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Hers is the task of Reason, not of Art,
Words of the mind, and actions of the heart !
And sure that unbought praise which Learning
brings, Outweighs the vast acclaim that deafens kings; For souls, supremely sensible and great, See through the farce of noise, and pomp of state ; Mark when the fools huzza, or wise rejoice, And judge exactly between sound and voice.
Hail, and proceed! be arts like ours thy care, Nor slight those laurels thou wert born to wear: Adorn and emulate thy glorious line, Take thy forefathers worth, and give them thine. Blest with each gift that human hearts can move, In science blest, but doubly blest in love.
Power, Beauty, Virtue, dignify thy choice, Each public suffrage, and each private voice.
To move the springs of nature as we please,
To think with spirit, but to write with ease;
With living words to warm the conscious heart,
Or please the soul with nicer charins of art;
For this the Grecian soar'd in Epic strains,
And softer Maro left the Mantuan plains :
Melodious Spenser felt the lover's fire,
And awful Milton struck his heavenly lyre.
'Tis your's, like these with curious toil to trace
The powers of language, harmony, and grace;
How Nature's self with living lustre shines,
How judgment strengthens, and how art refines;
How to grow bold with conscious sense of fame,
And force a pleasure which we dare not blame;
To charm us more through negligence than pains,
And give e'en life and action to the strains :
Led by some law, whose powerful impulse guides
Each happy stroke, and in the soul presides;
Some fairer image of perfection given
T'inspire mankind, itself deriv'd from heaven.
O ever worthy, ever crown'd with praise,
Blest in thy life, and blest in all thy lays !
Add that the Sisters every thought refine,
Or ev’n thy life be faultless as thy line;
Yet Envy still with fiercer rage pursues,
Obscures the virtue, and defames the Muse.
A soul like thine, in pains, in grief resign'd,
Views with vain scorn the malice of mankind :
Not critics, but their planets, prove unjust :
And are they blam'd who sin because thy must ?
Yet sure not so must all peruse thy lays;
I cannot rival_and yet dare to praise.
A thousand charms at once my thoughts engage,
Sappho's soft sweetness, Pindar's warmer rage,
Statius' free vigor, Virgil's studious care,
And Homer's force, and Ovid's easier air.
So seems some picture, where exact design, And curious pains, and strength, and sweetness join ; Where the free thought its pleasing grace bestows, And each warm stroke with living color glows; Soft without weakness, without labor fair, Wrought up at once with happiness and care !
How blest the man that from the world removes, To joys that Mordaunt, or his Pope, approves ;
Whose taste exact each author can explore,
And live the present and past ages o'er;
Who, free from pride, from penitence, or strife,
Moves calmly forward to the verge of life :
Such be my days, and such my fortunes be,
To live by reason, and to write by thee !
Nor deem this verse, though humble, a disgrace ; All are not born the glory of their race : Yet all are born t'adore the great man's name, And trace his footsteps in the paths to fame. The Muse, who now this early homage pays, First learn'd from thee to animate her lays: A Muse as yet unhonor’d, but unstain'd, Who prais'd no vices, no preferment gain'd; Unbias'd or to censure or commend, Who know's no envy, and who grieves no friend; Perhaps too fond to make those virtues known, And fix her fame immortal on thy own.
ON HIS BIRTH-DAY, WITH PINE'S HORACE FINELY BOUND.
7. SICAN, M. D.
(IN THE CHARACTER OF HORACE.]
You've read, Sir, in poetic strain,
How Varrus and the Mantuan Swain
Have on my birth-day been invited
(But I was forc'd in verse to write it)
Upon a plain repast to dine,
And taste my old Campanian wine ;
But I, who all punctilios hate,
Though long familiar with the great,
Nor glory in my reputation,
Am come without an invitation,
And though I'm us'd to right Falernian,
i'll deign for once to taste Iernian;
But fearing that you might dispute
(Had I put on a common suit,)