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HE Reflections of Horace, and the Judgments
past in his Epistle to Auguftus, seemed so fea sonable to the present Times, that I could not help applying them to the use of my own Country. The Au. thor thought them considerable enough to address them to his Prince; whom he paints with all the great and good qualities of a Monarch, upon whom the Romans depended for the Encrease of an Absolute Empire. But to make the Poem entirely English, I was willing to add one or two of those which contribute to the Happiness of a Free People, and are more consistent with the Welfare of our Neighbours.
This Epistle will show the learned World to have fallen into Two mistakes: one, that Augustus was e Patron of Poets in general; whereas he not only prohibited all but the Best Writers to name him, but recommended that Care even to the Civil Magistrate : Admonebat Praetores, ne paterentur Nomen fuum obfolefieri, etc. The other, that this Piece was only a general Discourse of Poetry; whereas it was an Apology for the Poets, in order to render Augustus more their Patron. Horace here pleads the Cause of his Cotemporaries, first against the Taste of the Town, whose humour it was to magnify the Authors of the preceding Age; secondly against che Court and Nobility, who encouraged only the Writers for the Theatre; and laftly against the Emperor himself, who had conceived them of little Use to the Government. He shews (by a View of the Progress of Learning, and the Change of Taste among the Romans) that the Introduction of the Police Arts of Greece had given the Writers of his Time great advantages over their Predecessors; that their Morals were much improved, and the Licence of those ancient Poets reftrained: that Satire and Comedy were become more juft and useful; that whatever extravagancies were left on the Stage, were owing to the Ill Taste of the Nobility; that Poets, under due Regulations, were in many respects useful to the State; and concludes, that it was upon them the Emperor himself must depend, for his Fame with Pofterity.
We may further learn from this Epistle, that Horace made his Court to this Great Prince by writing with a decent Freedom toward him, with a just Contempt of his low Flatterers, and with a manly Regard to his own Character. P.
E P I S T O L A
Ad AUGUST U M.
UM tot * sustineas et tanta negotia folus,
Rex Italas armis tuteris, moribus ornes, Legibus emendes; in publica commoda peccem, Si longo fermone morer tua tempora, Caesar. Romulus, et Liber pater, et cum Castore
Pollux, Poft ingentia facta, 'Deorum in templa recepti, Dum terras hominumque colunt genus, aspera
bella Componunt, agros adfignant, oppida condunt; * Ploravere suis non respondere favorem Speratum meritis. diram qui contudit Hydram, Notaque fatali portenta labore subegit, Comperit 'invidiam supremo fine domari.
NOT E s.
Book ii. Ep. 1.] The Poet always rises with his Original ; and very often, without it. This whole Imitation is supremely noble and fublime.
VER. 7. Edward and Henry, &c.] Romulus, et Liber Pan ter, &c. Horace very judiciously praises Augustus for the colonies he founded, not for the victories he had won; and therefore compares him, not to those who defolated, but to those who civilized mankind. The Imitation wants this
E P I S T L E I.
HILE you, great Patron of Mankind!
sustain The balanc'd World, and open all the Main ; Your Country, chief, in Arms abroad defend, At home, with Morals, Arts, and Laws amend; How shall the Muse, from such a Monarch, steal
5 An hour, and not defraud the Public Weal?
* Edward and Henry, now the Boast of Fame, And virtuous Alfred, a more " sacred Name, After a Life of gen’rous Toils endur'd, The Gaul subdu’d, or Property secur'd, Ambition humbled, mighty Cities storm’d, Or Laws establish'd, and the world reform’d; *Clos'd their long Glories, with a sigh, to find Th’unwilling Gratitude of base mankind! All human Virtue, to its latest breath, * Finds Envy never conquer'd, but by Death.
NO TE s. grace : and, for a very obvious reason, our Poet should not have aimed at it; as he has done in the mention of Alfred.
VER. 13. Clos’d their long Glories, with a figh,] The expreffion is extremely beautiful; and the ploravere judiciously placed.
VER. 16. Finds Envy never conquer'd, &c.] It hath been