Verses Occasioned by the Foregoing Epistle.

Sopitos suscita ignes.


From man's too curious and impatient sight,
The future, Heaven involves in thickest night.
Credit gray hairs: though freedom much we boast,
Some least perform, what they determine most.
What sudden changes our resolves betray!
To-morrow is the satire on to-day,
And shows its weakness. Whom shall men believe,
When constantly themselves, themselves deceive?

Long had I bid my once-loved muse adieu;
You warm old age; my passion burns anew.
How sweet your verse! how great your force of mind!
What power of words! what skill in dark mankind!
Polite the conduct; generous the design;
And beauty files, and strength sustains, each line.
Thus Mars and Venus are, once more, beset;
Your wit has caught them in its golden net.

But what strikes home with most exalted grace
Is, haughty genius taught to know its place;
And, where worth shines, its humbled crest to bend,
With zeal devoted to that godlike end.
When we discern so rich a vein of sense,
Through the smooth flow of purest eloquence;
'Tis like the limpid streams of Tagus roll'd
O'er boundless wealth, o'er shining beds of gold.

But whence so finish'd, so refin'd a piece?
The tongue denies it to old Rome and Greece;
The genius bids the moderns doubt their claim,
And slowly take possession of the fame.
But I nor know, nor care, by whom 'twas writ,
Enough for me that 'tis from human wit;
That soothes my pride: all glory in the pen
Which has done honour to the race of men.

But this have others done; a like applause
An ancient and a modern Horace draws.(67)
But they to glory by degrees arose,
Meridian lustre you at once disclose.
'Tis continence of mind, unknown before,
To write so well, and yet to write no more.
More bright renown can human nature claim,
Than to deserve, and fly immortal fame?

Next to the godlike praise of writing well,
Is on that praise with just delight to dwell.
O, for some God my drooping soul to raise!
That I might imitate, as well as praise;
For all commend: e'en foes your fame confess;
Nor would Augustus' age have priz'd it less;
An age, which had not held its pride so long,
But for the want of so complete a song.

A golden period shall from you commence:
Peace shall be sign'd 'twixt wit and manly sense;
Whether your genius or your rank they view,
The muses find their Halifax in you.
Like him succeed! nor think my zeal is shown
For you; 'tis Britain's interest, not your own;
For lofty stations are but golden snares,
Which tempt the great to fall in love with cares.

I would proceed, but age has chill'd my vein,
'Twas a short fever, and I'm cool again.
Though life I hate, methinks I could renew
Its tasteless, painful course, to sing of you.
When such the subject, who shall curb his flight?
When such your genius, who shall dare to write?
In pure respect, I give my rhyming o'er,
And, to commend you most, commend no more.

Adieu, whoe'er thou art! on death's pale coast
Erelong I'll talk thee o'er with Dryden's ghost;
The bard will smile. A last, a long farewell!
Henceforth I hide me in my dusky cell;
There wait the friendly stroke that sets me free,
And think of immortality and thee--
My strains are number'd by the tuneful Nine;
Each maid presents her thanks, and all present thee mine.