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Then sportive HORACE caught the gen’rous fire; For SATIRE's bow refign'd the founding lyre: Each arrow polish'd in his hand was seen,
And, as it grew more polish'd, grew more keen.
graver strains majestick PERSIUS wrote, Big with a ripe exuberance of thought: Greatly fedate, contemn'd a Tyrant's reign, And lafh'd corruption with a calm disdain.
More ardent eloquence, and boundless rage,
Omne vafer vitium ridenti Flaccus amico
But lo! the fatal Victor of Mankind, Swoln Luxury!-pale Ruin stalks behind! As countless Infects from the north-east pour, To blaft the Spring, and ravage ev'ry flow'r: So barb'rous Millions fpread contagious death: The fick❜ning Laurel wither'd at their breath. Deep Superftition's night the skies o'erhung, 395 Beneath whose baleful dews the Poppy sprung. No longer Genius woo'd the Nine to love, But Dulness nodded in the Mufe's grove: Wit, Spirit, Freedom, were the fole offence, Nor aught was held fo dangerous as Sense.
At length, again fair Science shot her ray, Dawn'd in the fkies, and fpoke returning day. Now, SATIRE, triumph o'er thy flying foe, Now load thy quiver, string thy flacken'd bow! 'Tis done-See, great ERASMUS breaks the spell, And wounds triumphant Folly in her Cell! 406 (In vain the folemn Cowl furrounds her face, Vain all her bigot cant, her four grimace) With fhame compell'd her leaden throne to quit, And own the force of Reafon urg'd by Wit. 410
"Twas then plain DONNE in honeft vengeance rose, His Wit harmonious, tho' his Rhyme was profe: He 'midst an Age of Puns and Pedants wrote With genuine sense, and Roman ftrength of thought.
Yet scarce had SATIRE well relum'd her flame, (With grief the Muse records her Country's fhame) Ere Britain faw the foul revolt commence, And treach❜rous Wit began her war with Sense. Then rose a shameless mercenary train, Whom latest Time shall view with just disdain: A race fantastick, in whofe gaudy line Untutor❜d thought, and tinfel beauty shine; Wit's shatter'd Mirror lies in fragments bright, Reflects not Nature, but confounds the fight. Dry Morals the Court-Poet blush'd to fing: 425 'Twas all his praife to fay," the oddest thing." Proud for a jeft obfcene, a Patron's nod, To martyr Virtue, or blaspheme his God.
Ill-fated DRYDEN! who unmov'd can fee 429 Th' extremes of wit and meanness join'd in Thee!
Flames that could mount, and gain their kindred
A Muse whom Wisdom woo'd, but woo'd in vain,
Wreaths, that should deck fair Virtue's form alone,
More happy France: immortal BOILEAU there
Fancy and Senfe to form his line confpire,
And faultlefs Judgment guides the purest Fire.
But fee, at length, the British Genius fmile, 445
Each Roman's force adorns his various page;
Despairing Guilt and Dulness loath the fight, 451
While felf-feen Virtue in the faithful line