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function; so wish I, in the behalf of depressed poetry, that there were more poels of your lordship's excel. lency and eminence. If poetry be a virtue, she is a ragged one, and never in any age went barer than

may be objected she never deserved less. To that I must not answer: but I am sure when she merited most she was always dissatisfied, or she would not have forsaken the most splendid courts in the world. Virgil and Hurace, favourites of the mightiest emperor, retired from him, preferring a mistress or a white boy, and two or three cheerful drinking friends in a country village, to all the magnificence of Romc; or, if sometimes they were snatched from their cooler pleasures to an imperial banquet, we may see by their verses in praise of a country lise, it was against their inclination ; wilness Horace, in his episode-Beatus ille qui procul, &c. part of his sixth satire, his epistle to Fusc. Arist. Virgil's Georgic, O Fortunatos nimium bona si; &c. all rendered by Mr. Cowley so copiously and na. turally, as no age gone before or coming after shall eqnal, though all heads join together to outdo him: I speak not of his exactness to a line, but of the whole. This then may be said as to the condition of poets in all times, few ever arrived to a middle fortune, most have lived at the lowest, none ever mounted to the highest; neither by birthfor nono was ever born a prince, as no prince, lo my remem. brance, was ever born a poet; nor by industry, besause they were always loo much transporied by their

STAT Magement we chamelions can pretend to, or rather the

own thoughts from minding the grave business of a world, nor of their humour: whereas, even slaves, the rubbish of the earth, have by most prodigious fortune gained a sceptre, and with their vile heails sullied the glories of a crown. Praise is the greatest encou

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manna that keeps soul and body together; we devour it as if it was angels' food, and vainly think we grow immortal. For my own part, I acknowlege I never received a better satisfaction from the applause of an audience than I have from your single judgment. Yon gaze at beauties and wink at blemishes, and do bolh so gracefully, that the first discovers the acuteness of your judgment, the other the excellency of your nature. And I can affirm to your lordship, there is nothing transports a poet, next to love, like commending in the right place; therefore, my lord, this play must be your's; and Alexander, whom I have raised from the dead, comes to you with the assurance answerable to his character and your virtuen You cannot expect him in his majesty of two thone sand years ago; I have only put his ashes in an urn, which are now offered, with all observance, to your lordship, by

My lord,
Your lordship's most humble,
obliged, and devoted servant,

NAT. Lee,

ALEXANDER THE GREAT;

OR,
THE RIVAL QUEENS.

A great and glorious flight of a bold, but frenzied imagination; having as much absurdity as sublimity, and as much extravagance as passion-The Poet, the genius, and the scholar, are every where visible. This Play acts well, and is still frequently performed.

TO

Mr. LEE on his ALEXANDER.

The blast of common censure could I fear,
Before your play my name should not appear;
For 't will be thought, and with some colour too,
I
pay

the bribe I first receiv'd from you;
That mutual vouchers for our fame we stand,
To play the game into each other's hand,
And as cheap penn’worths to ourselves afford,
As Bessus and the brothers of the sword.
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 spight,
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 in court is scarce so hard to get; In vain they crowd each other at the door, For ev’n reversions are all begg'd before; Desert, how known soe’er, is long delay'd, And then too, fools and knaves are better paid : 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 a way.

'Tis here as 't is at sea, who farthest goes,
Or dares the most, makes all the rest his foes.
Yet when some virtue much outgrows the rest
It shoots too fast and high to be exprest,
As his heroic worth struck envy dumb
Who took the Dutchman and who cut the boom.
Such praise is your's, while you the passions move,
That 't is 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 who are themselves all phlegm :
Prizes would be for lags of slowest pace
Were cripples made the judges of the race.
Despise those drones who praise while they accuse
The too much vigour of your youthful muse:
That humble stile which they their 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 dauber know
The worth of Titian or of Angelo?
Hard features ev'ry bungler can command;
To draw true beauty shows a master's hand.

John DRYDEN.

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