monarch's care, 536 Seldom at council, never in a war,
Jilts rul'd the state, and statesmen farces writ;
Nay wits had pensions, and young lords had wit;
The fair sat panting at a courtier's play,
And not a mask went unimprov'd away;
The modest fan was lifted up no more,
And virgins smil'd at what they blush'd before.
The following license of a foreign reign
Did all the dregs of old Socinus drain;
545 Then unbelieving priests reform’d the nation, And taught more pleasant methods of salvation; Where heav'n's free subjects might their rights
dispute, Lest God himself should seem too absolute: Pulpits their sacred satire learn'd to spare,
550 And Vice admir'd to find a flatt'rer there! Encourag'd thus, Wit's Titans brav'd the skies, And the press groan'd with licens'd blasphemies. These monsters, Critics! with your darts engage, Here point your thunder, and exhaust your rage! Yet shun their fault who, scandalously nice, 556 Will needs mistake an author into vice: All seems infected that th’ infected spy, As all looks yellow to the jaundic'd eye.
LEARN then what morals critics ought to show,
For 'tis but half a judge's task to know. 561
'Tis not enough taste, judgment, learning, join;
In all you speak let truth and candour shine;
That not alone what to your sense is due
All may allow, but seek your friendship too. 565
Be silent always when you doubt your sense,
And speak, tho’ sure, with seeming diffidence:
Some positive persisting fops we know,
Who if once wrong will needs be always so;
But you with pleasure own your errors past,
570 And make each day a critique on the last.
"Tis not enough your counsel still be true, Bluut truths more mischief than nice falsehoods do: Men must be taught as if you taught them not, And things unknown propos'd as things forgot. 575 Without good-breeding truth is disapprov'd; That only makes superior sense belov'd.
Be niggards of advice on no pretence, For the worst avarice is that of sense. With mean complacence ne'er betray your trust, 580 Nor be so civil as to prove unjust. Fear not the anger of the wise to raise ; Those best can bear reproof who merit praise.
"Twere well might critics still this freedom take,
But Aprius reddens at each word you speak, 585
And stares tremendous, with a threat'ning eye,
Like some fierce tyrant in old tapestry.
Fear most to tax, an honourable fool,
Whose right it is, uncensur'd, to be dull :
Such without wit are poets when they please, 590
As without learning they can take degrees.
Leave dang’rous truths to unsuccessful satires,
And flattery to fulsome dedicators,
Whom, when they praise, the world believes no more
Than when they promise to give scribbling o'er. 595
"Tis best sometimes your censure to restrain,
And charitably let the dull be vain;
Your silence there is better than your spite,
For who can rail so long as they can write ?
Still humming on their drowsy course they keep, 600
And lash'd so long, like tops are lash'd asleep.
False steps but help them to renew their race,
As after stumbling jades will mend their pace.
What crowds of these, impenitently bold,
In sounds and jingling syllables grown old, 605
Still run on poets in a raging vein,
Ev'n to the dregs and squeezings of the brain,
Strain out the last dull droppings of their sense,
And rhyme with all the rage of impotence!