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Immortal Bard, all hail! may every Spring
All hail, immortal Bard! thee witlings damn,
When Caesar triumphs, when his murderers plot,
None may attempt the next great Poet's fame,
Apollo thus to bend his bow, 'tis said,
The stone when struck on imitating still
Shadwell perhaps may coast along the shore, But fears the dangerous ugly deep t'explore. Jonson alone with wit and judgment braves The rising storm, and quells the raging waves; Here distant twinkling beauties rarely meet, There's a bright galaxy of dazzling wit.
But like the Graces, moving hand in hand, Fletcher and Beaumont next the crown command: The first too far presuming on his wit, His lavish lays luxuriantly writ;
Whilst Beaumont modell'd every darling thought,
Taught him to manage the Pierian steed,
Minerva thus, to rout the Thracian God,
She wields the whip, his forward courage chides,
Now checks their haste, now thunders o'er the plain,
Fletcher, when fir'd with a poetic heat, Was ever rambling after rant and wit;
'Twas then his friend, all fortify'd with rules, Show'd him the scene could tickle none but foals.
Convinc'd, amaz'd, the guilty Poet stood,
So Bacchus, when he drove his conquering car
Silenus saw the fault, by his advice
The God allay'd his rage, and cool'd his cup with ice.
Long felt the Drama an inglorious dearth,
At length his lyre harmonious Dryden strung,
So Nature's workmanship, in paint display'd,
So Nature's self, whom he so well could paint, Acts as at first she suffer'd some restraint: The tender babe of less than pigmy size, Wrapt up and jellying in the cradle lies, By just degrees his little limbs dilate, By just degrees improves his growing state, At length he stretches to his utmost span, And looks, and stalks, that lordly creature, Man.
But what so potent charm, what chain so strong, Can curb or silence the malicious tongue ? Superior merit on the Laureat drew A Blackmore, Milbourne, and a Montagu: Angred at last, he threw his pencil down, Nor strove again to please a thankless town. Wrapp'd in the Prophet's robe arose his friend, Congreve alone the Hero's bow could bend, Congreve, his second-self, his Congreve rose, And soars like Dryden, and like Dryden flows.
Thus did Achilles from the dusty plain Laden with bays and injuries abstain ; But when Patroclus to the battle went, His golden panoply the Hero lent; And him so well the mighty arms became, So like Achilles all his graceful frame, Both host a-gaze the raging war suspend, And none but Phoebus knows him from his friend.
Thy Comic Muse, and trust me, Congreve, I
Some know the sock and some the buskin's pace, But Congreve treads in both with equal grace: When dress'd in widow'd weeds his Muse appears, Who can refuse the Mourning Bride his tears?
So when Adonis dy'd, her grief became,
Read Etherege, you that would appear genteel; The friend, the father, and the mistress, Steele: How soft the scene where Cibber paints the beau? How manly Wycherley! how moving Rowe! The lays how strong! how passionate the page! When Granville's Agamemnon mounts the stage! How loud the din when his magicians fight! When good Urganda battles for her knight, Spirits of air with Daemons dire engage,