Page images
PDF
EPUB

When first the triumphs of your sex were sung
By those old poets, beauty was but young, ,
And few admir'd the native red and white,
Till
poets

dress’d them up to charm the fight; ;
So beauty took on trust, and did engage
For sums of praises till she came to age.
But this long-growing debt to poetry
You justly, madam, have discharg’d to me,
When your applause and favor did infuse
New life to my condemn'd and dying muse.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Mr. L E E, on · his ALEXANDER.

TH

HE blast of common censure could I fear,

Before your play my name should not appear;
For 'twill be thought, and with some color too,
I
pay

the bribe I first receiv'd from you ;
That mutual vouchers for our fame we stand,
And play the game into each other's hand;
And as cheap pen'orths to ourselves afford,
As Bessus and the brothers of the sword,

[ocr errors]

Such libels private men may well endure,
When states and kings themselves are not secure:
For ill men, conscious of their inward guilt,
Think the best actions on by-ends are built.
And yet my silence had not 'scap'd their spite;
Then, envy had not suffer'd me to write ;
For, since I could not ignorance pretend,
Such merit I must envy or commend.
So

many candidates there stand for wit,
A place at court is scarce so hard to get :
In vain they crowd each other at the door ;
For e'en reversions are all begg'd before :
Desert, how known foe'er, is long delay'd ;
And then too fools and knaves are better pay’d.
Yet, as some actions bear so great a name,
That courts themselves are just, for fear of shame;
So has the mighty merit of your play
Extorted praise, and forc'd itself away.
'Tis here as 'tis at sea ; who farthest

goes,
Or dares the most, makes all the rest his foes.
Yet when some virtue much

ch outgrows the rest,
It shoots too fast, and high, to be expreft ;
As his heroic worth struck envy dumb,
Who took the Dutchman, and who cut the boom.

Such

Such praise is yours, while you the passions move,
That 'tis no longer feign'd, 'tis real love,
Where nature triumphs over wretched art;
We only warm the head, but you the heart.
Always you warm ; and if the rising year,
As in hot regions, brings the sun too near,
'Tis but to make your fragrant spices blow,
Which in our cooler climates will not grow.
They only think

you
animate

your

theme With too much fire, whoare themselves all phlegm. Prizes would be for lags of flowest pace, Were cripples made the judges of the race. Despise those drones, who praise, while they accuse The too much vigor of your youthful muse. That humble style which they your virtue make, Is in your power ; you need but stoop and take. Your beauteous images must be allow'd By all, but some vile poets of the crowd. But how should any sign-post dawber know The worth of Titian or of Angelo ? Hard features every bungler can command; To draw true beauty shews a master's hand.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

EPISTLE the FIFTH.

TO' THE

E A RL of ROSCOMMON,

ON HIS

Excellent Effay on TRANSLATED VERSE.

W

Hether the fruitful Nile, or Tyrian shore,

The seeds of arts and infant science bore, Tis sure the noble plant, translated first, Advanc'd its head in Grecian gardens nurst. The Grecians added verse: their tuneful tongue Made nature first, and nature's God their fong. Nor stopt translation here: for conqu’ring Rome, With Grecian spoils, brought Grecian numbers

home;

Enrich'd by those Athenian muses more,
Than all the vanquish'd world could yield before.
'Till barb'rous nations, and more barb'rous times,
Debas'd the majesty of verse to rhimes ;
Those rude at first: a kind of hobbling prose,
That limp'd along, and tinkled in the close.
But Italy, reviving from the trance
Of Vandal, Goth, and Monkish ignorance,

}

With pauses, cadence, and well-vowell'd words,
And all the graces a good ear affords,
Made rhyme an art, and Dante's polith'd page
Reftor'd a silver, not a golden age.
Then Petrarch follow'd, and in him we see,
What rhyme improv'd in all its height can be :
At best a pleasing found, and fair barbarity.
The French pursu'd their steps ; and Britain, laft,
In manly sweetness all the rest furpass’d.
The wit of Greece, the gravity of Rome,
Appear exalted in the British loom:
The Muses empire is restor'd again,
In Charles his reign, and by Roscommon's pen.
Yet modestly he does his work survey,
And calls a finish'd Poem an Effay;
For all the needful rules are scatter'd here;
Truth smoothly told, and pleasantly severe ;
So well is art disguis’d, for nature to appear.
Nor need those rules to give translation light:
His own example is a flame so bright;
That he who but arrives to copy well,
Unguided will advance, unknowing will excel:
Scarce his own Horace could such rules ordain,
Or his own Virgil fing a nobler strain.

« PreviousContinue »