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Some judge of authors names, not works, and then
Nor praise nor blame the writings, but the men.
Of all this servile herd, the worst is he
That in proud dulnefs joins with quality. ;
415 A constant Critic at the great man's board, To fetch and
Lord. What woful stuff this madrigal would be, In some starv'd hackney-fonneteer, or me! But let a Lord once own the happy lines,
420 How the wit brightens ! how the style refines ! Before his facred name flies every fault, And each exalted stanza teems with thought!
The vulgar thus through imitation err; As oft the. Learn'd by being singular;
425 So much they scorn the crowd, that if the throng By chance go right, they purposely go wrong: So Schismatics the plain believers quit, And are but damn'd for having too much wit. Some praise at morning what they blame at night; 430 But always think the last opinion right. A Muse by these is like a mistress us'd, This hour she 's idoliz'd, the next abus'd; While their weak heads like towns unfortify'd, 'Twixt sense and nonsense daily change their fide. 435 Ask them the cause; they're wiser ftill, they fay; And still to-morrow 's wiser than to-day.
Ver. 413. Ed. 1. Nor praise nor damn, &c.
Ver. 428. Sa Schismatics the dull, &c.
We think our fathers fools; so wife we grow;
Our wiser fons, no doubt, will think us fo.
Qnce School-divines this zealous isle o'erspread; 440
Who knew most sentences was deepest read :
Faith, gospel, all, seem'd made to be disputed,
And none had sense enough to be confuted :
Scotists and Thomists, now in peace remain,
Amidst their kindred cobwebs in Duck-lane.
If Faith itself has different dresses worn,
What wonder modes in Wit should take their turn ?
Oft', leaving what is natural and fit,
The current folly proves the ready wit;
And authors think their reputation safe,
Which lives as long as fools are pleas’d to laugh.
Some, valuing those of their own side or mind,
Still make themselves the measure of mankind :
Fondly we think we honour merit then,
When we but praise ourselves in other men. 455
Parties in Wit attend on those of State,
And public faction doubles private hate.
Ver. 447. Between this and ver. 448.
The rhyming Clowns that gladded Shakespeare's age,
No more with crambo entertain the stage.
Who now in Anagrams their Patron praise,
Or fing their. Miftress in Acrostic lays;
Ev'n pulpits pleas’d with merry puns of yore;.
Now all are banish'd to th' Hibernian Thore !
Thus leaving what was natural and fit,
The'current folly prov'd their ready wit;
And authors thought their reputation safe,
Which liv'd as long as fools were pleas'd to laugh.
Pride, Malice, Folly, against Dryden rose,
In various shapes of Parsons, Critics, Beaux;
But sense surviv'd, when merry jests were paft;
For rising merit will buoy up at last.
Might he return, and bless once more our eyes,
New Blackmores and new Milbourns must arise :
Nay should great Homer lift his awful head,
Zoilus again would start up from the dead.
Envy will merit, as its shade, pursue;
But, like a shadow, proves the substance true :
For envy'd Wit, like Sol eclips'd, makes known
Th' opposing body's grossness, not its own.
When first that fun too powerful beams displays, 470
It draws up vapours which obscure its rays ;
But ev’n thofe clouds at last adorn its way,
Reflect new glories, and augment the day.
Be thou the first true merit to befriend; His praise is loft, who stays till all commend. 475 Short is the date, alas, of modern rhymes, And 'tis but just to let them live betimes. No longer now that golden age appears, When Patriarch-wits surviv'd a thousand years : Now length of Fame (our second life) is lost, And bare threescore is all ev'n that can boast; Our fons their fathers' failing language see, And such as Chaucer is, shall Dryden be. So when the faithful pencil has design'd Some bright idea of the master's mind,
Where VARIATION. Ver. 485. Ed. 1. Some fair idea, &c.
Where a new world leaps out at his command,
And ready Nature waits upon his hand;
When the ripe colours soften and unite,
And sweetly melt into just shade and light;
When mellowing years their full perfection give, 490
And each bold figure just begins to live,
The treacherous colours the fair art betray,
And all the bright creation fades away!
Unhappy wit, like most mistaken things,
Atones not for that envy which it brings,
In youth alone its empty praise we boast,
But soon the short-liv'd vanity is loft:
Like fome fair flower the early spring supplies,
That gayly blooms, but ev'n in blooming dies.
What is this Wit, which must our cares employ? 500
The owner's wife, that other men enjoy;
The most our trouble still when most admir'd,
And still the more we give, the more requir'd ;
Whose fame with pains we guard, but lose with ease,
Sure fome to vex, but never all to please ;
Ver. 490. Ed. 1. When mellowing time does, &c.
Ver. 492. The treacherous colours in few years decay,
Ver. 495. Repays not half that envy, &c.
Like some fair flower that in the spring does rise.
Ver. 500. What is this wit that does our cares employ?.
The more his trouble as the more admir'd;
Where wanted, scorn'd; and envy'd where acquir'd;
Maintain’d with pains, but forfeited with ease, &c.
'Tis what the vicious fear, the virtuous fhun,
By fools ’tis hated, and by knaves undone!
If Wit so much from ignorance undergo,
Ah, let not learning too commence its foe !
Of old, those met rewards, who could excell,
And such were prais'd who but endeavour'd well:
Though triumphs were to generals only due,
Crowns were reserv'd to grace the foldiers too.
Now, they who reach Parnassus' lofty crown,
Employ their pains to spurn some others down;
And while self-love each jealous writer rules,
Contending wits become the sport of fools :
But still the worst with most regret commend,
For each ill author is as bad a friend.
To what bafe ends, and by what abje&t ways,
Are mortals urg'd through facred luft of praise !
Ah, ne'er so dire a thirst of glory boaft,
Nor in the Critic let the man be loft.
Good-nature and good-fense muft ever join ;
To err, is human; to forgive, divine.
But if in noble minds some dregs remain
Not yet purgd off, of spleen and four disdain ;
Discharge that rage on more provoking crimes,
Nor fear à dearth in thefe flagitious times.
Ver. 508. Ed. 1. Too much does. Wit, &c.
Ver. 514. Now those that reach, &c.
Ver. 519. And each, &c.
Ver. 521. Are mortals urg'd by sacred, &c. ,