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That just has giv'n himself the cruel stroke !
At which his very rival's heart is broke:
He, more to his new friend than mistress kind,
Most sadly mourns at being left behind;
Of such a death prefers the pleasing charms
To love, and living in a lady's arms.
What shameful and what monstrous things are these?
And then they rail at those they cannot please;
Conclude us only partial to the dead,
And grudge the sign of old Ben Johnson's head;
When the intrinsick value of the stage
Can scarce be judg'd but by a following age :
For dances, flutes, Italian songs, and rhime,
May keep up finking nonsense for a time;
But that must fail, which now so much o'er-rules,
And sense no longer will submit to fools.
By painful steps at last we labour up
Parnassus' hill, on whose bright airy top,
The EPICK poets so divinely show,
And with just pride behold the relt below.
Heroick soems have a just pretence
To be the utmost stretch of human sense;
A work of such inestimable worth,
There are but two the world has yet brought forth !
Homer and VIRGIL! with what sacred awe,
Do those mere sounds the world's attention draw!
Just as a changeling seems below the rest
of men, or rather is a two-legg'd beast;
So these gigantick souls amaz'd we find
As much above the rest of human kind!
Nature's whole strength united ! endless fame,
And universal shouts, attend their name !
Read Homer once, and you can read no more;
For all books elfe appear so mean, so poor,
Verse will seem prose; but still perfift to read,
And Homer will be all the books you need.
Had Bossu never writ, the world had still,
Like Indians, view'd this wondrous piece of skill;
As something of divine, the work admir’d;
Not hop'd to be instructed, but inspir'd :
But he, disclosing sacred mysteries,
Has fhewn where all the mighty magick lies;
Describ'd the seeds, and in what order fown,
That have to such a vast proportion grown.
Sure, from some angel he the secret knew,
Who thro' this labyrinth has lent the clue !
But what, alas ! avails it poor mankind,
To see this promis'd land, yet stay behind ?
The way is shewn, but who has strength to go?
Who can all sciences profoundly know?
Whose fancy fies beyond weak reason's fight,
And yet has judgment to direct it right?
Whose just discernment, VIRGIL-like, is such,
Never to say too little, or too much?
Let such a man begin without delay;
But he must do beyond what I can say;
Must above Tasso's lofty flights prevail,
Succeed where SPENCER, and ev’n Milton fail. :
IS said, that favorite, mankind,
Was made the lord of all below But yet the (a) doubtful are (6) concern'd to find, 'Tis (c) only one man tells another fo.
And, for this great dominion here,
Which over other bealts we claim,
(d) Reason our best credential does appear ;
By which, indeed, we domineer;
But how abfurdly, we may fee with shame.
Reason, that solemn trifle! light as air ; Driv’n up and down by (e) censure or applause:
By partial love away 'tis blown, Or the least prejudice can weigh it down; Thus our high privilege becomes our () snare.
In any nice and weighty cause,
How weak, at best, is REASON! yet the grave
Impose on that small judgment which we have.
In all those wits, whose names have spread so wide,
And ev’n the force of time defy'd,
Some failings yet may be descry'd. Among the rest, with wonder be it told,
That BRUTUS is admir'd for CÆSAR's death;
By which he yet survives in fame's immortal breath.
BRUTUS, ev’n he, of all the rest,
In whom we should that deed the most detest,
Is of mankind esteem'd the best.
As snow descending from some lofty hill,
Is by its rolling course augmenting still;
So from illustrious authors down have rollid
Those great encomiums he receiv'd of old:
Republick orators still shew esteem,
And gild their eloquence with g) praise of him. But truth unveil'd like a bright sun appears, To shine away this heap of sev’nteen hundred years.
In vain ’tis urg'd by an (1) illustrious wit,
(To whom in all besides I willingly submit)
That CÆSAR’s life no pity could deserve
From one who kill'd himself, rather than serve.
Had BRUTUS chose rather himself to say,
Than any master to obey;
Happy for Rome had been that noble pride;
The world had then remain’d in peace, and only
For he, whose foul disdains to own
Subjection to a tyrant's frown,
And his own life would rather end ;
Would, sure, much rather kill himself, than only
hurt his friend.
To his own sword in the Philippian field
Brutus, indeed, at last did yield:
But in those times self-killing was not rare;
And his proceeded only from despair:
He might have chosen (i) else to live,
In hopes another CÆSAR would forgive;
Then, for the good of Rome, he could once more
Conspire against a life which had fpar’d his before.
Our country challenges our utmost care,
And in our thoughts deserves the tender' t share;
Her to a thousand friends we should prefer
Yet not (k) betray 'em, tho'it be for her.
Hard is his heart, whom no desert can move,
A mistress or a friend to love,
Above whate'er he does besides enjoy ;
But may be, for their fakes, his fire or fons destroy?
For sacred justice, or for publick good,
Scorn'd be our wealth, our honour, and our blood :
In such a cause, want is a happy state;
Ev'n low disgrace would be a glorious fate;