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HE Reflections of Horace, and the Judgments
past in his Epistle to Augustus, seem'd so seasonable to the present Times, that I could not help applying them to the use of my own Country. The Author thought them considerable enough to address them to his Prince; whom he paints with all the great and good qualities of a Monarch, upon whom the Romans depended for the Encrease of an Absolute Empire. But to make the Poem entirely English, I was willing to add one or two of those which contribute to the Happiness of a Free People, and are more consistent with the Welfare of our Neighbours.
This Epistle will show the learned World to have fallen into Two mistakes: one, that Auguftus was a Patron of Poets in general; whereas he not only prohibited all but the Best Writers to name him, but recommended that Care even to the Civil Magistrate : Admonebat Praetores, ne paterentur Nomen suum obfoa lefieri, etc. The other, that this Piece was only a general Discourse of Poetry; whereas it was an Apology for the Poets, in order to render Auguftus more their Patron. Horace here pleads the Cause of his Cotemporaries, first against the Taste of the Town, whose humour it was to magnify the Authors of the preceding Age; secondly against the Court and Nobi.
lity, who encouraged only the Writers for the Theatre; and lastly against the Emperor himself, who had conceived them of little Use to the Government. He Thews (by a view of the Progress of Learning, and the Change of Taste among the Romans) that the Introduction of the Polite Arts of Greece had given the Writers of his Time great advantages over their Predeceffors; that their Morals were much improved, and the Licence of those ancient Poets restrained : that Satire and Comedy were become more just and useful; that whatever extravagancies were left on the Stage, were owing to the Ill Taste of the Nobility; that Poets, under duę Regulations, were in many respects useful to the State, and concludes, that it was upon them the Emperor himself must depend, for his Fame with Pofterity.
We may farther learn from this Epistle, that Horace made his Court to this Great Prince by writing with a decent Freedom toward him, with a juft Contempt of his low Flatferers, and with a manly Regard to his own Character. P.
Ad AUGUST U M.
UM tot a fuftineas et tanta negotia folus,
Res Italas armis tuteris, moribus ornes,
Romulus, et Liber pater, et cum Caftore Pollux,
Notes.. Book ii. Epift. 1.] The Poet always rises with his ori. ginal ; and very often, without. This whole Imitation is extremely noble and sublime.
VER. 7. Edward and Henry, etc.] Romulus, et Liber Pater, etc. Horace very judiciously praises Auguftus for the colonies he founded, not for the victories he won; and therefore compares him, not to those who desolated,
EPIST L E I.
you, great Patron of Mankind ! 'a sustain
The balanc'd World, and open all the Main;
• Edward and Henry, now the Boast of Fame,
10 Ambition humbled, mighty Cities storm’d, Or Laws eftablish'd, and the world reform'd;
Clos’d their long Glories with a sigh, to find
IS * Finds Envy never conquer’d, but by Death.
Notes. but to those who civilized mankind. The imitation wants this grace; and, for a very obvious reason, could not aim
Ver, 13. Clos’d their long Glories with a ligh,] The expression is extremely beautiful ; and the ploraveri judiciously placed.
Viro 16. Finds envy never conquer'd, etc.] It hath been
* Nil oriturum alias, nil ortum tale fatentes.
Sed tuus hoc populus fapiens et justus in uno,
Te noftris ducibus, te Graiis anteferendo,
Caetera nequaquam fimili ratione modoque
the common practice of those amongst us, who have diftinguished themselves in the learned world, to ascribe the ill treatment they meet with, from those they endeavour to oblige, to so bad a cause as envy. But surely without reason; for we find our Countrymen of the same candid disposition which Socrates, in the Euthypbro of Plato, ascribes to the Athenians of his time, They are well con tent (says he) to allow the Pretensions of reputed eminence; it is only when a man will write, and presume to give a proof of it, that they begin to grow angry. And how readily do we allow the reputation of eminence, in all the Arts, to those whose modesty has made them decline giving us a specimen of it in any. A temper surely very diftant from envy. We ought not then to ascribe that" violent ferment good men are apt to work themselves into, and the struggle they make to suppress the reputation