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AND now the king of men his army calls
Back from the danger of th' impending walls;
They quit the combat, and in order long
The field possess, a phalanx deep and strong.
Rank following rank, the Theban squadrons


Still to the rampart, and the tow'rs above:
Creon himself, unwilling, quits the field,
Enrag'd, defeated, and constrain'd to yield:
'Gainst all his foes, his indignation burus,
But first on Diomed its fury turns.

He call'd a vulgar warrior from the crowd,
A villain dark, and try'd in works of blood,
Erembus nam'd, of huge gigantic size, [eyes;
With cloudy features mark'd, and down-cast
Cold and inactive still in combat found,
Nor wont to kindle at the trumpet's sound;
But bold in villany when pow'r commands;
A weapon fit ed for a tyrant's hands. [sword,
And thus the wrathful monarch: "Take this
A sign, to all my servants, from their lord;
And hither bring the fair Etolian's head;
I, who command you, will reward the deed:
But let not pity, or remorse, prevail;
Your own shall answer, if in aught you fail."

He said; the murth'rer, practis'd to obey,
The royal sword receiv'd, and took his way
Straight to the palace, where the captive fair,
Of hope bereft, and yielding to despair,
Lamenting sat. Their mutual griefs to blend,
The queen and all the royal maids attend.
And thus the queen: "Fair stranger! shall your
All hopes reject of comfort and relief? [grief
Your woes I've measur'd, all your sorrows known;
And find them light when balanc'd with my own.
In one sad day my valiant sire I mourn'd;
My brother slain; my native walls o'erturn'd;
Myself a captive, destin'd to fulfil,
In servile drudgery, a master's will;
Yet to a fall so low, the gods decreed
This envy'd beight of greatness to succeed.
The pow'rs above, for purposes unknown,
Oft raise the fall'n, and bring the lofty down;
Elude the vigilance of all our care:
Our surest hopes deceive, and mock despair.
Let no desponding thoughts your mind possess,
To banish hope, the medicine of distress:
For nine short days your freedom will restore,
And break the bondage which you thus deplore.
But I, alas! unhappy still, must mourn
Joys once possess'd, which never can return;
Four valiant sons, who perish'd on the plain
In this dire strife, a fifth on Oeta slain:
These shall return to bless my eyes no more;
The grave's dark mansion knows not to restore,
For time, which bids so oft the solar ray
Repeat, with light renew'd, th' ethereal way,
And from the soil, by heat and vernal winds,
To second life the latent plant unbinds,
Again to flourish, nurs'd by wholesome dews,
Never to mortal man his life renews.
These griefs are sure; but others still I fear;
A royal husband lost, and bendage near;

Myself, my daughters, dragg'd by hostile bands;
Our dignity exchang'd for servile bands:
All this the gods may purpose, and fulfil;
And we with patience must endure their will."*
As thus Laodice her sorrow try'd
With sympathy to sooth; the maid reply'd:
"Great queen! on whom the sov'reign_pow'rs
A gen'rous heart to feel another's woe; [bestow
Let still untouch'd through life your honours last,
With happier days to come for sorrows past!
Yet strive not thus a hopeless wretch to cheer,
Whom sure conjecture leads the worst to fear.
Shall Diomed a public cause forego,

His faithful friends betray, and trust a foe?
By treachery behold the host o'erthrown,
Renounce the public interest and his own?
Shall kings and armies, in the balance laid,
Avail not to out-weigh a single maid?
One, whom his fury falsely did reprove
For crimes unknown, whose only crime was love?
No, sure ere this he triumphs in the field;
Your armies to his matchless valour yield:
And soon submitting to the fatal blow,
This head must gratify a vanquish'd foe.
If symbols e'er the secret fates explain,
If visions do not always warn in vain,
If dreams do ever true prognostics prove,
And dreams, the sages say, descend from Jove,
My fate approaches: late at dead of night;
My veins yet freeze with horrour and affright!
I thought that, all forsaken and alone,
Pensive I wander'd far through ways unknown;
A gloomy twilight, neither night nor day,
Frown'd on my steps, and sadden'd all the way:
Long dreary vales I saw on ev'ry side,

And caverns sinking deep, with entrance wide;
On ragged cliffs the blasted forests hung;
Her baleful note the boding screech-owl sung.
At last, with many a weary step, I found
This melancholy country's outmost bound,
An ocean vast: upon a cliff I stood,
And saw, beneath me far, the sable flood;
No islands rose the dull expanse to grace,
And nought was seen, through all the boundless
But low-brow'd clouds, which on the billows
And, in a night of shade, the prospect drown'd.
The winds, which seem'd around the cliffs to

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Some grasp'd the slipp'ry rock, with fruitless
Some hung suspended by the roots, which pass
Through crannies of the cliffs, or wither'd grass.
Still from the steep they plung'd into the main ;
As from the eves descends the trickling rain.
Amaz'd I turn'd, and strove in vain to fly;
Thickets oppos'd, and precipices high
To stop my flight: and, from the airy steep,
A tempest snatch'd, and hurl'd me to the deep.
The sudden violence my slumber broke;
The waves I seem'd to touch, and straightawoke.
With sleep the vision fled; but, in my mind,
Imprinted deep, its image left behind.

For had the frightful scene which fancy drew,
And what I seem'd to suffer, all been true;
Had fate appear'd, in blackest colours dress'd,
No deeper had its horrours been impress'd.
When thus the gods by certain symbols warn,
And sure, from dreams, their purposes we learn,
No blame I merit, that to fear resign'd,
Fate's dead approach sits heavy on my mind."
Cassandra thus; Laodice again:
"Futurity, in dreams, we seek in vain ;
For oft, from thoughts disturb'd, such phan-
toms rise,

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As fogs from marshes climb, to blot the skies:
With a dark veil, the cheerful face of day
They sadden, and eclipse the solar ray;
But soon, in dews and soft descending rains,
Fall to refresh the mountains and the plains.
For Diomed's offence you ne'er can bleed;
Favour, your sex and innocence will plead,
Ev'n with the worst: nor will a gen'rous foe
His rage, in cruelty and baseness, show.
Now to the tow'rs I haste, to view from far
The danger or success of this day's war.
Let Clymene with me the walls ascend;
The rest at home domestic cares attend."
She ended thus; and from her seat arose;
The royal maid attends her, as she goes
Towards the western gate; where full to view
Expos'd, the armies and the camp she knew.
And now appear'd within the lofty gate,
By Creon sent, the messenger of fate.
His shining blade, for execution bar'd,
And aspect dark, his purpose straight declar'd.
Alarm'd at once the royal virgins rise,
And scatt'ring, fill the dome with female cries:
But, bolder from despair, Cassandra staid,
And to th' assassin thus, undaunted, said:
"Approach! divide this neck with deathful

A tyrant's vassal no remorse should feel.
O Diomed! let this example prove,
In man, that stubborn honour conquers love:
With weight superior, great ambition draws
The scale for glory, and a public cause.
1 blame thee not for this; nor will impeach
A great example, which I could not reach:
For had whole armies, in the balance laid,
And kings and mighty states with thee been

And I the judge appointed to decree,
They all had perished to ransom thee."
Cassandra thus; and for the blow prepar'd,
With both her hands, her shining neck she bar'd,
And round her head a purple garment roll'd,
With leaves of silver mark'd, and flow'rs of gold.
Rais'd for the stroke, the glitt'ring falchion

And swift descending, bore the head along.
A tide of gore, diffus'd in purple streams,
Dashes the wall, and o'er the pavement swims,
Frone to the ground the headless trunk reclines,
And life, in long convulsive throbs, resigns.

Now on the open plain before the walls,
The king of men the chiefs to council calls.
And Diomed, with secret griefs oppress'd,
Impatient, thus the public ear address'd:
"Confed'rate kings! and thou, whose sov'reign


Sways the dread sceptre of supreme command !

What holds us, and restrains our martial pow'rs; While haughty Thebes insults us, from her tow'rs?

In vain we conquer thus, and bleed in vain,
If victory but yields the empty plain.
Behind his walls, perfidious Creon lies,-
And safely meditates a new surprise:
When on the urn our pious tears we pour ;
Or mirth disarms us, and the genial hour;
No, let us rather, now when fortune calls,
With bold assault, attempt to mount the walls;
Myself the first a chosen band shall lead,
Where yon low rampart sinks into the mead:
There will I gain the battlements, and lay,
For others to succeed, an open way,

If bars of steel have force their works to tear,
Or, from their hinges heav'd the gates can


Tydides thus. His counsel to oppose,

The leader of the Cretan warriors rose: "Confed'rate kings: and thou, whose sov❜reign band

Sways the dread sceptre of supreme command!
Let not Tydides now, with martial rage,

In measures hot and rash, the host engage.
To sober reason, still let passion yield,
Nor here, admit the ardour of the field:
If Thebes could thus with one assault be won,
Her armies vanquish'd, and her wall o'erthrown;
Could this one signal day reward our toil,
So long endur'd, with victory and spoil:
No soldier in the ranks, no leader here,
Would shun the fight, or counsel to forbear,
But if for victory, a foul defeat,

With all the shame and danger of retreat,
Should be the issue, which the wise must dread,
To stop is better, sure, than to proceed.
On yonder walls and lofty turrets, stand,
Not, sav'd from shameful flight, a heartless band,
Who, desp'rate of their state, would soon forego
Their last defences, and admit a foe;

But who, from fight recall'd, without dismay,
A safe retreat maintain'd, in firm array.
Secure they combat from protecting walls;
Thrown from above each weapon heavier falls;
Against such odds, can we the fight maintain,
And with a foe found equal on the plain?
Though we desist, no leader will oppose
That thus the fruits of victory we lose;
When, pent within their battlements and tow'rs,
In narrow space, we hold the Theban pow'rs:
For oftener, than by arms, are hosts o'erthrown
Ey dearth and sickness, in a straiten'd town.
He who can only wield the sword and spear,
Knows less than half the instruments of war.
Heart-gnawing hunger, enemy to life,
Wide-wasting pestilence, and civil strife,
By want inflam'd, to all our weapons claim
Superior force, and strike with surer aim:
With these, whoever arm'd to combat goes,
Instructed how to turn them on his foes,
Shall see them soon laid prostrate on the ground,
His aims accomplish'd, and his wishes crown'd.
Our warriors, therefore, let us straight recall,
Nor, by assault, attempt to force the wall;
But with a rampart, to the gates oppos'd,
Besiege, in narrow space, our foes enclos'd."

The hero thus; and, eager to reply,
Tydides rose: when on a turret high

Treon appeard; Cassandra's head, display'd
Upon a lance's point, he held, and said:

23 Ye Argive warriors! view this sign; and know,
That Creon never fails to quit a foe.

This bloody trophy mark; and if it brings
Grief and despair to any of the kings,
Let him revenge it on the man who broke
His faith, and dar'd my fury to provoke."
He ended thus. Tydides, as he heard,
With rage distracted, and despair, appear'd.
Long on the tow'r he fix'd his burning eyes;
The rest were mute with wonder and surprise;
But, to the counsel turning, thus at last :


If any favour claim my merits past;

If, by a present benefit, ye'd bind

To future services a grateful mind;
Let what I urge in council, now prevail,
1 With hostile arms you rampart to assail:
Else, with my native bands, aloue I'll try
The combat, fix'd to conquer or to die."

The hero thus. Ulysses thus exprest
The prudent dictates of his generous breast:
"Princes! shall dire contention still preside
In all our councils, and the kings divide?
Sure, of the various ills that can distress
United armies and prevent success,
Discord is chief: where'er the fury strays,
The parts she severs and the whole betrays.
Now let Tydides lead his native pow'rs
To combat, and assault the Theban tow'rs;
The rest, on various parts, their forces show,
By mock approaches to distract the foe.
If he prevails, to victory he leads;
And safe bebind him all the host succeeds:
If Jove forbids and all-decreeing fate,
The field is open, and a safe retreat.”
Ulysses thus. The princes all assent; [went,
Straight from the council through the host they
Review'd its order, and in front dispos'd
The slingers; and the rear with bowmen clos'd;
Arining the rest with all that could avail,
The tow'rs and battlements to sap or scale.
Tydides first his martial squadrons leads;
Ulysses, with his native band, succeeds.
Upon them, as they came, the Thebans pour
A storm of jav'lins, shot from ev'ry tow'r;
As from the naked heights the feather'd kind,
By bitter show'rs compell'd, and wintry wind,
In clouds assembled, from some mountain's head,
To shelter crowd, and dive into the shade;
Such and so thick the winged weapons fiew,
And many warriors wounded, many slew.
Now on their ranks, by forceful engines thrown,
Springs, from the twisted rope, the pond'rous

With wide destruction through the host to roll,
To mix its order and confound the whole.
Intrepid still th' Etolian chief proceeds;
And still Ulysses follows as he leads,
They reach'd the wall. Tydides, with a bound,
Twice strove in vain to mount it from the ground.
Twice fled the foe; as, to the boist'rous sway
Of some proud billow, mariners give way;
Which, rous'd by tempests, 'gainst a vessel

Its force, and mounting o'er the deck ascends:
Again he rose the third attempt prevail'd;
But, crumbling in his grasp, the rampart fail'd:
For thunder there its fury had imprest,

And loos'd a shatter'd fragment from the rest.

Supine upon the earth the hero falls,
Mix'd with the smoke and ruin of the walls.
By disappointment chaf'd, and fierce from pain,.
Unable now the rampart to regain,

He turn'd, and saw his native bands afar,
By fear restrain'd, and ling'ring in the war.
From Creon straight and Thebes, his anger

And 'gainst his friends, with equal fury, burns;
As when, from snows dissolv'd or sudden rains,
A torrent swells and roars along the plains;
If, rising to oppose its angry tide,

In full career, it meets a mountain's side;
In foaming eddies, backwards to its source,
It wheels, and rages with inverted course :
So turn'd at once, the fury, in his breast,
Against Ulysses, thus itself exprest :
"Author accurs'd, and source of all my woes!
Friend more pernicious than the worst of foes!
By thy suggestions from my purpose sway'd,
I slew Cassandra, and myself betray'd;
Hence, lodg'd within this tortur'd breast,remains
A fury, to inflict eternal pains.

I need not follow, with vindictive spear,
A traitor absent, while a worse is near:
Crcon but acted what you well foreknew,
When me unwilling to the fight you drew.
To you the first my vengeance shall proceed,
And then on Creon and myself succeed:
Such sacrifice Cassandra's ghost demands,
And such I'll offer with determin'd hands."

Thus as he spoke, Ulysses pond'ring stood,
Whether by art to sooth his furious mood,
Or, with a sudden hand, his lance to throw,
Preventing, ere it fell, the threaten'd blow.
But, gliding from above, the martial maid
Between them stood, in majesty display'd;
Her radiant eyes with indignation burn'd,
On Diomed their piercing light she turn'd;"
And frowning thus: "Thy frantic rage restrain;
Else by dread Styx I swear, nor swear in vain,
That proof shall teach you whether mortal might
This arm invincible can match in fight.
Is 't not enough that he whose hoary hairs
Still watch'd your welfare with a father's cares,
Who dar'd, with zeal and courage, to withstand
Your fatal phrenzy, perish'd by your hand?
That, slighting ev'ry tie which princes know,
You leagu'd in secret with a public foe?
And, from your faith by fond affection sway'd,
The kings, the army, and yourself betray'd?
Yet, still unaw'd, from such atrocious deeds,
To more and worse your desp'rate rage proceeds,
And dooms to perish, by a mad decree,
The chief who sav'd alike the host and thee.
Had Thebes prevail'd, and one decisive hour
The victory had fix'd beyond thy pow'r;
These limbs, ere now, had captive fetters wors,
To infamy condemn'd, and hostile scorn;
While fair Cassandra, with her virgin charms,
A prize decreed, had blest some rival's arms.
Did not the worth of mighty Tydeus plead,
Approv'd when living, and rever'd when dead,
For favour to his guilty son, and stand
A rampart to oppose my vengeful hand;
You soon had found how mad it is to wage
War with the gods, and tempt immortal rage.
This Thebes shall know, ere to the ocean's


The Sun again withdraws his setting beams;


For now the gods consent, in vengeance just,
For all her crimes, to mix her with the dust."
The goddess thus; and turning to the field,
Her deity in Mentor's form conceal'd:
With courage new each warrior's heart inspires,
And wakes again, in all, their martial fires.
Conscious of wrong, and speechless from

Tydides stood, nor dar'd to lift his eyes,
Of fate regardless; though from ev'ry tow'r,
Stones, darts, and arrows fell, a mingled show'r :
For awe divine subdu'd him, and the shame
Which virtue suffers from the touch of blame.
But to Ulysses turning, thus at last:
"Prince! can thy gen'rous love forget the past;
And all remembrance banish from thy mind,
Of what my fury and despair design'd?
If you forgive me, straight our pow'rs recall
Who shun the fight, while I attempt the wall.
Some present god inspires me; for I feel
My heart exulting knock the plated steel:
In brisker rounds the vital spirit flies,
And ev'ry limb with double force supplies."

Tydides thus. Ulysses thus again:
"Shall Heav'n forgive offences, man retain;
Though born to err, by jarring passions tost?
The best, in good, no steadiness can boast :
No malice therefore in my heart shall live;
To sin is human; human to forgive.
But do not now your single force oppose
To lofty ramparts and an host of foes;
Let me at least, attending at your side,
Partake the danger, and the toil divide:
For see our pow'rs advancing to the storm!
Pallas excites them in a mortal form.
Let us, to mount the rampart, straight proceed;
They of themselves will follow as we lead."
Ulysses thus; and, springing from the ground,
Both chiefs at once ascend the lofty mound.
Before him each his shining buckler bears
'Gainst flying darts, and thick portended spears.
Now, on the bulwark's level top, they stand,
And charge on ev'ry side the hostile band:
There many warriors in close tight they slew,
And many headlong from the rampart threw.
Pallas her fav'rite champions still inspires, [fires.
Their nerves confirms, and wakes their martial
With course divided, on the foe they fall,
And bare between them leave a length of wall;
As fire, when kindled on some mountain's head,
Where runs, in long extent, the woodland shade,
Consumes the middle forest, and extends
Its parted progress to the distant ends:

So fought the leaders, while their scatter'd pow'rs,
In phalanx join'd, approach'd the Theban tow'rs;
With hands, and heads against the rampart lean'd,
The first, upon their shields, the rest sustain'd:
Rank above rank the living structure grows,
As settling bees the pendent heap compose,
Which to some cavern's roof united clings,
Woven thick with complicated feet and wings:
Thus mutually sustain'd, the warriors bend;
While o'er their heads the order'd ranks ascend.
And now the martial goddess with delight,
Plac'd on a turret's top, survey'd the fight.
Thrice to the height she rais'd her awful voice;
'The tow'rs and bulwarks trembled at the noise:
Both warring hosts alike the signal hear;
To this, the cause of hope, to that, of fear.

And Theseus thus address'd his martial train:
"Here shall we wage a distant war in vain,
When now Tydides, from the conquer'd tow'rs
Descending, on the town his warrions pours?
Your glory if ye would assert, nor yield
At once the praise of many a well-fought field;
Ascend these lofty battlements, and claim
With those who conquer now an equal fame."
The monarch thus; and to the combat leads;
With emulation fir'd, the host proceeds;
Under a show'r of falling darts they go,
Climb the steep rainparts, and assault the foe;
As winds outrageous, from the ocean wide,
Against some mole impel the stormy tide,
Whose rocky arms, opposed to the deep,
From tempests, safe the anchoring vessel keep;
Wave heap'd on wave, the stormy deluge tow'rs,
And o'er it, with resistless fury, pours:

Such seem'd the fight, the Theban host o'er-

The wall deserts, and mingles with the town.
Creon in vain the desp'rate rout withstands
With sharp reproaches and vindictive hands;
His rage they shun not, nor his threat'nings

From stunning clamours deaf,and blind from fear.
And thus the monarch with uplifted eyes,
And both his hands extended to the skies.
"Ye pow'rs supreme, whose unresisted sway
The fates of men and mortal things obey!
Against your counsels, vain it is to strive,
Which only ruin nations or retrieve.
Here in your sight, with patience I resign
That envy'd royalty which once was mine;
Renounce the cares, that wait upon a crown,
And make my last attention all my own.
Seven virgin daughters in my house remain,
Who must not live to swell a victor's train;
Nor shall my wretched queen, in triumph borne,
Be lifted to the eye of public scorn:
One common fate our miseries shall end,
And, with the dust of Thebes, our ashes blend."
His fix'd decree the monarch thus exprest;
One half the fates confirm'd, deny'd the rest:
For now surrounded by the hostile crowd
His captive queen, an humble suppliunt, stood.
Tydides found her as she left the walls;
Before the hero to the ground she falls;
With trembling hands, his mighty knees she

And, supplicating, thus with tears address'd :
"Illustrious chief! for sure your gallant mien
No less proclaims you, spare a wretched queen;
One whom the gods with endless hate pursue,
To griefs already sumless adding new;
O spare a helpless wretch, who humbly bends,
And for protection on thy might depends!"
As supplicating thus her suit she press'd,
Ulysses heard, and thus the chief address'd:
"See how th' immortals, by a just decree,
Cassandra's fall avenge, and honour thee!
See, at thy feet, the wife of Creon laid,
A victim offer'd for the injur'd maid.
Let her the first your just resentment feel;
By Heav'n presented to your vengeful steel."
Ulysses thus. With sighs the hero said:
"Enough is offer'd to Cassandra's shade;
With wide destruction, wasting sword and fire,
To plague the authors of her fall, conspire.

Yet all in vain. No sacrifice recalls
The parted ghost from Pluto's gloomy walls.
Too long, alas! has lawless fury rul'd,
To reason deaf, by no reflection cool'd:
While I unhappy, by its dictates sway'd,
My guardian murder'd, and the host betray'd.
No victim, therefore, to my rage I'll pay;
Nor ever follow as it points the way."

The son of Tydeus thus; and to his tent,
From insults safe, the royal matron sent.
Himself again the course of conquest led
Till Thebes was overthrown, and Creon bled.



ONE ev'ning, as by pleasant Forth I stray'd,
In pensive mood, and meditated still
n poets' learned toil, with scorn repaid
By envy's bitter spite, and want of skill;
A cave I found, which open'd in a hill.
The floor was sand, with various shells yblended,
Through which, in slow meanders, crept a rill;
The roof, by Nature's cunning slight suspended:
Thither my steps I turn'd, and there my journey

Upon the ground my listless limbs I laid,


Lull'd by the murmur of the passing stream: Then sleep, soft stealing, did my eyes invade And waking thought soon ended in a dream. Transported to a region I did seem, Which with Thessalian Tempe might compare;

Of verdant shade compos'd, and wat'ry gleam: Not ev'n Valdarno, thought so passing fair, Might match this pleasant land in all perfections rare.

One, like a hoary palmer, near a brook,
Under an arbour, seated did appear;
A shepherd swain, attending, held a book,

And seem'd to read therein that he mote hear.
From curiosity I stepped near;

But ere I reach'd the place where they did sit,
The whisp'ring breezes wafted to my ear
The sound of rhymes which I myself had writ:
Rhymes much, alas, too mean, for such a judge


For him he seem'd who sung Achilles' rage,
In lofty numbers that shall never die,
And wise Ulysses' tedious pilgrimage,
So long the sport of sharp adversity:
The praises of his merit, Fame on high,
With her shrill trump, for ever loud doth sound;
With him no bard, for excellence, can vie,
Of all that late or ancient e'er were found;
So much he doth surpass ev'n bards the most re-

The shepherd swain invited me to come

Up to the arbour where they seated were; For Homer call'd me: much I fear'd the doom Which such a judge seem'd ready to declare. As I approach'd, with meikle dread and care, He thus address'd me: "Sir, the cause explain Why all your story here is told so bare? Few circumstances mix'd of various grain; Such, surely, much enrich and raise a poet's



"Certes," quoth I, "the critics are the cause Of this and many other mischiefs more; Who tie the Muses to such rigid laws,

That all their songs are frivolous and poor. They cannot now, as oft they did before, Ere pow'rful prejudice had clipt their wings,

Nature's domain with boundless flight explore,
And traffic freely in her precious things:
Each bard now fears the rod, and trembles while
he sings.

"Though Shakespear, still disdaining narrow rules,
His bosom fill'd with Nature's sacred fire,
Broke all the cobweb limits fix'd by fools,
And left the world to blame him and admire;
Yet his reward few mortals would desire;
For, of his learned toil, the only meed

That ever I could find he did acquire,
Is that our dull, degenerate, age of lead,
Says that he wrote by chance, and that he scarce
could read."

"I ween," quoth he, "that poets are to blame
When they submit to critics' tyranny:
For learned wights there is no greater shame,
Than blindly with their dictates to comply,
Whose wit did e'er his airy fract define;
Who ever taught the eagle how to fly,

When with free wing he claims his native sky, Say, will he steer his course by rule and line? Certes, he'd scorn the bound that would his flight confine.

"Not that the Muses' art is void of rules: Many there are, I wot, and stricter far, Than those which pedants dictate from the schools,

Who wage with wit and taste eternal war: For foggy ignorance their sight doth mar; Nor can their low conception ever reach To what dame Nature, crown'd with many


Explains to such as know her learned speech; But few can comprehend the lessons she doth teach.

"As many as the stars that gild the sky,

As many as the flow'rs that paint the ground, In number like the insect tribes that fly,

The various forms of beauty still are found; That with strict limits no man may them bound,

And say that this, and this alone, is right:

Experience soon such rashness would confound,
And make its folly obvious as the light;
For such presumption sure becomes not mortal

"Therefore each bard should freely entertain
The hints which pleasing fancy gives at will;
Nor curb her sallies with too strict a rein,
Nature subjecting to her hand-maid Skill:
And you yourself in this have done but ill;
With many more, who have not comprehended
That genius, crampt, will rarely mount the


Whose forked summit with the clouds is blended: Therefore, when next you write, let this defect be


"But, like a friend, who candidly reproves

For faults and errours which he doth espy,

Each vice he treely marks; yet always loves To mingle favour with severity.


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