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Where beams of warm imagination play,
Be Homer's works your study and delight, The memory's soft figures melt away,
Read them by day, and meditate by night: One science only will one genius fit;
60 Thence forin your judgment, thence your maxims So vast is art, so narrow human wit:
bring, Not only bounded to peculiar arts,
And trace the muses upward to their spring : But oft in those confined to single parts.
Still with itself compared, his text peruse; Like kings, we lose the conquests gain'd before, And let your comment be the Mantuan Muse. By vain ambition still to make them more:
When first young Maro, in his boundless mind 130 Each might his several province well command, A work t' outlast immortal Rome design'd, Would all but stoop to what they understand. Perhaps he seem'd above the critic's law,
First follow nature, and your judgment frame And but from nature's fountains scorn'd to draw: . By her just standard, which is still the same: But when to examine every part he came, Unerring nature, still divinely bright, . . 70 Nature and Homer were, he found, the same. One clear, unchanged, and universal light,
Convinced, amazed, he checks the bold design,
And rules as strict his labour'd work confine,
140 In some fair body thus the informing soul
| Some beauties yet no precepts can declare, . With spirit feeds, with vigour fills the whole, For there's a happiness as well as care. Each motion guides, and every nerve sustains; Music resembles poetry; in each Itself unseen, 'but in the effects remains.
Are nameless graces which no methods teach, Some, to whom Heaven in wit has been profuse, 80 And which a master-hand alone can reach. Want as much more, to turn it to its use;
| If, where the rules not far enough extend For wit and judgment often are at strife,
|(Since rules were made but to promote their end,) Though meant each other's aid, like man and wise. Some lucky license answer to the full "Tis more to guide, than spur the muse's steed; The intent proposed, that license is a rule. Restrain his fury, than provoke his speed:
Thus Pegasus, a nсarer way to take, The winged courser, like a generous horse, May boldly deviate from the common track; . Shows most true mettle when you check his course. From vulgar bounds with brave disorder part,
Those rules of old discover'd, not devised, And snatch a grace beyond the reach of art, Are nature still, but nature methodized :
Which, without passing through the judgment, gains Nature, like liberty, is but restrain'd
90|The heart, and all its ends at once attains. By the same laws which first herself ordain'd. In prospects thus, some objects please our eyes,
Hear how learn'd Greece her useful rules indites, which out of nature's common order rise, When to repress, and when indulge our flights: | The shapeless rock, or hanging precipice. High on Parnassus' top her sons she show'd, Great wits sometimes may gloriously offend, And pointed out those arduous paths they trod; And rise to faults true critics dare not mend. 160 Held from afar, aloft, the immortal prize, . But though the ancients thus their rules invade And urged the rest by equal steps to rise.
|(As kings dispense with laws themselves have made) Just precepts thus from great examples given, Moderns, beware! or, if you must offend She drew from them what they derived from Hea- Against the precept, ne'er transgress its end ven.
Let it be seldom, and compellid by need;
Due distance reconciles to form and grace.
Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream. 180
See from each clime the learn'd their incense bring! Know well each ancient's proper character : Hear, in all tongues consenting Pæans ring! His fable, subject, scope in every page: 120 In praise so just let every voice be join'd, Religion, country, genius of his age :
And fill the general chorus of mankind. Without all these at once before your eyes,
|Hail! bards triumphant! born in happier days; Cavil you may, but never criticise.
| Immortal heirs of universal praise !
Whose honours with increase of ages grow,
'|'Tis not the lip, or eye, we beauty call, As streams roll down, enlarging as they flow; But the joint force and full result of all. Nations unborn your mighty names shall sound, Thus when we view some well-proportion'd dome, And worlds applaud that must not yet be found! (The world's just wonder, and e'en thine, oh Rome! O may some spark of your celestial fire,
No single parts unequally surprise; The last, the meanest of your sons inspire,
All comes united to the admiring eyes :
25C (That, on weak wings, from far pursues your flights ; No monstrous height, or breadth, or length appear: Glows while he reads, but trembles as he writes, The whole at once is bold, and regular. To teach vain wits a science little known,
Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see,
In every work regard the writer's end,
Since none can compass more than they intend; Causes hindering a true judgment. 1. Pride, ver. 201.
And if the means be just, the conduct true, 2. Imperfect learning, ver. 215. 3. Judging by parts, API
| Applause, in spite of trivial faults, is due. and not by the whole, ver. 233 to 288. Critics in wit. As men of breeding, sometimes men of wit, language, versification, only, 288, 305, 339, &c. 4.
at errors, mu
260 Being too hard to please, or too apt to admire, ver.384. Neglect the rule each verbal critic lays; 5. Partiality-too much love to a sect-to the ancients For not to know some trifles, is a praise. or moderns, ver. 394. 6. Prejudice or prevention, ver. Most critics, fond of some subservient art, 408. 7. Singularity, ver. 424. 8. Inconstancy, ver. Still make the whole depend upon a part: 430. 9. Party spirit, ver. 452, &c. JO. Envy, ver. 46 Against envy, and in praise of good-nature, ver. 508, &c. When severity is chiefly to be used by the critics,
And all to one loved folly sacrifice. ver. 526, &c.
Once on a time, La Mancha's knight, they say,
A certain bard encountering on the way, Of all the causes which conspire to blind
Discoursed in terms as just, with looks as sage, Man's erring judgment, and misguide the mind, As e'er could Dennis, of the Grecian stage; 270 What the weak head with strongest bias rules, Concluding all were desperate sots and fools, Is pride; the never failing vice of fools.
Who durst depart from Aristotle's rules. Whatever nature has in worth denied,
Our author, happy in a judge so nice,
Made him observe the subject, and the plot,
'What! leave the combat out?' exclaims the knight. Truth breaks upon us with resistless day.
Yes, or we must renounce the Stagyrite.'- 280 Trust not yourself; but, your defects to know, • Not so, by heaven! (he answers in a rage) Make use of every friend-and every foe.
'Knights, squires, and steeds, must enter on the stage.' A little learning is a dangerous thing!
'So vast a throng the stage can ne'er contain.'-
Curious, not knowing, not exact, but nice,
Some to conceit alone their taste confine,
With gold and jewels cover every part, And the first clouds and mountains seem the last : And hide with ornaments their want of art. But, those attain'd, we tremble to survey
True wit is nature to advantage dress’d, The growing labours of the lengthen'd way: 230 What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd; The increasing prospect tires our wandering eyes, Something, whose truth convinced at sight we find; Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise ! That gives us back the image of our mind. 300
A perfect judge will read each work of wit As shades more sweetly recommend the light, With the same spirit that its author writ :
(So modest plainness sets off sprightly wit; Survey the whole, nor seek slight faults to find For works may have more wit than does them good, Where.nature moves, and rapture warms the mind; As bodies perish through excess of blood. Nor lose, for that malignant dull delight,
Others for language all their care express, The generous pleasure to be charm'd with wit. And value books, as women men, for dress : But, in such lays as neither ebb nor flow,
Their praise is still,—the style is excellent; Correctly cold, and regularly low,
240 The sense, they humbly take upon content. That, shunning faults, one quiet tenor keep; Words are like leaves; and where they most abound, We cannot blame indeed—but we may sleep, Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found. 310 In wit, as nature, what affects our hearts
False eloquence, like the prismatic glass, Is not the exactness of peculiar parts;
Its gaudy colours sprşads on every place;
The face of nature we no more survey,
|Now his fierce eyes with sparkling fury glow, All glares alike, without distinction gay:
Now sighs steal out, and tears begin to flow : But true expression, like the unchanging sun, Persians and Greeks like turns of nature found, 380 Clears and improves whate'er it shines upon : And the world's victor stood subdued by sound ! It gilds all objects, but it alters none.
The power of music all our hearts allow, Expression is the dress of thought, and still
And what Timotheus was, is Dryden now. Appears more decent as more suitable :
| Avoid extremes ; and shun the fault of such A vile conceit in pompous words express'd, 320 Who still are pleased too little or too much. Is like a clown in regal purple dress'd;
At every trifle scorn to take offence, For different styles with different subjects sort, That always shows great pride, or little sense : As several garbs, with country, town, and court. Those heads, as stomachs, are not sure the best, Some by old words to fame have made pretence, Which nauseate all, and nothing can digest. Ancients in phrase, mere moderns in their sense;. Yet let not each gay turn thy rapture move : Such labour'd nothings, in so strange a style, For fools admire, but men of sense approve: Amaze the unlearn'd, and make the learned smile. As things seem large which we through mists descry Unlucky, as Fungosa in the play,
Dulness is ever apt to magnify. . These sparks with awkward vanity display
Some foreign writers, some our own despise; What the fine gentleman wore yesterday'; 330 The ancients only, or the moderns prize : And but so mimic ancient wits at best,
Thus wit, like faith, by each man is applied . As åpes our grandsires in their doublets dress'd. To one small sect, and all are damn'd beside. In words, as fashions, the same rule will hold; Meanly they seek the blessing to confine, Alike fantastic, if too new or old:
And force that sun but on a part to shine, Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
Which not alone the southern wit sublimes 400 Nor yet the last to lay the whole aside.
But ripens spirits in cold northern climes;
Some ne'er advance a judgment of their own, . These equal syllables alone require,
But catch the spreading notion of the town; Though oft the ear the open vowels tire;
They reason and conclude by precedent, 410 While expletives their feeble aid do join,
And own stale nonsense which they ne'er invent.
In some starved hackney'd sonnetteer, or me!
How the wit brightens ! how the style refines ! That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length Before his sacred name flies every fault, along
And each exalted stanza teems with thought!
360 So much they scorn the crowd, that if the throng Where Denham's strength and Waller's sweetness By chance go right they purposely go wrong: join.
So schismatics the plain believers quit, True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, And are but damn'd for having too much wit. As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance. Some praise at morning what they blame at night, Tis not enough no harshness gives offence, ' But always think the last opinion right. 431 The sound must seem an echo to the sense: A muse by these is like a mistress used, Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows,' This hour she's idolized, the next abused; And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows; While their weak heads, like towns unfortified, But when loud surges lash the sounding shore, | 'Twixt sense and nonsense daily change their side. The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar. Ask them the cause; they're wiser still they say; When Ajax strives some'rock's vast weight to throw, And still to-morrow's wiser than to-day. The line too labours, and the words move slow : 370 We think our fathers fools, so wise we grow; Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain, Our wiser sons, no doubt, will think us so. Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the Once school-divines this zealous isle o'erspread; 440 main,
Who knew most sentences was deepest read: "Hear how Timotheus' varied lays surprise, Faith, Gospel, all, seem'd made to be disputed, And bid alternate passions fall and rise!
And none had sense enough to be confuted : While, at each changé, the son of Libyan Jove Scotists and Thomists, now in peace remain, Now burns with glory, and then melts with love: | Amidst their kindred cobwebs in Duck-lane.
420 If faith itself has different dresses worn, . Now they who reach Parnassus' lofty crown, What wonder modes in wit should take their turn? Employ their pains to spurn some others down; Oft, leaving what is natural and fit,
And while self-love each jealous writer rules, The current folly proves the ready wit;
Contending wits become the sport of fools : And authors think their reputation safe, 450 But still the worst with most regret commend, Which lives as long as fools are pleased to laugh. For each ill author is as bad a friend.
Some, valuing those of their own side or mind, To what base ends, and by what abject ways, 520 Still make themselves the measure of mankind : Are mortals urged through sacred lust of praise ! Fondly we think we honour merit then,
| Ah, ne'er so dire a thirst of glory boast, When we but praise ourselves in other men. Nor in the critic let the man be lost. Parties in wit attend on those of state,
Good nature and good sense must ever join ; And public faction doubles private hate.
To err, is human; to forgive, divine. Pride, malice, folly, against Dryden rose,
But if in noble minds some dregs remain, In various shapes of parsons, critics, beaux : Not yet purged off, of spleen and sour disdain ; But sense survived, when merry jests were past; 460 Discharge that rage on more provoking crimes, For rising merit will buoy up at last.
Nor fear a dearth in these flagitious times. Might he return and bless once more our eyes, No pardon vile obscenity should find,
530 New Blackmores and new Milbourns must arise; Though wit and art conspire to move your mind; Nay, should great Homer lift his awful head, . But dulness with obscenity must prove Zoilus again would start up from the dead. As shameful sure as impotence in love. Envy will merit, as its shade, pursue ;
In the fat age of pleasure, wealth, and ease, But, like a shadow, proves the substance true: Sprang the rank weed, and thrived with large increase: For envied wit, like Sol eclipsed, makes known When love was all an easy monarch's care; The opposing body's grossness, not its own. Seldom at council, never in a war: When first that sun too powerful beams displays, 470 Jilts rul'd the state, and statesmen farces writ: It draws up vapours which obscure its rays; Nay, wits had pensions, and young lords had wit: But e'en those clouds at last adorn its way,
The fair sat panting at a courtier's play, 540 Reflect new glories, and augment the day.
And not a mask went unimproved away; Be thou the first true merit to befriend;
| The modest fan was lifted up no more, His praise is lost who stays till all commend.' And virgins smiled at what they blush'd before. Short is the date, alas! of modern rhymes, The following licence of a foreign reign, And 'tis but just to let them live betimes.
Did all the dregs of bold Socinus drain; No longer now that golden age appears,
Then unbelieving priests reform'd the nation, When patriarch-wits survived a thousand years : And taught more pleasant methods of salvation; Now length of fame (our second life) is lost, 480 Where Heaven's free subjects might their rights disAnd bare threescore is all e'en that can boast;'
pute,, Our sons their fathers' failing language see,
Lest God himself should seem too absolute; And such as Chaucer is, shall Dryden be., Pulpits their sacred satire learn'd to spare, 550 So when the faithful pencil'has design'd
And vice admired to find a flatterer there! Some bright idea of the master's mind,
Encouraged thus, wit's Titans braved the skies, Where a new world leaps out at his command, And the press groan'd with licensed blasphemies. And ready nature waits upon his hand;
These monsters, critics! with your darts engage, When the ripe colours soften and unite,
Here point your thunder, and exhaust your rage! And sweetly melt into just shade and light; Yet shun their fault, who scandalously nice When mellowing years their full perfection give, 490 | Will needs mistake an author into vice; And each bold figure just begins to live;
All seems infected, that the infected spy,
Unhappy wit, like most mistaken things,
Rules for the conduct of manners in a critic. l. Can. Like some fair flower the early spring supplies, : .
dour, ver. 563. Modesty, ver. 566. Good-breeding, That gaily blooms, but e'en in blooming dies.
ver. 572. Sincerity and freedom of advice, ver. 578. What is this wit, which must our cares employ? 500
2. When one's counsel is to be restrained, ver. 584. The owner's wife that other men enjoy;
Character of an incorrigible poet, ver. 600; and of an Then most our trouble still when most admired, impertinent critic, ver. 610, &c. Character of a good And still the more we give, the more required : critic, ver. 629. The history of criticism, and charac. Whose fame with pains we guard, but lose with ease,
ters of the best critics: Aristotle, ver. 645. Horace, Sure some to vex, but never all to please;
633. Dionysius, ver. 665. Petronius, ver. 667. Quin: 'Tis what the vicious fear, the virtuous shun;
tilian, ver. 670. Longinus, ver. 675. Of the decay of
criticism, and its revival: Erasmus, ver. 693. Vida, By fools 'tis hated, and by knaves undone!
ver. 705. Boileau, ver. '714. Lord Roscommon, &c. If wit so much from ignorance undergo,
ver. 725. Conclusion. Ah, let not learning too commence its foe! of old, those met rewards who could excel, 510 LEARN then what moral critics ought to show, 560 And such were praised who but endeavour'd well; For 'tis but half a judge'stask to know. Though triumphs were to generals only due, | 'Tis not enough, taste, judgment, learning join ; Crowns were reserved to grace the soldiers too. In all you speak, let truth and candour shine;
That not alone what to your sense is due
| But where's the man who counsel can bestow, All may allow, but seek your friendship too. Still pleas'd to teach, and yet not proud to know?
Be silent always, when you doubt your sense, Unbiasa'd, or by favour, or by spite;
Though learn'd, well-bred; and, though well-bred, Who, if once wrong, will needs be always so:
sincere; But you, with pleasure, own your errors past, 570/Modestly bold and humanly severe: And make each day a critique on the last.
Who to a friend his faults can freely show,
Such once were critics; such the happy few
The mighty Stagyrite first left the shore,
He steer'd securely, and discover'd far, Fear not the anger of the wise to raise ;
Led by the light of the Mæonian star. . Those best can bear reproof, who merit praise. Poets, a race long unconfin'd and free,
'Twere well might critics still this freedom take: Still fond and proud of savage liberty, : 650 But Appius reddens at each word you speak, Received his laws, and stood convinc'd 'twas fit, And stares tremendous, with a threatening eye, Who conquer'd nature, should preside o'er wit. Like some fierce tyrant in old tapestry.
Horace still charms with graceful negligence, Fear most to tax an honourable fool,
And without method talks us into sense: Whose right it is, uncensured, to be dull;
Will, like a friend, familiarly convey Such, without wit, are poets when they please, 590 The truest notions in the easiest way. As without learning they can take degrees.
He who, supreme in judgment as in wit, Leave dangerous truths to unsuccessful satires, Might boldly censure, as he boldly writ; And flattery to fulsome dedicators,
Yet judged with coolness, though he sung with Whom, when they praise, the world believes no more Than when they promise to give scribbling o'er. His precepts teach but what his works inspire. 660 'Tis best sometimes your censure to restrain, Our critics take a contrary extreme, And charitably let the dull be vain;
They judge with fury, but they write with phlegm Your silence there is better than your spite : Nor suffers Horace more in wrong translations For who can rail so long as they can write? . By wits, than critics in as wrong quotations. Still humming on, their drowsy course they keep, 600 See Dionysius Homer's thoughts refine, And lash'd so long, like tops, are lash'd asleep. And call new beauties forth from every line! False steps but help them to renew the race,
Fancy and art in gay Petronius please, As, after stumbling, jades will mend their pace. The scholar's learning with the courtier's ease. What crowds of these, impenitently bold,
In grave Quintilian's copious work we find In sounds and jingling syllables grown old,
The justest rules and clearest method join'd: 670 Still run on poets, in a raging vein,
Thus useful arms in magazines we place,
Still fit for use, and ready at command.
And bless their critic with a poet's fire:
An ardent judge, who, zealous in his trust, With loads of learned lumber in his head,
With warmth gives sentence, yet is always just; With his own tongue still edifies his ears,
Whose own example strengthens all his laws, And always listening to himself appears. ; And is himself that great sublime he draws. All books he reads, and all he reads assails, | Thus long succeeding critics justly reign'd, From Dryden's Fables down to Durfey's Tales : Licence repress'd and useful laws ordain'd: With him most authors steal their works, or buy; Learning and Rome alike in empire grew, Garth did not write his own Dispensary.
And arts still follow'd where her eagles flew; Name a new play, and he's the poet's friend, 620 From the same foes, at last, both felt their doom, Nay, show'd his faults--but when would poets mend? And the same age saw learning fall, and Rome. No place so sacred from such fops is barr’d, With tyranny then superstition join'd, Nor is Paul's church more safe than Paul's church. As that the body, this enslaved the mind; yard :
Much was believed but little understood, Nay, fly to altars, there they'll talk you dead; And to be dull was construed to be good : 690 For fools rush in where angels fear to tread. A second deluge learning thus o'erran Distrustfal sense with modest caution speaks, And the monks finish'd what the Goths began. It still looks home, and short excursions makes; At length Erasmus, that great injured name, But rattling nonsense in full volleys breaks, |(The glory of the priesthood, and the shame!) And, never shock'd, and never turn'd aside, Stemm'd the wild torrent of a barbarous age, Bursts out, resistless, with a thundering tide 630) And drove those holy Vandals off the stage.