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The Muse of old her native freedom knew, And wild in air the sportive wand'rer flew : On worth alone her bays eternal strow'd, And found the hero, ere she hymn'd the god. Nor less the chief his kind support return'd, No drooping Muse her slighted labors mourn'd; But stretch'd at ease she prun'd her growing wings, By sages honor'd and rever'd by kings. Ev'n knowing Greece confess'd her early claim, And warlike Latium caught the gen'rous flame. Not so our age regards the tuneful tongue, 'Tis senseless rapture all, and empty song: No Pollio sheds his genial influence round, No Varus listens whilst the groves resound. Ev'n those, the knowing and the virtuous few, Who noblest ends by noblest means pursue, Forget the poet's use; the powerful spell Of magic verse, which SIDNEY paints so well. Forget that Homer wak'd the Grecian flame, That Pindar rous'd inglorious Thebes to fame, That every age has great examples giv'n

Of virtue taught in verse, and verse inspir'd by


But I forbear-these dreams no longer last,
The times of fable and of flights are past.
To glory now no laurel'd suppliants bend,
No coins are struck, no sacred domes ascend.
Yet ye, who still the Muse's charms admire,
And best deserve the verse your deeds inspire,

Ev'n in these gainful unambitious days,
Feel for yourselves at least, ye fond of praise,
And learn one lesson taught in mystic rhyme,
“'Tis verse alone arrests the wings of Time."
Fast to the thread of life, annex'd by Fame,
A sculptur'd medal bears each human name,
O'er Lethe's streams the fatal threads depend,
The glitt'ring medal trembles as they bend;
Close but the shears, when chance or nature calls,
The birds of rumor catch it as it falls;
Awhile from bill to bill the trifle's tost,
The waves receive it, and 'tis ever lost!

But should the meanest swan that cuts the stream Consign'd to Phoebus, catch the favor'd name, Safe in her mouth she bears the sacred prize To where bright Fame's eternal altars rise. 'Tis there the Muse's friends true laurels wear, There Egypt's monarch reigns, and great Augustus


Patrons of arts must live 'till arts decay, Sacred to verse in every poet's lay.

Thus grateful France does Richlieu's worth proclaim, Thus grateful Britain doats on Somers' name.

And, spite of party rage, and human flaws,

And British liberty and British laws,

Times yet to come shall sing of ANNA's reign,

And bards, who blame the measures, love the men.

But why round patrons climb th' ambitious bays? Is interest then the sordid spur to praise ?

Shall the same cause, which prompts the chatt'ring jay

To aim at words, inspire the poet's lay?
And is there nothing in the boasted claim
Of living labors and a deathless name?
The pictur'd front, with sacred fillets bound?
The sculptur'd bust with laurels wreath'd around ?
The annual roses scatter'd o'er his urn,
And tears to flow from poets yet unborn?

Illustrious all! but sure to merit these, Demands at least the poet's learned ease. Say, can the bard attempt what's truly great, Who pants in secret for his future fate? Him serious toils, and humbler arts engage, To make youth easy, and provide for age; While lost in silence hangs his useless lyre, And though from heaven it came, fast dies the sacred fire.

Or grant true genius with superior force
Bursts every bond, resistless in its course,
Yet lives the man, how wild soe'er his aim,
Would madly barter fortune's smiles for fame ?
Or distant hopes of future ease forego,
For all the wreaths that all the Nine bestow?

Well pleas'd to shine, through each recording page, The hapless Dryden of a shameless age?

Ill fated bard! where-e'er thy name appears,
The weeping verse a sad memento bears.
Ah! what avail'd th' enormous blaze between
Thy dawn of glory, and thy closing scene!
When sinking nature asks our kind repairs,
Unstrung the nerves, and silver'd o'er the hairs:
When stay'd reflection comes uncall'd at last,
And gray experience counts each folly past,
Untun'd and harsh the sweetest strains appear,
And loudest Paeans but fatigue the ear.

'Tis true the man of verse, though born to ills,
Too oft deserves the very fate he feels.
When, vainly frequent at the great man's board,
He shares in every vice with every lord:
Makes to their taste his sober sense submit,
And 'gainst his reason madly arms his wit;
Heav'n but in justice turns their serious heart
To scorn the wretch, whose life belies his part.

He, only he, should haunt the Muse's grove, Whom youth might reverence and grey hairs approve; Whose heav'n-taught numbers, now, in thunder


Might rouse the virtuous and appal the bold.
Now, to truth's dictates lend the grace of ease,
And teach instruction happier arts to please.
For him would PLATO change their genʼral fate,
And own one poet might improve his state.

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Curs'd be their verse, and blasted all their bays, Whose sensual lure th' unconscious ear betrays; Wounds the young breast, ere virtue spreads her shield,

And takes, not wins, the scarce disputed field,
Though specious rhet❜ric each loose thought refine,
Though music charm in every labor'd line,
The dangerous verse, to full perfection grown,
BAVIUS might blush, and QUARLES disdain to own.

Should some MACHAON, whose sagacious soul
Trac'd blushing nature to her inmost goal,
Skill'd in each drug the varying world provides,
All earth embosoms, and all ocean hides,
Nor cooling herb, nor healing balm supply,
Ease the swoln breast, or close the languid eye;
But, exquisitely ill, awake disease,

And arm with poisons every baleful breeze:
What racks, what tortures must his crimes demand,
The more than BORGIA of a bleeding land!
And is less guilty he, whose shameles page
Not to the present bounds its subtile rage,
But spreads contagion wide, and stains a future age?

Forgive me, Sir, that thus the moral strain,
With indignation warm'd, rejects the rein;
Nor think I rove regardless of my theme,
'Tis hence new dangers clog the paths to fame.
Not to themselves alone such bards confine
Fame's just reproach for virtue's injur'd shrine;

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