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ON MR. DRYDEN'S RELIGIO LAICI.
BY THE EARL OF ROSCOMMON.
Be gone, you slaves, you idle vermin go,
Fly from the scourges, and your master know;
Let free, impartial men, from Dryden learn
Mysterious secrets, of a high concern,
And weighty truths; solid convincing sense,
Explain'd by inaffected eloquence.
What can you (reverend Levi) here take ill?
Men still bad faults, and men will have them still;
He that hath none, and lives as angels do,
Must be an angel; but what's that to you?
While mighty Lewis finds the Pope too great,
And dreads the yoke of his imposing seat,
Our sects a more tyrannic pow'r assume,
And would for scorpions change the rods of Rome;
That church detaind the legacy divine;
Fanatics cast the pearls of heav'n to swine:
What then have thinking honest men to do,
But choose a mean between the' usurping two?
Nor can the Egyptian patriarcli blame thy Muse, Which for his firmness does his heat excuse; Whatever councils have approv'd his creed, The preface, sure, was his own act and deed.
Our church will have that preface read you'll say: 'Tis true; but so she will the' Apocrypha; And such as can believe them, freely may.
But did that God (so little understood) Whose darling attribute is being good, From the dark womb of the rude chaos bring Such various creatures, and make man their king: Yet leave his favourite man, his chiefest care, More wretched than the vilest insects are?
O! how much happier and more safe are they? If helpless millions must be doom'd a prey To yelling furies, and for ever hurn In that sad place from whence is no return; For unbelief in one they never knew, Or for not doing what they could not do! The very fiends know for what crime they fell, And so do all their followers that rebel: If then a blind, well-meaning, Indian stray, Shall the great gulf be show'd him for the way?
For better ends our kind Redeemer died, Or the fall'n angels' rooms will be but ill supplied.
That Christ, who, at the great deciding day,
(For he declares what he resolves to say)
Will damn the goats for their ill-naturd faults,
And save the sheep for actions, not for thoughits,
Hath too much mercy to send men to hell
For humble charity, and hoping well.
To what stupidity are zealots grown,
Whose inhumanity, profusely shown
In damning crowds of souls, may damn their
I'll err at least on the securer side,
A convert free from malice and from pride.
But see where artful Dryden next appears,
Grown old in rhymė, but charming ev'n in years.
Great Dryden next! whose tuneful Muse affords
The sweetest numbers, and the fittest words.
Whether in comic sounds or tragic airs,
She forms her voice, she moves our smiles and tears.
If satire or heroic strains she writes,
Her hero pleases, and her satire bites.
From her no harsh unartful numbers fall,
She wears all dresses, and she charms in all :
How might we fear our English poetry,
That long has flourish’d, should decay in thee;
Did not the Muses' other hope appear,
Harmonious Congreve, and forbid our fear!
Congreve! whose fancy's unexhausted store
Has given already much, and promis’d more.
Congreve shall still preserve thy fame alive,
And Dryden's Muse shall in his friend survive:
Froin Pope's Essay on Criticism.
Hear how Timotheus' varied lays surprise,
And bid alternate passions fall and rise!
While, at each change, the son of Libyan Jove
Now burns with glory, and then melts with love:
Now his fierce eyes with sparkling fury glow,
Now sighs steal out, and tears begin to flow.
Persians and Greeks like turns of nature found,
And the world's victor stood subdued by sound.
The power of music all our hearts allow,
And what Timotheus was, is Dryden now.
FROM GRAY'S PROGRESS OF POESY.
Behold, where Dryden's less presumptuous car,
Wide o'er the fields of glory bear,
Two coursers of ethereal race,
With necks in thunder cloth’d, and long-resounding
Hark, his hands the lyre explore!
Bright-eyed Fancy hovering o'er,
Scatters from her pictur'd urn,
Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.
But, ah! 'tis heard no more-
Oh! lyre divine, what daring spirit Wakes thee now! though he inherit
Nor the pride, nor ample pinion,
That the Theban eagle bear,
Sailing with supreme dominion
Through the azure deep of air:
Yet oft before his infant-eyes would run
Such forms, as glitter in the Muse's ray
With orient hues, unborrow'd of the sun:
Yet shall he mount, and keep his distant way
Beyond the limits of a vulgar fate,
Beneath the good how far--but far above great,