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Yet, lest you think I rally more than teach, Or praise malignly arts I cannot reach, Let me for once presunie to’instruct the times, To know the poet from the man of rhymes : 'Tis he who gives my breast a thousand pains, Can make me feel each passion that he feigus; Enrage, compose, with more than magic art, With pity and with terror tear my heart, And snatch me o'er the earth, or through the air, To Thebes, to Athens, when be will, and where.
But not this part of the poetic state Alone deserves the favour of the great. Think of those authors, sir, who would rely More on a reader's sense than gazer's eye. Or who shall wander where the Muses sing? Who climb their mountain, or who taste their spring? How shall we fill a library with wit, When Merlin's cave is half unfurnish'd yet?
My liege ! why writers little claim your thonght I guess, and, with their leave, will tell the fault. We poets are (upon a poet's word) Of all mankind the creatures most absurd : The season when to come, and when to go, To sing, or cease to sing, we never know; And if we will recite nine hours in ten, You lose your patience just like other men. Then, too, we hurt ourselves when, to defend A single verse, we quarrel with a friend; Repeat, unask'd; lament, the wit's too fine For vulgar eyes, and point out every line : But most when straining with too weak a wing We needs will write epistles to the king; And from the moment we oblige the town, Expect a place or pension from the crowd ;
Or dub'd historians, by express command,
Yet think, great sir! (so many virtues shown)
Charles, to late times to be transmitted fair, Assign'd his figure to Bernini's care; And great Nassau to Kneller's hand decreed To fix him graceful on the bounding steed; So well in paint and stone they judg'd of merit: But kings in wit may want discerning spirit. The hero William, and the martyr Charles, One knighted Blackmore,and one pension'dQuarles, Which made old Ben and surly Dennis swear • No Lord's anointed, but a Russian bear.'
Not with such majesty, such bold relief, The forms august of king, or conquering chief, E'er swelld on marble, as in verse have shin'd (In polish'd verse) the manners and the mind. O! could I mount on the Mæonian wing, Your arms, your actions, your repose, to sing ! What seas you travers’d, and what fields you fought! Your country's peace how oft, how dearly bought! How barbarous rage subsided at your word, And nations wonderd while they dropt the sword ! How, when you podded, o'er the land and deep Peace stole her wing, and wrapt the world in sleep, Till earth's extremes your mediation own, And Asia's tyrants tremble at your throneBut verse, alas ! your majesty disdains : And I'm not us'd to panegyric-strains.
The zeal of fools offends at any time,
BOOK II. EPISTLE II.
Ludentis speciem dabit, et torquebitur.
Dear col’nel, Cobham's and your country's friend!
Take him with all his virtnes, on my word ;
If, after this, you took the graceless lad,
Consider then, and judge me in this light;
In Anna's wars a soldier, poor and old,
More bonours, more rewards, attend the brave.'
Bred up at home, full early I begun
Years following years steal something every day, At last they steal us from ourselves away; In one our frolics, one amusements end, In one a mistress drops, in one a friend. This subtle thief of life, this paltry time, What will it leave me if it snatch my rhyme? If every wheel of that unwearied mill, That turn'd ten thousand verses, now stands still?
But, after all, what would you have me do, When out of twenty I can please not two ?