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With joy she sees the stream of Roman art
But tread with cautious step this dangerous ground, Beset with faithless. precipices round: Truth be your guide: disdain Ambition's call; 335 And if you fall with Truth, you greatly fall. "Tis Virtue's native lustre that must shine; The Poet can but set it in his line : And who unmoy'd with laughter can behold A sordid pebble meanly grac'd with gold? 340 Let real Merit then adorn your lays, For shame attends on prostituted praise : And all your wit, your most distinguish'd art, But makes us grieve you want an honest heart.
Nor think the Muse by SATIRE's Law confin'd: She yields description of the noblest kind. 346 Inferior art the Landscape may design, And paint the purple ev’ning in the line : Her daring thought essays a higher plan; Her hand delineates Passion, pictures Man. 350 And great the toil, the latent soul to trace, To paint the heart, and catch internal grace ; By turns bid Vice or Virtue strike our eyes, Now bid a Wolsey, or a Cromwell rise ;
Now with a touch more sacred and refin’d, 355
THROUGH Ages thus has SATIRE keenly shin'd, The Friend to Truth, to Virtue, and Mankind : Yet the bright flame from Virtue ne'er had sprung, And Man was guilty ere the Poet sung. This Muse in silence joy'd each better Age,
365 Till glowing crimes had wak'd her into rage. Truth saw her honest spleen with new delight, And bade her wing her shafts, and urge their flight. . First on the Sons of Greece she prov'd her art, And Sparta felt the fierce IAMBIC dart. 370 To LATIUM next, avenging SATIRE flew : The flaming faulchion rough LUCILIUso drew; With dauntless warmth in Virtue's cause engag’d, And conscious Villains trembled as he rag'd.
Then sportive HORACEcaught the gen'rous fire; For SATÍRE's bow resign'd the sounding lyre: 376 Each arrow polish'd in his hand was seen, And, as it grew more polish'd, grew more keen. His art conceal'd in study'd negligence, Politely sly, cajold the foes of sense :
1“ Archilochum proprio rabies armavit Iambo.” Hor.
323 He seem'd to sport and trifle with the dart, But while he sported, drove it to the heart.
In graver strains majestic PERSIUS wrote, Big with a ripe exuberance of thought: Greatly sedate, contemn'd a Tyrant's reign, 385 And lash'd Corruption with a calm disdain.
More ardent eloquence, and boundless rage, , Inflame bold JUVENAL's exalted page, His mighty numbers aw'd corrupted Rome, And swept audacious Greatness to its doom ; 390 The headlong torrent thund'ring from on high, Rent the proud rock that lately brav'd the sky.
But lo! the fatal Victor of Mankind ! Swoln Luxury !--pale Ruin stalks behind ! As countless Insects from the north-east pour, 395 To blast the Spring, and ravage ev'ry flow'r: So barb’rous Millions spread contagious death : The sick’ning Laurel wither'd at their breath. Deep Superstition's night the skies o’erhung, Beneath whose baleful dews the Poppy sprung. 400 No longer Genius woo'd the Nine to love, But Dulness nodded in the Muse's grove : Wit, Spirit, Freedom, were the sole offence, Nor aught was held so dangerous as Sense.
At length, again fair Science shot her ray, 405 Dawn'd in the skies, and spoke returning day. Now, SATIRE, triumph o'er thy flying foe, Now, load thy quiver, string thy slackend bow! 'Tis done!-See, great ERASMUS breaks the spell, And wounds triumphant Folly in her cell ! 410 (In vain the solemn Cowl surrounds her face, Vain all her bigot cant, her sour grimace,)
With shame compellid her leaden throne to quit,
'Twas then plain Donne in honest vengeance rose,
Yet scarce had SATIRE well resum'd her flame, (With grief the Muse records her Country's shame,) Ere Britain saw the foul revolt commence, 421 And treach'rous Wit began her war with Sense. Then rose a shameless mercenary train, Whom latest Tinie shall view with just disdain : A race fantastic, in whose gaudy line
425 Untutor'd thought, and tinsel beauty shine; Wit's shatter'd Mirror lies in fragments bright, Reflects not Nature, but confounds the sight. Dry Morals the Court-Poet blush'd to sing : 'Twas all his praise to say, “the oddest thing." Proud for a jest obscene, a Patron's nod, 431 To martyr Virtue, or blaspheme his God.
Ill-fated DRYDEN! who unmov'd can see Th' extremes of wit and meanness join'd in Thee! Flames that couldmount, and gain their kindred skies, Low creeping in the putrid sink of vice; 436 A Muse whom Wisdom woo'd, but woo'd in vain, The Pimp of Pow'r, the Prostitute to Gain : Wreaths that should deck fair Virtue's form alone, To Strumpets, Traitors, Tyrants vilely thrown: Unrivalld parts, the scorn of honest fame; 441 And Genius rise, a Monument of shame!
More happy France : immortal BOILEAU there Supported Genius with a Sage's care: