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EPISTLE the FIRST.

TO MY HONORED FRIEND

Sir ROBERT HOWARD

,

ON HIS

EXCELLENT PO E MS.

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S there is music uninform’d by art

In those wild notes, which with a merry heart The birds in unfrequented shades express, Who, better taught at home, yet please us less:

So in your verse a native sweetness dwells,
Which shames composure, and its art excels.
Singing no more can your soft numbers grace,
Than paint adds charms unto a beauteous face.
Yet as, when mighty rivers gently creep,
Their even calmness does suppose them deep;
Such is

your muse : no metaphor swell’d high
With dangerous boldness lifts her to the sky:
Those mounting fancies, when they fall again,
Shew sand and dirt at bottom do remain.
So firm a strength, and yet withal so sweet,
Did never but in Samson's riddle meet.
'Tis strange each line so great a weight should bear;
And yet no sign of toil, no sweat appear.
Either

your art hides art, as stoics feign Then least to feel, when most they suffer pain ; And we, dull souls, admire, but cannot see What hidden springs within the engine be: Or 'tis some happiness that still pursues Each act and motion of your graceful mufe. Or is it fortune's work, that in your head The curious net that is for fancies spread, Lets thro its melhes every meaner thought, While rich ideas there are only caught? Sure that's not all; this is a piece too fair To be the child of chance, and not of care.

No atoms casually together hurl'd
Could e’er produce so beautiful a world.
Nor dare I such a doctrine here admit,
As would destroy the providence of wit.
'Tis

your strong genius then which does not feel
Those weights, would make a weaker spirit reel.
Το carry weight, and run fo lightly too,
Is what alone your Pegasus can do.
Great Hercules himself could ne'er do more,
Than not to feel those heavens and gods he bore.
Your easier odes, which for delight were penn'd,
Yet our instruction make their second end :
We're both enrich'd and pleas’d, like them that woe
At once a beauty, and a fortune too.
Of moral knowlege poesy was queen,
And still she might, had wanton wits not been;
Who, like ill guardians, liv'd themselves at large,
And, not content with that, debauch'd their

charge. Like some brave captain, your successful pen Restores the exil'd to her crown again : And gives us hope, that having seen the days When nothing flourish'd but fanatic bays, All will at length in this opinion rest, " A sober prince's government is best.”

This is not all; your art the way has found
To make th'improvement of the richest ground,
That foil which those immortal laurels bore,
That once the sacred Maro's temples wore.
Elisa's griefs are fo express’d by you,
They are too eloquent to have been true.
Had she so spoke, Æneas had obey'd
What Dido, rather than what Jove had said.
If funeral rites can give a ghost repose,
Your mufe so justly has discharged those,
Elisa's shade may now its wandring cease,
And claim a title to the fields of

peace.
But if Æneas be oblig'd, no less
Your kindness great Achilles doth confess;
Who, dress’d by Statius in too bold a look,
Did ill become those virgin robes he took.
To understand how much we owe to you,
We must your numbers, with your author's; view:
Then we shall see his work was lamely rough,
Each figure stiff, as if design'd in buff:
His colors laid so thick on every place,
As only shew'd the paint, but hid the face.
But as in perspective we beauties see,
Which in the glass, not in the picture, be;
So here our sight obligingly mistakes.
That wealth, which his your bounty only makes.

1

Thus vulgar dishes are, by cooks disguis’d,
More for their dressing, than their substance

· priz’d.
Your curious notes fo search into that age,
When all was fable but the sacred page,
That, since in that dark night we needs must stray,
We are at least milled in pleasant way.
But what we most admire, your verse no less
The prophet than the poet doth confess.
Ere our weak eyes discern'd the doubtful streak
Of light, you saw great Charles his morning break.
So skilful seamen ken the land from far,
Which shews like mists to the dull passenger.
To Charles
your muse first

pays

her duteous love,
As still the antients did begin from Jove.
With Monk you end, whose name preserv'd shall be,
As Rome recorded Rufus' memory,
Who thought it greater honor to obey
His country's interest, than the world to fway.
But to write worthy things of worthy men,
Is the peculiar talent of your pen:
Yet let me take

your
mantle

up,

and I Will venture in your right to prophesy. “ This work, by merit first of fame secure, “ Is likewise happy in its geniture :

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