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That soil which those immortal laurels bore,
That once the sacred Maro's temples wore.
Elissa's griefs are so express'd by you,
They are too eloquent to have been true.
Had she so spoke, Æneas had obey'd
What Dido, rather than what Jove had said.
If funeral rites can give a ghost repose,
Your muse so justly has discharged those,
Elissa's shade may now its wand'ring cease,
And claim a title to the fields of peace.
But if Æneas be obliged, no less
Your kindness great Achilles doth confess;
Who, dress’d by Statius in too bold a look,
Did ill become those virgin robes he took.
To understand how much we owe to you,
We must your numbers, with your author's view :
Then we shall see his work was lamely rough,
Each figure stiff, as if design'd in buff:
His colours laid so thick on every place,
As only show'd the paint, but hid the face.
But as in perspective we beauties see,
Which in the glass, not in the picture, be ;
So here our sight obligingly mistakes
That wealth, which his your bounty only makes.
Thus vulgar dishes are, by cooks disguised,
More for their dressing, than their substance prized.
Your curious notes so search into that age,
When all was fable but the sacred page,
That, since in that dark night we needs must stray,
We are at least misled in pleasant way.
But what we most admire, your verse no less
The prophet than the poet doth confess.
Ere our weak eyes discern'd the doubtful streak
Of light, you saw great Charles his morning break :
So skilful seamen ken the land from far,
Which shows like mists to the dull passenger.
To Charles your muse first pays her duteous love,
As still the ancients did begin from Jove.
With Monk you end, whose name preserved shall be,
As Rome recorded Rufus' memory,
Who thought it greater honour to obey
His country's interest, than the world to sway.
But to write worthy things of worthy men,
Is the peculiar talent of your pen:
Yet let me take your mantle up, and I
Will venture in your right to prophesy.
“This work, by merit first of fame secure,
Is likewise happy in its geniture:
For, since 'tis born when Charles ascends the throne,
It shares at once his fortune and its own."
TO MY HONOURED FRIEND,
ON HIS LEARNED AND USEFUL WORKS; BUT MORE PARTICULARLY
HIS TREATISE OF STONEHENGE.
The longest tyranny that ever sway'd,
Was that wherein our ancestors betray'd
Their free-born reason to the Stagirite,
And made his torch their universal light.
So truth, while only one supplied the state,
Grew scarce, and dear, and yet sophisticate.
Still it was bought, (like emp’ric wares, or charms,)
Hard words seal'd up with Aristotle's arms.
Columbus was the first that shook his throne,
And found a temperate in a torrid zone:
The feverish air fann'd by a cooling breeze,
The fruitful vales set round with shady trees ;
And guiltless men, who danced away their time,
Fresh as their groves, and happy as their clime.
Had we still paid that homage to a name,
Which only God and nature justly claim;
The western seas had been our utmost bound,
Where poets still might dream the sun was drown's
And all the stars that shine in southern skies,
Had been admired by none but savage eyes.
Among the asserters of free reason's claim,
Our nation's not the least in worth or fame.
The world to Bacon does not only owe
Its present knowledge, but its future too.
Gilbert shall live, till loadstones cease to draw,
Or British fleets the boundless ocean awe;
And noble Boyle, not less in nature seen,
Than his great brother read in states and men.
The circling streams, once thought but pools, of blood
(Whether life's fuel, or the body's food)
From dark oblivion Harvey's name shall save ;
While Ent keeps all the honour that he gave.
Nor are you, learned friend, the least renown'd;
Whose fame, not circumscribed with English ground,
Flies like the nimble journeys of the light;
And like that, unspent too in its flight.
Whatever truths have been, by art or chance,
Redeem'd from error, or from ignorance,
Thin in their authors, like rich veins of ore,
Your works unite, and still discover more.
Such is the healing virtue of your pen,
To perfect cures on books, as well as men.
Nor is this work the least : you well may give
To men new vigour, who make stones to live.
Through you, the Danes, their short dominion lost,
A longer conquest than the Saxons boast.
Stonehenge, once thought a temple, you have found
A throne, where kings, our earthly gods, were crown'd;
Where by their wond'ring subjects they were seen,
Joy'd with their stature, and their princely mien.
Our sovereign here above the rest might stand,
And here be chose again to rule the land.
These ruins shelter'd once his sacred head,
When he from Wor'ster's fatal battle fled ;
Watch'd by the genius of this royal place,
And mighty visions of the Danish race.
His refuge then was for a temple shown:
But, he restored, 'tis now become a throne.
TO THE LADY CASTLEMAIN
(AFTERWARDS DUCHESS OF CLEVELAND,) UPON HER ENCOURAGING HIS FIRST PLAY, CALLED THE WILD
As seamen, shipwreck'd on some happy shore,
Discover wealth in lands unknown before ;
And, what their art had labour'd long in vain,
By their misfortunes happily obtain :
my much-envied muse, by storms long toss'd,
Is thrown upon your hospitable coast,
And finds more favour by her ill success,
Than she could hope for by her happiness.
Once Cato's virtue did the gods oppose;
While they the victor, he the vanquish'd chose:
But you have done what Cato could not do,
To choose the vanquish'd, and restore him too.
Let others still triumph, and gain their cause
By their deserts, or by the world's applause;
Let merit crowns, and justice laurels give,
But let me happy by your pity live.
True poets empty fame and praise despise,
Fame is the trumpet, but your smile the prize.
You sit above, and see vain men below
Contend for what you only can bestow:
But those great actions others do by chance,
Are, like your beauty, your inheritance:
So great a soul, such sweetness join'd in one,
Could only spring from noble Grandison.
You, like the stars, not by reflection bright,
Are born to your own heaven, and your own light;
Like them are good, but from a nobler cause,
From your own knowledge, not from nature's laws.
Your power you never use, but for defence,
To guard your own, or others' innocence:
Your foes are such, as they, not you, have made,
And virtue may repel, though not invade.
Such courage did the ancient heroes show,
Who, when they might prevent, would wait the blow:
With such assurance as they meant to say,
We will o'ercome, but scorn the safest way.
What further fear of danger can there be ?
Beauty, which captives all things, sets me free.
Posterity will judge by my success,
I had the Grecian poet's happiness,
Who, waiving plots, found out a better way;
Some God descended, and preserved the play.
When first the triumphs of your sex were sung
By those old poets, beauty was but young,
And few admired the native red and white,
Till poets dress'd them up to charm the sight;
So beauty took on trust, and did engage
For sums of praises till she came to age.
But this long-growing debt to poetry
You justly, madam, have discharged to me,
When your applause and favour did infuse
New life to my condemn'd and dying muse.
ON HIS TRAGEDY OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT.'
THE blast of common censure could I fear,
Before your play my name should not appear;
For 'twill be thought, and with some colour too,
the bribe I first received from you;
That mutual vouchers for our fame we stand,
And play the game into each other's hand;
And as cheap pen'orths to ourselves afford,
As Bessus and the brothers of the sword.
Such libels private men may well endure,
When states and kings themselves are not secure:
For ill men, conscious of their inward guilt,
Think the best actions on by-ends are built.
And yet my silence had not 'scaped their spite;
Then, envy had not suffer'd me to write;
For, since I could not ignorance pretend,
Such merit I must envy or commend.
So many candidates there stand for wit,
A place at court is scarce so hard to get:
In vain they crowd each other at the door;
For e'en reversions are all begg'd before:
Desert, how known soe’er, is long delay'd ;
And then too fools and knaves are better paid.
Yet, as some actions bear so great a name,
That courts themselves are just, for fear of shame;
So has the mighty merit of your play
Extorted praise, and forced itself away.
'Tis here as 'tis at sea; who farthest goes,
Or dares the most, makes all the rest his foes.
Yet when some virtue much outgrows the rest,
It shoots too fast, and high, to be express'd ;
As his heroic worth struck envy dumb,
Who took the Dutchman, and who cut the boom.