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Juft in one inftance, be it yet confest Your people, Sir, are partial in the rest: Foes to all living worth except your own, And advocates for folly dead and gone. Authors, like coins, grow dear as they grow old; It is the ruft we value, not the gold. (1) Chaucer's worst ribaldry is learn'd by rote, And beastly Skelton heads of houfes quote: One likes no language but the Fairy Queen; A Scot will fight for Chrift's Kirk on the Green; And each true Briton is to Ben fo civil, (m) He fwears the Mufes met him at the Devil.



Tho' juitly (n) Greece her eldest fons admires, Why should not we be wifer than our fires?

Eftimat; et, nifi quæ terris femota fuisque Temporibus defuncta videt, faftidit et odit : (Sic fautor veterum, ut tabulas peccare vetantes Quas bis quinque viri fanxerunt, foedera regum, Vel Gabiis vel cum rigidis æquata Sabinis, Pontificum libros, annofa volumina vatum, (m) Dictitet Albano Mufas in monte locutas.

Si, quia (n) Graiorum funt antiquiffima quæque Scripta vel optima, Romani penfantur eadem


Ver. 38. And beafly Skelton, etc.] Skelton, poet laureat to Henry VIII. a volume of whole yerfes has been lately reprinted, confifting almoft wholly of ribaldry, obscenity, and feurrilous language.

Ver. 10. Chrift's Kirk on the Green ;] a ballad made by a kin of Scotland.

Ver. 42 met hin at the Devil] The Devil Tavern, where Ben Jobmon held his poetical club.

In ev'ry public virtue we excel;


We build, we paint, (o) we fing, we dance as well,

And (p) learned Athens to our art must stoop,
Could the behold us tumbling thro' a hoop.


If (q) time improve our wit as well as wine,
Say at what age a poet grows divine?
Shall we, or fhall we not account him fo,
Who dy'd, perhaps, an hundred years ago?
End all difpute; and fix the year precife
When British bards begin t'immortalize?

"Who lasts a (r) century can have no flaw, "I hold that wit a claffic, good in law.”

Suppofe he wants a year, will you compound? And thall we deem him (s) ancient, right, and


Or damn to all eternity at once,

At ninety-nine, a modern and a dunce?



Scriptores trutina; non eft quod multa loquamur:
Nil,intra eft oleam, nil extra eft in nuce duri.
Venimus ad fuinmum fortuna: pingimus, atque
(0) Pfallimus, et (p) luctamur Achivis doctius unétis,
Si (9) meliora dies, ut vina, poemata reddit;
Scire velim, chartis pretium quotus arroget annus.
Scriptor ab hinc annos centum qui decidit, inter
Perfectos veterefque referri debet, an inter
Viles atque novos? excludat jurgia finis.
Eft vetus atque probus, (r) centum qui perficit,


Quid? qui deperiit minor uno menfe vel anno, Inter quos referendus erit? (s) veterefne poetas, An quos et præfens et poftera refpuat ætas?

"We fhall not quarrel for a year or two; "By (t) courtesy of England, he may do." Then, by the rule that made the (u) horse-tail bare, I pluck out year by year, as hair by hair, And melt (x) down ancients like a heap of fnow: 65 While you, to measure merits, look in (y) Stowe, And eftimating authors by the year, Bestow a garland only on a (x) bier.


(a) Shakefpear (whom you and ev'ry playhouseStyle the divine, the matchless, what you will) 70 For gain, not glory, wing'd his roving flight, And grew immortal in his own defpite. Ben, old and poor, as little feem'd to heed (b) The life to come, in every poet's creed. Who now reads (c) Cowley? if he pleases yet, 75 His moral pleases, not his pointed wit;

Iste quidem veteres inter ponetur (t) bonefle,
Qui vel menfe brevi, vel toto eft junior anno.

Utor permiffo, caudæque pilos ut [a] equinæ
Paulatim vello: et demo unum, demo et item unum;
Dum cadat elufus ratione [x] ruentis acervi,
Qui redit in [y] faftos, et virtutem æftimat annis,
Miraturpue nihil, nifi quod [x] Libitina facravit.

[a] Ennius et fapiens, et fortis, et alter Homerus, Ut critici dicunt, leviter curare videtur Quo [b] promiffa cadant, et fomnia [c] Pythagorea.


Ver. 69. Shakespear.] Shakespear and Ben Johnson may truly be faid not much to have thought of this immortality; the one in many pieces composed in haite for the stage; the other in his latter works in general, which Dryden called his dotages.


Forgot his Epic, nay Pindaric art, But ftill (d) I love the language of his heart. "Yet furely, (e) furely these were famous men! "What boy but hears the sayings of old Ben? 80 "In all (f) debates where critics bear a part, "Not one but nods, and talks of Johnson's Art, "Of Shakespear's Nature, and of Cowley's Wit; "How Beaumont's judgment check'd what Fletch66 er writ;

"How Shadwell hafty, Wycherley was flow; 85 "But, for the paffions, Southern fure and Rowe. "Thefe, (g) only thefe, fupport the crowded stage, "From eldest Heywood down to Cibber's age.


Nævius in manibus non eft; at [d] mentibus hæret Pene recens: [e] adeo fanctum eft vetus omne poema.

Ambigitur [f] quoties, uter utro fit prior; aufert
Pacuvius docti famam fenis, Accius alti:
Dicitur Afrani toga conveniffe Menandro;
Plautus ad exemplar Siculi properare Epicharmi;
Vincere Cæcilius gravitate, Terentius arte:
Hos edifcit, et hos arcto ftipata theatro
Spectat Roma potens; [g] habet nos numeratque



Ver. 77. Pindarie art,] which has much more merit than his epic, but very unlike the character, as well as numbers of Pindar.

Ver. 85, Shadwell hafty, Wycherley was flow.] Nothing was lefs true than this particular: But the whole paragraph has a mixture of irony, and must not altogether be taken for Horace's own judgment, only the common chat of the pretenders to criticifm; in fome things right, in others wrong; as he tells us in his answer.

Interdum vulgus rectum videt: eft ubi peceat.



All this may be; (b) the people's voice is odd, It is, and it is not, the voice of God. To (i) Gammer Gurton if it give the bays, And yet deny the Careless Husband praise, Or fay our father's never broke a rule; Why then, I fay, the public is a fool. But let them own, that greater faults than we 95 They had, and greater virtues, I'll agree. Spenfer himself affects the (4) Obfolete, And Sydney's verse halts ill on (1) Roman feet: Milton's ftrong pinion now not heav'n can bound, Now, ferpent-like, in (m) profe he fweeps the ground, In quibbles, angel and archangel join, And God the Father turns a fchool divine. (n) Not that I'd lop the beauties from his book, Like (0) flashing Bentley with his defperate hook, Or dann all Shakespear, like th' affected fool 105 At court, who hates whate'er he (p) read at school.


Ad noftrum tempus, Livi fcriptoris ab ævo.
[b] Interdum vulgus rectum videt: eft ubi peccat.
Si [] veteres ita miratur laudatque poetas,
Ut nihil anteferat, nihil illis comparet; errat:
Si quædum nimis [k] antique, fi pleraque [/] dure
Dicere cedit eos, [m] ignave multa fatetur;
Et fapit, et mecum facit, et Jove judicat æquo.
[] Non equidem in fector, delendaque carmina Livi
Effe reor, memini quæ [o] plagofum [p] mihi parvo
Orbilium dictare;

fed emendata videri


Ver 91. Gammer Gurton] a piece of very low humour, one of the firft printed plays in English, and therefore much valued by fome antiquaries.


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