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Then sportive Horace * caught the gen’rous fire;
. 375 For Satire’s bow resign’d the sounding lyre: Each arrow polish'd in his hand was seen, And, as it grew more polish'd, grew more keen. His art, conceal'd in study'd negligence, Politely fly, cajold the foes of sense: 380 He seem'd to sport and trifle with the dart, But while he sported, drove it to the heart.
In graver strains majestic PÈRSIUS wrote, Big with a ripe exuberance of thought : Greatly sedate, contemn'd a Tyrant's reign, 385 And lash'd Corruption with a calm disdain.
More ardent eloquence, and boundless rage, Inflame bold Juvenal's exalted page, His mighty numbers aw'd corrupted Rome, And swept audacious Greatness to its doom ; 390 The headlong torrent thund’ring from on high, Rent the proud rock that lately brav'd the sky.
* Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico
Pers. S. i.
But lo! the fatal Victor of Mankind! Swoln Luxury !---pale Ruin stalks behind! As countless Insects from the north-east pour, 395 To blast the Spring, and ravage ev'ry flow'r: So barb’rous Millions spread contagious death : The fick’ning Laurel wither'd at their breath. Deep Superstition's night the skies o’erhung, Beneath whose baleful dews the Poppy sprung. No longer Genius woo'd the Nine to love, 401 But Dulness nodded in the Muse’s grove: Wit, Spirit, Freedom, were the sole offence, Nor aught was held fo dangerous as Sense.
At length, again fair Science shot her ray, 405 Dawn'd in the skies, and spoke returning day. Now, SATIRE, triumph o’er thy flying foe, Now load thy quiver, string thy slacken’d bow! 'Tis done!--See, great Erasmus breaks the spell, And wounds triumphant Folly in her cell! 410 (In vain the folemn Cowl surrounds her face, Vain all her bigot cant, her four grimace) With shame compell’d her leaden throne to quit, And own the force of Reason urg'd by Wit. 414
'Twas then plain Donne in honest vengeance
rose, His Wit harmonious, tħo' his Rhyme was prole: He ʼmidst an age of Puns and Pedants wrote With genuine fense, and Roman strength of
Yet scarce had SATIRE well relum'd her flame, (With grief the Muse records ħer Country's shame)
420 Ere Britain saw the foul revolt commence, And treach’rous Wit began her war with Sense. Then rose à shameless mercenary train, Whom latest Time shall view with just disdain : A race fantastic, in whose gaudy line 425 Untutor'd thought, and tinsel beauty thinë; Wit's shatter'd Mirror lies in fragments bright, Reflects not Nature, but confounds the sight. Dry Morals the Court-Poet blush'd to sing : 'Twas all his praise to say, “ the oddest thing." Proud for a jest obscene, a Patron's nod, 431 To martyr Virtue, or blaspheme his God.
Ill-fated DRYDEN! who unmov'd can see Th’extreměs of wit and meanness join'd in Thee!
Flames that could mount, and gain their kindred
To Strumpets, Traitors, Tyrants vilely thrown:
More happy France: immortal Boileau there! Supported Genius with a Sage's care: Him with her love propitious Satire blest, 445 And breath'd her airs divine into his breast : Fancy and Sense to form his line conspire, And faultless Judgment guides the purest Fire.
But see at length the British Genius smile,
In this clear Mirror with delight we view
find, But faintly to express the Poet's mind! Who yonder Star's effulgence can display, 465 Unless he dip his pencil in the ray? Who paint a God, unless the God inspire? What catch the Lightning, but the speed of fire? So, mighty Pope, to make thy Genius known, All pow'r is weak, all numbers---butthyown. 470 Each Muse for thee with kind contention trove, For thee the Graces left th’IDALIAN grove; With watchful fondness o’er thy cradle hung, Attun’d thy voice, and form’d thy infant-tongue. Next, to her Bard majestic Wisdom came; 475 The Bard enraptur'd caught the heav'nly flame: With taste superior scorn’d the venal tribe, Whom fear can sway, or guilty Greatness bribe;