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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 since has Virgil writ!
How few are they who understand him yet I
Approach his altars with religious fear,
No vulgar deity inhabits there :
Heaven shakes not more at Jove's imperial nod,
Than poets should before their Mantuan God.
Hail mighty Maro! may that sacred name
Kindle my breast with thy celestial flame ;
Sublime ideas and apt words infufe.
The Mufe inftruct my voice, and thou inspire the Muse!
What I have instanc'd only in the best,
Is, in proportion, true of all the rest.
Take pains the genuine meaning to explore,
There sweat, there strain, tug the laborious oar;
every comment that
your care can find,
Some here, some 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,
Consult your author, with himself comparid ;
Who knows what blessing Phoebus may bestow,
And future ages to your labour owe ?
Such secrets are not easily found out,
But, once discover'd, leave no room for doubt.
Truth stamps conviction in your
ravilh'd breast, And peace and joy attend the glorious guest.
Truth still is one; truth is divinely bright,
No cloudy doubts obscure her native light ;
While in your thoughts you find the least debate,
You may confound, but never can translate.
Your style will this through all disguises show,
For none explain more clearly than they know..
He only proves he understands a text,
Whose exposition leaves it unperplex’d.
They who too faithfully on names insist,
Rather create than dissipate the mist;
And grow unjust by being over-nice,
(For superstitious virtue turns to vice.)
Let Crassus's + ghost and Labienus tell
How twice in Parthian plains their legions fell..
Since Rome hath been so jealous of her fame,
That few know Pacorus' or Monæses? name.
Words in one language elegantly us’d,
Will hardly in another be excus’d..
And some that Rome admir'd in Cæsar's time,
May neither suit our genius nor our clime.
The genuine sense, intelligibly told,
Shews a translator both discreet and bold,
Excursions are inexpiably bad;
And 'tis much safer to leave out than add.
Abstruse and mystic thoughts you must express
With painful care, but seeming easiness ;
For truth shines brightest through the plainest dress.
Hor. 3, Od. vi.
Th' Ænean Muse, when the appears in state,
Makes all Jove's thunder on her verses wait.
Yet writes sometimes as soft and moving things
As Venus speaks, or Philomela sings.
Your author always will the best advise,
Fall when he falls, and when he rises rise.
Affected noise is the most wretched thing,
That to contempt can empty scriblers bring.
Vowels and accents, regularly plac'd,
On even fyllables (and still the last)
Though gross innumerable faults abound,
In spite of nonsense, never fail of found.
But this is meant of even verse alone,
As being most harmonious and most known:
will unequal numbers try,
There accents on odd syllables must lie.
Whatever fifter of the learned Nine
"Does to your suit a willing ear incline,
Urge your success, deserve a lasting name,
.She 'll crown a grateful and a constant flame.
But, if a wild uncertainty prevail,
And turn your veering heart with every gale,
You lose the fruit of all
For the sad prospect of a just despair.
A quack. (too scandalously mean to name)
Had, by man-midwifery, .got wealth and fame :
As if Lucina had forgot her trade,
The labouring wife invokes his surer aid.
Well-season'd bowls the goffip's spirits raise,
Who, while the guzzles, chats the doctor's praise.;
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 such had left the nation thin,
In spite of all the children he brought in.
His pills as thick as hand-granadoes flew;
And where they fell, as certainly they New ;
His name struck every where as great a damp,
As Archimedes through the Roman camp.
With this, the doctor's pride began to cool ;
For smarting 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 poison’d too;
In this sad, case, 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 soul, 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 easy mind seduce,
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 passion can excite,
But what they feel transport them when they write.
been led through the Cumæan cave,
And heard th' impatient maid divinely rave ?
I hear her now; I see her rolling eyes :
And panting; Lo! the god, the god, the cries ;
With words not hers, and more than human sound
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
For ten inspir’d, ten thousand are pofsest.
Thus make the proper use of each extreme,
And write with fury, but correct with phlegm.
As when the chearful hours too freely pass,
And sparkling wine smiles in the tempting glass,
Your pulse advises, and begins to beat
Through every swelling vein a loud retreat :
So when a Mufe propitiously invites,
Improve her favours, and indulge her fights;