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AN EPISTLE.

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But grant for once, th' officious Muse has shed

Her gentlest influence on his infant head, DANGER OF WRITING VERSE.

Let fears lie vanquish'd, and resounding Fame

Give to the bellowing blast the poet's name. 1741.

And see! distinguish'd from the crowd be moves,

Each finger marks him, and each eye approves!
Quæ poterant unquam satis expurgare Cicutæ,
Ni melius dormire putem, quam scribere versus ?

Secure, as halcyons brooding o'er the deep,
The waves roll gently, and the thunders sleep,

Obsequious Nature binds the tempest's wings,
OU ask me, sir, why thus by phantoms aw'd, And pleas'd attention listens while he sings!

o blissful state, O more than human joy! Why, when retirement soothes this idle art,

What shafts can reach him, or what cares annoy? To fame regardless sleeps the youthful heart? What cares, my friend ? why all that man can 'Twould wrong your judgment, should I fairly say

know, Distrust or weakness caus'd the cold delay : Oppress'd with real or with fancy'd woe. Hint the small diff'reuce, till we touch the lyre,

Rude to the world, like Earth's first lord expellid, 'Twixt real genius and too strong desire;

To climes unknown, from Eden's safer field; The human slips, or seeming slips pretend,

No more eternal springs around him breathe,
Which rouse the critic, but escape the friend;

Black air scowls o'er him, deadly damps beneath ;
Nay which, though dreadful when the foe pursues, Now must he learn, misguided youth, to bear
You pass, and smile, and still provoke the Muse. Each varying season of the poet's year:

Yet, spite of all you think, or kindly feign, Flatt'ry's full beam, detraction's wintry store,
My hand will tremble while it grasps the pen.

The frowns of fortune, or the pride of pow'r.
For not in this, like other arts, we try

His acts, his words, his thoughts no more his Our light excursions in a summer sky,

own, No casual flights the dangerous trade admits; Each folly blazon'd, and each frailty known. But wits, once authors, are for ever wits.

Is he reserv'd ?-his sense is so refin'd,
The fool in prose, like Earth's unwieldy son,

It ne'er descends to trifle with mankind.
May oft rise vig'rous, though he's oft o'erthrowu: Open and free?--they find the secret cause
One dang'rous crisis marks our rise or fall; Is vanity; he courts the world's applause.
By all we're courted, or we're shun'd by all. Nay, though he speak not, something still is seen,
Will it avail, that, unmatur'd by years,

Each change of face betrays a fault within.
My easy numbers pleas'd your partial ears, If grave, 'tis spleen; he smiles but to deride;
If now condemn'd, ev'n where he's valu'd most, And downright awkwardness in him is pride.
The man must suffer if the poet's lost;

Thus must he steer through fame's uncertain seas, Por wanting wit, be totally undone,

Now supk by censure, and now puff'd by praise ; And barr'd all arts for having fail'd in one? Contempt with envy strangely mix'd endure, When fears like these his serious thoughts engage, Fear'd where caress'd, and jealous thongh secure. No bugbear phantom curbs the poet's rage.

One fatal rock on which good authors split Tis powerful reason holds the straiten'd rein, Is thinking all mankind must like their wit; While flutt'ring fancy to the distant plain

And the grand business of the world stand still Sends a long look, and spreads her wings in vain.

To listen to the dictates of their quill.

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Hurt if they fail, and yet how few succeed !

But should the meanest swan that cuts the stream
What 's born in leisure men of leisure read; Consign'd to Phæbus, catch the favour'd name,
And half of those bave some peculiar whim Safe in her mouth she bears the sacred prize
Their test of sense, and read but to condemn. To where bright Fame's eternal altars rise.

Besides, on parties now our fame depends, 'Tis there the Muse's friends true laurels wear,
And frowns or smiles, as these are foes or friends. There great Augustus reigns, and triumphs there.
Wit, judgment, nature join ; you strive in vain; Patrons of arts must live till arts decay,
'Tis keen invective stamps the current strain. Sacred to verse in every poet's lay.
Fix'd to one side, like Homer's gods, we fight, Thus grateful France does Richlieu's worth proclaim,
These always wrong, and those for ever right. Thus grateful Britain doats on Somers' name.
And would you choose to see your friend, resign'd And, spite of party rage and human flaws,
Each conscious tie which guides the virtuous mind, And British liberty and British laws,
Embroil'd in factions, hurl with dreaded skill Times yet to come shall sing of Anna's reign,
The random vengeance of his desp'rate quill? And bards, who blame the measures, love the men.
'Gainst pride in man with equal pride declaim, But why round patrons climb th'ambitious bays?
And hide ill-nature under virtue's name?

Is interest then the sordid spur to praise? (jay
Or, deeply vers'd in flattery's wily ways,

Shall the same cause, which prompts the chatt'ring
Flow in full reams of undistinguish'd praise? To aim at words 4, inspire the poet's lay?
To Vice's grave, or Folly's bust bequeath

And is there nothing in the boasted claim
The blushing trophy, and indignant wreath? Of living labours and a deathless name?
Like Egypt's priests', bid endless temples rise, The pictur'd front, with sacred fillets bound?
And people with Earth's pests th' offended skies? The sculptur'd Bust, with laurels wreath'd around?

The Muse of old her native freedom knew, The annual roses scatter'd o'er his urn,
And wild in air the sportive wand'rer flew ; And tears to flow from poets yet unborn ?
On worth alone her bays eternal strow'd,

Illustrious all! but sure to merit these,
And found the hero, ere she hymn'd the god. Demands at least the poet's learned ease.
Nor less the chief his kind support return'd, Say, can the bard attempt what's truly great,
No drooping Muse her slighted labours mourn'd; Who pants in secret for his future fate?
But stretch'd at ease she prun'd her growing wings, Him serious toils, and humbler arts engage,
By sages honour'd, and rever'd by kings.

To make youth easy, and provide for age;
Ev'o knowing Greece confess'd her early claim, While lost in silence hangs his useless lyre, (fire.
And warlike Latium caught the gen'rous flame. And, though from Heav'n it came,fast dies the sacred
Not so our age regards the tuneful tongue, Or grant true genius with superior force
'Tis senseless rapture all, and empty song: Bursts every bond, resistless in its course;
No Pollio sheds his genial influence round, Yet lives the man, how wild soe'er his aim,
No Varus listens while the groves resound.

Would madly barter fortune's smiles for fame!
Ev'n those, the knowing and the virtuous few, Or distant hopes of future ease forego,
Who noblest ends by noblest means pursue, For all the wreaths that all the Nine bestow ?
Forget the poet's use; the powerful spell

Well pleas'd to shine, through each recording page,
Of magic verse, which Sidney paints so well . The hapless Dryden of a shameless age?
Forget that Homer wak'd the Grecian flame, Ill-fated bard! where'er thy name appears,
That Pindar rous'd inglorious Thebes to fame, The weeping verse a sad memento bears.
That every age has great examples given

Ah! what avail'd th' enormous blaze between
Of virtue taught in verse, and verse inspir'd by Thy dawn of glory, and thy closing scene!
Heaven.

Wheu sinking nature asks our kind repairs,
But I forbear—these dreams no longer last, Unstrung the nerves, and silver'd o'er the hairs;
The times of fable and of flights are past.

When stay'd reflection comes uncalld at last,
To glory now no laureld suppliants bend,

And grey experience counts each folly past,
No coins are struck, no sacred domes ascend. Untun'd and harsh the sweetest strains appear,
Yet ye, who still the Muse's charms admire, And loudest pæans but fatigue the ear.
And best deserve the verse your deeds inspire, 'Tis true the man of verse, though born to ills,
Evin in these gainful unambitious days,

Too oft deserves the very fate he feels.
Feel for yourselves at least, ye fond of praise, When, vainly frequent at the great man's board,
And learn one lesson taught in mystic rhyme, He shares in every vice with every lord :
“ 'Tis verse alone arrests the wings of Time." Makes to their taste his sober sense submit,
Past to the thread of life 3, annex'd by Fame, And 'gainst his reason madly arms his wit;
A sculptur'd medal bears each human name, Heav'n but in justice turns their serious heart
D'er Lethe's streams the fatal threads depend, To scorn the wretch, whose life belies his art.
The glitt'ring medal trembles as they bend;

He, only he, should haunt the Muse's grove,
Close but the shears, when chance or nature calls, whom youth might rev'rence and grey hairs ap-
The birds of rumour catch it as it falls;

prove; Awhile from bill to bill the trifle's tost,

Whose Heav'n-taught numbers, now, in thunder The waves receive it, and 'tis ever lost !

roll’d,

Might rouse the virtuous and appal the bold;
Qui nescit qualia demens

Now, to truth's dictates lend the grace of ease,
Ægyptus portenta colat? crocodilon adorat-

And teach instruction happier arts to please.
Juv. Sat. xv.

For him would Plato change their gen'ral fate, 2 Defence of Poesie. By sir Philip Sidney.

And own one poet might improve his state. 3 Bacon de Augment. Scientiarum.

4 Perseus.

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A TALE.

Curs'd be their verse, and blasted all their bays, In sacred silence join th' inglorious train,
Whose sensual lure th' unconscious ear betrays; Where humble peace and sweet contentment reign;
Wounds the young breast, ere Virtue spreads her If not thy precepts, thy example own,
shield,

And steal through life not useless, though unknown.
And takes, not wins, the scarce disputed field.
Though specious rhet'ric each loose thought refine,
Though music charm in every labour'd line,
The dangerous verse, to full perfection grown,

ATYS AND ADRASTUS.
Bavius might blush, and Quarles disdain to own.
Should some Machaon, whose sagacious soul

1743.
Trac'd blushing Nature to her inmost goal,
Skill'd in each drug the varying world provides,

Infelix! Nati funus crudele videbis. All earth embosoms, and all ocean hides,

Hi nostri reditus, expectatique triumphi! Nor cooling herb, nor healing balm supply,

Hæc mea magna fides !

Virg. Ease the swoln breast, or close the languid eye; But, exquisitely ill, awake disease,

In ancient times, o'er Lydia's fertile land And arm with poisons every baleful breeze: The warrior Cræsus held supreme command. What racks, what tortures must his crimes demand, Vast was his wealth, for conquest swellid his stores The more than Borgia of a bleeding land ! Nor what enrich'd the prince, had left the people poor. And is less guilty he, whose shameless page

Two sons he had, alike in outward mien, Not to the present bounds its subtle rage,

The tender pledges of a dying queen.
But spreads contagion wide, and stains a future age? But speechless one ne'er taught his sire to melt

Forgive me, sir, that thus the moral strain, With lisping eloquence by parents felt;
With indignation warm’d, rejects the rein; And mimic art in vain expedients sought
Not think I rove regardless of my theme,

To form the tongue, and free th’imprison'd thought.
'Tis hence new danyers clog the paths to fame, Yet blooming Atys well that loss supply'd,
Not to themselves alone such bards contine Atys the people's hope, and monarch's pride.
Fame's just reproach for virtue's injur'd shrine; His beauteous soul through every feature glow'd;
Profan'd by them, the Muse's laurels fade, And from his lips such soft persuasion flow'd,
Her voice neglected, and her flame decay'd. As Nature had withheld the brother's share,
And the son's son must feel the father's crime, Only to pour a double portiou there.
A curse entail'd on all the race that rhyme.

But vain those graces, since conceal'd from view New cares appear, new terrours swell the train, They droop in shades, and wither where they grew. And must we paint them ere we close the scene? For one dread night, when o'er the weary king Say, must the Muse th’ unwilling task pursue, The drowsy god had stretch'd his leaden wing, Aud, to complete her dangers, mention you? He seem'd, he knew not where, in wars engag'd, Yes you, my friend, ev'n you whose kind regard And, while around the doubtful battle rag'd, With partial fondness views this humble bard: Saw from some hostile hand unerring part Ev'n you he dreads.-Ah! kindly cease to raise A fatal spear, which pierc'd his Atys' heart. Unwilling censure, by exacting praise.

He starts, he wakes-—'tis night, and silence all! Just to itself the jealous world will claim

Yet, scarce confirm'd, he still beholds him fall; A right to judge; to give, or cancel fame. Still bleeds in fancy's eye the gaping wound, And, if th' officious zcal unbounded flows,

On fancy's ear the dying groans resound. The friend too partial is the worst of foes.

Again he sleeps; the same sad scenes returnBehold th’ Athenian sages, whose piercing mind Restless he rolls, and waits the ling‘ring morn. Had trac'd the wily lab'rinths of mankind,

What can he do, or how prevent a doom, When now condemn’d, he leaves his infant care Which Heav'n foretels, and Fate has said shall come? To all those evils man is born to bear.

“ And yet perhaps the gods these dreams inspire, Not to his friends alone the charge he yields, To save the guiltless son, and warn the sire. But nobler hopes on juster motives builds ; Too fond of arms I wander'd far astray, Bids ev'n his foes their future steps attend, While youth and blind ambition led the way. And dare to censure, if they dar'd offend.

And ravag'd countries may at length demand Would thus the poet trust his offspring forth, This bleeding sacrifice at Croesus hand. Or bloom'd our Britain with Athenian worth : Then hear me, gods, propitious, while I swear, Would the brave foe th’imperfect work engage Peace, only peace, shall be my future care. With bonest freedom, not with partial rage, O, would your powers but save my darling bor, What just productions might the world surprise ! No more this breast shall glow, this arm destroy! What other Popes, what other Maros rise ! Nor ere shall Atys the dire sport pursue,

But since by foes or friends alike deceiv'd, Still in my court, and seldom from my view, Too little those, and these too much believ'd ; In ease inglorious shall he pass his days, Since the same fate pursues by diff'rent ways, Untaught to feel th' insatiate lust of praise." Undone by censure, or undone by praise;

He spake, and cantious far away remov'd Since barıls themselves submit to vice's rule, From Atys, what next Atys most he lov'd, And party-feuds grow high, and patrons cool : The pomp of war: no falchions guard the gate, Since, still nonam'd, unnumber'd ills behind And chiefs unarın'd around his palace wait. Rise black in air, and only wait the wind : Let me, O let me, ere the tempest roar,

1 This story is related in the first book of Herv. Catch the first gale, and make the nearest shore; dotus's History. For the additions made to it, and

the manner of telling it, the author of the follows Platonis Apologia,

ing poem is to answer.

Nay further still extends a parent's fear,

How close connected greatness was with pain, Ev'n arms themselves he dreads, and most the What earthly bliss, and who the happy man. spear;

Nor less the while his youthful breast he warms Nor leaves of ancient war the weak remains, With pictur'd fights, the theory of arms; But strips the trophies from the mould'ring fanes, Lest inbred sloth should taint his future reign, Lest, fixt too loosely, from the faithless stone And virtue wake, and glory tempt in vain. The casual steel should drop, and pierce his son. Thee, Homer, thee with rapture they peruse, Thus some sweet warbler of the feather'd throng Expand the soul, and take in all the Muse; Deep in the thorny brake secures her young; Mix with thy gods, with war's whole ardour burn, Yet, vainly anxious, feels a fancied woe,

Or melt in silent tears o'er Hector's urn. And starts at every breeze that stirs the bough; How oft transported would young Atys cry, With silent hosrour hears the whisp'ring groves, “ Thus might I fight, 'twere glorious thus to die! And distant murmurs of the spring she loves. But why to me are useless precepts giv'n, Unhappy sire! but vainly we oppose

Tied down and pinion'd by the will of Heav'n? Weak human caution, when the gods are foes; No early wreaths my coward youth must claim, The story's sequel must too surely prove,

No just ambition warm me into fame;
That dreams, prophetic dreams, descend from Jove. Hid from the world to rust in sloth, and buy

Nor yet skall Atys thwart thy fond designs ; A poor precarious life with infamy.
He moves implicit as his sire inclines.

Happy, thrice happy, on each hostile strand On every look his eager duty hung,

The youths who perish d by my father's hand ! And read his wishes, ere they reach'd his tongue. Their honour still survives, and o'er their tomb With smiles he strips bis helmet's plumy pride, Their country's tears descend, and laurels bloom. With smiles he lays his useless spear aside ; To life alone the conquering sword's coufin'dNor lets one sigh confess a latent care,

Would you indeed distress, employ a love too kind." Reserving all his griefs for his Adrastus' ear.

As oft Adrastus, studious to control
Adrastus early did his soul approve,

With reason's voice the tumult of the soul,
Brave, virtuous, learn'd, and form'd for Atys' love, Wou'd hint, to what excess soever wrought,
A Phrygian youth, whom Fate condemn'd to roam, Paternal fondness was a venial fault.
An exil'd wand'rer from a cruel home.

Perhaps, as lenient time stole gently on,
For, yet a boy, his inadvertent lance

The stormwhich threaten'd might be quite o'erblown, An infant brother slew, the crime of chance. And sun-bright honour only be delay'd In vain he wept; the rigid sire demands

Awhile, to burst more glorious from the shade. His instant absence from his native lands,

“ Yet think,” he cried, “ whatever they appear, Or threatens instant death; from death he flew, Few are the causes can excuse a war. And loaded with a father's curse withdrew. To raise th' opprest, to curb th' insulting proud, Yet not in vain the gods such ills dispense,

Or should your injur'd country call aloud, If soft-ey'd Pity takes her rise from hence, Riish, rush to arms, 'tis glorious then to dare, If hence we learn to feel another's pain,

Delay is cowardice, and doubt despair. And from our own misfortunes grow humane. But let not idler views your breast inflame This young Adrastus found ; and hence confess'd Of boundless kingdoms, and a dreaded name. That mild benevolence which warm'd his breast. "Tis yours at home to stem oppression's waves, Hence too his fortune stretch'd a bolder wing, To guard your subjects, not increase your slaves; And plac'd her wand'rer near the Lydian king. On this just basis fame's firm column raise, There long the favour'd youth exalted shone, And be desert in arms your second praise." Dear to the sire, but dearer to the son:

'Twas thus in converse, day succeeding day, For pow'rful sympathy their hearts had join'd They wore unfelt the tedious hours away, Jn stronger ties than gratitude can bind.

And years on years in downy circles ran With him did Atys every sport pursue,

Till the boy rose insensibly to inan. Which health demands, and earlier ages knew. What now shall Cresus find, what Syren voice, At morn, at eve, at sultry noon, with him

To make retirement the result of choice? He rov'd the sunny lawn, he swam the stream ; No father's stern command these years allow, Beside the brook, which dimpling glides away, A chain more pleasing must detain him now: Caught the cool breeze, or lur'd the finny prey; In rosy fetters shall the youth be tied, Urg'd the light car along th' indented mead, And Mysia's captive fair the chosen bride. Or hung impetuous o'er th’exulting steed,

Haste, gentle god, whose chains unite the globe, Beneath whose hoof unhurt the flow'rets rise, Known by the blazing torch, and saffron robe, And the light grass scarce trembles as he flies. To Lydia haste, for Atys blames your stay, But chief he lov'd to range the woods among, Nor fair Idalia's blushes brook delay; And hear the music of Adrastus' tongue

O'er glory's blaze your soft enchantments breathe, With graceful ease unlock the letter'd store, And hide the laurel with the myrtle wreath. And that he learn'd from him endear'd the know And now the king with secret transport found ledge more.

His hopes succeed, nor fears a martial wound, Of Thales' wisdom oft the converse ran, While lost in love the happier Atys lies, How varying Nature's beauteous frame began, The willing victim of Idalia's eyes. And erst to different forms the waters flow'd, O thoughtless man! from hence thy sorrows flow, As o'er the chaos mov'd the breathing God. The scheme projected to avert the blow

Of Solon too he spake, and laws design'd But makes it sure—for see, from Mysia's land To guard fair freedom, not enslave mankind Round list’ning Atys crowds a suppliant band. And hinted oft what mutual duties spring

Their

tears, their cries, his easy breast assail, Twixt willing subjects and their father king: Fond to redress them ere he hears their tale.

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