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Poets, like painters, thus, unskilld to trace
The naked nature and the living grace,
With gold and jewels cover every part,
And hide with ornaments their want of art.
True wit is nature to advantage dress'd;
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express’d;
Something, whose truth convinced at sight we find,
That gives us back the image of our mind.
As shades more sweetly recommend the light,
So modest plainness sets off sprightly wit :
For works may have more wit than does them

As bodies perish through excess of blood.

Others for language all their care express ; 305 And value books, as women men, for dress : Their praise is still,—the style is excellent;' The sense, they humbly take upon content. Words are like leaves; and where they most

abound, Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found : 310 False eloquence, like the prismatic glass, Its gaudy colors spreads on every place; The face of nature we no more survey ; All glares alike, without distinction gay: But true expression, like the unchanging sun, 315 Clears and improves whate'er it shines upon; It gilds all objects, but it alters none. Expression is the dress of thought, and still Appears more decent, as more suitable. A vile conceit, in pompous words express'd, Is like a clown in regal purple dress'd : For different styles with different subjects sort, As several garbs with country, town, and court.

320 335

Some by old words to fame have made pretence;
Ancients in phrase, mere moderns in their sense ;
Such labor'd nothings, in so strange a style, 326
Amaze the unlearn'd, and make the learned smile.
Unlucky, as Fungoso in the play,
These sparks with awkward vanity display
What the fine gentleman wore yesterday; 330
And but so mimic ancient wits at best,
As apes our grandsires, in their doublets dress’d.
In words, as fashions, the same rule will hold;
Alike fantastic, if too new or old :
Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.

But most by numbers judge a poet's song,
And smooth or rough with them is right or wrong:
In the bright Muse though thousand charms con-

spire, Her voice is all these tuneful fools admire ; 340 Who haunt Parnassus but to please their ear, Not mend their minds; as some to church repair, Not for the doctrine, but the music there. These equal syllables alone require, Though oft the ear the open vowels tire; While expletives their feeble aid do join ; And ten low words oft creep in one dull line :


324 Some by old words to fame have made pretence. The adoption of obsolete phrases must be injurious to poetry; for that which is not capable of being understood is not capable of being felt : but Gray, a true critic, pronounces that 'the language of the age is never the language of poetry :' be might have added, nor is the language of vulgarity the language of nature ; though this dogma has been stoutly fought for.

328 Fungoso. Ben Jonson's • Every Man out of his Humor.'

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While they ring round the same unvaried chimes,
With sure returns of still expected rhymes : 349
Where'er you find the cooling western breeze,'
In the next line, it'whispers through the trees :'
If crystal streams with pleasing murmurs creep,'
The reader's threaten'd, not in vain, with sleep :'
Then, at the last and only couplet fraught 354
With some unmeaning thing they call a thought,
A needless Alexandrine ends the song,
That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length

Leave such to tune their own dull rhymes, and

What's roundly smooth, or languishingly slow;
And praise the easy vigor of a line,
Where Denham's strength and Waller's sweetness

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance;
As those move easiest who have learn’d to dance.
'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence;
The sound must seem an echo to the sense. 365
Soft is the strain when zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers



365 The sound must seem an echo to the sense. Johnson, in the • Rambler, justly controverts this principle; denies that Pope's examples exemplify any thing but the failure of his theory; and contemptuously asks, why the speed of Camilla should be pictured by the slowest line in our language? The obvious source of the error in the text exists in the supposition that the Greek and Roman quantities can be transferred to English poetry. The genius of the classic and the English tongues is totally distinct; and all attempts to mould English syllables into ancient harmony have only given additional evidence of the hopelessness of the enterprise.

But when loud surges lash the sounding shore, The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent


When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,

370 The line too labors, and the words move slow : Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain, Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along

the main. Hear how Timotheus' varied lays surprise, And bid alternate passions fall and rise; 375 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 : 379 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.

Avoid extremes; and shun the fault of such, Who still are pleased too little or too much. 385 At every trifle scorn to take offence; That always shows great pride or little sense : Those heads, as stomachs, are not sure the best, Which nauseate all, and nothing can digest. Yet let not each gay turn thy rapture move; 390 For fools admire, but men of sense approve : As things seem large which we through mist descry, Dulness is ever apt to magnify.

Some foreign writers, some our own despise; The ancients only, or the moderns prize : 395 Thus wit, like faith, by each man is applied To one small sect, and all are damn'd beside.




Meanly they seek the blessing to confine,
And force that sun but on a part to shine,
Which not alone the southern wit sublimes,
But ripens spirits in cold northern climes;
Which from the first has shone on ages past,
Enlights the present, and shall warm the last;
Though each may feel increases and decays,
And see now clearer and now darker days.
Regard not then if wit be old or new;
But blame the false, and value still the true.

Some ne'er advance a judgment of their own,
But catch the spreading notion of the town;
They reason and conclude by precedent,
And own stale nonsense which they ne'er invent.
Some judge of authors' names, not works, and

Nor praise nor blame the writings, but the men.
Of all this servile herd, the worst is he
That in proud dulness joins with quality :
A constant critic at the great man's board,
To fetch and carry nonsense for my

What woful stuff this madrigal would be,
In some starved hackney sonneteer, or me!
But let a lord once own the happy lines,
How the wit brightens ! how the style refines !
Before his sacred name flies every fault,
And each exalted stanza teems with thought !

The vulgar thus through imitation err,
As oft the learn'd by being singular;
So much they scorn the crowd, that if the throng
By chance go right, they purposely go wrong:
So schismatics the plain believers quit,
And are but damn'd for having too much wit. 429




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