Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

pr

Of all the Causes which conspire to blind Man's erring judgment, and misguide the mind, What the weak head with strongest bias rules, Is Pride, the nevr-failing vice of fools.

Commentary.

nexion they have with one another. It serves likewise to introduce the second. The effect of studying the Ancients, as hitherto recommended, would be the admiration of their superior sense; which, if it will not cf itself dispose Moderns to a diffidence of their own (one of the great uses, as well as natural fruits of that study) the poet, to help forward their modesty, jn his second part shews them (in a regular deduction of the causes and effeels of wrong Judgment) their own bright image and amiable turn of mind.

Ver. 201. Of all the Causes, etc.] Having, in the first part, delivered Rules for perfecting the Art of'Criticism, the second is employ'd in explaining the Impediments to it. The order of the two parts was well judged. For the causes of wrong Judgment being Pride,superficial Learning,, a bounded Capacity, and Partiality; They to whom this part is principally addressed, would not readily be brought either to fee the malignity of the causes, or to own themselves concerned in the effects, had not the Author previously both enlightened and convictedthem, by the foregoing observations, on the va/lnefs of Art, and narrowness of Wit; the-extenfiveySW•y of human Nature and Antiquity \ and the Characters of ancient Poetry and Criticism ; the natural remedies to the four epidemic disorders he is now endeavouring to redress.

Ibid. Of'allthe causa, etc.] The first cause of wrong Judgment is Pride. He judiciously begins with it, [from it 200 to 215.] as on other accounts, so on thi-, that it is the very thing which gives modern Criticism its character ; whose complexion is abuse and censure. He calls it the vice of Fools; by which are not meant those to whom Nature has given no Judgment (for he is here speaking of what misleads the Judgment) but those in whom education and study has made no improvement; ai appears from the happy similitude of an ill-nourijhed

Whatever Nature has in worth deny'd, 205

She gives in large recruits of needful Pride;
For* as in bodies, thus in fouls, we find
What wants in blood and spirits, fwell'd with wind:
Pride, where Wit fails, steps in to our defence,
And fills up all the mighty Void of fense. 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.

Commentary. body; where the same words which express the cause, express likewise-the nature of pride:

For as in bodies, thus in fouls we find, What wants in blood and spirits, fwell'd with wind. 'Tis the business of reason, he tells us, to dispel the cloud which pride throws overthe mind : But the mischief is, that the rays of reason diverted by self-love, sometimes gild this cloud, instead of dijjipating it. So that the Judgment, by false lights reflected back upon itself, is still apt to be a little dazzled, and to mistake its object. He therefore advises to call in still more helps: Trust not yourself; but your defects to know, Make use of ev'ry Friend—and ev'ry Foe. Both the beginning and conclusion of this precept are remarkable. The question is of the means to subdue Pride: He directs the Critic to begin with a distrust os himself; and this is Modejly, the first mortification of Pride: And then to seek the assistance of others, and make use even os an Enemy; and this is Humility the last mortification of Pride: For when a man can once bring himself to submit to prosit by an enemy, he has either already quite subdued his Vanity, or is in a fair way of so doing. Notes. Ver. 209. Pride, where Wit fails, slept in to our defence, And Jills up all the mighty void of scnfe.~\ A very sensible French wri'ter makes the following remark on this species of pride. "Un

tap0*"~ ^k" homme qui scait plusieurs Langues, qui enteud les Auteurs Commentary.

A little learning is a dang'rous thing; 215 Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again. Fir'd at first fight with what the Muse imparts, In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Arts,

Ver. 215. A little learning, etc.] We must here remark the Poet's skill in his disposition of the causes obstructing true Judgment. Each general cause which is laid down first, has its own particular cause in that which follows. Thus, the second cause of wrong Judgment, Superficial Learning, is what occasions that critical Pride, which he makes the first.

Ver. 216. Drink deep, etc.] Nature and Learning are the pole stars of all true Criticism: But Pride obstructs the view of Nature; and a smattering os letters makes us insensible of our ignorance. To avoid this ridiculous situation, the poet [from } 214 to 253] advises, either to drink deep, or not at all; for the least taste at this fountain is enough to make a bad Critic, while even a moderate draught can never make a good one. And yet the labours and difficulties of drinking deep we. fa great that a young author, "Fir'd with ideas of fair Italy," and ambitious to snatch a palm from Rome, engages in an undertaking like that of Hannibal: Finely illustrated by the similitude of an unexperienced traveller penetrating thro.'- the Alps,

Notes.

«« Grecs et Latins, qui. s'eleve meme jusqu' a la dignite de "Scholiaste; si cet homme venoit a pescr son veritable "merite, il trouveroit fouvent qu'il fe reduit a avoir eu des "yeux et de la memoire, il fe garderoitbien dc donner le nom "respectable de science a une erudition fans lumiere. II y a une "grande difference entre s'enrichir des mots ou des chofes, "entre alleguer des autoritcz ou des raisons. Si un homnie "pouvoit fe furprendre a n' avoir que cette forte- de merite,. U |C en. rougiroit pluto.t que d'en C'tre vain."

While from the bounded level of our mind, 221

Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind $

But more advanc'd, behold with strange surprize

New distant scenes of endless science rise!

So pleas'd at first the tow'ring Alps we try, 225

Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the Iky,

Th' eternal snows appear already past.

And the first clouds and mountains seem the last r

But, those attain'd, we tremble to survey

The growing labours of the lengthen'd way, 2 3 Q

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 its author writ:

Variations. t Vex.. 225.

So pleas'd at first the tow'ring Alps to try,
FilPd with ideas of fair Italy,
The Traveller beholds with chearful eyes
The leis'ning vales and seems to tread the skies.

C'O MM £ N T AR Y.

Ver. 233. A,perfect Judge> etc.] The third cause of wrong Judgment is a Narrow Capacity ; the natural and certain cause of the foregc^ng defect, acquiescence in superficial learning. This bounded Capacity the poet shews [from 232 to 384.] betrays itself two ways; in it's judgment both of the matter, and

Notes. Ver. 233. Æ perfect fudge, etc.~\ "Drligenterlegendumestac «« paene ad scribendi soliicitudinem: Nee per panes modo seru-. «' tanda simt omnia, fed periectus liber utique ex integro resu-*' meridus. £uint.

Survey the Whole, nor seek flight faults to find
~Wherenature moves, and rapture warms the mind;
Nor lose, for that malignant dull delight,
The gen'rous pleasure to be charm'd with wit.

Commentary.

manner of the work criticised: Of the matter in judging byparts\ or in having one favourite part to a neglect of all the rest: Of the manner, in confining the regard only to conceit, or language, or numbers. This is our Poet's order; and we shall follow him as it leads us; only just observing one great beauty which runs thro' this part of the poem; it is, that under each of these heads of wrong Judgment, he has intermixed excellent precepts for right. We shall take notice of them as they occur.

He exposes the folly of judging by parts very artfully, not by a direct description of that sort of Critic, but of his opposite, a persist "Judge^ etc. Nor is the elegance of this conversion inferior to the art of it; for as, in poetic Jlyle, one word or figure is still put for another, in order to catch new lights from different images, and to reflect them back upon the subject in hand; so, in poetic matter, one person or thing may be advantageously employed for another, with the same elegance of re-> presentation. It is observable that our Author makes it almost the necessary consequence of judging by parts, to find fault: And this not without much discernment: For the several parts of a compleat JVhole, when seen only singly, and known only indepen

No T E S,

Ver. 235. Survey the Whole, nor seek flight faults. to find, Where nature moves, and rapture warms the mind ;] Theseco?id line, in apologizing for those faults which the first says lhould be overlooked, gives the reason of the precept. For when a writer's attention is fixed on a general view of Nature, and his imagination warm'd with the contemplation of great ideas, it can hardly be but that there must be small irregularities in the disposition both of matter and style, because the avoiding these requires a coolness of recollection, which a writer so busied is not master of.

« ZurückWeiter »