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Thus Critics, of less judgment than caprice, Curious, not knowing, not exact, but nice, Form short Ideas; and offend in arts (As most in manners) by a love to parts. Some to Conceit alone their taste confine, And glitt ring thoughts struck out at ev'ry line; Pleas'd with a work where nothing's just or fit; One glaring Chaos and wild heap of wit. Poets, like painters, thus, unskill'd to trace The naked nature and the living grace, With gold and jewels cover ev'ry part, And hide with ornaments their want of art. True Wit is Nature to advantage dress'd, What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd; Something, whose truth convinc'd at sight we find, That gives us back the image of our mind. As shades more sweetly recommend the light, So modest plainness sets off sprightly wit. For works may have more wit than does 'em good, As bodies perish thro' excess of blood.
Others for Language all their care express, And value books, as women men, for Dress: Their Praise is still,-the Style is excellent: The Sense, they humbly take upon content. Words are like leaves; and where they most abound, Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found, False eloquence, like the prismatic glass, Its gaudy colours spreads on ev'ry place; The face of nature we no more survey, All glares alike, without distinction gay; But true Expression, like th' unchanging Sun, Clears, and improves whate'er it shines upon, It gilds all objects, but it alters none. Expression is the dress of thought, and still Appears more decent, as more suitable; A vile conceit in pompous words express'd Is like a clown in regal purple dress'd For diff'rent styles with diff'rent subjects sort, As several garbs, with country, town, and court. Some by old words to fame have made pretence, Ancients in phrase, mere moderns in their sense; Such labour'd nothings, in so strange a style,
Amaze th' unlearn'd, and make the learned smile.
Unlucky, as Fungoso in the play,
These sparks with awkward vanity display
As apes our grandsires, in their doublets drest.
Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
The CHOICE of HERCULES:
Now had the son of Jove, mature, attain'd
By just degrees; fair bloom of fairest fruit:
As on a day, reflecting on his age,
For highest deeds now ripe, Alcides sought
Far in a lonely vale, with solitude
The dubious path of life: before him lay
Here virtue's rough ascent, there pleasure's flow'ry way.
Much did the view divide his wavering mind:
Graceful, yet each with different grace, they move:
The first in native dignity surpass'd;
Artless and unadorn'd she pleas'd the more:
Still she drew near; and nearer still more fair,
The other dame seem'd ev'n of fairer hue;
All soft and delicate, with airy swim
Thro' the clear texture every tender limb, Height'ning the charms it only seem'd to shade: And as it flow'd adown, so loose and thin,
Her stature shew'd more tall; more snowy-white, her skin.
Oft with a smile she view'd herself askance; Ev'n on her shade a conscious look she threw: Then all around her cast a careless glance, To mark what gazing eyes her beauty drew. As they came near, before that other maid, Approaching decent, eagerly she press'd
With hasty step; nor of repulse afraid,
With freedom bland the wond'ring youth address'd;
"Dear Hercules, whence this unkind delay ?
thro' wilds of pleasure unconfin'd. With me retire, from noise, and pain, and care, Embath'd in bliss, and wrapt in endless ease:
Rough is the road to fame, thro' blood and war; Smooth is my way, and all my paths are peace. With me retire, from toils and perils free;
Leave honour to the wretch! pleasures were made for thee.
Then will I grant thee all thy soul's desire;
The sumptuous feast, enhanc'd with music's sound; Fittest to tune the melting soul to love :
Rich odours, breathing choicest sweets around; The fragrant bow'r, cool fountain, shady grove; Fresh flow'rs, to strew thy couch, and crown thy head; Joy shall attend thy steps, and ease shall smooth thy bed.
These will I freely, constantly supply;
Leave the rash soldier spoils of war to win ;
Her winning voice the youth attentive caught: He gaz'd impatient on the smiling maid;
Still gaz'd and listen'd: then her name besought: "My name, fair youth, is happiness," she said.
"Well can my friends this envy'd truth maintain; They share my bliss; they best can speak my praise: Tho' Slander call me Sloth-detraction vain! Heed not what Slander, vain detractor, says: Slander, still prompt true merit to defame; To blot the brightest worth, and blast the fairest name.'
By this, arriv'd the fair majestic maid: (She all the while, with the same modest pace, Compos'd, advanc'd.) "Know, Hercules," she said With manly tone, "thy birth of heav'nly race; Thy tender age that lov'd instruction's voice, Promis'd thee gen'rous, patient, brave, and wise;
When manhood should confirm thy glorious choice: Now expectation waits to see thee rise.
Rise, youth! exalt thyself, and me: approve
Thy high descent from heav'n; and dare be worthy Jove.
But what truth prompts, my tongue shall not disguise; The steep ascent must be with toil subdu'd: Watching and cares must win the lofty prize Propos'd by heaven: true bliss, and real good. Honour rewards the brave and bold alone: She spurns the timorous, indolent, and base:
Danger and toil stand stern before her throne, And guard (so Jove commands) the sacred place: Who seeks her must the mighty cost sustain,
pay the price of fame-labour, and care, and pain,
Would'st thou engage the gods' peculiar care? O Hercules, th' immortal powers adore!
With a pure heart, with sacrifice and pray'r Attend their altars; and their aid implore.
Or would'st thou gain thy country's loud applause, Lov'd as her father, as her god adord?
Be thou the bold asserter of her cause;
Her voice, in council; in the fight, her sword,
In peace, in war, pursue thy country's good;
For her, bare thy bold breast, and pour thy generous blood.
Would'st thon, to quell the proud and lift th' opprest, In arts of war and matchless strength excel?
First conquer thou thyself. To ease, to rest,
"Hear'st thou, what monsters then thou must engage? What dangers, gentle youth, she bids thee prove?" (Abrupt says Sloth) "Ill fit thy tender age Tumult and wars; fit age, for joy and love. Turn, gentle youth, to me, to love and joy! To these I lead: no monsters here shall stay Thine easy course; no cares thy peace annoy: I lead to bliss a nearer, smoother way. Short is my way; fair, easy, smooth, and plain: Turn, gentle youth! with me eternal pleasures reign."