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While you, great Patron of mankind ! sustain
The balanc'd world, and open all the main,
Your country,

chief in arms, abroad defend,
At home with morals, arts, and laws amend;
How shall the Muse, from such a monarch, steal 5
An hour, and not defraud the public weal ?

Edward and Henry, now the boast of fame,
And virtuous Alfred, a more sacred name,
After a life of gen'rous toils endurid,
The Gaul subdu'd, or property secur'd,

Ambition humbled, mighty cities storm’d,
Or laws establish'd and the world reform'd ;
Clos'd their long glories with a sigh, to find
Th’ unwilling gratitude of base mankind !
All human virtue, to its latest breath,

15 Finds Envy never conquer'd but by Death. The great Alcides, ev'ry labor past, Had still this monster to subdue at last : Sure fate of all, beneath whose rising ray Each star of meaner merit fades away! 20 Oppress'd we feel the beam directly beat ; Those suns of glory please not till they set.

To thee the world its present homage pays, The harvest early, but mature the praise :


Great friend of liberty! in kings a name

23 Above all Greek, above all Roman, fame* ; Whose word is truth, as sacred and rever'd As Heav'n's own oracles froin altars heard. Wonder of kings ! like whom, to mortal eyes, None e'er has risen, and none e'er shall rise. 30 Just in one instance, be it yet

confest Your people, Sir, are partial in the rest; Foes to all living worth except your own, And advocates for folly dead and gone. Authors, like coins, grow dear as they grow old; It is the rust we value, not the gold.

36 Chaucer's worst ribaldry is learu'd by rote, And beastly Skelton heads of houses quote. One likes no language but the Fairy Queen; A Scot will fight for Christ's Kirk o’the Green; 10 And each true Briton is to Ben so civil, He swears the Muses met hiin at The Devil.

Though justly Greece her eldest sons admires, Why should not we be wiser than our sires ? In ev'ry public virtue we excel;

45 We build, we paint, we sing, we dance, as well; And learned Athens to our art must stoop, Could she behold us tumbling through a hoop.

If time improve our wits as well as wine, Say at vihat age a poet grows

divine ?

50 Shall we, or shall we not, account bim so, Who dy’d, perhaps, an hundred years ago ?

*. Te mostris ducibus, tą Graiis anicfefende.

End all dispute; and fix the year precise
When British Bards began t’immortalize ?

• Who lasts a century can have no flaw; 55 "I hold that wit a classic, good in law.'

Suppose he wants a year, will you compound ? And shall we deem him ancient, right, and sound, Or damn to all eternity at once At ninety-nine a modern and a dunce ? 60

• We shall not quarrel for a year or two; By courtesy of England he may do.'

Then, by the rule that made the horse-tail bare, I pluck out year by year, as hair by hair, And melt down Ancients like a heap of snow, 65 While you, to measure merits, look in Stowe, And estimating authors by the year, Bestow a garland only on a bier.

Shakespeare (whom you and ev'ry play-house bill
Style the Divine, the Matchless, what you will) 70
For gain, not glory, wing'd his roving flight,
And grew immortal in his own despight.
Ben, old and poor, as little seem'd to heed
The life to come, in ev'ry poet's creed.
Who now reads Cowley ? if he pleases yet, 75
His moral pleases, not his pointed wit;
Forgot his Epic, nay

Pindaric art ;
But still I love the language of his heart.

Yet surely, surely, these were famous men!
What boy but hears the sayings of old Ben?: 80
In all debates where critics bear a part,
Not one but nods, and talks of Jonson's art,

• Of Shakespear's nature, and of Cowley's wit;
• How Beaumont's judgment check'd what Fletcher

1 writ;

• How Shadwell hasty, Wycherly was slow; 85
• But, for the passions, Southern sure and Rowe,
• These, only these, support the crowded stage
• From eldest Heywood down to Cibber's age.'

All this may be ; the people's voicç is odd;
It is, and it is not, the voice of God.

To Gammer Gurton, if it give the bays,
And yet deny the Careless Husband praise,
Or say our fathers never broke a rule,
Why then, I say, the public is a fool.
But let them own that greater faults than we 95
They had, and greater virtues, I'll agree.
Spenser himself affects the obsolete,
And Sydney's verse halts ill on Roman feet;
Milton's strong pinion now not heav'n can bound,
Now, serpent-like, in prose he sweeps the ground
In quibbles angel and archangel join, 101
And God the Father turns a school-divine.
Not that I'd lop the beauties from his book,
Like slashing Bentley with his desp'rate hook;
Or damn all Shakespeare, like th' affected fool
At court, who hates whate'er he read at school.

But for the wits of either Charles's days,
The mob of gentlemen who wrote with case;
Sprat, Carew, Sedley, and a hundred more,
(Like twinkling stars the miscellanies o'er) 11

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One simile, that solitary shines
In the dry desert of a thousand lines,
Or lengthen'd thought, that gleams through many
Has sanctify'd whole poems for an age. [a page,
I lose my patience, and I own it too,

115 When works are censur'd, not as bad, but new; While if our elders break all Reason's laws, These fools demand not pardon, but applause.

On Avon's bank, where flow'rs eternal blow, If I but ask if any weed can grow ?

120 One tragic sentence if I dare deride, Which Betterton's grave action dignify'd, Or well-mouth'd Booth with emphasis proclaims, (Though but perhaps a muster-toll of names) How will our fathers rise up in a rage,

123 And swear all shame is lost in George's age ! You'd think no fools disgrac'd the former reign, Did not some grave examples yet remain ; Who scorn a lad should teach his father skill, And, having once been wrong, will be so still. He, who to seem more deep than you or I, 131 Extols old bards, or Merlin's Prophecy, Mistake him not; he envies, not admires, And to debase the sons exalts the sires, Had ancient times conspir'd to disallow 135 What then was new, what had been ancient now? Or what remain'd, so worthy to be read By learned critics, of the mighảy dead ?

In days of ease, when now the weary sword Was sheath'd, and Luxury with Charles restor’d;

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