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Pride (of all others the most dangerous fault)
Proceeds from want of sense, or want of thought.
The men, 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 Mufe inftruct my voice, and thou infpire 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 sweat, 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 discover'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 obscure her native light;
While in your thoughts you find the leaft 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,
Whose expofition leaves it unperplex'd.
They who too faithfully on names insist,
Rather create than diffipate the mist ;
And grow unjust by being over-nice,
(For fuperftitious virtue turns to vice.) ·
Let Craffus's + ghost 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 discreet 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 eafiness ;
For truth fhines brightest through the plaineft drefs.
Th' Ænean 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 speaks, or Philomela fings.
Your author always will the best advife,
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 still 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 fuccefs, deferve a lafting 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
For the fad profpect of a juft despair.
A quack (too fcandaloufly 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 fpirits raife,
Who, while fhe guzzles, chats the doctor's praife.;
And largely, what she wants in words, fupplies,
With maudlin-eloquence of trickling eyes.
But what a thoughtlefs animal is man!
(How very active in his own trepan !)
For, greedy of physicians 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 convince 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 poifon'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, scarce 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 must, like lawyers, either starve or plead,
And follow, right or wrong, where guineas lead!
But you, Pompilian, wealthy, pamper'd heirs,
Who to your country owe your swords and cares,
Let no vain hope your eafy mind feduce,
For rich ill poets are without excuse.
'Tis very dangerous, tampering with a Muse,
The profit's small and you have much to lose;
For though true wit adorns your birth or place,
Degenerate lines degrade th' attainted race.
No poet any paffion can excite,
But what they feel transport them when they write.
Have you been led through the Cumaan cave,
And heard th' impatient maid divinely rave ?
I hear her now; I fee her rolling eyes:
And panting; Lo! the god, the god, the cries;
With words not hers, and more than human found
She makes th' obedient ghosts peep trembling through
But, though we must obey when heaven commands,,
And man in vain the sacred call withstands,
Beware what spirit rages in your breast;
For ten infpir'd, ten thousand are possest.
Thus make the proper ufe of each extreme,
And write with fury, but correct with phlegm.
As when the chearful hours too freely pass,
And sparkling wine fmiles in the tempting glass,
Your pulfe advifes, and begins to beat
Through every fwelling vein a loud retreat:
So when a Mufe propitiously invites,
Improve her favours, and indulge her flights;