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pulpits their sacred satire learn'd to spare, 550 and vice admir'd to find a flatterer there! encourag'd thus, wit's Titians brav'd the skies, and the press groan'd with licens'd blasphemies. These monsters, Critics ! with your darts engage, bere point your thunder, and exhaust your rage!555 yet shun their fault who, scandalously nice, will needs mistake an author into vice: all seems infected that th' infected spy, as all looks yellow to the jaundic'd eye. Learn then what morals critics ought to show, 560 for’t is but half a judge's task to know. ’T is not enough taste, judgment, learning, join; in all you speak let truth and candour shine; that not alone what to your sense is due all may allow, but seek your friendship too. 565
Be silent always when you doubt your sense, and speak, tho'sure, with seeming diffidence; some positive persisting fops we know, who if once wrong will need be always so; but you with pleasure own your errors past, 570 and make each day a critique on the last.
'T is not enough your counsel still be true, blunt truths more mischief than nice falsehoods do: men must be taught as if you taught them not, and things unknown propos'd as things forgot. 575 Without good-breeding truth is disapprov'd, that only makes superior sense belov'd.
Be niggards of advice on no pretence, for the worst avarice is that of sense. With mean complacence ne'er betray your trust, 580 nor be so civil as to prove unjust. Fear not the anger of the wise to raise ; hose best can bear reproof who merit praise.
'T were well might critics still this freedom take, But Appius reddens at each word you speak, 585 and stares tremendous, with a threatning eye, like some fierce tyrant in old tapestry. Fear most to tax an honourable fool, whose right it is, uncensur'd, to be dull: such without wit are poets when they please, 590 as without learning they can take degrees. Leave dang'rous truths to unsuccessful satires, and flattery to fulsome dedicators, whom, when they praise, the world believes no more than when they promise to give scribbling o'er. 595 'Tis best sometimes your censure to restrain, and charitably let the dull be vaid; your silence there is better than your spite, for who can rail so long as they can write? still humming on their drowsy course they keep, 600 and lash'd so long, like tops are lash'd asleep. False steps but help them to renew their race, as, after stumbling, jades will mend their pace. What crouds of these, impenitently bold, in sounds and jingling syllables grown old,
605 still run on poets in a raging vein, ev'n to the dregs and squeezings of the brain, strain out the last dull droppings of their sense, and rhyme with all the rage of impotence.
Such shameless bards we have; and yet 't is true there are as mad abandon'd critics too.
611 The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read, with loads of learned lumber in his head, with his own tongue still edifies his ears, and always list ning to himself appears :
615 all books he reads, and all he reads assails, from Dryden's Fables down to Durfey's Tales.
With him most authors steal their works or buy; Garth did not write his own Dispensary. Name a new play, and he 's the poet's friend; 620 nay, show'd his fault-but when would poets mend ? no place so sacred from such fops is barr’d, (yard. nor is Paul's Church more safe than Paul's ChurchNay, fly to altars, there they 'll talk you dead; for fools rush in where angels fear to tread. 625 Distrustful sense with modest caution speaks, it still looks home, and short excursions makes; but rattling nonsense in full vollies breaks, and never shock'd, and never turn’d aside, bursts out, resistless, with a thund'ring tide. 630,
But where's the man who counsel can bestow, itill pleas'd to teach, and yet not proud to know? inbiass'd or by favour or by spite, not dully prepossess'd nor blindly right: ho' learn'd well-bred, and tho' well-bred sincere; nodestly bold, and humanely severe;
636 vho to a friend his faults can freely show, ind gladly praise the merit of a foe? less'd with a taste exact, yet unconfin'd, knowledge both of books and human-kind; 640 en'rous con verse; a soul exempt from pride; ind love to praise, with reason on his side?
Such once were Critics; such the happy few thens and Rome in better ages knew. "he mighty Stagirite first left the shore, 645 pread all his sails, and durst the deeps explore; e steer'd securely, and discover'd far, d by the light of the Mæonian star. ' pets, a race long unconfin'd and free, ill fond and proud of savage liberty, 650 ceiv'd his laws, and stood convinc'd 't was fit,
who conquer'd Nature should preside o'er wit.
Horace still charms with grateful negligence, and without method talks us into sense, will, like a friend, familiarly convey
655 the truest notion is the easiest way. He who, supreme in judgment as in wit, .. might boldly censure as he boldly writ, yet judg'd with coolness, tho' he sung with fire; his precepts teach but what his works inspire. 660 Our critics take a contrary extreme, they judge with fury, but they write with phlegm; nor suffers Horace more in wrong translations by wits, than critics in as wrong quotations.
See Dionysius Homer's thoughts refine, 665 and call new beauties forth from ev'ry line!
Fancy and art in gay Petronius please, the scholar's learning with the courtier's ease.
In grave Quintilian's copious work we find the justest rules and clearest method join'd. Thus useful arms in magazines we place, all rang'd in order, and dispos'd with grace; but less to please the eye than arm the hand, still fit for use, and ready at command.
Thee, bold Longinus! all the Nine inspire, 675 and bless their critic with a poet's fire: an ardent judge, who, zealous in his trust, with warmth gives sentence, yet is always just: whose own example strengthens all his laws, and is himself that great Sublime he draws.
680 Thus long succeeding critics justly reign'd, licence repress'd, and useful laws ordain'd: learning and Rome alike in empire grew, and arts still follow'd where her Eagles flew; from the same foes at last both felt their doom, 685
and the same age saw Learning fall and Rome. With tyranny then Superstition join'd, as that the body, this enslav'd the mind; much was believ'd, but little understood, and to be dull was constru'd to be good : 690 a second deluge Learning thus o'er-ran, and the Monks finish'd what the Goths began.
At length Erasmus, that great injur'd name, (the glory of the priesthood, and the shame!) stemm'd the wild torrent of a barb'rous age, 695 and drove those holy Vandals off the stage.
But see! each Muse in Leo's golden days starts from her trance, and trims her wither'd bays; Rome's ancient Genius o'er it's ruins spread, shakes of the dust, and rears his rev'rend head. 700 Then Sculpture and her sister arts revive; stones leap'd to form, and rocks began to live; with sweeter notes each rising temple rung; a Raphael painted, and a Vida sung: immortal Vida! on whose honour'd brow 705 the poet's bays and critic's ivy grow! Cremona now shall ever boast thy name, as next in place to Mantua, next in fame!
But soon by impious arms from Latium chas'd, their ancient bounds the banish'd Muses pass'd: 710 thence arts o'er all the northern world advance, but critic-learning flourish'd most in France; the rules a nation, born to serve, obeys, and Boileau still in right of Horace sways. ' But we, brave Britons ! foreign laws despis'd, 715 and kept unconquer'd and unciviliz'd: fierce for the liberties of wit, and bold, we still defy'd the Romans, as of old. Yet some there were, among the sounder few