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No. III.





Multa quidem nobis facimus mala sæpe poetæ,
(Ut vineta egomet cædam mea) cum tibi librum
Sollicito damus, aut fesso, &c.

HOR. Lib. ii. Ep. 1.



Ye idler things, that soothed my hours of care,
Where would ye wander, triflers, tell me where?
As maids neglected, do ye fondly dote,
On the fair type, or the embroider'd coat;
Detest my modest shelf, and long to fly,
Where princely Popes, and mighty Miltons lie?
Taught but to sing, and that in simple style,
Of Lycia's lip, and Musidora's smile;-
Go then! and taste a yet unfelt distress,
The fear that guards the captivating press ;
Whose maddening region should ye once explore,
No refuge yields my tongueless mansion mora.

(1) [For particulars respecting the original edition of this Poem, see ande, VOL I. p. 55.]

But thus ye'll grieve, Ambition's plumage stript,
« Ah, would to Heaven, we'd died in manuscript!”
Your unsoil'd page each yawning wit shall flee,

- For few will read, and none admire like me. —
Its place, where spiders silent bards enrobe,
Squeezed betwixt Cibber's Odes and Blackmore's Job;
Where froth and mud, that varnish and deform,
Feed the lean critic and the fattening worm;
Then sent disgraced the unpaid printer's bane-
To mad Moorfields, or sober Chancery Lane,
On dirty stalls I see your hopes expire,
Vex'd by the grin of your unheeded sire,
Who half reluctant has his care resign'd,
Like a teased parent, and is rashly kind.

Yet rush not all, but let some scout go forth,
View the strange land, and tell us of its worth;
And should he there barbarian usage meet,
The patriot scrap shall warn us to retreat.

And thou, the first of thy eccentric race,
A forward imp, go, search the dangerous place,
Where Fame's eternal blossoms tempt each bard,
Though dragon-wits there keep eternal guard ;
Hope not unhurt the golden spoil to seize,
The Muses yield, as the Hesperides ;
Who bribes the guardian, all his labour's done,
For every maid is willing to be won.

Before the lords of verse a suppliant stand, And beg our passage through the fairy land: Beg more- to search for sweets each blooming field, And crop the blossoms, woods and valleys yield ; To snatch the tints that beam on Fancy's bow; And feel the fires on Genius' wings that glow; Praise without meanness, without flattery stoop, Soothe without fear, and without trembling hope.


The following Poem being itself of an introductory nature, its author supposes it can require but little preface.

It is published with a view of obtaining the opinion of the candid and judicious reader, on the merits of the writer, as a poet ; very few, he apprehends, being in such cases sufficiently impartial to decide for themselves.

It is addressed to the Authors of the Monthly Review, as to critics of acknowledged merit; an acquaintance with whose labours has afforded the writer of this Epistle a reason for directing it to them in particular, and, he presumes, will yield to others a just and sufficient plea for the preference.

Familiar with disappointment, lie shall not be much surprised to find he has mistaken his talent. However, if not egregiously the dupe of his vanity, he promises to his readers some entertainment, and is assured, that however little in the ensuing Poem is worthy of applause, there is yet less that merits contempt.


The pious pilot, whom the Gods provide,
Through the rough seas the shatter'd bark to guide,
Trusts not alone his knowledge of the deep,
Its rocks that threaten, and its sands that sleep ;
But, whilst with nicest skill he steers his way,
The guardian Tritons hear their favourite pray.
Hence borne his vows to Neptune's coral dome,
The God relents, and shuts each gulfy tomb.

Thus as on fatal floods to fame I steer, I dread the storm, that ever rattles here, Nor think enough, that long my yielding soul Has felt the Muse's soft, but strong control, Nor think enough that manly strength and ease, Such as have pleased a friend, will strangers please ; But, suppliant, to the critic's throne I bow, Here burn my incense, and here pay my vow ; That censure hushid, may every blast give o'er, And the lash'd coxcomb hiss contempt no more. And ye, whom authors dread or dare in vain, Affecting modest hopes, or poor disdain, Receive a bard, who, neither mad nor mean, Despises each extreme, and sails between ; Who fears; but has, amid his fears confess'd, The conscious virtue of a Muse oppress’d; A Muse in changing times and stations nursed, By nature honour'd, and by fortune cursed.

No servile strain of abject hope she brings, Nor soars presumptuous, with unwearied wings, But, pruned for flight — the future all her care — Would know her strength, and, if not strong, forbear.

The supple slave to regal pomp bows down, Prostrate to power, and cringing to a crown; The bolder villain spurns a decent awe, Tramples on rule, and breaks through every law; But he whose soul on honest truth relies, Nor meanly flatters power, nor madly flies. Thus timid authors bear an abject mind, And plead for mercy they but seldom find. Some, as the desperate, to the halter run, Boldly deride the fate they cannot shun; But such there are, whose minds, not taught to stoop, Yet hope for fame, and dare avow their hope,

Who neither brave the judges of their cause,
Nor beg in soothing strains a brief applause.
And such I'd be; and ere my fate is past,
Ere clear'd with honour, or with culprits cast,
Humbly at Learning's bar I 'll state my case,
And welcome then, distinction or disgrace!

When in the man the flights of fancy reign, Rule in the heart, or revel in the brain, As busy Thought her wild creation apes, And hangs delighted o'er her varying shapes, It asks a judgment, weighty and discreet, To know where wisdom prompts, and where conceit; Alike their draughts to every scribbler's mind (Blind to their faults as to their danger blind); We write enraptured, and we write in haste, Dream idle dreams, and call them things of taste, Improvement trace in every paltry line, And see, transported, every dull design ; Are seldom cautious, all advice detest, And ever think our own opinions best; Nor shows my Muse a muse-like spirit here, Who bids me pause, before I persevere.

But she - who shrinks while meditating flight
In the wide way, whose bounds delude her sight,
Yet tired in her own mazes still to roam,
And cull poor banquets for the soul at home,
Would, ere she ventures, ponder on the way,
Lest dangers yet unthought-of fight betray;
Lest her Icarian wing, by wits unplumed,
Be robb'd of all the honours she assumed ;
And Dulness swell, - a black and dismal sea,
Gaping her grave; while censures madden me.

Such was his fate, who flew too near the sun, Shot far beyond his strength, and was undone ;

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