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That sing th' illustrious hero's mighty praise
Protected humble goodness from reproach,
Horace his pleasing wit to this did add,
Squard to the rules of their sharp poetry.
Persius obscure, but full of sense and wit,
And Juvenal, learned as those times could be,
Too far did stretch his sharp hyperbole; A faultless sonnet, finish'd thas, would be
Though horrid truths through all bis labours shine, Worth tedious volumes of loose poetry.
In wbat he writes there is something of divine,
Or of Seianus' fall tells the approach,
Or Roman vice in coarsest habits shews,
And paints an empress reeking from the stews: Closing the sense within the measur'd time, In all he writes appears a noble fire; 'Tis hard to fit the reason to the rhyme.
To follow such a master then desire.
Chaucer alone, fix'd on this solid base,
In his old style conserves a modern grace:
Too happy, if the freedom of his rhymes Is one good sentence in a distich clos'd.
Offended not the method of our times.
But modern authors challenge our respect,
I love sharp Satire, from obsceneness free;
Our English, who in malice never fail,
From mouth to mouth, and as it marches grows:
Our freedom in our Poetry we see,
That child of joy begot by Liberty.
At last, those jests which libertines invent,
Have warm'd cold brains, and given dull writers
mettle, Declar'd that none should use them without shame, And furnish'd out a scene for Mr. Settle. Except a scattering in the Epigram;
But for one lucky hit, that made thee please, Provided that by art, and in due time,
Let not thy folly grow to a disease, They turn'd upon the thought, and not the rhyme. Nor think thyself a wit; for in our age Thus in all parts disorders did abate :
If a warm fancy does some fop engage, Yet quibblers in the court had leave to prate : He neither eats nor sleeps till he has writ, Insipid jesters, and unpleasant fools,
But plagues the world with his adulterate wit. A corporation of dull punning drolls.
Nay 'tis a wonder, if, in his dire rage, 'Tis not, but that sometimes a dexterous Muse He prints not his dull follies for the stage ; May with advantage a turn'd sense abuse,
And in the front of all his senseless plays,
Makes David Logan crown his head with bays.
There 's not a monster bred beneath the sky
But, well-dispos'd by art, may please the eye: Desire to show itself, and not to wrong,
A curious workman, by his skill divine, Arm'd Virtue first with Satire in its tongue. From an ill object makes a good design.
Thus, to delight us, Tragedy, in tears
Engag'd the chorus song in every part, Por @dipus, provokes our hopes and fears : And polish'd rugged verse by rules of art: For parricide Orestes asks relief;
He in the Greek did those perfections gain, And to encrease our pleasure causes grief.
Which the weak Latin never could attain. You then, that in this noble art would rise, Our pionis fathers, in their priest-rid age, Come; and in lofty verse dispute the prize. As impious and profane, abhorrd the stage : Would you upon the stage acquire renown, A troop of silly pilgrims, as 'tis said, And for your judges summon all the town? Foolishly zealous, scandalously play'd, Would you your works for ever should remain, Instead of heroes, and of love's complaints, And after ages past be sought again?
The angels, God, the virgin, and the saints. In all you write, observe with care and art
At last, right reason did his law's reveal, To move the passions, and incline the heart. And show'd the folly of their ill-plac'd zca', If in a labour'd act, the pleasing rage
Silenc'd those ponconformists of the age, Cannot our hopes and fears by turns engage, And rais'd the lawful heroes of the stage: Nor in our mind a feeling pity raise ;
Only th' Athenian inask was laid aside In vain with learned scenes you fill your plays: And chorus by the music was supply'd. Your cold discourse can never move the mind Ingenious love, inventive in new arts, Of a stern critic, naturally unkiud ;
Mingled in plays, and quickly touch'd our Who, justly tir'd with your pedantic flight,
hearts: Or falls asleep, or censures all you write.
This passion never could resistance find, The secret is, attention first to gain;
But knows the shortest passage to the mind. To move our minds, and then to entertain:
Paint then, I 'm pleasd my hero be in love; That, from the very opening of the scenes,
But let him not like a tame shepherd move; The first may show us what the author means. Let not Achilles be like Thyrsis seen, I'm tir'd to see an actor on the stage,
Or for a Cyrus show an Artaben; That knows not whether he 's to laugh or rage; That struggling oft his passions we may find, Who, an intrigue unravelling in vain,
The frailty, not the virtue of his mind. Instead of pleasing keeps my mind in pain. Of romance heroes shun the low design; I'd rather much the nauseous dunce should say Yet to great hearts some human frailties join: Downright, My name is Hector in the play ; Achilles must with Homer's heat engage; Than with a mass of miracles, ill-join'd,
For an affront I'm pleas'd to see him rage. Confound my ears, and not instruct my mind. Those little failings in your hero's heart The subject 's never soon enough exprest;
Show, that of man and nature he has part: Your place of action must be fix'd, and rest. To leave known rules you cannot be allow'd; A Spanish poet may with good event,
Make Agamemnon covetous and proud, In one day's space whole ages represent;
Æneas in religious rites austere, There oft the hero of a wandering stage
Keep to each man his proper character. Begins a child, and ends the play of age:
Of countries and of times the humours know; But we, that are by reason's rules confin'd, From different climates different customs grow: Will, that with art the poem be design'd,
And strive to shun their fault who vainly dress That unity of action, time, and place,
An antique hero like some modern ass; Keep the stage full, and all our labours grace. Who make old Romans like our English move, Write not what cannot be with ease conceiv'd; Show Caio sparkish, or make Brutus love. Some truths may be too strong to be believ'd. In a romance those errours are excus'd: A foolish wonder cannot entertain:
There 'tis enough that, reading, we ’re amus'd: My mind 's not mov'd if your discourse be vain. Rules too severe would there be useless found; You may relate what would ofiend the eye: But the strict scene must have a juster bound : Seeing, indeed, would better satisfy;
Exact decorum we must always find.
If then you form some hero in your mind,
For what he first appears, he still must be.
To paint their figures by their own design:
Chapman in Bussy d'Ambois took delight,
Sorrow is humble, and dissolves in tears. Thespis was first, who, all besmear'd with lee, Make not your Hecuba with fury rage, Began this pleasure for posterity :
And show a ranting grief upon the stage; And with bis carted actors, and a song,
Or tell in vain how the rough Tanais bore Amus'd the people as he pass'd along.
His sevenfold waters to the Euxine shore: Next Æschylus the different persons plac'd, These swoln expressions, this affected noise, And with a better mask his players grac'd: Shows like some pedant that declaims to boys. Upon a theatre h's verse express'd,
In sorrow you must softer methods keep; And show'd his hero with a buskin dress'd.
And, to excite our tears, yourself must weep. Then Sophocles, the genius of his age,
Those noisy words with which ill plays abound, Increas'd the pomp and beauty of the stage,
Come not from hearts that are in sadness drown'd.
The theatre for a young poet's rhymes
Yet, though our age has so extolld his name, Is a bold venture in our knowing times :
His works had never gain'd iinmortal fame,
If holy Godfrey in bis ecstasies
If Tancred and Armida's pleasing form
Did not his melancholy theme adorn.
The gods, and heathen ornaments neglect;
To take Pan's whistle, or the Fates degrade,
To hinder Cbaron in his leaky boat
And search perfection you can never find :
As well they may forbid us to present
Prudence or Justice for an ornament,
To paint old Janus with his front of brass, In the narration of some great design,
And take from Time his scythe, his wings and glass, Invention, art, and fable, all must join :
And every where, as 'twere idolatry,
But let our reason such vain fears subdue:
In fable we a thousand pleasures see,
Ulysses, Agamemnon, and Achilles :
To choose king Chilperic for his hero's name.
Sometimes the name being well or ill apply'd, Around the work his ornaments he pours,
Will the whole fortune of your work decide. And strows with lavish hand bis opening flowers. Would you your reader never should be tir'd. 'Tis not a wonder if a tempest bore
Choose some great hero, fit to be admir'd; The Trojan feet against the Libyan shore; In courage signal, and in virtue bright, From faithless Fortune this is no surprise,
Let e'en his very failings give delight; For every day 'tis common to our eyes ;
Let his great actions our attention bind, But angry Juno, that she might destroy,
Like Cæsar, or like Scipio, frame his mind, And overwhelm the rest of ruin'd Troy :
And not like dipus his perjur'd race; That Æolus with the fierce goddess join'd,
A common conqueror is a theme too base. Open'd the hollow prisons of the wind;
Choose not your tale of accidents too full; Till angry Neptune looking o'er the main, Too much variety may make it dull : Rebukes the tempest, calms the waves again, Achilles' rage alone, when wrought with skill, Their vessels from the dangerous quicksands steers; Abundantly does a whole Iliad fill. These are the springs that move our hopes and Be your narrations lively, short, and smart ; fears :
In your descriptions show your noblest art: Without these ornaments before our eyes,
There 'tis your poetry may be employ'd: Th' unsinew'd poem languishes and dies :
Yet you must trivial accidents avoid. Your poet in his art will always fail,
Nor imitate that fool, who, to describe And tell you but a dull insipid tale.
The wondrous marches of the chosen tribe, In vain have our mistaken authors try'd
Plac'd on the sides, to see their armies pass, To lay these ancient ornaments aside,
The fishes, staring through the liquid glass; Thinking our God, and prophets that he sent, Describ'd a child, who, with his little hand, Might act like those the poets did invent,
Pick'd up the shining pebbles from the sand. To fright poor readers in each line with Hell, Such objects are too mean to stay our sight; And talk of Satan, Ashtaroth, and Bel;
Allow your work a just and nobler flight. The mysteries which Christians must believe
Be your beginning plain; and take good heed Disdain such shifting pageants to receive:
Too soon you mount not on the airy steed; The gospel offers nothing to our thoughts
Nor tell your reader in a thundering verse, But penitence, or punishment for faults;
“I sing the conqueror of the universe.” And mingling falsehoods with those mysteries, What can an author after this produce ? Would make our sacred truths appear like lies. The labouring mountain must bring forth a mouse. Besides, what pleasure can it be to hear
Much better are we pleas'd with his address, The howlings of repinir.g Lucifer,
Who, without making such vast promises, Whose rage at your imagin'd hero flies,
Says, in an easier style and plainer sense, And oft with God himself disputes the prize? “ I sing the combats of that pious prince Tasso you 'll say has done it with applause. Who from the Phrygian coast his armies bore, It is not here I mean to judge his cause :
And landed first on the Lavinian shore.”
His opening Muse sets not the world on fire, By mild reproofs recover'd minds diseas'd, And yet performs more than we can require ; And, sparing persons, innocently pleas'd. Quickly you 'll hear bim celebrate the fame Each one was nicely shown in this new glass, And future glory of the Roman name;
And smil'd to think he was not ineant the ass : Of Styx and Acheron describe the floods,
A miser oft would laugh at first, to find And Cæsar's wandering in th' Elysian woods: A faithful draught of his own sordid mind; With figures numberless his story grace,
And fops were with such care and cunning writ, And every thing in beauteous colonirs trace. They lik'd the piece for which themselves did sit. At once you may be pleasing and sublime:
You then, that would the comic laurels wear, I hate a heavy melancholy rhyme:
To study Nature be your only care: I'd rather read Orlando's comic tale,
Whoe'er knows man, and by a curious art Than a dull author always stiff and stale,
Discerns the hidden secrets of the heart; Who thinks himself dishonour'd in his style, He who observes, and naturally can paint If on his works the Graces do but smile.
The jealous fool, the fawning sycophant, 'Tis said, that Homer, matchless in his art,
A sober wit, an enterprising ass, Stole Venus' girdle to engage the heart :
A humorous Otter, or a Hudibras; His works indeed vast treasures do unfold,
May safely in those noble lists engage, And whatsoe'er he touches turns to gold :
And make them act and speak upon the stage. All in his hands new beauty does acquire;
Strive to be natural in all you write, He always pleases, and can never tire.
And paint with colours that may please the A happy warmth he every where may boast;
sight: Nor is he in too long digressions lost :
Nature in various figures does abound, His verses without rule a method find,
And in each mind are different humours found; And of themselves appear in order join'd:
A glance, a touch, discovers to the wise; All without trouble answers his intent;
But every man has not discerning eyes. Each syllable is tending to th' event.
All-changing time does also change the mind; Let his example your endeavours raise:
And different ages different pleasures find: To love his writings is a kind of praise.
Youth, hot and furious, cannot brook delay, A poem, where we all perfections find,
By flattering vice is easily led away; Js not the work of a fantastic mind:
Vain in discourse, inconstant in desire, There must be care, and time, and skill, and pains; In censure, rash, iu pleasures, all on fire. Not the first heat of unexperienc'd brains.
The manly age does steadier thoughts enjoy;
Against the turns of Fate he sets his mind;
Incapable of pleasures youth abuse,
Your actors must by reason be controld;
Let young men speak like young, old men like Resolv'd to like the monsters they have made.
old: Virgil, compared to them, is flat and dry;
Observe the town, and study well the court: And Homer understood not poetry:
For thither various characters resort : Against their merit if this age rebel,
Thus 'twas great Jonson purchas'd his renown, To future times for justice they appeal.
And in his art had borne away the crown; But waiting till mankind shall do them right, If, less desirous of the people's praiso, And bring their works triumphantly to light; He had not with low farce debas'd his plays; Neglected heaps we in by-corners lay,
Mixing dull buffoonry with wit refin'd, Where they become to worms and moths a prey; And Harlequin with noble Terence join'd. Forgot, in dust and cobwebs let them rest,
When in the Fox I see the Tortoise hist, Whilst we return from whence we first digrest. I lose the author of the Alchymist.
The great success which tragic writers fonnd, The comic wit, born with a smiling air, In Athens first the comedy renown'd;
Must tragic grief and pompous verse forbear; 'Th' abusive Grecian there by pleasing ways, Yet may he not, as on a market-place, Dispersa his natural malice in his plays:
With bawdy jests amuse the populace: Wisdom and virtue, honour, wit, and sense, With well-bred conversation you must please, Were subject to buffooning insolence:
And your intrigue unravell’d be with ease:
Your action still should reason's rules obey,
Your humble style must sometimes gently rise; Was made the pastime of a scoffing stage:
And your discourse sententious be, and wise : At last the public took in hand the cause,
The passions must to Nature be copfin'd; And cur'd this madness by the power of laws; And scenes to scenes with artful weaving join'd. Forbad at any time, or any place,
Your wit must not unseasonably play; To name the person, or describe the face.
But follow bus'ness, never lead the way. The stage its ancient fury thus let fall,
Observe how Terence does this errour shun; And comedy diverted without gall:
A careful father chides his amorous son:
Then see that son, whom no advice can move, There is no sanctuary you can choose
For a defence from their pursuing Muse. 'Tis not a well-drawn picture we discover:
I 've said before, be patient when they blame; 'Tis a true son, a father, and a lover.
To alter for the better, is no shaine.
Yet yield not to a fool's impertinence :
By their false taste condemn some finish'd part, But for a tedious droll, a quibbling fool,
And blame the noblest flights of wit and art;
With their lov'd folies they are satisfy'd;
Their dangerous counsels do not cure, b'it wound;
To shun the storm, they run your verse aground, CANTO IV.
And, thinking to escape a rock, are drown'd.
Choose a sure judge to censure what you write, In Florence dwelt a doctor of renown,
Whose reason leads, and knowledge gives you The scourge of God, and terrour of the town,
light; Who all the cant of physic had by heart,
Whose steady hand will prove your faithful guide, And never murder'd but by rules of art.
And touch the darling follies you would hide: The public mischief was his private gain;
He, in your doubts, will carefully advise, Children their slaughter'd parents sought in vain : And clear the mist before your feeble eyes. A brother here his poison'd brother wept ;
'Tis he will tell you to what noble height Some bloodless dy'd, and some by opium slept. A generous Muse may sometimes take her flight; Colds, at his presence, would to frenzies turn; When too much fetter'd with the rules of art, And agues, like malignant fevers, burn.
May from her stricter bounds and limits part: Hated, at last, his practice gives him o'er ;
But such a perfect judge is hard to see, One friend, unkill'd by drugs, of all his store, And every rhymer knows not poetry; In his new country-house affords him place; Nay some there are, for writing verse extollid, 'Twas a rich abbot, and a building ass:
Who know not Lucan's dross from Virgil's gold. Here first the doctor's talent came in play,
Would you in this great art acquire renowu ? He seems inspir'd, and talks like Wren or May: Authors, observe the rules I here lay down. Of this new portico condemns the face,
In prudent lessons every where abound: And turns the entrance to a better place ;
With pleasant join the useful and the sound: Designs the stair-case at the other end:
A sober reader a vain tale will slight; His friend approves, does for his mason send. He seeks as well instruction as delight. He comes; the doctor's arguments prevail.
Let all your thoughts to virtue be confin'd, In short, to finish this our humorous tale,
Still offering nobler figures to our mind: He Galen's dangerons science does reject,
I like not those loose writers who employ And from ill doctor turns good architect.
Their guilty Muse, good manners to destroy; In this example we may have our part:
Who with false colours still deceive our eyes, Rather be mason, 'tis a useful art !
And show us Vice dress'd in a fair disguise. Than a dull poet; for that trade accurst,
Yet do I not their sullen Muse approve, Admits no mean betwixt the best and worst.
Who from all modest writinys banish love: In other sciences, without disgrace,
That strip the playhouse of its chief intrigue, A candidate may fill a second place;
And make a murderer of Roderigue: But poetry no medium can admit,
The lightest love, if decently exprest, No reader suffers an indifferent wit:
Wilt raise no vicious motions in our breast. The ruin'd stationers against him bawl,
Dido in vain may weep, and ask relief; And Herringham degrades him from his stall. I blame her folly, whilst I share her grief. Burlesque, at least, our laughter may excite: A virtuous author, in his charming art, But a cold writer never can delight.
To please the sense needs not corrupt the heart : The Counter-Scume has more wit and art,
His heat will never cause a guilty fire: 'Than the stiff formal style of Gondibert.
To follow virtue then be your desire. Be not affected with that empty praise
In vain your art and vigour are exprest;
But above all, base jealousies avoid,
And scorns to grudge at his deserving friend.
By standing up, and pulling others down.
Never debase yourself by treacherous ways, Be not impatient to expose your fire;
Nor by such abject methods seek for praise: Nor imitate the Settles of our times,
Let not your only business be to write; Those tuneful readers of their own dull rhymes. Be virtuous, just, and in your friends delight. Who seize on all th' acquaintance they can meet, 'Tis not enough your poems be admird; And stop the passengers that walk the street: But strive your conversation be desir'd :