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THE

I.

CONTENTS

OF THE

ESSAY ON CRITICISM.

PART I.

TH

HAT 'tis as great a fault to judge ill, as to write ill, and a more dangerous one to the

public.

2. The variety of men's Taftes; of a true Tafte, how rare to be found.

3. That moft men are born with fome Tafte, but fpoiled by falfe education.

4. The multitude of Critics, and caufes of them.

5. That we are to ftudy our own Tafte, and know the limits of it.

6. Nature the best guide of Judgment.

7. Improv'd by Art, and Rules, which are but methodiz'd Nature.

8. Rules deriv'd from the Practice of the ancient Poets.

9. That therefore the Ancients are neceffary to be ftudy'd by a Critic, particularly Homer and Virgil.

10. Of Licenses, and the use of them by the Ancients, 11. Reverence due to the Ancients, and praise of them,

PART

PART II. Ver. 204, &c.

Causes hind'ring a true Judgment; 1. Pride. 2. Imperfect Learning. 3. Judging by parts, and not by the whole Critics in Wit, Language, Verfification, only. 4. Being too hard to please, or too apt to admire. 5. Too much Love to a Sect,-to the Ancients or Moderns. 6. Prejudice, or Prevention. 7. Singularity. 8. Inconftancy. 9. Partiality. 10. Envy. Againft Envy, and in praise of Good-nature. When Severity is chiefly to be used by Critics? Against Immorality and Obfcenity,

PART III. Ver. 565, &c.

Rules for the Conduct of Manners in a Critic. Candour, Modefty, Good-breeding, Sincerity and Freedom of Advice. When one's Counsel is to be restrain'd? Character of an incorrigible Poet.-And of an imperti- ` nent Critic. The Character of a good Critic. The Hiftory of Criticism, and Characters of the beft Critics. Ariftotle, Horace, Dionyfius, Petronius, Quintilian, Longinus. Of the Decay of Criticism, and its Revival.-Erafmus, Vida, Boileau, Lord Rofcommon, &c. -Conclufion.

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AN

ESSAY

O N

CRITICISM*.

IS hard to fay, if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill;
But, of the two, lefs dang'rous is th' offence
To tire our patience, than mislead our fenfe.
Some few in that, but numbers err in this,
Ten cenfure wrong for one who writes amifs;
A fool might once himself alone expose,
Now one in verfe makes many more in prose.

"Tis

This Effay may justly be esteemed as a pattern of composition in the didactic way. It was not only admired by every candid critic of taste and judgment at home, but its merit diffused itself abroad, where it was fo highly esteemed, that it was tranflated into French verfe by General Hamilton. It was afterwards tranflated into French by other hands; and several versions of it have fince appeared in the Latin tongue. It was tranflated into Latin by Dr. Kirkpatrick, a gentleman well known in the literary world; alfo by Mr. Smart. There was a Latin version of it likewife made by an unfortunate man who was executed for high treafon relating to the coin, whofe name, fays Mr. Ruffhead, I therefore fupprefs.

We cannot omit making an extract from the Effay on the Genius and Writings of Mr. Pope. That ingenious author obferves, that "Du Bos fixes the period of time, at which, generally speaking, the poets and the painters have arrived at as high a pitch of perfection as their geniuses will permit, to be the age of thirty, or a few years more or less. Virgil was neat

thirty

'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none
Go juft alike, yet each believes his own.
In Poets as true Genius is but rare,
True Tafte as feldom is the Critic's fhare;
Both muft alike from heav'n derive their light,
These born to judge, as well as those to write.
Let fuch teach others who themselves excel,
And cenfure freely who have written well.
Authors are partial to their wit, 'tis true,
But are not Critics to their judgment too?

Yet if we look more closely, we shall find
Moft have the feeds of judgment in their mind:
Nature affords at least a glimm'ring light;
The lines, tho' touch'd but faintly, are drawn right.
But as the flighteft sketch, if juftly trac❜d,
Is by ill-colouring but the more disgrac❜d,
So by falfe learning is good fenfe defac’d :
Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools,
And fome made coxcombs Nature meant but fools.
In fearch of wit these lose their common fenfe,
And then turn Critics in their own defence:

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thirty when he compofed his first Eclogue. Horace was a grown man when he began to be talked of as a poet at Rome, having been formerly engaged. in a military life. Racine was about the fame age when his ANDROMACHE, which may be regarded as his firft good tragedy, was played. Corneille was more than thirty when his CID appeared. Defpreaux was full thirty when he published his fatires, fuch as we now have of them. Moliere was full forty when he wrote the first of thofe comedies on which his reputation is founded. But to excel in this fpecies of compofition, it was not fufficient for Moliere to be only a great poet; it was neceffary for him to gain a thorough knowledge of men and the world, which is feldom attained fo early in life; but without which the best poet would be able to write but indifferent comedies. Congreve, however, was but nineteen when he wrote the OLD BACHELOR. Raphael was about thirty years old when he difplayed the beauty and fublimity of his genius in the Vatican; for it is there we behold the first of his works that are worthy the great name he at prefent fo defervedly poffeffes. When Shakespear wrote his LEAR, Milton his PARADISE LOST, Spenfer his FAIRY QUEEN, and Dryden his MUSIC ODE, they had all exceeded this middle age of man."

From this short review it appears, that few poets ripened fo early as Pope, who was under twenty years of age when he wrote this Effay.

Each

Each burns alike, who can, or cannot write,
Or with a Rival's, or an Eunuch's fpite.
All fools have ftill an itching to deride,
And fain would be upon the laughing fide.
If Mævius fcribble in Apollo's spite,
There are who judge ftill worse than he can write.
Some have at firft for Wits, then Poets past,
Turn'd Critics next, and prov'd plain fools at last.
Some neither can for Wits nor Critics pass,
As heavy mules are neither horse nor afs.
Those half-learn'd witlings, num'rous in our ifle,
As half-form'd infects on the banks of Nile;
Unfinish'd things, one knows not what to call,
Their generation's fo equivocal :

To tell 'em would a hundred tongues require,.
Or one vain wit's, that might a hundred tire.
But you who feek to give and merit fame,
And juftly bear à critic's noble name,
Be fure yourself and your own reach to know,
How far your genius, tafte, and learning go;
Launch not beyond your depth, but be discreet,
And mark that point where fense and dulnefs meet.
Nature to all things fix'd the limits fit,
And wifely curb'd proud man's pretending wit.
As on the land while here the Ocean gains,
In other parts it leaves wide fandy plains;
Thus in the foul while memory prevails,
The folid pow'r of understanding fails;
Where beams of warm imagination play,
The memory's foft figures melt away.
One fcience only will one genius fit;
So vaft is art, fo narrow human wit
Not only bounded to peculiar arts,
But oft' in thofe confin'd to fingle parts.
Like Kings we lose the conquefts gain'd before,
By vain ambition ftill to make them more;
Each might his fev'ral province well command,
Would all but ftoop to what they understand.
VOL. I.
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