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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
With such assurance as they meant to say, [blow :
We will o'ercome, but scorn the safest way.


30 40

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, waving plots, found out a better way ;
Some God descended, and preserv'd the play.
When first the triumphs of your sex were sung
By those old poets, beauty was but young,
And few admir'd the native red and white,
dress'd them


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 discharg’d to me,
When your applause and favour did infuse
New life to my condemn'd and dying muse.


Till poets



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 receiv'd 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.

5 15


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 ’scap'd 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 pay’d.
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 forc'd 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.
Such praise is yours, while you the passions move,
That 'tis no longer feign'd, 'tis real love,
Where nature triumphs over wretched art ;
We only warm the head, but you the heart.
Always you warm; and if the rising year,
As in hot regions, brings the sun too near,




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'Tis but to make your fragrant spices blow,
Which in our cooler climates will not grow.
They only think you animate your theme
With too much fire, who are themselves all phlegm.
Prizes would be for lags of slowest pace,
Were cripples made the judges of the race.
Despise those drones, who praise, while they accuse
The too much vigour of your youthful muse.
That humble style which they your virtue make,
Is in your power; you need but stoop and take.
Your beauteous images must be allow'd
By all, but some vile poets of the crowd.
But how should any signpost dauber know
The worth of Titian or of Angelo ?
Hard features every bungler can command;
To draw true beauty shows a master's hand.





Whether the fruitful Nile, or Tyrian shore,
The seeds of arts and infant science bore,
'Tis sure the noble plant, translated first,
Advanc'd its head in Grecian gardens nurs’d.
The Grecians added verse: their tuneful tongue 5
Made nature first and nature's God their song.
Nor stopt translation here: for conquering Rome


With Grecian spoils, brought Grecian numbers
Enrich'd by those Athenian muses more, [home;
Than all the vanquish'd world could yield before.
Till barbarous nations, and more barbarous times,
Debas'd the majesty of verse to rhymes;
Those rude at first : a kind of hobbling prose,
That limp'd along, and tinkled in the close.
But Italy, reviving from the trance
Of Vandal, Goth, and Monkish ignorance,
With pauses, cadence, and well vowell'd words,
And all the graces a good ear affords,
Made rhyme an art, and Dante's polish'd page
Restor'd a silver, not a golden age.
Then Petrarch follow'd, and in him we see
What rhyme improv'd in all its height can be :
At best a pleasing sound, and fair barbarity.
The French pursu'd their steps; and Britain, last,
In manly sweetness all the rest surpass’d.
The wit of Greece, the gravity of Rome,
Appear exalted in the British loom :
The Muses empire is restor'd again,
In Charles his reign, and by Roscommon's pen.
Yet modestly he does his work survey,
And calls a finish'd Poem an Essay ;




14 and tinkled in the close] Dryden adopts the contemptuous description of rhyme from preceding authors, and those of no mean note. Thus in Ben Jonson's Mask of The Fortunate Isles, Skogan, the jester, is represented as a writer in rime, fine tinckling rime !' And Andrew Marvell, in his spirited verses to Milton on his Paradise Lost, thus exclaims :

• Well might'st thou scorn thy readers to allure
With tinkling rhyme, of thy own sense secure.' T.

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