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EPISTLE the FIRST.

TO MY HONORED FRIEND

Sir ROBERT HOWARD,

ON HIS

EXCELLENT POEMS.

Ai

S there is mufic uninform'd by art In those wild notes, which with a merry heart The birds in unfrequented shades express, Who, better taught at home, yet please us less :

So in your verse a native sweetness dwells,
Which shames compofure, and its art excels.
Singing no more can your foft numbers grace,
Than paint adds charms unto a beauteous face.
Yet as, when mighty rivers gently creep,
Their even calmnefs does fuppofe them deep;
Such is your mufe: no metaphor fwell'd high
With dangerous boldness lifts her to the fky:
Those mounting fancies, when they fall again,
Shew fand and dirt at bottom do remain.
So firm a ftrength, and yet withal so sweet,
fo
Did never but in Samson's riddle meet.

'Tis strange each line fo great a weight should bear, And yet no fign of toil, no fweat appear.

Either your art hides art, as stoics feign
Then least to feel, when moft they suffer pain;
And we, dull fouls, admire, but cannot fee
What hidden fprings within the engine be:
Or 'tis fome happiness that ftill pursues
Each act and motion of your graceful muse.
Or is it fortune's work, that in your head
The curious net that is for fancies fpread,
Lets thro its meshes every meaner thought,
While rich ideas there are only caught?
Sure that's not all; this is a piece too fair
To be the child of chance, and not of care.

1

No atoms cafually together hurl'd
Could e'er produce fo beautiful a world.
Nor dare I fuch a doctrine here admit,
As would deftroy the providence of wit.
'Tis your strong genius then which does not feel
Those weights, would make a weaker spirit reel.
To carry weight, and run fo lightly too,
Is what alone your Pegafus can do.

Great Hercules himself could ne'er do more,
Than not to feel those heavens and gods he bore.
Your eafier odes, which for delight were penn'd,
Yet our inftruction make their fecond end:
We're both enrich'd and pleas'd, like them that woe
At once a beauty, and a fortune too.

Of moral knowlege poefy was queen,

And still she might, had wanton wits not been ; Who, like ill guardians, liv'd themselves at large, And, not content with that, debauch'd their charge.

Like fome brave captain, your fuccefsful pen
Reftores the exil'd to her crown again :
And gives us hope, that having seen the days
When nothing flourish'd but fanatic bays,
All will at length in this opinion reft,
"A fober prince's government is beft.”

This is not all; your art the way has found
To make th'improvement of the richest ground,
That foil which those immortal laurels bore,
That once the facred Maro's temples wore.
Elifa's griefs are fo express'd by you,
They are too eloquent to have been true.
Had fhe fo fpoke, Æneas had obey'd
What Dido, rather than what Jove had faid.
If funeral rites can give a ghost repose,
Your muse so justly has discharged those,
Elifa's fhade may now its wandring cease,
And claim a title to the fields of peace.
But if Æneas be oblig'd, no less
Your kindness great Achilles doth confess;
Who, drefs'd by Statius in too bold a look,
Did ill become those virgin robes he took.
To understand how much we owe to you,
We must your numbers, with
your author's, view:
Then we shall see his work was lamely rough,
Each figure ftiff, as if defign'd in buff:
His colors laid fo thick on every place,
As only fhew'd the paint, but hid the face.
But as in perspective we beauties fee,
Which in the glass, not in the picture, be;
So here our fight obligingly mistakes
That wealth, which his your bounty only makes.

Thus vulgar dishes are, by cooks difguis'd,
More for their dreffing, than their substance

priz❜d.

Your curious notes fo fearch into that age,
When all was fable but the facred page,
That, fince in that dark night we needs muft ftray,
We are at least misled in pleasant way.

But what we most admire, your verse no less
The prophet than the poet doth confefs.
Ere our weak eyes difcern'd the doubtful streak
Of light, you faw great Charles his morning break.
So skilful feamen ken the land from far,
Which shews like mifts to the dull paffenger.
To Charles your muse first pays her duteous love,
As ftill the antients did begin from Jove.

With Monk you end, whofe name preferv'd shall be, As Rome recorded Rufus' memory,

Who thought it greater honor to obey
His country's intereft, than the world to fway."
But to write worthy things of worthy men,
Is the peculiar talent of your pen:
Yet let me take your mantle up, and I
Will venture in your right to prophesy.
"This work, by merit firft of fame secure,
"Is likewife happy in its geniture:

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