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No longer now that golden age appears,

When Patriarch-wits furviv'd a thousand years:


Now length of Fame (our fecond life) is loft,
And bare threefcore is all ev'n that can boaft;
Our fons their fathers' failing language fee,
And fuch as Chaucer is, fhall Dryden be.



totle and Antoninus. In the Roman authors, the change of language is ftill more remarkable. How different, in this refpect, is Ennius from Virgil, Lucilius from Horace, Cato from Columella, and even Catullus from Ovid! The Laws of the Twelve Tables, though ftudied by every Roman of condition, were not perfectly underfood, even by antiquarians, in the time of Cicero, when they were not quite four hundred years old. Cicero himfelf, as well as Lucretius, made feveral improvements in the Latin tongue; Virgil introduced fome new words; and Horace afferts his right to the fame privilege; and from his remarks upon it, appears to have confidered the immutability of living language as an impoffible thing. It were vain then to flatter ourselves with the hope of permanency to any of the modern tongues of Europe; which, being more ungrammatical than the Latin and Greek, are exposed to more dangerous, because lefs difcernible, innovations. Our want of tenfes and cafes makes a multitude of auxiliary verbs neceffary; and to these the unlearned are not attentive, because they look upon them as the least important parts of language; and hence they come to be omitted or misapplied in converfation, and afterwards in writing. Befides, the spirit of commerce, manufacture, and naval enterprize, fo honourable to modern Europe, and to Great Britain in particular, and the free circulation of arts, fciences, and opinions, owing, in part, to the ufe of printing, and to our improvements in navigation, must render the modern tongues, and especially the English, more variable than the Greek or Latin.". Beattie. WARTON.

VER. 482. failing language] " In England (fays an ingenious Italian) the Translation of the Bible is the standard of their language; in Italy the standard is, the Decamerone of Boccacio. WARTON.




So when the faithful pencil has defign'd

Some bright Idea of the master's mind,

Where a new world leaps out at his command,

And ready nature waits upon his hand :


When the ripe colours foften and unite,

And fweetly melt into juft fhade and light;
When mellowing years their full perfection give,
And each bold figure juft begins to live,
The treach'rous colours the fair art betray,
And all the bright creation fades away!

Unhappy Wit, like most mistaken things,
Atones not for that envy which it brings.
In youth alone its empty praise we boast,
But foon the fhort-liv'd vanity is loft:

Like fome fair flow'r the early spring supplies,

That gaily blooms, but ev'n in blooming dies.





VER. 484. So when the faithful pencil, &c] This is again a beautiful illuftration. Thefe images and fimiles interfperfed in a dry didactic poem, prove the Poet's great judgment; and as the fubjects of each illuftration are fo poetical, the expreffions fo forcible and well-felected, and the whole image fo entirely and beautifully painted, they illuftrate moft happily the Poet's own. doctrine:

A prudent chief not always must display

His pow'rs, in equal ranks and fair array.

For if occafionally he becomes profaic, he amply repays a moment's languor to the reader by his unexpected, highly polished, accurate, and poetical illuftrations.

VER. 498. Like fome fair flower, &c.] Something like this idea, and the comparison, may be found in George Herbert's elegant canzonet :

"I made

What is this Wit, which muft our cares employ?
The owner's wife, that other men enjoy ;


Then most our trouble ftill when most admir'd,

And still the more we give, the more requir'd;

Whofe fame with pains we guard, but lofe with ease, Sure fome to vex, but never all to please ;


'Tis what the vicious fear, the virtuous fhun,

By fools 'tis hated, and by knaves undone!

If Wit fo much from Ign'rance undergo, Ah let not learning too commence its foe! Of old, thofe met rewards who could excell,

And fuch were prais'd who but endeavour'd well:




"I made a pofie, while the day ran by,
"Here will I fmell my remnant out, and tie
"My life within this band!

"But TIME did beckon to the flow'rs, and they
By noon, moft cunningly did feal away,
"And wither in my hand."

"Farewell, dear flow'rs, fweetly your time ye fpent,


Fit, while ye liv'd, for fmell or ornament,

"And after death, for cures :

"I follow ftraight, without complaints or grief,
"Since, if my fcent be good, I care not-if-
"It be as fort as yours."

VER. 50S. If Wit fo much from Ign'rance undergo,] Boileau going one day to receive his penfion, and the treasurer reading thefe words in his order," the penfion we have granted to Boileau, on account of the fatisfaction his works have given us,” afked him of what kind were his works; "Of masonry (replied the Poet), I am a builder!" Racine ufed to relate, that an old magistrate, who had never been at a play, was carried, one day, to his Andromaque. This magiftrate was very attentive to the tragedy,

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Though triumphs were to gen'rals only due,
Crowns were referv'd to grace the foldiers too.
Now, they who reach Parnaffus' lofty crown,
Employ their pains to spurn some others down; 515
And while felf-love each jealous writer rules,
Contending wits become the fport of fools:
But still the worst with moft regret commend,
For each ill Author is as bad a Friend.
To what bafe ends, and by what abject ways,

Are mortals urg'd through facred luft of praise!
Ah ne'er so dire a thirst of glory boast,

Nor in the Critic let the Man be loft.
Good-nature and good fenfe muft ever join;

To err is human, to forgive, divine.

But if in noble minds some dregs remain
Not yet purg'd off, of spleen and four disdain;
Discharge that rage on more provoking crimes,
Nor fear a dearth in these flagitious times.
No pardon vile Obfcenity fhould find,
Tho' wit and art confpire to move your mind;

But Dulness with Obfcenity muft prove

As fhameful fure as Impotence in love.

In the fat age of pleafure, wealth, and ease,




Sprung the rank weed, and thriv'd with large increase: When


tragedy, to which was added the Plaideurs; and going out of the theatre, he faid to the author, "I am extremely pleased, Sir, with your Andromaque: I am only amazed that it ends fo gaily; j'avois d'abord eu quelque envie de pleurer, mais la vue des petits chiens m'a fait rire." WARTON.

When love was all an eafy Monarch's care;

Seldom at council, never in a war:

Jilts rul'd the state, and statesmen farces writ:


Nay wits had penfions, and young Lords had wit:
The Fair fate panting at a Courtier's play,

And not a Mask went unimprov'd away:

The modeft fan was lifted up no more,

And Virgins smil❜d at what they blush'd before.
The following licence of a Foreign reign

Did all the dregs of bold Socinus drain;

Then unbelieving Priests reform'd the nation,



And taught more pleasant methods of falvation; Where Heav'n's free fubjects might their rights


Left God himself should seem too abfolute :

Pulpits their facred fatire learn'd to fpare,
And Vice admir'd to find a flatt'rer there!




VER. 534. In the fat age of pleasure, wealth, and eafe,
Sprung the rank weed,]

"And duller should'ft thou be than the fat weed." HAMLET.

VER. 54. And not a Mafk, &c.] Alluding to the custom in that age, of Ladies going in Masks to the Play. When we confider that, many even of our early Tragedies are polluted with the groffeft allufions and ribaldry, how amiable does Shakespear appear, whofe page, in comparifon of that of Beaumont and Fletcher, is purity itself!

VER. 544 Foreign reign] The reign of William III. The fanaticism of Cromwell was fucceeded by general licentiousness in Charles II.'s reign. This Pope, infinuates, and he is followed by Warburton, was the cause of the general freedom of inquiry after the revolution. Pope, for obvious reafons, feems to forget there was fuch a King as James II. He here alludes to those whom Warburton calls Latitudinarian Divines.

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