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Then sportive HORACE* caught the gen'rous fire;
For SATIRE's bow refign'd the founding lyre:
Each arrow polish'd in his hand was seen,
And, as it grew more polish'd, grew more keen.
His art, conceal'd in study'd negligence,
Politely fly, cajol'd the foes of fense:
He feem'd to fport and trifle with the dart,
But while he sported, drove it to the heart.
In graver strains majestic PERSIUS wrote,
Big with a ripe exuberance of thought :
Greatly fedate, contemn'd a Tyrant's reign, 385
And lash'd Corruption with a calm disdain.
More ardent eloquence, and boundless rage,
Inflame bold JUVENAL's exalted page,
His mighty numbers aw'd corrupted Rome,
And swept audacious Greatnefs to its doom; 390
The headlong torrent thund'ring from on high,
Rent the proud rock that lately brav'd the sky.
* Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico Tangit, et admiffus circum præcordia ludit, Callidus excuffo populum fufpendere nafo.
But lo! the fatal Victor of Mankind!
Swoln Luxury!---pale Ruin ftalks behind!
As countless Infects from the north-eaft pour, 395
To blast the Spring, and ravage ev'ry flow'r :
So barb'rous Millions spread contagious death:
The fick'ning Laurel wither'd at their breath.
Deep Superftition's night the fkies o'erhung,
Beneath whose baleful dews the Poppy sprung.
No longer Genius woo'd the Nine to love,
'But Dulness nodded in the Muse's grove : Wit, Spirit, Freedom, were the fole offence, Nor aught was held fo dangerous as Senfe.
At length, again fair Science shot her ray, 405 Dawn'd in the skies, and spoke returning day. Now, SATIRE, triumph o'er thy flying foe, Now load thy quiver, ftring thy flacken'd bow! 'Tis done!--See, great ERASMUS breaks the spell, And wounds triumphant Folly in her cell! 410 (In vain the folemn Cowl furrounds her face, Vain all her bigot cant, her four grimace) With shame compell'd her leaden throne to quit, And own the force of Reafon urg'd by Wit. 414
"Twas then plain DONNE in honeft vengeance rofe,
His Wit harmonious, tho' his Rhyme was profe:
He 'midst an age of Puns and Pedants wrote
With genuine fenfe, and Roman ftrength of
Yet fcarce had SATIRE well relum'd her flame, (With grief the Mufe records her Country's
Ere Britain faw the foul revolt commence,
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 fantaftic, in whofe gaudy line
Untutor❜d thought, and tinfel beauty shine;
Wit's shatter'd Mirror lies in fragments bright,
Reflects not Nature, but confounds the fight.
Dry Morals the Court-Poet blush'd to fing :
"Twas all his praise to say, "the oddeft thing.”
Proud for a jeft obfcene, a Patron's nod, 431
To martyr Virtue, or blafpheme his God.
Ill-fated DRYDEN! who unmov'd can fee Th'extremes of wit and meannefs join'd in Thee!
Flames that could mount, and gain their kindred
Low creeping in the putrid fink of vice;
A Mufe 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:
Unrival'd parts, the scorn of honest fame;
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 bleft, 445
And breath'd her airs divine into his breast:
Fancy and Sense to form his line conspire,
And faultless Judgment guides the pureft Fire.
But fee at length the British Genius fmile,
And show'r her bounties o'er her favour'd Ifle: 450
Behold for POPE fhe twines the laurel crown,
And centers ev'ry Poet's pow'r in one:
Each Roman's force adorns his various page,
Gay fmiles, corrected strength, and manly rage.
Despairing Guilt and Dulness loath the fight, 455
As Spectres vanish at approaching light:
In this clear Mirror with delight we view
Each image justly fine, and boldly true:
Here Vice, dragg'd forth by Truth's fupreme
Beholds and hates her own deformity:
While felf-feen Virtue in the faithful line
With modeft joy furveys her form divine.
But oh, what thoughts, what numbers shall I
But faintly to exprefs the Poet's mind!
Who yonder Star's effulgence can display,
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 Mufe for thee with kind contention ftrove,
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 tafte fuperior fcorn'd the venal tribe,
Whom fear can fway, or guilty Greatness bribe;