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Your foes are such as they, not you, have made,
And virtue may repel, though not invade.
Such courage did the ancient heroes show,
Who, when they might prevent, would wait the blow ;
With such assurance as they meant to say,
We will o'ercome, but scorn the safest way.
What farther fear of danger can there be ?
Beauty, which captives all things, sets me free.
Posterity will judge by my success
I had the Grecian poet's happiness,
Who, waving plots, found out a better way ;
Some god descended and preserved the play.
When first the triumphs of your sex were sung
By those old poets, Beauty was but young,
And few admired the native red and white,
Till poets dressed them up to charm the sight;
So Beauty took on trust, and did engage
For sums of praises till she came to age.
But this long growing debt to poetry
You justly, Madam, have discharged to me,
When your applause and favour did infuse
New life to my condemned and dying Muse.
The blast of common censure could I fear,
Before your play my name should not appear;
For 'twill be thought, and with some colour too,
I pay the bribe I first received from you ;
That mutual vouchers for our same we stand,
To play the game into each other's hand ;
And as cheap pen'orths to ourselves afford,
As Bessus and the brothers of the sword. +
Such libels private men may well endure,
When States and Kings themselves are not secure;
For ill men, conscious of their inward guilt,
Think the best actions on by-ends are built.
And yet my silence had not scaped their spite;
Then envy had not suffered me to write,
For, since I could not ignorance pretend,
Such worth I must or envy or commend.
So many candidates there stand for wit,
A place in court is scarce so hard to get :
In vain they crowd each other at the door ;
For even reversions are all begged before :
Desert, how known soe'er, is long delayed ;
And then, too, fools and knaves are better paid.
Yet, as some actions bear so great a name
That courts themselves are just for fear of shame,
So has the mighty merit of your play
Extorted praise and forced itself a way.
'Tis here as 'tis at sea ; who farthest goes
Or dares the most makes all the rest his foes.
Yet when some virtue much outgrows the rest,
It shoots too fast and high to be opprest, *
As his heroic worth struck envy dumb,
Who took the Dutchman and who cut the boom. +
Such praise is yours, while you the passions move,
That 'tis no longer feigned, 'tis real love,
Where nature triumphs over wretched art;
We only warm the head, but you the heart.
Always you warm ; and if the rising year,
As in hot regions, bring the sun too near,
'Tis but to make your fragrant spices blow,
Which in our colder climates will not grow.
They only think you animate your theme
With too much fire, who are themselves all phlegm :
Prizes would be for lags of slowest pace,
Were cripples made the judges of the race.
Despise those drones, who praise while they accuse
The too much vigour of your youthful Muse.
That humble style which they their virtue make
Is in your power ; you need but stoop and take.
Your beautious images must be allowed
By all but some vile poets of the crowd.
But how should any sign-post dauber know
The worth of Titian or of Angelo?
Hard features every bungler can command ;
To draw true beauty shows a master's hand.
TO THE EARL OF ROSCOMON,
ON HIS EXCELLENT ESSAY ON TRANSLATED VERSE.*
WHETHER the fruitful Nile or Tyrian shore
The seeds of arts and infant science bore,
'Tis sure the noble plant, translated, first
Advanced its head in Grecian gardens nurst.
The Grecians added verse; their tuneful tongue
Made Nature first and Nature's God their song,
Nor stopped translation here : for conquering Rome
With Grecian spoils brought Grecian numbers home;
Enriched by those Athenian Muses more
Than all the vanquished world could yield before.
Till barbarous nations and more barbarous times
Debased the majesty of verse to rhymes;
Those rude at first; a kind of hobbling prose,
That limped along and tinkled in the close. +
But Italy, reviving from the trance
Of Vandal, Goth, and monkish ignorance,
With pauses, cadence, and well-vowelled words,
And all the graces a good ear affords,
Made rhyme an art, and Dante's polished page
Restored a silver, not a golden age.
Then Petrarch followed, and in him we see
What rhyme improved in all its height can be ;
At best a pleasing sound and fair barbarity.
The French pursued their steps; and Britain last
In manly sweetness all the rest surpassed.
The wit of Greece, the gravity of Rome,
Appear exalted in the British loom :
The Muses' empire is restored again,
In Charles his reign, and by Roscomon's pen.
Yet modestly he does his work survey,
And calls a finished Poem an Essay;
For all the needful rules are scattered here ;
Truth smoothly told, and pleasantly severe;
So well is art disguised for nature to appear. * The Earl of Roscomon's “Essay on Translated Verse" was published in 1684, with this complimentary Address by Dryden prefixed. A second edition, corrected and enlarged, appeared in 1685. Roscomon returned Dryden's favour with a complimentary poem on his “Religio Laici," which Dryden prefixed to that publication Roscomon, born in 1633. died in January 1685. He and Dryden had at one time joined in projecting a scheme of refining and fixing the English language. Pope, who elsewhere is not sparing of praise for Dryden, has in a well-known couplet justly blamed the coarseness of his verse by comparison with Roscomon :
“Unhappy Dryden! in all Charles's days
Roscomon only boasts unspotted lays."
Translations of Horace, 2 Epist. 1. 213. † Andrew Marvel uses the expression "tinkling rhyme " in his lines to Milton on his "Paradise Lost :"
"Well Inightst thou scorn thy readers to allure
With tinkling rhyme, of thy own sense secure."
Nor need those rules to give translation light ;*
His own example is a flame so bright
That he who but arrives to copy well
Unguided will advance, unknowing will excel.
Scarce his own Horace could such rules ordain
Or his own Virgil sing a nobler strain.
How much in him may rising Ireland boast,
How much in gaining him has Britain lost !
Their island in revenge has ours reclaimed ;
The more instructed we, the more we still are shamed.
'Tis well for us his generous blood did flow,
Derived from British channels long ago,
That here his conquering ancestors were nurst, +
And Ireland but translated England first :
By this reprisal we regain our right,
Else must the two contending nations fight
A nobler quarrel for his native earth
Than what divided Greece for Homer's birth.
To what perfection will our tongue arrive,
How will invention and translation thrive,
When authors nobly born will bear their part,
And not disdain the inglorious praise of art!
Great generals thus, descending from command,
With their own toil provoke the soldier's hand.
How will sweet Ovid's ghost be pleased to hear
His fame augmented by a British peer ; #
How he embellishes his Helen's loves,
Outdoes his softness and his sense improves !
When these translate, and teach translators too,
Nor firstling kid nor any vulgar vow
Should at Apollo's grateful altar stand :
Roscomon writes ; to that auspicious hand,
Muse, feed the bull that spurns the yellow sand.
Roscomon, whom both court and camps commend,
True to his Prince and faithful to his friend;
Roscomon first in field of honour known,
First in the peaceful triumphs of the gown;
He both Minervas justly makes his own.
Now let the few beloved by Jove, and they
Whom infused Titan formed of better clay, s
* The meaning is, “nor are those rules needed."
+ In the first edition this line was printed "That here his conquering ancestors was nurst." Dryden, in a letter to Jacob Tonson, complains of the was as a printer's error. The same letter gives information as to the success of Lord Roscomon's poem: “I am of your opinion," says Dryden;" you should reprint it, and that you may safely venture on a thousand more."
1 « The Earl of Mulgrave." He had joined Dryden in a translation of Ovid's Epistle of Helen to Paris, which had been published in 1680.
6 " Infused Titan," Promethens, son of lapetus, one of the Titans. It was an ancient fable that Prometheus made the first ran and woman with clay, anim heaven. Dryden here copies an application of that fable from Juvenal :
“Forsitan hæc spernant juvenes, quibus arte benigna
Et meliore luto finxit præcordia Titan.'
Sat. xiv. 34.
On equal terms with ancient wit engage,
Nor mighty Homer fear, nor sacred Virgil's page;
Our English palace opens wide in state,
And without stooping they may pass the gate.
TO MY FRIEND MR. NORTHLEIGH,
AUTHOR OF THE PARALLEL,
ON HIS TRIUMPH OF THE BRITISH MONARCHY.*
So Joseph, yet a youth, expounded well
The boding dream, and did the event foretell,
Judged by the past, and drew the Parallel.
Thus early Solomon the truth explored,
The right awarded, and the babe restored. +
Thus Daniel, ere to prophecy he grew,
The perjured Presbyters did first subdue,
And freed Susanna from the canting crew.
Well may our monarchy triumphant stand,
While warlike James protects both sea and land;
And, under covert of his sevenfold shield,
Thou sendst thy shafts to scour the distant field.
By law thy powerful pen has set us free;
Thou studiest that, and that may study thee.
TO MY INGENIOUS FRIEND, HENRY HIGDEN, ESQ. I
ON HIS TRANSLATION OF THE TENTH SATIRE OF JUVENAL.
The Grecian wits, who Satire first began,
Were pleasant Pasquins $ on the life of man;
At mighty villains who the State opprest
They durst not rail perhaps ; they laughed || at least,
And turned them out of office with a jest.
* John Northleigh, a student of law, who afterwards became a physician, published in 1685 the political work to which this complimentary poem of Drvden was prefixed. It was entitled
"The Triumph of our Monarchy over the Plots and Principles of our Rebels and Republicans, being Remarks on their most eminent Libels, by John Northleigh, LL.B. author of the Parallel. 8vo. 1685." Northleigh was twenty-eight when he published this work. He had published in 1682" The Parallel, or the new specious Association, an old rebellious Covenant, closing with a disparity between a true Patriot and a factious Associator." Dryden's allusions to his youth may have been excited by his earlier publication.
+ This illustration is used by Dryden in "Annus Mirabilis," stanza 43.
1 Mr. Higden was a lawyer, a member of the Middle Temple His Translation of the Tenth Satire of Juvenal was published in 1687, having been licensed June 2, 1686: so this poem of Dryden was probably written in 1686. Derrick and Scott, neither of whom had seen Mr. Higden's work, have wrongly conjectured a later date for the poem
Pasquins ; jesters. ! Laughed was improperly changed by Derrick into lashed, which appears in all following editions,