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EPISTLE

TO

SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.

worn

WHEN Dryden,

with sickness, bow'd with years, Was doom'd (my friend, let pity warm thy tears,) The galling pang of penury to feel, , For ill-placed loyalty, and courtly zeal, To see that laurel which his brows o'erspread, Transplanted droop on Shadwell's barren head, The Bard oppress’d, yet not subdued by fate, For very

bread descended to translate : And he, whose fancy, copious as his phrase, Could light at will expression's brightest blaze, On Fresnoy's lay employ'd his studious hour But niggard there of that melodious power, His

pen in haste the hireling task to close Transform'd the studied strain to careless prose, Which, fondly lending faith to French pretence, Mistook its meaning, or obscur'd its sense.

;

Yet still he pleas'd, for Dryden still must

please, Whether with artless elegance and ease He glides in prose, or from its tinckling chime, By varied pauses, purifies his rhyme, And mounts on Maro's plumes, and soars his

heights sublime.

This artless elegance, this native fire Provok'd his tuneful heir* to strike the lyre, Who, proud his numbers with that

prose to join, Wove an illustrious wreath for friendship’s

shrine,

How oft, on that fair shrine when Poets bind The flowers of song, does partial passion blind Their judgement's eye! How oft does truth

disclaim The deed, and scorn to call it genuine fame !

* Mr. Pope, in his Epistle to Jervas, has these lines :

Read these instructive leaves, in which conspire
Fresnoy's close art with Dryden's native fire.

How did she here, when Jervas was the theme,
Waft thro’the ivory gate the Poet's dream!
How view, indignant, error's base alloy
The sterling lustre of his praise destroy,
Which now, if praise like his

my

Muse could coin, Current through ages, she would stamp forthine!

Let friendship, as she caus’d, excuse the deed; With thee, and such as thee, she must succeed.

But what, if fashion tempted Pope astray? The witch has spells, and Jervas knew a day When mode-struck Belles and Beaux were

proud to come And buy of him a thousand years of bloom*.

Ev'n then I deem' it but a venal crime: Perish alone that selfish sordid rhyme, Which flatters lawless sway, or tinsel pride ; Let black Oblivion plunge it in her tide.

*

Alluding to another couplet in the same Epistle :

Beauty, frail flower, that every season fears,
Blooms in thy colours for a thousand year ,

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