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me the line that plows its stately course Like a proud swan, conq'ring the stream by force ; That, like some cottage beauty, strikes the heart, Quite unindebted to the tricks of art. When labour and when dullness, club in hand, Like the two figures at St Dunstan's, stand, Beating alternately, in measur'd time, The clock-work tintinabulum of rhime, Exact and regular the sounds will be; But such mere quarter-strokes are not for me.
From him who rears a poem lank and long, To him who strains his all into a song; Perhaps some bonny Caledonian air, All birks and braes, though he was never there; Or, having whelp'd a prologue with great pains, Feels himself spent, and fumbles for his brains;
A prologue interdash'd with many a stroke
An art contriv'd to advertise a joke,
So that the jest is clearly to be seen,
Not in the words--but in the gap
Manner is all in all, whate'er is writ,
The substitute for genius, sense, and wit.
To dally much with subjects mean and low,
Proves that the mind is weak, or makes it so.
Neglected talents rust into decay,
And ev'ry effort ends in push-pin play.
*The man that means success, should soar above
A soldier's feather, or a lady's glove;
Else, summoning the muse to such a theme,
The fruit of all her labour is whipt-cream.
Nature, exerting an unwearied pow'r,
Forms, opens, and gives scent to, ev'ry How'r;
Spreads the fresh verdure of the field, and leads
The dancing Nạiads through the dewy meads:
She fills profuse ten thousand little throats
With music, modulating all their notes;
And charms the woodland scenes, and wilds
With artless airs and concerts of her own:
But seldom (as if fearful of expense)
Vouchsafes to man a poet's just pretence-
Fervency, freedom, fluency of thought,
Harmony, strength, words exquisitely sought;
Fancy, that from the bow that spans the sky,
Brings colours, dipt in heav'n, that never die;
A soul exhalted above earth, a mind
Skills in the characters that form mankind;
And, as the sun in rising beauty dress’d,
Looks to the westward from the dappled east,
And marks, whatever clouds may interpose,
Ere yet his race begins, its glorious close;
An eye like his to catch the distant goal ;
Or, ere the wheels of vorse begin to roll,
Like his to shed illuminating rays
On ev'ry scene and subject it surveys:
Thus grac'd, the män asserts a poet's name,
And the world cheerfully admits the claim.
BOOKS, therefore, not the scandal of the shelves,
In which lewd sensualists print out themselves;
Nor those in which the stage gives vice a blow,
With what success let modern manners show;
Nor his who, for the bane of thousands born,
Built God a church, and laugh'd his word to scorn,
Skilful alike to seem devout and just,
And stab religion with a sly side-thrust;
Nor those of learn'd philologists, who chase
A panting syllable through time and space,
Start it at home, and hunt it in the dark,
To Gaul, to Greece, and into Noah's ark;
But such as learning without false pretence,
The friend of truth, th' associate of sound sense,
And such as in the zeal of good design,
Strong judgment lab'ring in the scripture mine,
All such as manly and great souls produce,
Worthy to live, and of eternal use:
Behold in these what leisure hours demand,
Amusement and true knowledge hand in hand.
Luxury gives the mind a childish cast,
And while she polishes, perverts the taste; .
Habits of close attention, thinking heads,
Become more rare as dissipation spreads,
Till authors hear at length, one gen’ral cry,
Tickle and entertain us, or we die.
The loud demand, from year
same, Beggars invention and makes fancy lame, Till farce itself, most mournfully jejune, Calls for the kind assistance of a tune; And novels (witness ev'ry month's review) Belie their name, and offer nothing new. The mind, relaxing into needful sport, Should turn to writers of an abler sort, Whose wit well manag'd, and whose classic style, Give truth a lustre, and make wisdom smile,