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THE NINTH ODE OF THE FOURTH BOOK.
LEST you should think that verse shall die
Which sounds the silver Thames along, Taught on the wings of Truth to fly
Above the reach of vulgar song ; Though daring Milton sits sublime,
In Spenser native muses play; Nor yet shall Waller yield to time,
Nor pensive Cowley's moral laySages and chiefs long since had birth
Ere Cæsar was, or Newton named ; These raised new empires o'er the earth,
And those new heavens and systems framed. Vain was the chief's, the sage's pride ! They had no poet, and they died: In vain they schemed, in vain they bled ! They had no poet, and are dead.
ON RECEIVING FROM THE RIGHT HON. LADY FRANCES SHIRLEY A STANDISH AND TWO PENS.
Yes, I beheld th’ Athenian queen
Descend in all her sober charms;
And, 'Take," she said, and smiled serene,
* Take at this hand celestial arms: Secure the radiant weapons wield;
This golden lance shall guard desert, And if a vice dares keep the field,
This steel shall stab it to the heart."
Awed, on my bended knees I fell,
Received the weapons of the sky;
And dipp'd them in the sable well,
The fount of fame or infamy.
• What well? what weapon ? Flavia cries,
• A standish; steel and golden pen!
It came from Bertrand's, not the skies;
you to write again.
• But, friend, take heed whom you attack;
You'll bring a house, I mean of peers,
Red, blue, and green, nay, white, and black,
L***** and all about your ears.
"You'd write as smooth again on glass,
And run on ivory so glib,
As not to stick at fool or ass,
Nor stop at flattery or fib.
• Athenian queen! and sober charms !
I tell you, fool, there's nothing in 't:
'Tis Venus, Venus gives these arms :
In Dryden's Virgil see the print.
• Come, if you'll be a quiet soul,
That dares tell neither truth nor lies,
I'll list you in the harmless roll
Of those that sing of these poor eyes.'
ROBERT, EARL OF OXFORD, AND EARL MORTIMER. Sent to the Earl of Oxford, with Dr. Parnell's Poems,
published by our Author, after the said Earl's Imprisonment in the Tower and Retreat into the Coun:
try, in the Year 1721.
Such were the notes thy once-lov'd poet sung,
Till death untimely stopp'd his tuneful tongue.
Oh, just beheld, and lost! admired, and mourn'd!
With softest manners, gentlest adorn'd!
Bless'd in each science, bless'd' in every strain !
Dear to the muse! to Harley dear-in vain!
For him, thou oft hast bid the world attend,
Fond to forget the statesman in the friend :
For Swift and him, despised the farce of state,
The sober follies of the wise and great;
Dexterous, the craving, fawning crowd to quit,
And pleased t escape from flattery to wit.
Absent or dead, still let a friend be dear
(A sigh the absent claims, the dead a tear).
Recal those nights that closed thy toilsome days,
Still hear thy Parnell in his living lays,
Who, careless now of interest, fame, or fate,
Perhaps forgets that Oxford e'er was great:
Or, deeming meanest what we greatest call,
Beholds thee glorious only in thy fall,
And sure, if aught below the seats divine Can touch immortals, 'tis a soul like thine ; A soul supreme, in each hard instance tried, Above all pain, and passion, and all pride, The rage of power, the blast of public breath, The lust of lucre, and the dread of death.
In vain to deserts thy retreat is made : The muse attends thee to thy silent shade: 'Tis hers the brave man's latest steps to trace, Re-judge his acts, and dignify disgrace. When interest calls off all her sneaking train, And all the obliged desert, and all the vain; She waits, or to the scaffold, or the cell, When the last lingering friend has bid farewell. E'en now, she shades thy evening-walk with bays (No hireling she, no prostitute to praise); E'en now, observant of the parting ray, Eyes the calm sun-set of the various day, Through fortune's cloud one truly great can see, Nor fears to tell that Mortimer is he.
EPISTLE TO JAMES CRAGGS, ESQ,
Secretary of State in the Year 1720.
A SOUL, as full of worth, as void of pride,
Which nothing seeks to shew, or needs to hide ;
Which nor to guilt nor fear its caution owes,
And boasts a warmth that from no passion flows:
A face untaught to feign; a judging eye
That darts severe upon a rising lie,
And strikes a blush through frontless flattery;
All this thou wert; and being this before,
Know, kings and fortune cannot make thee more.
Then scorn to gain a friend by servile ways,
Nor wish to lose a foe these virtues raise;
But candid, free, sincere, as you began,
Proceed-a minister, but still a man,
Be not (exalted to whate'er degree)
Ashamed of any friend, not e'en of me:
The patriot's plain, but untrod, path pursue;
If not, 'tis I must be ashamed of you.
EPISTLE TO MR. JERVAS.
With Mr. Dryden's Translation of Fresnoy's
Art of Painting.
This Epistle, and the two following, were written some years
• before the rest, and originally printed in 1717.
This verse be thine, my friend, nor thou refuse
This, from no venal or ungrateful muse.
Whether thy hand strike out some free design,
Where life awakes, and dawns at every line;
Or blend in beauteous tints the colour'd mass,
And from the canvass call the mimic face:
Read these instructive leaves, in which conspire
Fresnoy's close art, and Dryden's native fire:
And reading wish, like theirs our fate and fame.
So mix'd our studies, and so join'd our name;
Like them to shine through long succeeding age,
So just thy skill, so regular my rage.
Smit with the love of sister-arts we came, And met congenial, mingling flame with flame; Like friendly colours found them both unite, And each from each contract new strength and light. How oft in pleasing tasks we wear the day, While summer-suns roll unperceived away! How oft our slowly-growing works impart, While images reflect from art to art! How oft review; each finding like a friend Something to blame, and something to commend !
What flattering scenes our wandering fancy wrought,
Rome's pompous glories rising to our thought!
Together v'er the Alps methinks we fly,
Fired with ideas of fair Italy.
With thee on Raphael's monument I mourn,
Or wait inspiring dreams at Maro's urn:
With thee repose where Tully once was laid,
Or seek some ruin's formidable shade :
While fancy brings the vanish'd piles to view,
And builds imaginary Rome anew.
Here thy well-studied marbles fix our eye;
A fading fresco here demands a sigh :
Each heavenly piece unwearied we compare,
Match Raphael's grace with thy loved Guido's air,
Caracci's strength, Correggio's softer line,
Paulo's free stroke, and Titian's warmth divine.
How finish'd with illustrious toil appears
This small well-polish'd gem, the work of years !
Yet still how faint by precept is express'd
The living image in the painter's breast!
Thence endless streams of fair ideas flow,
Strike in the sketch, or in the picture glow;
Thence beauty, waking all her forms, supplies
An angel's sweetness, or Bridgewater's eyes.
Muse! at that naine thy sacred sorrows shed,
Those tears eternal that embalm the dead!
Call round her tomb each object of desire,
Each purer frame inform'd with purer fire:
Bid her be all that cheers or softens life,
The tender sister, daughter, friend, and wife;
Bid her be all that makes mankind adore ;
Then view this marble, and be vain no more!