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Most puets fall into the groffest faules,
Homer first taught the world in epic verse Deluded by a seeming excellence :
To write of great commanders and of kings. By striving to be short, they grow obscure,
Elegies were at first design'd for grief, And when they would write smoothly, they want Though pow we use them to express our joy: strength,
But to whole Mule we owe that sort of verlo,
Rage with lambicks arm'd Archilochus,
Fierce, lofty, rapid, whose con manding sound
Gods, heroes, conquerors, Olympic crowns, The meanest workman in th' Æmilian square, Love's pleasing cares, and the free joys of wine, May grave the nails, or imitate the hair,
Are proper subjcds for the Lyric foug. But cannot finish what he hath begun;
Why is he honour'd with a poet's name, What can be more ridiculous than he?
Who neither knows ner would observe a rule; For one or two good features in a face,
And chooses to be ignorant and proud, Where all the rest are scandalously ill,
Rather than own his ignorance, and learn? Make it but more remarkably desorm'd.
Let every thing have its due place and time. Let pocts match their subject to their strength, A convic subject loves an humble verse, And often try what weight they can support, Thyelles scorns a low and comic Ityle. And what their shoulders are too weak to bear. Yet comedy sometimes may raise hier voice, After a serious and judicious choice,
And Chronics be allow'd tu suam and rail : Method and eloquence will never fail.
Tragedians too lay by their itate to grieve; As well the force as ornament of verse
Peleus and Telephus exil'd and poor, Consists in choosing a fit time for things,
Forget their swelling and gigantic words. And knowilig when a Muse may be indulg'd He chat would have fpcétators share los grick, In her full flight, and when she should be curb’d. Must write not only well, but movingly,
Words must be chosen, and be pluc'd with ikill : And raise nien's passions to what height he will. You gain your point, when by the noble art We weep and laugh, as we fce others do : Of good connexion, an unusual word
He only makes me fud who shews the way, Is made at first familiar to our ear.
And first is sad himsell; then, Telephus,
And fancy all your miseries my own :
But, if you act then ill, I sleep or laugh; But he that hopes to have new words allow'd, Your looks must alter, as your subject does, Must so derive them from the Grecian spring, From kind to fierce, from wanton to levere: As they may seem to flow without contraint. For nature forms, and softens us within, Can an impartial reader discommend
And writes our fortune's changes in our face. In Varius, or in Virgil, what he likes
Pleasure inchants, impetuous rage transports, In Plautus or Cæcilius? Why should I
And grief dejects, and wrings the tortur'd luul, Be envy'd for the little I invent,
Arid chese are all interpreted by speech ; When Ennius and Cato's copious Ityle
But he whose words and fortunes disagree, Have fo enrich'd, and so adorn'd our tongue ? Absur'd, unpicy'd, grows a public jelt. Men ever had, and ever will have, leave
Observe the characters of those that speak, To coin new words well suited to the age.
Whether an honeft servant, or a cheat, Words are like leaves, some wither every year, Or one whose blood boils in his youthful veins, And every year a younger race succeeds.
Or a grave matron, or a busy nurse, Death is a tribute all things owe to fate;
Extorting merchants, carcfui huibandmen, The Lucrine mole (Cæsar's flupendous work) Argives or 'Thebans, Alians or Greeks. Protects our navies from the raging north;
Follow report, or fcign coherent things; And (since Cethegus drain'd the Pontine lake) Describe Achilles, as Achilles was, We plow and reap where former ages row'd. impatient, rash, inexorable, proud, jee how the Tiber (whose licentious waves Scorning all judges, and all law but arms; so often overflow'd the neighbouring fields) Medca must be all revenge and blood, Now runs a smooth and inoffensive course,
Ino all tears, Ixion all deceit, Confin'd hy our great Emperor's command : lo must wander, and Orestes mourn. Yet this, and they, and all, will be forgot;
If your bold Mufe dare tread unbeaten paths, Why then should words challenge eternity, And bring new characters upon the stage, When greatest men and greatest actions die ? Be sure you keep them up to their first height. Use may revive the obsoletelt words,
New subjects are not calily explain'd, And banish those that now are most in vogue; And you had better choose a well-known theme Use is the judge, the law, and rule of speech. Than truit to an invention of your own; VOL. II.
For what originally others writ,
And spill her childrens blood upon the stage, May be so well disguis'd, and so improv'd, Nor Atreus there his horrid feast prepare. That with some justice it may pass for yours;
Cadmus and Progne's metamorphofis, But then you muit not copy trivial things,
(She to a swal ow turn'd, he to a snake) Nr word for word too faithfully translate, And whatsoever contradicts my sense, Nor (as som fervile imitators do)
I hate to fee, and never can believe. Preferibe at fir such frid uneasy rules,
Five acts are the juft measure of a play. As you muit ever slavishly observe,
Never pretume to make a God appear, Or all the laws of decency renounce.
But for a butincts worthy of a God; Begin not as th' old poetafter did,
And in one scene no more than three should fpeal. " Troy's famous war, and Priam's fate, I fing." A chorus should supply what adion wants, In what will all this oitentation end?
And hath a generous and manly part; The labouring mountain scarce brings forth a Bridles wild rate, loves riyid honesty, moufi :
And Itrict observance of impartial laws, How far is this from the Mxonian ftile?
Sonriety, security, and poace, Muie, speak the man, who, tice the siege of Aud bags the Goris who guide blind fortez's “ Trov,
wheci, “ So many towns, such change of manners saw." To raise the wret hed, and pull down the pranda One with a flah begins, and ends in finoke, B'it nothing must be sung between the arts, The other out of smoke brings glorious light. But what fome way conduces to the pit. And (ivithout railing expectation high)
Firit the shriil sound of a small rural supe Surprizes us with daring nuiracles,
Nit loud like trumpets, por adorn'da:003) The bloody Leférygons, Charybdis' gulph,
Was entertainment for the infant stage. And frighted Grecks, who near the Einı fhore, And pleas'd the thin and bathsul audience Hear Scylla bark, and Polyphemus roar.
Of our well-meaning, frural ancitors. He doth not trouble us with Leda's eggs,
But when our wails an i limits were colarg'd, When he begins to write the Trojan war;
And men (grown waston by profperity) Nor, writingethe return of Diomed,
Study'd new arts of luxury and ease, Go back as far as Melcager's death:
The verle, the music, and the secue, 's impror'; Nothing is idle, each judicious line
For how should ignorance be judge of wk, Intensibly acquaints us with the plot;
Or men of fense applaud the jeft of fooks? He chooses only what he can improve,
Then came rich cloaths and gracelul action in, And truth and fidion are fo aptly mix'd
Then inftruments were taught more mult That all fcenis uniform, and of a piece. Now hear what every auclitor expects;
And eloquence with all her pomp and charms If you intend that he should stay to hear
Foretold us useful and sententious truths, The epilogue, and see the curtain fall;
As those deliver'd by the Delphic God. Mind how our tempers alter in our years,
The first tragedians found that serious flyk And by that rule form all your characers. Too grave for their uncultivated age, One that hath newly learn’d to speak and go, And so brought wild and naked satyrs in, Loves childish plays, is soon provok'd and pleas'd, Whose motion, words, and shape, were alla And changes every hour his wavering mind.
farce, A youth that first cafts off his tutor's yoke, (As oft as decency would give them leave) Loves horses, hounds, and sports, and exercise, Because the mad ungovernable rout, Prone to all vice, inipatient of reproof,
Full of confufion, and the fumes of wine, Proud, careless, fond, inconstant, and profuse. Lov'd such varicty and antic tricks. Gain and ambition rule our riper years,
But then they did not wrong themselves fo med And make us slaves to interest and power,
To make a god, a hero, or a king, Old men are only walking hospitals,
(Stript of his golden crown and purple robe) Where all defects and all difcales crowd
Descend to a mechanic dialet, With restless pain, and more tormenting fear, Nor (to avoid such meannels) foaring high Lazy, morose, full of delays and hopes,
With empty found and airy notions fly; Oppress’d with riches which they dare not use; For tragedy should blush as much to itoop Ill-natur'd cenfors of the present age,
To the low mimic follies of a farce, And fond of all the follies of the past.
As a grave matron would to dance with girls: Thus all the treasure of our flowing years,
You must not think that a satiric flyle Our ebb of life for ever takes away.
Allows of fiandalous and brutish words, Boys must not have th' ambitious care of men, Or the confounding of your chara&ers. Nor men the weak anxieties of age.
Begin with Truth, then give Invention fcope, Some things are acted, others only told; And if your style be natural and smooth, But what we hear moves less than what we fee; All men will try, and hope to write as well; Spectators only have their eyes tu truit,
And (not without much pains) be undeceivid. But auditore mult truit their cars and you; So much good method and connexion may Yerhere are things improper for a feene, Improve the common and the plainest things Which neu of judgment only will relate. A fatyr that comes staring from the woods, Mcdca mut not draw her murdering knife, Muit not at first speak like an orator :
But, though his language should not be refin'd, And what we owe our country, parents, friends, It must not be obsecne and impudent;
How judges and how senators should act, The better fort abhors scurrility,
And what becomes a general to do; And often censures what the rabble likes.
Those are tlte likest copies, which are drawn Unpolifa'd verses pats with many men,
By the original of human life. And Rome is too indulgent in that point ;
Sometimes in rough and undigesled plays But then to write at a loose rambling rate,
We meet with such a lucky character, In hope the world will wink at all our faults, As, being humour'd right, and will pursued, is such a rath ill-grounded confidence,
Succeeds much better than the shallow verse As men may pardon, but will never praise. And chiming trifles of more ftudious pens. Be perted in the Greek originals,
Greece had a genius, Greece had eloquence,
Our Roman youth is diligently taught
And the first words that children learn to speak And rudenesi had the privilege of wit.
Are of the value of the names of coin ;
But you, brave youth, wife Numa's worthy And built a itage, found out a decent dress,
heir, Brought vizards in (a civiler disguise),
Remember of what weirht your judgment is, And taught men how to speak and how to act. And never venture to commend a book, Next Comedy appear'd with great applause, That has not pals'd all judges and all tests. Till her licentious and abusive tongue
A poet should instruct, or please, or both : Waken’d the magiftrates coercive power,
Let all your precepts be succin& and clear, And forc'd it to suppress her insolence.
That ready wits may comprehend them foon,
And faithful memories retain them long;
Never be lo conceited of your parts,
Or venture to bring in a child alive,
That Canibals have murder'd and devour'd.
Aufterity offends aspiring ; juths;
But he that joins intruction with delight, Dernocritus was fo in love with wit,
Profit with pleasure, carries all the votes: And some men's natural impulse to write,
These are the volumes that enrich the shops, That he despis'd the help of art and rules, These pass with admiration through the world, And thought none poets till their brains were And bring their author to eternal fame, crackt;
Be not too rigidly cenforious, And this hath so intoxicated some,
A ftring may jar in the best master's hand, That (to appear incorrigibly mad)
And the most skilful archer miss his aim; They cleanliness and company renounce
But in a poem elegantly writ, For lunacy beyond the cure of art,
I would not quarrel with a slight mistake, With a long beard, and ten long dirty nails, Such as our nature's frailty may excuse; Pass current for Apollo's livery.
But he that hath been often told his fault,
And still persists, is as impertinent
When such a positive abandon'd lop
(Among his numerous abfurdities) To which I willingly resign my claim.
Srumbles upon some tolerable linc, Yet without writing I may teach to write,
I fret to see them in such company, Tell what the duty of a poet is;
And wonder what magic they came there, Wherein his wealth and ornaments consist, But in long works fleep will sometimes surAnd how he may be form’d, and how improv'd,
prize; What fit, what not, what excellent or ill.
Homer himself hath been observ'd to nod. Sound judgment is the ground of writing well; Poenis, like pictures, are of different forts, And when Philosophy directs your choice
Some better at a distance, others near, To proper subjects rightly understood,
Some love the dark, fomne choose the clearest Words from your pen will naturally flow;
light, He only gives the proper characters,
And boldly challenge the most piercing eye; Who knows the duty of all ranks of men, Some please for once, fome will for ever please.
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But, Piso, (though your knowledge of the world, Without a great expence of time and pains; Juin'd with your father's precepts, make you But every little busy scribbler now wile)
Swells with the praises which he gives himsel; Remember this as an iniportant truth :
And, taking san&uary in the crowd, Some things admit of mediocrity,
Brags of his impudence, and scoros to mend. A councilor, or pleader at the bar,
A wealthy poet takes more pains to hire May want Metlala's powerful eloquence,
A flattering audience, than poor tradesmen do Or be less read than deep Cascellius;
To persuade customers to buy their goods. Yet this indifferent lawyer is esteemid;
'Tis hard to find a man of great estate, But no authority of gods nor men
That can diftinguish flatterers from friends. Allow of any mean in poesy.
Never delude yourself, nor read your book As an ill concert, and a coarse perfume,
Before a brib'd and fawning auditor, Disgrace the delicacy of a sealt,
For he'll commend and feign an extasy, and might with more discretion have been Grow pale or weep, do any thing to please : spar'd;
True friends appear less mov'd than counterSo pocsy, whose end is to delight,
feit; Admits of no degrees, but must be fill
As men that truly grieve at funerals, Sublimely good, or despicably ill.
Are not so loud as those that cry for hire. In other things men have fome reason lest, Wise were the kings, wbo never chose a friend, And one that cannot dance, or fence, or run, Till with full cups they had unmask'd his soul, Despairing of success, forbears to try;
And seen the bottom of his deepest thoughts; But all (without confideration) write;
You cannot arm yourself with too much care Some thinking that the e' nipotence of wealth Against the smiles of a designing knave. Can:urn them into poets when they please. Quintilius (if his advice were akid) Lut, Piso, you are of too quick a sight
Would freely tell you what you should corred, Not to discern which way your talent lies, Or, if you could not, bid you blot it out, Or vainly with your genius to contend;
And with more care supply the vacancy; Yet if it ever be your fate to write,
But if he found you fond and obftinate Let your productions pass the stricter hands, (And apter to defend than mend your faults), Mine and your father's, and not see the light With filence leave you to admire yourself, 'Till time and care have ripen'd every line. And without rival hug your darling book. What you keep by you, you may change and The prudent care of an impartial friend mend,
Will give you notice of each idle line,
Orpheus, inspir'd by more than human power, ment,
Make you explain all that he finds obscure, And first dissuaded them from rage and blood; And with a frict enquiry mark your faults; 'Thus, when Amphion built the Theban wall, Nor for these trifles fear to lose your love: 'They feign’d the stones obey'd his magic lute; These things which now seem frivolous a. Poets, the first instructors of mankind,
flight, Brought all things to their proper, native use ; Will be of a inost serious consequence, Some they appropriated to the gods,
When they have made you once ridiculous. And some to public, sume to privatc ends :
A poetaster, in his raging fit, Promiscuous love by marriage was restrain'd, (Follow'd and pointed at by fools and boys) Cities were built, and useful laws were made ; is dreaded and proscrib'd by men of sense ; So great was the divinity of verse,
They make a lane for the polluted thing, And such observance to a poet paid.
And fly as from th’infetion of the plague, Then Homer's and Tyrtæuis' martial Muse Or from a man whom, for a juft revenge, Waken'd the world, and founded loud alarmis. Fanatic phrenzy sent by heaven pursues. To verse we owe the sacred oracles,
If (in the raving of a frantic Muse) And our best precepts of morality ;
And minding more his verses than his way, Some have hy verse obtain’d the love of kings, Any of these should drop into a well, (Who, with tre Muses, ease their weary'd minds) Though he might burst his lungs to call for her Then bluth not, noble Piso, to prote&
No creature would assist or pity him, What gods inspire, and kings delight to hear. But seem to think he fell on purpose in. Some think that poets may be form'd by art, Hear how an old Sicilian poet dy'd; Others maintain that Nature makes them so ; Empedocles, mad to be thought a god, I neither see what art without a vein,
In a cold fit leap'd into Æmna's flames. Nor wit without the help of art can do,
Give poets leave to make themselves away, But mutually they crave each other's aid.
Why should it be a greater fin to kill, He that intends to gain th’ Olympic prize Than to keep men alive against their will ? Must use himself to hunger, heat, and cold, Nor was this chance, but a deliberate choice; Take leave of wine, and the soft joys of love ; For if Empedocles were now reviv'd, And no musician dares pretend to skill,
He would be at his frolic once again,
And his pretensions to divinity:
Without distinction seize on all they meet; 'Tis hard to say whether for sacrilege,
None ever scap'd that came within their reach, Or incest, or some more unheard-of crime, Sticking like lecches, till they burst with blood, The rhyming fiend is sent into these men; Without remorse insatiably they read, But they are all most visibly posseft,
And never leave till they have read mca dead. And, like a baited bear when he breaks loose,
Lord Roscommon's verses on the “ Religio Laici" are printed in this Collection,