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EPISTLE I.

To AUGUSTUS.

WHILE you, great Patron of Mankind! a fuftain

The balanc'd World, and open all the Main;

Your Country, chief, in Arms abroad defend;
At Home, with Morals, Arts, and Laws amend;
b How shall the Mufe, from fuch a Monarch, fteal
An hour, and not defraud the Public Weal?

e Edward and Henry, now the Boast of Fame,
And virtuous Alfred, a more d facred Name,
After a Life of generous toils endur'd,
The Gaul fubdued, or Property secur'd,
Ambition humbled, mighty cities ftorm'd,
Or Laws establish'd, and the world reform'd;

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EPISTOLA I.

Ad AUGUSTUM.

UM tot a fuftineas et tanta negotia folus,
Res Italas armis tuteris, moribus ornes,
Legibus emendes; in publica commoda, peccem,
Si longo fermone morer tua tempora, Caefar.

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Romulus, et Liber pater, et cum Caftore Pollux, Poft ingentia facta, & Deorum in templa recepti, Dum terras hominumque colunt genus, afpera bella Componunt, agros adfignant, oppida condunt;

e Clos'd their long Glories with a figh, to find
Th' unwilling Gratitude of base mankind!
All human Virtue, to its latest breath,

f Finds Envy never conquer'd, but by Death.
The great Alcides, every Labour past,
Had ftill this Monster to fubdue at last.
g Sure fate of all, beneath whofe rifing ray
Each star of meaner merit fades away!
Opprefs'd we feel the beam directly beat,
Thofe Suns of Glory please not till they set.
To thee, the World its present homage pays,
The Harveft early, but mature the praise :
Great Friend of Liberty! in Kings a Name
Above all Greek, above all Roman Fame*:
Whofe Word is Truth, as facred and rever'd,
i As Heaven's own Oracles from Altars heard.
Wonder of Kings! like whom, to mortal eyes
* None e'er has rifen, and none e'er fhall rife.

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e Ploravere fuis non refpondere favorem
Speratum meritis. diram qui contudit Hydram,
Notaque fatali portenta labore fubegit,
Comperit f invidiam fupremo fine domari,
g Urit enim fulgore fuo, qui praegravat artes
Infra fe pofitas: extinctus amabitur idem.

h Praefenti tibi maturos largimur honores,
i Jurandafque tuum per numen ponimus aras,
* Nil oriturum alias, nil ortum tale fatentes.
Sed tuus hoc populus fapiens et juftus in uno,
* Te noftris ducibus, te Graiis anteferendo,

Just in one instance, 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; 35
It is the ruft we value, not the gold.

1 Chaucer's worst ribaldry is learn'd by rote,
And beaftly Skelton heads of houses quote :
One likes no language but the Faery Queen;
A Scot will fight for Chrift's Kirk o' the Green :
And each true Briton is to Ben fo civil,

m He swears the Mufes met him at the Devil.
Though justlyn Greece her eldest sons admires,
Why should not we be wiser than our fires ?

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Caetera nequaquam fimili ratione modoque
Aestimat; et, nifi quae terris femota suisque
Temporibus defuncta videt, faftidit et odit :
1 Sic fautor veterum, et tabulas peccare vetantes
Quas bis quinque viri fanxerunt, foedera regum,
Vel Gabiis vel cum rigidis aequata Sabinis,
Pontificum libros, annofa volumina Vatum,
m Dictitet Albano Mufas in monte locutas.

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Si, quia Graiorum funt antiquiffima quaeque Scripta vel optima, Romani penfantur eadem Scriptores trutina; non eft quod multa loquamur : Nil intra eft oleam, nil extra eft in nuce duri. Venimus ad fummum fortunae: pingimus, atque

In

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every Public Virtue we excell;

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We build, we paint, we fing, we dance as well,
And P learned Athens to our art must stoop,
Could the behold us tumbling through a hoop.

If a Time improve our Wits as well as Wine,
Say at what age a Poet grows divine?
Shall we, or shall 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 lafts a century can have no flaw,
"I hold that Wit a Claffic, good in law."

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Suppofe he wants a year, will you compound?
And fhall we deem him s Ancient, right and found,
Or damn to all eternity at once,

At ninety-nine, a Modern and a Dunce?
"We shall not quarrel for a year or two;
"By courtesy of England, he may do."

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• Pfallimus, et p luctamur Achivis doctius unctis.
Si 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. centum qui perficit annos.
Quid? qui deperiit minor uno menfe vel anno,
Inter quos referendus erit? $ veterefne poetas,
An quos et praefens et postera respuat aetas ?
Ifte quidem veteres inter ponetur honeste,

Then, by the rule that made the " Horse-tail bare, I pluck out year by year, as hair by hair, And melt w down Ancients like a heap of fnow: While you, to measure merits, look in * Stowe, And, eftimating authors by the year,

Beftow a Garland only on a Bier.

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z Shakespeare (whom you and every Playhouse bill Style the divine, the matchlefs, what you will) For gain, not glory, wing'd his roving flight, And grew Immortal in his own defpight. Ben, old and poor, as little feem'd to heed a 'The Life to come, in every Poet's Creed. Who now reads b Cowley? if he pleases yet, His Moral pleafes, not his pointed wit; Forgot his Epic, nay Pindaric Art,

But ftill I love the language of his heart.

"Yet furely, d furely, these were famous men ! "What boy but hears the fayings of old Ben?

Qui vel menfe brevi, vel toto eft junior anno.

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"In

Utor permiffo, caudaeque pilos ut " equinae Paulatim vello: et demo unum, demo et item unum; Dum cadat elufus ratione w ruentis acervi, Qui redit in x faftos, et virtutem aeftimat annis, Miraturque nihil, nifi quod y Libitina facravit.

z Ennius et fapiens, et fortis, et alter Homerus, Ut critici dicunt, leviter curare videtur Quo a promiffa cadant, et fomnia Pythagorea. b Naevius in manibus non eft; at c mentibus haeret Pene recens: dadeo fanctum eft vetus omne poemą.

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