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He seem'd to sport and trifle with the dart,
In graver strains majestic Persius wrote,
More ardent eloquence, and boundless rage, Inflame bold JUVENAL's exalted page, His mighty numbers awd 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, Satíre, 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 compelld her leaden throne to quit, And own the force of Reason urg'd by Wit.
'Twas then plain Donne in honest vengeance rose, His Wit harmonious, tho’ his Rhyme was prose: He 'midst an age of Puns and Pedants wrote 417 With genuine sense, and Roman strength of thought.
Yet scarce had SATIRE well resum'd her flame, (With grief the Musé 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 Time 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 unmoy'd can see Th' extremes of wit and meanness join'd in Thee! Flames that could mount, 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: Unrivall d 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:
Him with her love propitious Satire blest, 445
But see at length the British Genius smile,
460 While self-seen Virtue in the faithful line With modest joy surveys her form divine. But oh, what thoughts, what numbers shall I find, But faintly to express the Poet's mind! Who yonder Star's effulgence can display, 465 Unless he dip his pencil in the ray? Who paint a God, unless the God inspire ? What catch the Lightning, but the speed of fire ? So, mighty Pope, to make thy Genius known, All pow'r is weak, all numbers—but thy own. 470 Each Muse for thee with kind contention strove, For thee the Graces left th' IDALIAN grove; With watchful fondness o'er thy cradle hung, Attun'd thy voice, and form'd thy infant tongue. Next, to her Bard majestic Wisdom came;
475 The Bard enraptur'd caught the heav'nly flame :
With taste superior scorn'd the venal tribe,
491 Burns clear and constant, like the source of day: Like this, its beam prolific and refind, Feeds, warms, inspirits, and exalts the mind; Mildly dispels each wintry Passion's gloom, 495 And opens
all the Virtues into bloom. This Praise, immortal Pope, to thee be giv'n: Thy Genius was indeed a Gift from Heav'n. Hail, Bard unequallid, in whose deathless line Reason and Wit, with strength collected shine; 500 Where matchless Wit but wins the second praise, Lost, nobly lost, in Truth's superior blaze. Did Friendship e'er mislead thy wand'ring Muse? That Friendship sure may plead the great excuse : That sacred Friendship which inspir'd thy Song, Fair in defect, and amiably wrong.
506 Error like this ev'n Truth can scarce reprove; 'Tis almost Virtue when it flows from Love.
Ye deathless Names, ye Sons of endless praise, By Virtue crown'd with never-fading bays! 510 Say, shall an artless Muse, if you inspire, Light her pale lamp at your immortal fire? Or if, O WARBURTON, inspir'd by You, The daring Muse a nobler path pursue, By you inspir'd, on trembling pinion soar, 515 The sacred founts of social bliss explore, In her bold numbers chain the Tyrant's rage, And bid her Country's Glory fire her page: If such her fate, do thou, fair Truth, descend, And watchful guard her in an honest end : 520 Kindly severe, instruct her equal line To court no Friend, nor own a Foe but thine. But if her giddy eye should vainly quit Thy sacred paths, to run the maze of wit; If her apostate heart should e'er incline 525 To offer incense at Corruption's shrine; Urge, urge thy pow'r, the black attempt confound, And dash the smoking Censer to the ground. Thus awd to fear instructed Bards may see, That Guilt is doom'd to sink in Infamy. 530