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Such is the shout, the long-applanding note, 330
335 “ What shook the stage, and made the people stare?” Cato's long wig, flow'r'd gown, and lacquer'd chair.
Yet, lest you think I rally more than teach, Or praise malignly arts I cannot reach, Let me for once presume t'instruct the times, 340 To know the poet from the man of rhymes : 'Tis he, who gives my breast a thousand pains, Can make me feel each passion that he feigns ; Inrage, compose, with more than magic art, With pity, and with terror, tear my heart; 345 And snatch me, o'er the earth, or through the air, To Thebes, to Athens, when he will, and where.
But not this part of the poetic state, Alone, deserves the favour of the great : Think of those authors, Sir, who would rely 350 More on a reader's sense, than gazer's eye. Or who shall wander where the muses sing? Who climb their mountain, or who taste their spring ? How shall we fill a library with wit, When Merlin's Cave is half unfinish'd yet? 355
VER. 355. Merlin's Cave A building in the royal gardens of Kichmond, where is a small, but shoice colleccion of books.
My liege! why writers little claim your thought, I guess ; and, with their leave, will tell the fault : We poets are (upon a poet's word) Of all mankind, the creatures most absurd : The season, when to come, and when to go, 360 To sing, or cease to sing, we never know; And if we will recite nine hours in ten, You lose your patience, just like other men. Then too we hurt ourselves, when to defend. A single verse, we quarrel with a friend; 365 Repeat unask'd ; lament, the wit's too fine For vulgar eyes, and point out ev'ry line. But most, when straining with too weak a wing, We needs will write epistles to the King ; And from the moment we oblige the town, 370 Expect a place, or pension from the crown; Or dubb’d historians by express command, T'enroll your triumphs o'er the seas and land, Be call'd to court to plan some work divine, As once for Louis, Boileau and Racine. 375
Yet think, great Sir! (so many virtues shown ;) Ah think, what poet best may make them known? Or choose at least some minister of grace, Fit to bestow the Laureat's weighty place.
Charles, to late times to be transmitted fair, 380 Assign’d his figure to Bernini's care ; And great Nassau to Kneller's hand decreed To fix him graceful on the bounding steed;
So well in paint and stone they judg'd of merit :
Not with such majesty, such bold relief, 390
410 There's nothing blackens like the ink of fools.
If true, a woful likeness; and if lies,