Remove whate'er a critic may suspect,
To gain the paltry suffrage of "Correct"?420
Or prune the spirit of each daring phrase,
To fly from Error, not to merit Praise?
Ye, who seek finished models, never cease,
By day and night, to read the works of Greece.
But our good Fathers never bent their brains
To heathen Greek, content with native strains.
The few who read a page, or used a pen,
Were satisfied with Chaucer and old Ben;
The jokes and numbers suited to their taste
Were quaint and careless, anything but chaste;430
Yet, whether right or wrong the ancient rules,
It will not do to call our Fathers fools!
Though you and I, who eruditely know
To separate the elegant and low,
Can also, when a hobbling line appears,
Detect with fingers—in default of ears.
There's pomp enough—if little else—in plays;
In sooth I do not know, or greatly care
To learn, who our first English strollers were;
Or if, till roofs received the vagrant art,
Our Muse, like that of Thespis, kept a cart;440
But this is certain, since our Shakespeare's days,
- Ye who require Improvement.—[MS. L. (a).]