« ZurückWeiter »
and fills up all the mighty void of sense: 210 if once right reason drives that cloud away, truth breaks upon us with resistless day. Trust'not yourself; but, your defects to know, make use of ev'ry friend---and ev'ry foe. A little learning is a dangʻrous thing;
215 drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again. Fird at first sight with what the Muse imparts, in fearless youth we tempt the heights of arts, 220 while from the bounded level of our mind short views we take, nor see the lengths behind ; but more advanc'd, behold with strange surprise new distant scenes of endless science rise! so pleas'd at first the towring Alps we try, 225 mount oe'r the vales, and seem to tread the sky! th' eternal snows appear already past, and the first clouds and mountains seem the last: but those attain'd, we tremble to survey the growing labours of the lengthen'd way: 230 th' increasing prospect tires our wand'ring eyes, hills peep o'er hills and Alps on Alps arise !
A perfect judge will read each work of wit with the same spirit that it's author writ; survey the whole, nor seek slight faults to find 235 vhere nature moves, and rapture warms the mind; for lose, for that malignant dull delight, he gen'rous pleasure to be charm'd with wit. But in such lays as neither ebb nor flow, orrectly cold, and regularly low,
240 hat. shuoning faults one quiet tenor kepp, re cannot blame indeed---but we may sleep. o wit, as nature, what affects our hearts
is not th’exactness of peculiar parts; 'tis not a lip, or eye we beauty call, - 245 but the joint force and full result of all. Thus when we view some well-proportion'd dome, (the world's just wonder, and even thine, O Rome!) no single parts unequally surprise, all comes united to th' admiring eyes;
250 no monstrous height, or breadth, or length, appear; the whole at once is bold and regular.
Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see, thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall be. In ev'ry work regard the writer's end, since none can compass more than they intend; and it the means be just, the conduct true, applause, in spite of trivial faults, is due. As men of breeding, sometimes men of wit, tavoid great errors must the less commit; neglect the rules each verbal critic lays, for not to know some trifles is a praise. Most critics, fond of some subservient art, still make the whole depend upon a part: they talk of principles, but notions prize, and all to one lov'd folly sacrifice.
Once on a time La Mancha's Knight, they say, a certain bard encount'ring on the way, discours'd in terms as just, with looks as sage, as e'er could Dennis of the Grecian stage, 270 concluding all were desp'rate sots and fools who durst depart from Aristotle's rules. Our Author, happy in a judge so nice, produc'd his play, and begg'd the Knight's advice; made him observe the subject and the plot, 275 the manners, passions, unites; what not; all which exact to rule were brought about,
were but a combat in the lists left out, " What! leave the combat out?” exclaims the Knight yes, or we must renounce the Stagirite." 280 Not so, by Heav'n! (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, 285 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 glittring thoughts struck out at ev'ry line: 290 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 give us back the image of our mind. 300 As shades more sweetly recommend the light, so modest plainness sets off sprightly wit: for works may have more wit than does them good, as bodies perish thro' excess of blood. Others for language all their care express, 305 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,
it's 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, 315 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 inore decent as more suitable. A vile conceit in pompous words express'd, 320 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; 325 such labour'd nothings, in so strange a style, amaze th’unlearn'd, and make the learned smile. Unlucky, as Fungosa in the play, . these sparks with awkward vanity display what the fine gentleman wore yesterday; 330 and but so mimic ancient wits at best, as apes our grandsires in their doublets drest, in words, as fashions, the same rule will hold; alike fantastic, if too new or old: be not the first by whom the new are try'd, 335 nor yet the last to lay the old aside,
But most by numbers judge a poet's song; and smooth or rough, with them, is right or wrong: in the bright muse tho' thousand charms conspire her voice is all these tuneful fools admire; 340 who haunt Parnassus but to please their ear, not mend their minds; as some to church repair, not for the doctrine, but the music there. These, equal syllables alone require, tho oft the ear the open vowels tire;
while expletives their feeble aid do join, and ten low words oft creep in one dull line: while they ring round the same unvary'd chimes, with sure returns of still expected rhynes; where'er you find “ the cooling western breeze," 350 in the next line it " whispers through the trees;" if crystal streams “ with pleasing murmurs creep,” the reader's threaten'd (not in vain) with “ sleep;" then at the last and only couplet fraught with some unmeaning thing they call a thought, 355 a needless Alexandrine ends the song, [long. that, like a wounded snake, drags it's slow length aLeave such to tune their own dull rhymes, and know what's roundly smooth, or languishinglý slow; and praise the easy vigour of a line,
360 where Denham's strength and Waller's sweetness join. True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, as those move easiest who have learn’d to dance. 'T is not enough no harshness gives offence, the sound must seem an echo to the sense: soft is the strain when zephyr gently blows, and tbe smooth stream in smoother numbers flows; but when loud surges lash the sounding sbore, the hoarse, rough verse shonld like the torrent roar. When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw, the line too labours, and the words move slow; 371 not so when swift Camilla scours the plain, flies o'er th' unbending corn, and skims along the Hear how Timotheus' vary'd lays surprise, [main; and bid alternate passions fall and rise ! 375 while, at each change, the son of Lybian Jove now burns with glory, and then melts with love; now his fierce eyes with sparkling fury glow, now sighs steal out, and tears begin to flow: