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Some few in that, but numbers err in this, 5
Ten censure wrong for one who writes amiss;
'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none Go just alike, yet each believes his own. 1 o
whole poem. 2. As the rules of the antient Critics were taken from Poets who copied nature, this is another reason why every Poet should be a Critic: Therefore, as the subject is poetical Criticism, it is frequently addressed to the critical Poet. And 3dly, the Art of Criticism is as necessarily, and much more usefully exercised in writing than in judging.
But readers have been misted by the modesty of the Title: which only promises an Art of Criticism, in a treatise, and that no incompleat one, of the Art both of Criticism and Poetry. This and not attending to the considerations offered above, was what, perhaps, misted a very candid writer, after'having given this Piece all the praises on the side of genius and poetry which his true taste could not refuse it, to fay, that the observations sollow one another like those in Horace's Art of Poetry, without that .methodical regularity which would have been requisite in a prose writer. Spec. N° 235. I do not see how method can hurt any one grace of Poetry; or what prerogative there is in verse to dispense with regularity. The remark is false in every part of it. Mr. Pope's Essay on Criticism, the Reader will soon see, is a regular piece: And a very learned Critic has lately fhewn,tbat Horace had the fame attention to method in his Art os Poetry.
Vbr. I. 'Tis bard to fay, etc.] The Poem opens [fromjfr i to 9. J with (hewing the use and seasonablenefs of the subject. Its use, from the greater mischief in wrong Criticism than in ill Poetry, this only tiring, that misleading; the reader: Its jcasonablentss, from the growing number of false Critics, which now vastly exceeds that of bad Poets.
Ver. 9. 'Tis with our judgments, etc.] The author hayir^
Poets as true genius is but rare, >ue Taste as seldom is the Critic's share; 'Both must alike from Heav'n derive their light. These born to judge, as well as those to write.
ftewn us the expediency of his subject, the Art of Criticism^ next inquires [ from jr 8 to 15 ] into the proper Qualities of a true Critic; and observes first, that Judgment, simply and alone, is not sufficient to constitute this character, because judgment, like the artificial measures of Time, goes different, and yet each relies upon his own. The reason is conclusive; and the similitude extremely just. For Judgment, when alone, is always regulated, or at least much influenced by custom, fashion, and habit; and never certain and constant but when founded upon Taste: which is the same in the Critic, as Genius in the Poet: both are derived from Heaven, and like the Sun (the natural measure of Time) always constant and equal.
Nor need we wonder that Judgment alone will not make a Critic ir> poetry, when we fee that it will not make a Poet. And on examination we shall find, that Genius and Tajle are but one and the fame faculty, differently exerting itself under different names, in the two professions of Poet and Critic. For the Art of Poetry consists in selecting, out of all those images which present themselves to the fancy, such of them as are truly poetical: And the Art of Criticism in discerning, and fully relishing what it finds so selected. 'Tis the fame operation of the mind in both cafes, and exerted by the fame faculty. All the difference is, that in the Poet this faculty is eminently joined with a bright imagination, and extensive comprehension^ which provide stores for the selection, and can form that selection, by proportioned parts, into a regular whole: In the Critic, with a solid judgment and accurate discernment; which penetrate into the causes of an excellence, and can shew that excellence in all its variety of lights. Longinus had tajle in an eminent degree; so this, which is indeed common to all true Critics, our Author makes his distinguishing character, Thee, bold Longinus! all the Nine inspire, And bless their Critic With a Poet's fire.
Let such teach others who themselves excel, I $ 1
Yet if we look more closely, we shall find Most have the seeds of judgment in their mind: 20
Ver. 15. Let such teach others, etc.'] But it is not enough that the Critic hath these natural endowments to entitle him to exercise his Art, he ought, as our author shews us [from jr 14 to 19] to give a further test of his qualification, by some acquired talents: And this on two accounts: 1. Because the office os a Critic is an exercise of Authority. 2. Because he being naturally as partial to his Judgment as the Poet is to his Wit, his partiality would have nothing to correct it, as that of the person judged hath. Therefore some test is reasonable; and the best and most unexceptionable is his having written well himself, an approved remedy against Critical partiality; and the surest means of so maturing the Judgment, as to reap with glory what Longinus calls "the last and most perfect fruits of much "study and experience." H TAP TJ1N AOmN KPI2I2 IIOAAHZ ESTI IlEIPAZ TEAETTAION EIIirENNHMA.
Ver. 19. Yet if we look, etc.'] But having been so free with this fundamental quality of Criticisin» Judgment, as to charge it with inconstancy and partiality, and to be often warped by cujiom and affection; that this may not be mistaken, he next explains [from } 18 to 36.] the nature of Judgment, and the accidents
Ver. 15. Let such teach others] "Qui seribit artificiose, ab aliis commode seripta facile intelligere poterit." Cic. ad Herenn. lib. iv. "De pictore, sculptore, fictore, nisi artifex, judicare "«ion potest." Pliny. P.
Ver. 20. Mojl have the feeds] i( Omnes tacito quodam fenfu, «c sine ulla arte, aut ratione, quae sint in artibus ac rationibus «• recta et prava dijudicant." Cic. de Orat. lib. iii. P.
Nature affords at least a glimm'ring light;
The lines, tho' touch'd but faintly, are drawn right.
But as the slightest sketch, if justly trac'd,
Is by ill-colouring but the more disgrac'd,
So by false learning is good fense defac'd:
Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools, 26
And some made coxcombs Nature meant but fools*
Between ^ 25 and 26 were these lines, since omitted by the author:
Many are spoil'd by that pedantic throng,
Who with great pains teach youth to reason wrong.
Tutors, like Virtuoso's, oft inclin'd
By strange transfusion to improve the mind,
Draw off the fense we have, to pour in new;
Which yet, with all their skill, they ne'er could do. P.
Commentary. occasioning those miscarriagesbeforeobjectedtoit. He owns, that theseeds of Judgment are inJeed sown in the minds of most men, but by ill culture, as it springs up, it generally runs wild: either on the one hand, by false knowledge, which pedants call Philology; or by false reasoning, which Philosophers call School-learning: Or on the other, by false wit, which is not regulated by sense; or by false politeness, which is solely regulated by the fafi/ion. Both these sorts, who have their Judgments thus doubly depraved, the poet observes, are naturally turned to censure and reprehension; only with this difference, that the Duncealways affects to be on the reasoning, and the Fool on the laughing side.
Notes. Ver. 25. So by false learning'] " Plus sine doctrina prudentia, "quam sine prudentia valet doctrina. Qtint. P.
In search os wit these lose their common sense,
—And thus, at the fame time, our author proves the truth of his introductory observation, that the number of bad Critics it vastly superior to that of bad Poets.
Ver. 36. Some have at first for IVits, etc."] The poet having enumerated, in this, account of the nature of Judgment and its various depravations, the several sorts of bad Critics, and ranked
Ver. 28. In search of wit these lose their common senses This observation is extremely just. Search of wit is not only the occasion, but the efficient cause of loss of common fense. For wit consisting in chusing out, and setting together, such ideas from whose likenesses pleasant pictures may be made in the fancy; the Judgment, thro' an habitual search of Wit, loses by degrees its faculty of seeing the true relations of things j in which consists the exercise of common fense.
Ver. 32. All fools have still an itching to deride, And fain would be upon the laughing fide.] The sentiment is just. And if Hobbes's account of Laughter be true, that it arises from pride, we fee the reason of it. The expression too is fine, it alludes to the condition of Idiots and natural-fools, who are always on the grin.