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Sudoris minimum ; sed habet Comedia tanto
Plus oneris, 'quantò veniæ minus. Aspice, Plautus
Quo pacto * partes tutetur amantis ephebi,
Ut patris attenti, lenonis ut insidiosi :
Quantus sit Dossennus "edacibus in parasitis ;
Quàm non astricto percurrat pulpita socco.
Gestit enim * nummum in loculos demittere; post hoc
Securus, cadat, an recto stet fabula talo.

Quem tulit ad scenam 'ventoso gloria curru,
Exanimat lentus spectator, sedulus inflat:
Sic leve, sic parvum est, animum quod laudis avarum
Subruit ac reficit: 2 Valeat res ludicra, si me
Palma negata macrum, donata reducit opimum.

Sæpe etiam audacem fugat hoc terretque poetam ; Quòd numero plures, virtute et honore minores, Indocti, stolidique, et depugnare parati, Si discordet eques, media inter carmina poscunt Aut'ursum aut pugiles : his nam plebecula gaudet. Verùm equitis quoque jam migravit ab aure voluptas Omnis, ad incertos oculos et gaudia vana. Quatuor aut plures aulæa premuntur in horas;



in their comedies, when these characters were those of another nation, and their comedies being chiefly mere translations from the Greek, and therefore to them not“ known images of life!"-Warton.

Ver. 287. Congreve's] He alludes to the characters of Brisk and Witwood. Dr. Johnson says, rather strangely,“ his comedies have the operation of tragedies." - Warton.

Ver. 290. Astrea] A name taken by Mrs. Behn, authoress of several obscene Plays, &c.Pope.

Ver. 291. Who fairly puts] How came Mrs. Behn's name to be inserted among the best writers that have not succeeded ?—Warton.

Ver. 296. O you ! whom vanity's light bark conveys] The metaphor is fine ; but inferior to the original, in many respects.

“ Ventoso gloria curru,” has a happy air of ridicule, heightened by its allusion to the Roman triumph. -Warburton.

Dr. Hurd imagines these lines are not spoken by the poet in his own person, but are the sentiments of an objector, whom, according to his manner, Horace suddenly introduces as urging them. Pope, we see, did not consider the passage in this light.-Warton.

Ver. 305. The many-headed monster] This epithet Warton says is taken from Ben Jonson ; I rather think, from Shakespear.--Bowles.




But in known images of life, I guess
The labour greater, 'as the indulgence less.
Observe how seldom even the best succeed :
Tell me if · Congreve's fools are fools indeed ?
What pert, low dialogue has Farquhar writ !
How Van wants grace, who never wanted wit!
The "stage how loosely does Astrea tread,
Who fairly puts all characters to bed!
And idle Cibber, how he breaks the laws,
To make poor Pinky Weat with vast applause !
But fill their purse, our poets work is done,
Alike to them, by pathos or by pun.

O you! whom vanity's light bark conveys
On fame's mad voyage, by the wind of praise,
With what a shifting gale your course you ply,
For ever sunk too low, or borne too high !
Who pants for glory finds but short repose,
A breath revives him, or a breath o'erthrows.
? Farewell the stage! if just as thrives the play,
The silly bard grows fat, or falls away.

There still remains, to mortify a wit,
The many-headed monster of the pit :
A senseless, worthless, and unhonour'd crowd ;
Who, to disturb their betters mighty proud,
Clattering their sticks before ten lines are spoke,

all for the farce, the Bear, or the Black-joke.
What dear delight to Britons farce affords !
Ever the taste of mobs, but now d of Lords:
(Taste, that eternal wanderer, which flies
From heads to ears, and now from ears to eyes.)






Ver. 310. What dear delight] In former editions :

For farce the people true delight affords,

Farce, long the taste of mobs, but now of lords. Warton. Ver. 313. From heads to ears, and now from ears to eyes.)] From plays to operas, and from operas to pantomimés.-Warburton.

Dum fugiunt equitum turmæ, peditumque catervæ :
Mox trahitur manibus regum fortuna retortis ;
Esseda festinant, pilenta, petorrita, naves ;
Captivum portatur ebur, captiva Corinthus.
Si foret in terris, rideret Democritus; seu
Diversum confusa genus panthera camelo,
Sive 5 elephas albus vulgi converteret ora.
Spectaret populum ludis attentiùs ipsis,
Ut sibi præbentem mimo spectacula plura :
Scriptores autem "narrare putaret asello
Fabellam surdo. Nam quæ ' pervincere voces
Evaluere sonum, referunt quem nostra theatra?
* Garganum mugire putes nemus aut mare Tuscum.
Tanto cum strepitu ludi spectantur, et artes,
'Divitiæque peregrinæ : quibus oblitus actor
Cum stetit in scena, concurrit dextera lævæ.
Dixit adhuc aliquid ? Nil sane. Quid placet ergo ?
n Lana Tarentino violas imitata veneno.
Ac ne fortè putes me, quæ facere ipse recusem,
Cùm rectè tractent alii, laudare malignè;
Ille per extentum funem mihi posse videtur


Ver. 316. Pageants on pageants,] Long before Horace wrote, Tully, in an Epistle to Marius, book 7, had ridiculed these absurd shows, spectacles, and processions on the stage. Quid enim delectationis habent sexcenti muli in Clytemnestra ? aut in equo Trojano craterarum tria millia ? aut armatura varia, peditatûs et equitatûs, ut in aliquâ pugnâ ? quæ popularem admirationem habuerunt, delectationem tibi nullam attulissent.”—Warton.

Ver. 319. Old Edwards armour beanis on Cibber's breast.] The coronation of Henry VIII. and Queen Anne Boleyn, in which the playhouses vied with each other to represent all the pomp of a coronation. In this noble contention the armour of one of the kings of England was borrowed from the Tower, to dress the champion.- Pope. Of late years, and since this

was written, these extravagancies have been carried to a greater length of folly and absurdity, which have nearly ruined the stage, and extinguished a taste for true dramatic poetry.

Yet let this verse (“ and long may it remain !") show there was one who held it in disdain long before our author ; Rowe thus complains, in the Epilogue to his first play :

Must Shakespear, Fletcher, and laborious Ben,

Be left for Scaramouch and Harlequin ?-Warton. Ver. 328. Orcas' stormy steep,] The farthest Northern Promontory of Scotland, opposite to the Orcades.- Pope.

The play stands still; damn action and discourse,
Back fly the scenes, and enter foot and horse; 315
Pageants on pageants, in long order drawn,
Peers, heralds, bishops, ermine, gold, and lawn;
The champion too! and, to complete the jest,
Old Edward's armour beams on Cibber's breast.
With flaughter sure Democritus had died, 320
Had he beheld an audience gape so wide.
Let bear or 8 elephant be e'er so white,
The people, sure, the people are the sight!
Ah luckless poet! stretch thy lungs and roar,
That bear or elephant shall heed thee more; 3:25
While all its i throats the gallery extends,
And all the thunder of the pit ascends!
Loud as the wolves, on Orcas' stormy steep,
Howl to the roarings of the northern deep.
Such is the shout, the long-applauding note, 330
At Quin's high plume, or Oldfield's 'petticoat;
Or when from court a birth-day suit bestow'd,
Sinks them lost actor in the tawdry load.
Booth enters, —hark! the universal peal !
“ But has he spoken?” “Not a syllable.” 335
" What shook the stage, and made the people stare ?"
“Cato’s "long wig, flower'd gown, and lacquer'd chair.”

Yet, lest you think I rally more than teach,
Or praise malignly arts I cannot reach,
Let me for once presume to instruct the times 340
To know the poet from the man of rhymes :


Ver. 331. At Quin's high plume,] More celebrated for acting inimitably well the characters of Zanga and Falstaff, than that of Cato. But still more justly celebrated for his original wit, his generosity and friendship for Thomson, whose distresses he once relieved in the most liberal and delicate manner.-Warton.

Ver. 335. But has he spoken ?"] Æsopus, says Tully, lost his voice by straining it to speak loud enough to be heard amidst the noise of the theatre. We must always recollect the vast extent of the ancient theatres, and the multitude of the audience and spectators.Warton.

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Ire poëta, o meum qui pectus inaniter angit,
Irritat, mulcet, falsis terroribus implet,
Ut magus ; et modò me Thebis, modò ponit Athenis.

Verùm age, et his, qui se lectori credere malunt,
Quàm spectatoris fastidia ferre superbi,
Curam impende brevem: si 'munus Apolline dignum
Vis complere libris, et vatibus addere calcar,
Ut studio majore petant Helicona virentem.

Multa quidem nobis facimus mala sæpe poëtæ, (Ut vineta egomet cædam mea,) cùm tibi librum * Solicito damus, aut fesso: cum lædimur, * unum Si quis amicorum est ausus reprendere versum :


Ver. 342. 'Tis he, who gives] These six following verses are much superior to the original, and some of the most forcible in our language. They contain the very end and essence of dramatic poetry. The scenes of most of the ancient tragedies were laid at Thebes or Athens.

This is a perfect and just idea of true and genuine poetry ; to the exclusion of mere moral couplets and didactic lines of Horace's and Boileau's Satires and Epistles ; the former of whom positively and directly disclaims all right and title to the name of poet, on the score of his ethic pieces alone. For,

neque enim concludere versum

Dixeris esse satisare words we hear often repeated, but whose meaning is not extended and weighed as it ought to be." If by such a decision the ranks of rhymers should be diminished, the greater is the dignity of the few that remain in the field. We do not, it should seem, sufficiently attend to the difference there is betwixt a man of wit, a man of sense, and a true poet. Donne and Swift were undoubtedly men of wit and men of sense ; but what traces have they left of pure poetry? It is remarkable that Dryden says of Donne : " He was the greatest wit, though not the greatest poet of this nation.” Which of these characters is the most valuable and useful is entirely out of the question ; all we plead for is, to have their several provinces kept distinct from each other.—Warton.

Ver. 348. this part of the poetic state,] “ The excellence of our dramatic writers is by no means equal in number to the great men that we have produced in other walks. Theatric genius lay dormant after Shakespear; waked with some bold and glorious, but irregular and often ridiculous, flights in Dryden ; revived in Otway ; maintained a placid, pleasing kind of dignity in Rowe ; and even shone in his Jane Shore. "It trod in sublime and classic fetters in Cato, but void of nature or the power of affecting the passions. In Southerne it seemed a genuine ray of nature and Shakespear; but falling on an age still more Hottentot, was stifled in those gross and barbarous productions, tragi-comedies. It turned to tuneful nonsense in the Mourning Bride : grew stark mad in Lee, whose cloak, a little the worse for wear, fell on Young ; yet in both it was still a poet's cloak. It recovered its senses in Hughes and Fenton, who were afraid it should relapse, and accordingly kept it down with a timid, but amiable hand, and

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