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Fondly we think we honour merit then, When we but praise our selves in other men. Parties in wit attend on those of state, And publick faction doubles private hate. Pride, malice, folly, against Dryden rose, In various shapes of parfons, critics, beaus; But fenfe furviv'd, when merry jests were paft; For rising merit will buoy up at last. Might he return and bless once more our eyes, New Blackmores and new Milbourns muft arise: Nay should great Homer lift his awful head, Zoilus again would start up from the dead. Envy will merit, as its shade, pursue; But like a shadow, proves the fubstance true. For envy'd wit, like Sol eclips'd, makes known Th' opposing body's grofsness, not its own. When first that fun too pow'rful beams displays, It draws up vapours which obscures its rays; But ev’n those clouds at last adorn its way, Reflect new glories, and augment the day. Be thou the first true merit to befriend, His praise is lost, who stays till all commend. Short is the date, alas! of modern rhymes, And 'tis but just to let 'em liye betimes.
No longer now that golden age appears,
When Patriarch-wits surviv'd a thousand years;
Now length of fame (our second life) is loft,
And bare threescore is all ev'n that can boast;
Our fons their father's failing language fee,
And such as Chaucer is, shall Dryden be.
So when the faithful pencil has defign'd
Some bright idea of the master's mind,
Where a new world leaps out at his command,
And ready nature waits upon his hand;
When the ripe colours soften and unite,
And sweetly melt into just shade and light,
When mellowing years their full perfection give,
And each bold figure just begins to live;
The treach'rous colours the fair art betray,
And all the bright creation fades away!
Unhappy wit, like most mistaken things,
Atones not for that envy, which it brings.
In youth alone its empty praise we boast,
But soon the short-liv'd vanity is loft!
Like some fair flow'r the early spring supplies,
That gaily blooms, but evin in blooming dies.
What is this wit which must our cares employ?
The owner's wife, that other men enjoy ;
Still most our trouble when the most admir'd;
The more we give, the more is. ftill requir'd:
The fame with pains we gain, but lose with ease,
Sure some to vex, but never all to please;
'Tis what the vicious fear, the virtuous fhun;
By fools 'tis hated, and by knaves undone !
If wit so much from ign'rance undergo,
Ah! let not learning too commence its foe !
Of old, those met rewards who could excell,
And such were prais:d who but endeavour'd well:
Tho' triumphs were to Gen’rals only due,
Crowns were reserv'd to grace the Soldiers too.
Now, they who reach Parnaffus' lofty crown,
Employ their pains to spurn some others down:
And while self-love each jealous writer rules,
Contending wits become the sport of fools.
But still the worst with moft regret commend,
For each ill author is as bad a friend.
To what bafe ends, and by what abject ways,
Are mortals urg'd thro' facred luft of praise;
Ah! ne'er so dire a thirs of glory boast,
Nor in the Critic let the Man be loft!
Good nature and good sense must ever join;
To err is humane, to forgive, divine.
But if in noble minds some dregs remain,
Not yet purg'd off, of spleen and sow'r disdain,
Discharge that rage on more provoking crimes,...
Nor fear a dearth in these flagitious times.
No pardon vile obscenity fhould find,
Tho' wit and art conspire to move your mind ; -
But dulness with obscenity muft prove
As fhameful fure as impotence in love.
In the fat age of pleasure, wealth, and eafe,
Sprung the rank weed, and thriv'd with large increase;.
When Love was all an eafy Monarch's care;
Seldom at council, never in a war:
Jilts ruld the state, and statesmen farces writ;
Nay wits had pensions, and young Lords had wit-
The fair fate panting at a courtier's play,
And not a mask went unimprov'd away:
The modeft fan was lifted up no more,
And virgins smild at what they bluch'd before
The following licence of a foreign reign
Did all the dregs of bold Socinus drain;
Then firft the Belgian morals were extolld;
We their religion had, and they our gold:
Then unbelieving priefts reform'd the nation,
And taught more pleasant methods of salvation;
Where heav'ns free subjects might their rights dispute
Left God himself should seem too absolute.
Pulpits their sacred fatyre learn'd to spare,
And vice admir'd to find a flatt'rer there !
Encourag'd thus, wit's Titans brav'd the skies,
And the press groan'd with licenc'd blasphemies
These monsters, critics ! with your darts engage,
Here point your thunder, and exhauft your rage !
Yet shun their fault, who scandalously nice,
Will needs mistake an author into vice;
All seems infected that th' infected spy,
As all looks yellow to the jaundic'd eye.
Learn then what morals critics ought to show,
For 'tis but half a judge's talk, to know.
'Tis not enough, wit, art, and learning join;
In all you speak, let truth and candor shine:
That not alone what to your judgment's due,
All may allow; but seek your friendship too.
Be filent always when you doubt your sense;
And speak, tho? sure, with seeming diffidence :
Some pofitive, persifting fops we know,
That, if once wrong, will needs be always fo;
But you, with pleasure own your errors past,
And make, each day, a critic on the left.