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I know there are, to whose presumptuous thoughts Those freer beauties, e'en in them seem faults. Some figures monstrous and misshaped appear, Consider'd singly, or beheld too near, Which but proportion’d to their light or place, Due distance reconciles to form and grace. A prudent chief not always must display His powers in equal ranks and fair array, But with the occasion and the place comply, Conceal his force, nay seem sometimes to fly. Those oft are stratagems which errors seem, Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream..
Still green with bays each ancient altar stands Above the reach of sacrilegious hands, Secure from flames, from Envy's fiercer rage, Destructive War, and all-involving Age. See from each clime the learn’d their incense bring! Hear in all tongues consenting pæans ring! In praise so just let every voice be join'd, And fill the general chorus of mankind. Hail, bards triumphant! born in happier days, Immortal heirs of universal praise! Whose honours with increase of ages grow, As streams roll down, enlarging as they flow; Nations unborn your mighty names shall sound, And worlds applaud that must not yet be found! O may some spark of your celestial fire The last, the meanest, of your sons inspire, (Thaton weak wings, from far, pursues your flights, Glows while he reads, but trembles as he writes) To teach vain wits a science little known, To' admire superior sense, and doubt their own!
Causes hindering a true judgment.—Pride.--Imperfect learn
ing.-Judging by parts, and not by the whole.--Critics in wit, language, versification, only.- Being too hard to please, or too apt to admire.-Partiality--too much love to a sect-to the ancients or moderns.-Prejudice or prevention. Singularity.--Inconstancy.-- Party spiritEnvy.--Against envy, and in praise of good-nature.When severity is chiefly to be used by critics.
Of all the causes which conspire to blind
up all the mighty void of sense:
peep o'er bills, and Alps on Alps arise !
Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see, Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall be. In every work regard the writer's end, Since none can compass more than they intend;
And if the means be just, the conduct true,
Once on a time La Mancha's knight, they say,
knight. Yes, or we must renounce the Stagirite.'• Not so, by Heaven! (he answers in a rage) Knights, squires, and steeds, must enter on the
stage.' So vast a throng the stage can ne'er contain.'• Then build a new, or act it on a plain.'
Thus critics of less judgment than caprice,
Some to conceit alone their taste confine, And glittering thoughts struck out at every line ; Pleased 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 every 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 convinced 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 witthan does them good, As bodies perish through 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 every place; The face of Nature we no more survey, All glares alike, without distinction gay; But true expression, like the 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 different styles with different subjects sort, As several garbs with country, town, and court.