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Ep. I. v. 187 ff.

Say ye! whofe curious philofophic eye
Searches the depth where Nature's fecrets lie;
Ye, who can tell how her capricious fit
Directs the flow and ebb of human wit,
And why, obedient to her quick command,
Spring-tides of Genius now enrich her fav'rite land,
Now fink, by her to different climes affign'd,
And only leave fome worthlefs weeds behind!
Say! why in Greece, unrival'd and alone,
The fovereign Poet grac'd his Epic throne?
Why did the realm that echoed his renown,
Produce no kindred heir to claim his crown?
If, as the liberal mind delights to think,
Fancy's rich flow'rs their vital effence drink
From Liberty's pure ftreams, that largely roll
Their quick'ning virtue thro' the Poet's foul;
Why, in the period when this Friend of Earth
Made Greece the model of heroic worth,

And saw her votaries act, beneath her fway,
Scenes more fublime than Fiction can display,
Why did the Epic Mufe's filent lyre

Shrink from those feats that fummon'd all her fire?

Or if, as courtly Theorists maintain,

The Mufes revel in a Monarch's reign;

Why, when young Ammon's foul, athirft for

Call'd every Art to celebrate his name;
When ready Painting, at his fovereign nod,
With aweful thunder arm'd this mimie God!
Why did coy Poefy, tho' fondly woo'd,
Refufe that dearer fmile for which he fued,
And fee him fhed, in martial Honor's bloom,
The tear of envy on Achilles' tomb?

In vain would Reafon thofe nice questions, hayley. ·


Which the fine play of mental powers involve:
In Bards of ancient time, with genius fraught,
What mind can trace how thought engender'd

How little hints awak'd the large defign,
And fubtle Fancy ipun her variegated line?
Yet fober Critics, of no vulgar note,

But fuch as Learning's fons are proud to quote,'
The progrefs of Homeric verfe explain,
As if their fouls had lodg'd in Homer's brain.
Laughs not the spirit of poetic frame,
However ftightly warm'd by Fancy's flame,
When grave Boffu by Syftem's ftudied laws
The Grecian Bard's ideal picture draws,
And wifely tells us, that his Song arofe
As the good Parfon's quiet fermon grows;
Who, while his eafy thoughts no preffure find
From hofts of images that croud the mind,
First calmly fettles on fome moral text,

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Then creeps
to the next?
Nor, if poetic minds more flowly drudge
Thro' the cold comments of this Gallic judge,
Will their indignant spirit lefs deride

That fubtle Pedant's more prefumptive pride,
Whofe bloated page, with arrogance replete,
Imputes to VIRGIL his own dark conceit; *)
And from the tortur'd Poet dares to draw
That latent fenfe, which HORACE never faw;
Which, if on folid proof more ftrongly built,
Muft brand the injur'd Bard with impious guilt."

While fuch Dictators their vain efforts wafte In the dark vifions of diftemper'd Taste,

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*) Dr. WARBUTON, in his Differtation on the VIth Book of the Aeneid, refuted by the ingenious Author of Critical Obfervations etc. Lond. 1770. 8.

hayley. Let us that pleafing, happier light purfue,
Which beams benignant from the milder few,
Who, justly conscious of the doubts that start
In all nice questions on each finer Art,
With modest doubt affign each likely cause,
But dare to dictate no decifive laws.

'Tis faid by one, who, with this candid claim,
Has gain'd no fading wreath of critic fame,
Who, fondly lift'ning to her various rhyme,
Has mark'd the Mufe's ftep thro' many a clime;
That, where the fettled Rules of Writing spread,
Where Learning's code of Critic Law is read,
Tho other treafures deck th' enlighten'd fhore,
The germs of Fancy ripen there no more.
Are critics then, that bold, imperious tribe!
The Guards of Genius, who his path prefcribe;
Are they like Visirs in an Eastern court,
Who fap the very power they should support?
Whofe fpecious wiles the royal mind unnerve,
And fink the monarch they pretend to ferve.
No of their value higher far I deem;
And prize their useful toil with fond esteem.-
When LOWTH's firm fpirit leds him to explore
The hallow'd confines of Hebraic lore;
Whem his free pages, luminous and bold,
The glorious end of Poefy unfold,
Affert her powers, her dignity defend,
And fpeak her, as fhe is, fair Freedom's friend;
When thus he fhines his mitred Peers above,
I view his warmth with reverential love;
Proud, if my verfe may catch reflected light
From the rich fplendor of a mind fo bright.
Bleft be the names, to no vain fyftem tied,
Who render Learning's blaze an useful guide,
A friendly beacon, rais'd on high to teach
The wand'ring bark to fhun the fhallow beach.
But o ye noble, and afpiring few,

Whofe ardent fouls poetic fame purfue,

Ye, on whom finiling Heaven, perfection's fource,
Seems to bestow unlimitable force,


The inborn vigor of your fouls defend,
Nor lean too fondly on the firmest friend!
Genius may fink on Criticism's breast,
By weak dependance on her truth oppreft
Sleep on her lap, and ftretch his lifelets length
Shorn by her foothing hand of all his strength.
Thou wilt not, MASON! thou, whofe generous


Muft feel that Freedom is the foul of Art,
Thou wilt not hold me arrogant or vain,
If I advise the young poetic train
To deem infallible no Critic's word;
Not e'en the dictates of thy Attic HURD:
No! not the Stagyrite's unqueftion'd page,
The Sire of Critics, fanctified by age!
The nobleft minds, with folid reafon bleft,
Who feel that faculty above the rest,
Who argue on thofe arts they never try,
Exalt that Reason they fo oft apply,
Till in its pride, with tyrannous controul,
It crufh the kindred talents of the foul;
And hence, in every Art, will fyftems rise,
Which Fancy muft furvey with angry eyes;
And at the lightning of her fcornful fmile,
In frequent ruin finks the labor'd pile.


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S. Th. I. S. 58. Im ersten Theile der kleinen Leffingischen Schriften (Berl. 1753. 12.), und in den nach seinem Tode von seinem Bruder herausgegebenen Vers mischten Schriften, stehen einige didaktische Fragmente, von welchen das über die Regeln der Wissenschaften zum Vergnügen, besonders der Poesie und Tonkunst, wor aus ich hier eine Stelle mittheile, zur gegenwärtigen Gats tung gehört. L. selbst sagt von diesen Fragmenten, daß er fie entweder nicht ganz zu Stande gebracht, oder sie nicht ganz dem Lefer mitzutheilen für gut befunden habe. Es find aber, wie sein Bruder sehr richtig urtheilt, zu schöne Rudeals daß Leser ohne Vorurtheil nicht mehr dabei zu denken finden sollten, als bei manchem neuern völlig ausgearbeiteten Gebäude. Man wird mit Vergnügen därin die Opigische Manier, und merklich veredelt, wieder finden, und es bedauren, daß ein Dichter, der dazu so viel Geschick und Beruf hatte, nicht mehr in dieser, von uns Deutschen noch allzu wenig bearbeiteten Dichtungsart geliefert hat.


Ueber die Regeln der Wissenschaften zum Vers gnügen; besonders der Poesie und Tonkunst.

An Hrn. Marpurg.

Der du, für dich und uns, der Töne Kråfte kennst,
Der Kunst und der Natur ihr wahres Amt ernennst,
Maaß, Gleichheit, Ordnung, Werth im Reich der
Schalle lehrest,

Denkst, wo man sonst nur fühlt, und mit der Seele


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