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Foes to all living worth except your own,
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 houfes quote:
One likes no language but the Faery Queen;
A Scot will fight for Chrift's Kirk o' the Green; 40 And each true Briton is to Ben so civil,
" He fwears the Muses met him at the Devil.
Tho' juftly" Greece her eldest fons admires, Why fhould not We be wifer than our fires? In ev'ry Public virtue we excell;
We build, we paint, we fing, we dance as well,
If Time improve our Wit as well as Wine,
Shall we, or shall we not, account him so,
When British bards begin t' immortalize?
VER. 40. Chrift's Kirk o' the Green ;] A Ballad made by a King of Scotland. P.
VER. 42. met him at the Devil] The Devil Tavern, where Ben Johnson held his Poetical Club.
Eft vetus atque probus, * centum qui perficit annos.
Quid? qui deperiit minor uno menfe vel anno,
Qui vel menfe brevi, vel toto eft junior anno.
Utor permiffo, caudaeque pilos ut equinae
Paulatim vello: et demo unum, demo et item unum;
Dum cadat elufus ratione ruentis acervi,
Qui redit in * faftos, et virtutem aeftimat annis,
* Ennius et fapiens, et fortis, et alter Homerus, Ut critici dicunt, leviter curare videtur
Quo promiffa cadant, et fomnia Pythagorea.
VER. 69. Shakespear.] Shakespear and Ben Johnfon may truly be faid not much to have thought of this Immortality, the one in many pieces compofed in hafte for the Stage; the other in his latter works in general, which Dryden call'd his Dotages. P.
Ibid. and ev'ry Playhouse bill] A ridicule on those who talk of Shakespear, becaufe he is in fafhion; who, if they
"Who lasts a' century can have no flaw, "I hold that Wit a Claffic, good in law.
Suppose he wants a year, will you compound? And shall we deem him Ancient, right and found, Or damn to all eternity at once,
At ninety nine, a Modern and a Dunce?
"We fhall not quarrel for a year or two;
"By courtesy of England, he may do.
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: 65
Beftow a Garland only on a Bier.
Shakespear (whom you and ev'ry Play-house bill Style the divine, the matchless, 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 "The Life to come, in ev'ry Poet's Creed.
dared to do juftice, either to their tafte or their confcience, would own they liked Durfey better.
VER. 74. The life to come, in ev'ry Poet's Creed.]
Quo promiffa cadant, et fomnia Pythagorea. The beauty of this arifes from a circumftance in Ennius's flory. But as this could not be imitated, our Poet endeavoured to equal it; and has fucceeded,
Naevius in manibus non eft; at mentibus haeret
Pene recens: d adeo fanétum eft vetus omne poema.
Ambigitur quoties, uter utro fit prior; aufert
Pacuvius docti famam fenis, Accius alti :
Dicitur Afranî toga conveniffe Menandro;
Plautus ad exemplar Siculi properare Epicharmi
Spectat Roma potens; habet hos numeratque poetas Ad noftrum tempus, Livî fcriptoris ab aevo.
Interdum vulgus rectum videt: eft ubi peccat.
Sih veteres ita miratur laudatque poetas,
VER. 77. Pindaric Art,] which has much more merit than his Epic, but very unlike the Character, as well as Numbers, of Pindar. P.
VER. 81. In all debates etc.] The Poet has here put the bald cant of women and boys into extreme fine verse. This is in ftrict imitation of his Original, where the fame impertinent and gratuitous criticifm is admirably ridiculed.
VER. 85. Shadwell hafty, Wycherly was flow.] Nothing was lefs true than this particular: But the whole paragraph has a mixture of Irony, and must not altogether be taken for Horace's own Judgment, only the com
Who now reads Cowley? if he pleases yet,
But ftill I love the language of his heart.
"Yet furely, furely, these were famous men! "What boy but hears the sayings of old Ben? "In all debates where Critics bear a part, "Not one but nods, and talks of Johnson's Art, "Of Shakespear's Nature, and of Cowley's Wit; "How Beaumont's judgment check'd what Fletcher ❝ writ;
"How Shadwell hafty, Wycherly was flow; "But, for the Paffions, Southern fure and Rowe. "Thefe, f only these, support the crouded stage, "From eldest Heywood down to Cibber's age." All this may be; the People's Voice is odd, It is, and it is not, the voice of God.
To Gammer Gurton if it give the bays,
mon Chat of the pretenders to Criticism; in some things right, in others, wrong; as he tells us in his answer,
Interdum vulgus rectum videt: eft ubi peccat. P.
-bafty Shadwell and flow Wycherley, is a line of Wilmot, Earl of Rochefter; the fenfe of which feems to have been generally mistaken. It gives to each his epithet, not to defign the difference of their talents, but the number of their productions.
VER. 91. Gammer Gurton] A piece of very low hu