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Excellent Tragedy call'd, HEROIC LOVE.
Ufpicious poet, wert thou not my friend,
But fince 'tis nature's law in love and wit,
That youth fhould reign, and withering age fubmit,
With lefs regret those laurels I refign,
Which, dying on my brows, revive on thine.
With better grace an ancient chief may yield
The long contended honours of the field,
Than venture all his fortune at a cast,
And fight, like Hannibal, to lofe at laft.
Young princes, obftinate to win the prize,
Tho' yearly beaten, yearly yet they rife:
Old monarchs, tho' fuccefsful, ftill in doubt,
Catch at a peace, and wifely turn devout.
Thine be the laurel then; thy blooming age
Can beft, if any can, fupport the stage;
Which fo declines, that fhortly we may fee
Players and plays reduc'd to fecond infancy.
Sharp to the world, but thoughtless of renown,
They plot not on the ftage, but on the town,
And, in despair their empty pit to fill,
Set up fome foreign monster in a bill.
Thus they jog on, ftill tricking, never thriving,
And murd'ring plays, which they mifcal reviving.
Our fenfe is nonfenfe, thro' their pipes convey'd ;
Scarce can a poet know the play he made;
'Tis fo disguis'd in death; nor thinks 'tis he
That fuffers in the mangled tragedy.
Thus Itys first was kill'd, and after drefs'd
For his own fire, the chief invited guest.
I fay not this of thy fuccessful scenes,
Where thine was all the glory, theirs the gains.
With length of time, much judgment, and more toil,
Not ill they acted, what they could not spoil.
Their fetting fun 2 ftill fhoots a glimmering ray,
Like ancient Rome, majestic in decay :
And better gleanings their worn foil can boast,
Than the crab-vintage of the neighb'ring coaft 3.
This diff'rence yet the judging world will fee;
Thou copiest Homer, and they copy thee.
2 Betterton who had muftered up a Company, and played in Lincoln's-Inn Fields.
TRAGEDY call'd, BEAUTY IN DISTRESS.
'TIS hard, my friend, to write in such an age,
As damns, not only poets, but the stage.
That facred art, by heaven itself infus'd,
Which Mofes, David, Solomon have us'd,
Is now to be no more: the mufes' foes
Would fink their Maker's praises into profe.
Were they content to prune the lavish vine
Of ftraggling branches, and improve the wine,
Who, but a madman, would his thoughts defend?
All would fubmit; for all but fools will mend.
But when to common fenfe they give the lye,
And turn diftorted words to blafphemy.
They give the fcandal; and the wife difcern,
Their gloffes teach an age, too apt to learn.
What I have loosely, or prophanely, writ,
Let them to fires, their due desert, commit:
Nor, when accus'd by me, let them complain :
Their faults, and not their function, I arraign.
Rebellion, worfe than witchcraft, they purfu'd;
The pulpit preach'd the crime, the people ru'd.
The stage was filenc'd; for the faints would fee
In fields perform'd their plotted tragedy.
But let us first reform, and then so live,
That we may teach our teachers to forgive:
Our desk be plac❜d below their lofty chairs;
Ours be the practice, as the
The moral part, at least, we may divide,
Humility reward, and punish pride;
Ambition, int'reft, avarice, accufe:
Thefe are the province of a tragic muse.
These haft thou chofen; and the public voice
Has equall'd thy performance with thy choice.
Time, action, place, are fo preferv'd by thee,
That e'en Corneille might with envy fee
Th' alliance of his Tripled Unity.
Thy incidents, perhaps, too thick are sown;
But too much plenty is thy fault alone.
At least but two can that good crime commit,
Thou in defign, and Wycherly in wit.
Let thy own Gauls condemn thee, if they dare;
Contented to be thinly regular :
Born there, but not for them, our fruitful foil
With more increase rewards thy happy toil.
Their tongue, enfeebled, is refin’d too much;
And, like pure gold, it bends at ev'ry touch:
Our sturdy Teuton yet will art obey,
More fit for manly thought, and strengthen'd with allay. But whence art thou infpir'd, and thou alene,
To flourish in an idiom not thy own?
It moves our wonder, that a foreign guest
Should over-match the most, and match the best.
In under-praising thy deferts, I wrong;
Here find the first deficience of our tongue:
Words, once my ftock, are wanting, to commend
So great a poet, and fo good a friend.
CHESTERTON, in the County of HUNTINGDON, Efq;
WOW blefs'd is he, who leads a country life,
Unvex'd with anxious cares, and void of ftrife! Who studying peace, and fhunning civil rage, Enjoy'd his youth, and now enjoys his age: All who deferve his love, he makes his own; And, to be lov'd himself, needs only to be known. Juft, good and wife, contending neighbours come, From your award to wait their final doom; And, foes before, return in friendship home. Without their coft, you terminate the caufe; And fave th' expence of long litigious laws: Where fuits are travers'd; and fo little won, That he who conquers, is but laft undone : Such are not your decrees; but fo defign'd, The fanction leaves a lafting peace behind; Like your own foul, ferene; a pattern of your
1 This poem was written in 1699. The perfon to whom it is addreffed, was coufin German to the post, and a younger brother of the baronet.