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To my Friend Mr. MOTTEUX, on bis
Tragedy called Beauty in Distress. 'TI
IS hard, my Friend, to write in such an Age,
As damns, not only Poets, but the Stage.
That sacred Art, by Heav'n itself infus'd,
Which Mofes, David, Solomon have us'd,
Is now to be no more : The Muses' Foes
Wou'd fink their Maker's Praises into Prose.
Were they content to prune the lavish Vine
Of foraggling Branches, and improve the Wine,
Who, but a Madman, wou'd his thoughts defend?
All wou'd fubmit ; for all but Fools will mend.
But when to common Senfe they give the lye,
And turn distorted words to blasphemy,
They give the Scandal ; and the Wise discern,
Their Glosses teach an Age, too apt to learn.
What I have loosely, or prophanely, writ,
Let them to Fires, their due desert, commit:
Nor, when accus'd by me, let them complain :
Their Faults, and not their Function, I arraign.
Rebellion, worse than Witchcraft, they pursu'd;
The Pulpit preach'd the Crime, the People ru’d.
The Stage was filenc'd; for the Saints wou'd see
In Fields perform'd their plotted Tragedy.
But let us first reform, and then fo live,
That we may teach our Teachers to forgive :
Our Dek be placed below their lofty Chairs ;
Ours be the Practice, as the Precept theirs.
The Moral Part, at least, we may divide,
Humility reward, and punish Pride;
Ambition, Int'reft, Avarice accuse :
These are the Province of a Tragick Muse.
These haft thou chosen ; and the publick Voice
Has equal'd thy Performance with thy Choice.
Time, Action, Place, are so preserv'd by thee,
That e'en Cornäille might with Envy see
Th' Alliance of his Tripled Unity.
Thy Incidents, perhaps, too thick are fown;
But too much Plenty is thy Fault alone.
At least but two can that good Crime commit,
Thou in design, and Wycherly in Wit.
Let thy own Gauls condemn thee, if they dare ;
Contented to be thinly Regular :
Born there, but not for them, our fruitful Soil
With more Increase rewards thy happy Toil.
Their Tongue, enfeebld, is refind too much ;
And, like pure Gold, it bends at ev'ry touch:
Our sturdy Teuton yet will Art obey,
More fit for manly Thought, and strengthend with Allay.
But whence art thou inspir'd, and Thou alone,
To flourish in an Idiom not thy own ?
It moves our wonder, that a foreign Guest
· Shou'd over-match the most, and match the bel.
In under-praising thy Deserts, I wrong ;
Here find the first Deficience of our Tongue :
Words, once my Stock, are wanting, to commend
great a Poet, and so good a Friend.
TO HENRY HIGDEN, Esq; on his Trans
lation of the Tenth Satire of Juvenal.
HE Grecian Wits, who Satire first began,
Were pleasant Pasquins on the Life of Man ;
At mighty Villains, who the State opprest,
They durft not Rail, perhaps ; they lalh'd, at least,
And turn'd them out of Office with a Jeft.
No Fool could peep abroad, but ready stand
The Drolls to clap a Bauble in his Hand.
Wise Legislators never yet could draw
A Fop within the Reach of Common Law ;
For Posture, Dress, Grimace and Affectation,
Tho' Foes to Sense, are harmless to the Nation.
Our last Redress is dint of Verse to try,
And Satire is our Court of Chancery.
This way took Horace to reform an Age,
Not bad enough to need an Author's Rage.
But + yours, who liv'd in more degenerate Times,
Was forc'd to faften deep, and worry Crimes.
Yet you, my Friend, have temper'd him so well,
You make him smile in spite of all his Zeal :
An Art peculiar to your self alone,
To join the Virtues of two Styles in one.
Oh! were your Author's Principle receiv'd,
Half of the lab’ring World would be reliev'd:
For not to wish is not to be deceiv'd.
Revenge wou'd into Charity be changd,
Because it costs too dear to be revengod :
It costs our Quiet and Content of Mind,
And when 'tis com pass'd leaves a Sting behind.
Suppose I had the better End o'th* Staff,
Why should I help th' ill-natur'd World to laugh?
'Tis all alike to them, who get the Day;
They love the Spite and Mischief of the Fray.
No; I have cur'd my self of that Difease;
Nor will I be provok’d, but when I please :
But let me half that Cure to you restore ;
You give the Salve, I laid it to the Sore.
Our kind Relief against a Rainy Day,
Beyond a Tavern, or a tedious Play,
We take your Book, and laugh our Spleen away.
Tribe, too studious of Debate,
Would cease false Hopes and Titles to create,
Led by the Rare Example you begun,
Clients would fail, and Lawyers be undone.
To Sir GODFREY KNELLER, Principal
Painter to His Majesty.
And till the sweet Idea charms my Mind :
True, she was dumb; for Nature gaz'd fo long,
Pleas'd with ker Work, that she forgot her Tongue ;
But, smiling, said, She still shall gain'the Prize ;
I only have transferr'd it to her Eyes.
Such are thy Pictures, Kneller; Such thy Skill,
That Nature seems obedient to thy Will;
Comes out, and meets thy Pencil in the Draught ;
Lives there, and wants but words to speak her thought,
At least thy Pictures look a Voice ; and we
Imagine Sounds, deceiv'd to that degree,
We think tis fomewhat more than just to see.
Shadows are but Privations of the Light;
Yet, when we walk, they shoot' before the Sight ;
With us approach, retire, arife, and fall;
Nothing themselves, and yet expresing áll.
Such are thy Pieces, imitating Life
So near, they almost conquer in the strife.;
And from their animated Canvass came,
Demanding Souls, and loosen'd from the Frame.
Prometheus, were he here, wou'd cast away
His Adam, and refuse a Soul to Clay ;
And either wou'd thy noble Work inspire,
Or think it warm enough, without his Fire.
But vulgar Hands may vulgar Likeness raise ;
This is the least Attendant on thy Praise :
From hence the Rudiments of Art began ;
A Coal, or Chalk, first imitated Man :
· Perhaps, the Shadow, taken on a Wall,
Gave Out-lines to the rude Original ;
Ere Canvass yet was strain’d, before the Grace
Of blended Colours found their use and place,
Or Cypress Tablets first receiv'd a Face.
By slow degrees the Godlike Art advanc'd ;
As Man grew polish'd, Picture was inhanc'd:
Greece added Posture, Shade, and Perspective;
And then the Mimick Piece began to Live.
Yet Perspective was lame, no distance true,
But all came forward in one common View :
No point of Light was known, no bounds of Art;
When Light was there, it knew not to depart,
But glaring on remoter Objects play'd ;
Not languish'd, and insensibly decay'd.
Rome rais'd not Art, but barely kept alive,
And with Old Greece unequally did strive:
?Till Goths, and Vandals, a rude Northern Race,
Did all the matchless Monuments deface.
Then all the Muses in one ruin lie,
And Rhime began t'enervate Poetry.
Thus, in a stupid Military State,
The Pen and Pencil find an equal Fate.
Flat Faces, such as wou'd disgrace a Skreen,
Such as in Bantam's Embassy were seen,