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The Muse of old her native freedom knew, And wild in air the sportive wand'rer flew : On worth alone her bays eternal strow'd, And found the hero, ere she hymn'd the god. Nor less the chief his kind support return'd, No drooping Muse her slighted labors mourn'd; But stretch'd at ease she prun'd her growing wings, By sages honor'd and rever'd by kings. Ev'n knowing Greece confess'd her early claim, And warlike Latium caught the gen'rous Aame. Not so our age regards the tuneful tongue, 'Tis senseless rapture all, and empty song: No Pollio sheds his genial influence round, No Varus listens whilst the groves resound. Ev’n those, the knowing and the virtuous few, Who noblest ends by noblest means pursue, Forget the poet's use; the powerful spell Of magic verse, which Sidney paints so well. Forget that Homer wak'd the Grecian flame, That Pindar rous’d inglorious Thebes to fame, That every age has great examples giv'n Of virtue 'taught in verse, and verse inspir'd by
But I forbear—these dreams no longer last,
Ev'n in these gainful unambitious days,
But should the meanest swan that cuts the stream Consign’d to Phoebus, catch the favor'd name, Safe in her mouth she bears the sacred prize 30 To where bright Fame's eternal altars rise. 'Tis there the Muse's friends true laurels wear, There Egypt's monarch reigns, and great Augustus
Patrons of arts must live 'till arts decay, Sacred to verse in every poet's lay. Thus grateful France does Richlieu's worth proclaim, Thus grateful Britain doats on Somers' name. And, spite of party rage, and human flaws, And British liberty and British laws, Times yet to come shall sing of Anna's reign,146 And bards, who blame the measures, love the men.
But why round patrons climb th' ambitious bays ? Is interest then the sordid spur to praise ? Shall the same cause, which prompts the chatt'ring
jay To aim at words, inspire the poet's lay? And is there nothing in the boasted claim Of living labors and a deathless name? The pictur'd front, with sacred fillets bound? The sculptur'd bust with laurels wreath'd around? The annual roses scatter'd o'er his urn,
150 And tears to flow from poets yet unborn ?
Illustrious all! but sure to merit these, Demands at least the poet's learned ease. Say, can the bard attempt what's truly great, Who pants in secret for his future fate? Him serious toils, and humbler arts engage, To make youth easy, and provide for age; While lost in silence hangs his useless lyre, And though from heaven it came, fast dies the sacred
fire. Or grant true genius with superior force 160 Bursts every bond, resistless in its course, Yet lives the man, how wild soe'er his aim, Would madly barter fortune's smiles for fame? Or distant hopes of future ease forego, For all the wreaths that all the Nine bestow ? Well pleas'd to shine, through each recording page, The hapless Dryden of a shameless age ?
Ill.fated bard! where-e'er thy name appears,
'Tis true the man of verse, though born to ills,
He, only he, should haunt the Muse's grove,
Curs’d be their verse, and blasted all their bays,
Should some MACHAON, whose sagacious soul Trac'd blushing nature to her inmost goal, Skill'd in each drug the varying world provides, All earth embosoms, and all ocean hides, Nor cooling herb, nor healing balm supply, Ease the swoln breast, or close the languid eye; But, exquisitely ill, awake disease, And arm with poisons every baleful breeze: What racks, what tortures must his crimes demand, 210 The more than BORGIA of a bleeding land ! And is less.guilty he, whose shameles page Not to the present bounds its subtile rage, But spreads contagion wide, and stains a future age ?
Forgive me, Sir, that thus the moral strain, -