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Regard not then if wit be old or new,
But blame the false, and value ftill the true.
Some ne'er advance a judgment of their own,
But ca:ch the spreading notion of the town;
They reason and conclude by precedent,
And own ftale nonsense which they ne'er invent.
Some judge of authors names, not works, and then
Nor praise nor blanie the writings, but the men.
Of all this servile herd, the worst is he
That in proud dulness joins with quality. 415
A conftant Critic at the great man's board,
To fetch and carry nonsense for my Lord.
What woful stuff this madrigal would be,
In some farv'd hackney-fonneteer, or me?
But let a Lord once own the happy lines, 420
How the wit brightens! how the style refines !
Before his facred name flies ev'ry fault,
And each exalted ftanza teems with thought!
The vulgar chus thro' imitation err; As of the Learn'd by being fingular;
425 So much they scorn the crowd, that if the throng By chance go right, they purposely go wrong: So Schismatics the plain believers quit, And are but damnd for having too much wit, Some praise at morning what they blame at night; 430 But always think the last opinion right. A Muse by thee is like a mistress us'd, This hour she's idoliz'd, the next abus'd; While their weak heads like towns unfortify'd, 'Twixt sense and nonsense daily change their fide. 435 Ask them the cause; they're wiser ftill, they say ; And still to-morrow's wiser than to-day. We think our father's fools; ro wife we grow ; Our wiser sons, no doubt, will think us fo.
Once School-divines this zealous isle o'erspread; 440
Who knew most sentences was deepest read:
Faith, gospel, all, seem'd made to be disputed,
And none had sense enough to be confuted :
Scotifts and Thomists, now in peace remain,
Amidst their kindred cobwebs in Duck-lane. 445
If Faith itself has diff'rent dresses worn,
What wonder modes in Wit should take their turn?
Oft', leaving what is natural and fit,
The current folly proves the ready wit ;
And authors think their reputation safe,
Which lives as long as fools are pleas'd to laugh.
Some valuing those of their own side or mind,
Still make themselves the measure of mankind :
Fondly we think we honour merit then,
When we but praise ourselves in other men. 453
Partics in Wit attend on those of State,
And public faction doubles private hate.
Pride, Malice, Folly, againft Dryden rose,
Ja various shapes of Parsons, Critics, Beaus;
But fenfe surviv'd, when merry jests were paft;
For rising merit will buoy up at last.
VER. 445. Duck-lane] A place where old and second-hand books were fold formerly, near Smithfield.
VER. 447. Between this and ver. 448.
The rhyming Clowns that gladed Shakespear's age;
No more with crambo entertain the stage.
Who now in Anagrams their Patron praise,
Or sing their Mistress in Acroftic lays;
Ev'n pulpits pleas'd with merry puns of yore;
Now all are banilh'd to th' Hibernian fhore !
Thus leaving what was natural and fit,
The current folly prov'd their ready wit;
And authors thought their reputation fafe,
Which liv'd as long as fools were pleas’d to laugh.
Might he return, and bless once more our eyes,
New Blackmores and new Milbourns must arise :
Nay should great Homer lift his awful head,
Zoilus again would start up from the dead. 465
Envy will merit, as its shade, pursue ;
But like a shadow, proves the substance true:
For envy'd Wit, like Sol eclips'd, makes known
Thappafing body's groffness, not its ou n.
When first that fun too pow'rful beams displays, 490
It draws up vapours which obscure its rays ;
But ev'a those clouds at laft adorn its
way, Reflect new glories and augment the day.
Be thou the firit true merit to befriend ;
His praise is lost, who stays 'till all commend. 475
Short is the date, alas, of modern rhymes,
And 'tis but juit to let them live betimes.
No longer now that golden age appears,
When Patriarch-wits surviv'd a thousand years:
Now length of Fame (our fecond life) is lost,
And bare threescore is all ev'n that can boast;
Our fons their fathers' failing language fee,
And such as Chaucer is, shall Dryden be.
So when the faithful pencil has design'd
Some bright idea of the master's mind,
Where a new word leaps out at his command,
And ready Nature waits upon his hand;
When the ripe colours foften and unite,
And sweetly melt into juft fhade and light;
When mellowing years their full perfection give, 490
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,
Arones not for that envy which it brings, 495
In youth alone its empty praise we boaft,
But soon the short-liv'd vanity is loit':
Like some fair flow'r the early spring supplies,
That gayly blooms, but ev'n in blooming dies.
What is this Wit, which must our cares employ? 300
The owner's wife, that other men enjoy;
Then most our trouble still when moit admir'd,
And still the more we give, the more requir'd;
Whose fame with pains we guard, but lose with ease,
Sure some to vex, but never all to please ; 505
'Tis what the vicious fear, the virtuous fun,
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 Parnasius’ lofty crown,
Employ their pains to fpurn some others down; 515
And while self-love each jealous writer rules,
Contending wits become the sport of fools:
But still the worst with most regret commend,
For each ill author is as bad a friend.
To what bafe ends, and by what abject ways, 520
Are mortals urg'd thro' sacred luft of praise !
Ah ne'er so dire a thirst of glory boast,
Nor in the Critic let the man be lost.
Good nature and good-fense must ever join;
To.err is human, to forgive, divine.
525 But if in roble minds some dregs remain Not yet purg'd off, of spleen and four disdain ;
VER: 526. But if in noble minds fome, dregs remainetc.) But if the four critical humour must peeds have vent, he points to its sight objects, and she is how it may be wsefully and innocently di
Discharge that rage on more provoking crimes
Nor fear a dearth in these flagitious times.
No pardon vile obscenity should find,
Tho’ wit and art conspire to move your mind;
But dulness with obscenity must prove
As shameful sure as impotence in love.
In the fat age of pleasure, wealth, and ease,
Sprung the rank weed, and thriv'd with large increase :
When love was all an easy Monarch's care;
536 Seldom at council, never in a war: Jilts rul'd the state, and statesmen farces writ; Nay wits had penfions, and young lords had wit: The Fair fat panting at a Courtier's play, 540 And not a mal went unimprov'd away : The modest fan was lifted up no more, And Virgins (mild at what they blush'd before. The following license of a foreign reign Did all the dregs of bold Socinus drain ;
545 Then unbelieving Priests reformd the nation, And taught more pleasant methods of salvation ; Where Heav'n's free fubje&ts might their rights dispute, Left God himself should seem too absolute :
verted. This is very observable; for our author makes spleen and disdain the characteristic of the false Critic, and yet here fupposes them inherent in the true. But it is done with judgment, and a knowledge of Nature. For as bitterness and acerbity in unripe fruits of the best kind are the foundation and capacity of that high spirit, race, and flavour which we find in them, when perfectly concocted by the warmıh and influence of the Sun, and which, without those qualities, would often gain no more by that influence than only a mellow insipidity : so spleen and disdain in the true Critic, improved by long study and experience, ripen into an exactness of Judgment, and an elegance of Taste: But, lying in the false Critic remote from the influence of good letters, continue in all their first offensive harshness and aftringency.
VER. 547. The Author has omitted two lines which stood here, as containing a National Reflection, which in his ftri&ter judgment he could not but disapprove on any People whatever.