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How far is this from the Mæonian stile?
“ Muse, speak the man, who, since the siege of Troy, And chooses to be ignorant and proud,
“ So many towns, such change of manners saw." Rather thau own his ignorance, and learn ?
One with a flaslı begins, and ends in smoke,
The other out of smoke brings glorious light:
And (without raising expectation high)
Surprises us with daring miracles,
The bloody Lestrygons, Charybdis' gulph,
And frighted Greeks, who near the Ætna shore
Hear Scylla bark, and Polyphemus roar,
He doth not trouble us with Leda's eggs,
When he begins to write the Trojan war ;
Nor, writing the return of Diomed,
Nothing is idle, each judicious line
Insensibly acquaints us with the plot ;
He chooses only what he can improve,
And truth and fiction are so aptly mix’d,
That all seems uniform, and of a piece.
Now hear what every auditor expects,
If you intend that he should stay to hear
The epilogue, and see the curtain fall.
Mind how our tempers alter in our years,
One that hath newly learn d to speak and go,
And changes every hour his wavering mind.
A youth that first casts off his tutor's yoke,
Loves horses, hounds, and sports, and exercise,
Prone to all vice, impatient of reproof,
Proud, careless, fond, inconstant, and profuse.
Gain and ambition rule our riper years,
And make us slaves to interest and power.
Old men are only walking hospitals,
Where all defects and all diseases crowd,
With restless pain, and more tormenting fear;
Lazy, morose, full of delays and hopes, , Impatient, rash, inexorable, proud,
Oppress'd with riches which they dare not use;
Ilinatur'd censors of the present age,
And fond of all the follies of the past.
Thus all the treasure of our flowing years,
Our ebb of life for ever takes away.
your bold Muse dare tread unbeaten paths, Boys must not have th' ambitious care of men, And bring new characters upon the stage,
Nor men the weak anxieties of age.
But what we hear moves less than what we see;
But auditors must trust their ears and you;
Yet there are things improper for a scene,
Which men of judgment only will relate.
Medea must not draw her murdering knife,
And spill her children's blood upon the stage,
Nor Atreus there his horrid feast prepare.
Cadmus and Progne's metamorphosis,
(She to a swallow turn'd, he to a snake)
And whatsoever contradicts my sense,
I hate to see, and never can believe.
Five acts are the just measure of a play.
But for a business worthy of a God;
A chorus should supply what action wants,
And hath a generous and manly part;
Be perfect in the Greek originals, Bridles wild rage, loves rigid honesty,
Read them by day, and think of them by night. And strict observance of impartial laws,
But Plautus was admir'd in former time Sobriety, security, and peace,
With too much patience (not to call it worse): And begs the Gods who guide blind fortune's wheel, His harsh, unequal verse was music then, To raise the wretched and pull down the proud. And rudeness had the privilege of wit. But nothing must be sung between the acts,
When Thespis first expos’d the Tragic Muse, But what some way conduces to the plot.
Rude were the actors, and a cart the scene, First the shrill sound of a small rural pipe Where ghastly faces stain'd with lees of wine (Not loud like trumpets, nor adorn'd as now) Frighted the children, and amus'd the crowd; Was entertainment for the infant stage,
This Æschylus (with indignation) saw, And pleas'd the thin and bashful audience
And built a stage, found out a decent dress, Of our well meaning, frugal ancestors.
Brought vizards in (a civiler disguise), 'But when our walls and limits were enlarg’d, And taught men how to speak, and how to act. And men (grown wanton by prosperity)
Next Comedy appear’d with great applause,
Till her licentious and abusive tongue
Our writers have attempted every way;
Disdain'd to be beholden to the Greeks, And eloquence with all her pomp and charms And found fit subjects for her verse at home. Foretold us useful and sententious truths,
Nor should we be less famous for our wit, As those deliver'd by the Delphic God.
Than for the force of our victorious arms; The first tragedians found that serious style But that the time and care that are requir'd Too grave for their uncultivated age,
To overlook, and file, and polish well, And so brought wild and naked satyrs in,
Fright poets from that necessary toil. Whose motion, words, and shape, were all a farce, Democritus was so in love with wit, (As oft as decency would give them leave)
And some men's natural impulse to write, Because the mad ungovernable rout,
That he despis'd the help of art and rules, Full of confusion, and the fumes of wine,
And thought none poets till their brains were crackt; Lov'd such variety and antic tricks.
And this hath so intoxicated some, But then they did not wrong themselves so much That (to appear incorrigibly mad) To make a god, a hero, or a king,
They cleanliness and company renounce. (Stript of his golden crown and purple robe) For lunacy beyond the cure of art, Descend to a mechanic dialect,
With a long beard, and ten long dirty nails, Nor (to avoid such meanness) soaring high
Pass current for Apollo's livery. With empty sound and airy notions fly:
O my unhappy stars ! if in the Spring For tragedy should blush as much to stoop
Some physic had not cur'd me of the spleen, To the low mimic follies of a farce,
None would have writ with more success than l; As a grave matron would to dance with girls. But I must rest contented as I am, You must not think that a satiric style
And only serve to whet that wit in you, Allows of scandalous and brutish words,
To which I willingly resign my claim.
Yet without writing I may teach to write,
Wherein his wealth and ornaments consist,
Sound judgment is the ground of writing well; Improve the common and the plainest things. And when Philosophy directs your choice A satyr that comes staring from the woods,
To proper subjects rightly understood,
Words from your pen will naturally flow;
Who knows the duty of all ranks of men,
And what we owe our country, parents, friends, And often censures what the rabble likes.
How judges and how senators should act, Unpolish'd verses pass with many men,
And what becomes a general to do. And Rome is too indulgent in that point ;
Those are the likest copies, which are drawn But then to write at a loose rambling rate,
By the original of human life. 'In hope the world will wink at all our faults, Sometimes in rough and undigested plays Is such a rash ill-grounded confidence,
We meet with such a lucky character, As men may pardon but will never praise.
As, being humour'd right, and well pursued,
Succeeds much better than the shallow verse But no authority of gods nor men
Allow of any mean in poesy.
As an ill concert, and a coarse perfume,
Disgrace the delicacy of a feast,
And might with more discretion have been spar'd;
whose end is to delight,
Admits of no degrees, but must be still
Sublimely good, or despicably ill.
In other things men have some reason left,
And one that cannot dance, or fence, or run,
Despairing of success, forbears to try;
But all (without consideration) write ;
Can turn them into poets when they please.
But, Piso, you are of too quick a sight
Not to discern which way your talent lies,
Yet if it ever be your fate to write,
Mine and your father's, and not see the light
Till time and care have ripen'd every line.
What you keep by you, you may change and mend;
Orpheus, inspir'd by more than human power,
Did not, as poets feign, tame savage beasts,
But men as lawless and as wild as they,
And first dissuaded them from rage and blood.
Thus, when Amphion built the Theban wall, Profit with pleasure, carries all the votes.
They feign'd the stones obey'd his magic lute:
Poets, the first instructors of mankind,
pass with admiration through the world, Brought all things to their proper, native use ; And bring their author to eternal fame.
Some they appropriated to the Gods,
And some to public, some to private ends:
Promiscuous love by marriage was restrain'd,
Cities were built, and useful laws were made:
So great was the divinity of verse,
And such observance to a poet paid.
Then Homer's and Tyrtæus' martial Muse
Wahen’d the world, and sounded loud alarms.
To verse we owe the sacred oracles,
And our best precepts of morality:
Some have by verse obtain'd the love of kings,
(Who with the Muses ease their weary'd minds.) (Among his numerous absurdities)
Then blush not, noble Piso, to protect
What Gods inspire, and kings delight to hear.
Some think that poets may be form’d by art;
Others maintain that Nature makes them so:
Nor wit without the help of art can do;
He that intends to gain th’ Olympic prize,
Must use himself to hunger, heat, and cold,
Take leave of wine and the soft joys of love;
And no musician dares pretend to skill,
Without a great expense of time and pains:
Swells with the praises which he gives himself,
And, taking sanctuary in the crowd,
Brags of his impudence, and scorns to mend.
A wealthy poet takes more pains to hire
A flattering audience, than poor tradesmen da
To persuade customers buy their goods.
'Tis hard to find a man of great estate,
A poetaster, in his raging fit, That can distinguish flatterers from friends.
(Follow'd and pointed at by fools and boys) Never delude yourself, nor read your book
Is dreaded and proscrib’d by men of sense : Before a brib'd and fawning auditor;
They make a lane for the polluted thing, For he'll commend and feign an extasy,
And fly as from th' infection of the plague, Grow pale or weep, do any thing to please.
Or from a man whom, for a just revenge, True friends appear less mov'd than counterfeit; Fanatic phrenzy sent by Heaven pursues. As men that truly grieve at funerals,
If (in the raving of a frantic Muse) Are not so loud as those that cry for hire.
And minding more his verses than his way, Wise were the kings who never chose a friend, Any of these should drop into a well, Till with full cups they had unmask'd his soul, Though he might burst his lungs to call for help, And seen the bottom of his deepest thoughts. No creature would assist or pity him, You cannot arm yourself with too much care But seem to think he fell on purpose in. Against the smiles of a designing knave.
Hear how an old Sicilian poet dy'd ; Quintilius (if his advice were ask’d)
Empedocles, mad to be thought a god, Would freely tell you what you should correct, In a cold fit leap'd into Ætna's flames. Or, if you could not, bid you blot it out,
Give poets leave to make themselves away; And with more care supply the vacancy ;
Why should it be a greater sin to kill, But if he found you fond and obstinate
Than to keep men alive against their will? (And apter to defend than mend your faults), Nor was this chance, but a deliberate choice; With silence leave you to admire yourself,
For if Empedocles were now reviv'd, And without rival hug your darling book.
He would be at his frolic once again, The prudent care of an impartial friend
And his pretensions to divinity. Will give you notice of each idle line,
'Tis hard to say, whether for sacrilege, Shew what sounds harsh, and what wants orna. Or incest, or some more unheard-of crime, ment,
The rhyming fiend is sent into these men: Or where it is too lavishly bestow'd;
But they are all most visibly possest, Make you explain all that he finds obscure,
And, like a baited bear when he breaks loose, And with a strict inquiry mark your faults ; Without distinction seize on all they meet: Nor for these trifles fear to lose your love.
None ever 'scap'd that came within their reach, Those things which now seem frivolous and slight, Sticking like leeches, till they burst with blood; Will be of a most serious consequence,
Without remorse insatiably they read, When they have made you once ridiculous.
And never leave till they have read men dead.
POMFRET-A. D. 1677-1703.
With the best wines each vintage could afford.
Wine whets the wit, improves its native force,
Throws off the lees, the sediment of care.
May be debauch'd, and serve ignoble ends;
So, but too oft, the grape's refreshing juice
My house should no such rude disorders know,
As from high drinking consequently flow;
To the dishonour of indulgent Heaven.
If any neighbour came, he should be free,
Us’d with respect, and not uneasy be,
In my retreat, or to himself or me.
What freedom, prudence, and right reason gave,
All men may, with impunity, receive:
For what's forbidden us, 'tis death to touch.
That life may be more comfortable yet,
And all my joys refin'd, sincere, and great ;
Well-born, of humours suited to my own,
Discreet, and men as well as books have known:
From loose behaviour, or formality :
Airy and prudent; merry, but not light;
Quick in discerning, and in judging right:
Secret they should be, faithful to their trust;
In reasoning cool, strong, temperate, and just ;
Brisk in gay talking, and in sober grave:
Close in dispute, but not tenacious; try'd
By solid reason, and let that decide :
Not prone to lust, revenge, or envious hate;
Nor busy medlers with intrigues of state:
Not quarrelsome, but stout enough to fight;
As dying Martyrs, to their Maker too.
In their society I could not miss
A permanent, sincere, substantial bliss.
Would bounteous Heaven once more indulge, I'd
(For who would so much satisfaction lose,
As witty nymphs, in conversation, give)
Near some obliging modest fair to live:
For there's that sweetness in a female mind,
Which in a man's we cannot hope to find ;
That, by a secret, but a powerful art,
Winds up the spring of life, and does impart
Fresh vital heat to the transported heart.
I'd have her reason all her passion sway: