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Whose right it is uncensur'd to be dull:
Such shameless bards we have; and s true,
yard : Nay, fly to altars; there they'll talk you dead : For fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Distrustful sense with modest caution speaks It still looks home, and short excursions makes; But rattling nonsense in full vollies breaks. Apd never shock'd, and never turn'd aside, Bursts out, resistless, with a thundering tide.
But where's the man who counsel can bestow, Sall pleas'd to teach, and yet not proud to know; Unbiass'd or by favour or by spite, Not dully prepossess'd nor blindly right. Tho' learn'd, well-bred, and tho' well-bred, sincere, Modestly bold, and humanely severe; Who to a friend his faults can freely show, And gladly praise the merit of a foe? Bless'd with a taste exact, yet unconfin'd, A knowledge both of books and human kind? A gen'rous converse; soul exempt from pride; And love to praise with reason on his side ?
Such once were critics; such the happy few Athens and Rome in better ages knew. The mighty Stagirite first left the shore, Spread all his sails, and durst the deeps explore; He steer'd securely, and discover'd far, Led by the light of the Mæonian star. Poets, a race long unconfin'd and free, Still fond and proud of savage liberty, Receiv'd his laws, and stood convinc'd 'twas fit Who conquer'd nature should preside o'er wit. Horace stillcharms with graceful negligence, And without method talks us into sense; Will, like a friend, familiarly convey The truest notions in the easiest way. He who, supreme in judgment as in wit, Might boldly censure as he boldly writ, Yet judg’d with coolness, though he sung with fire; His precepts teach but what his works inspire. Our critics take a contrary extreme, They judge with fury, but they write with phlegm: Nor guffers Horace more in wrong translations By wits, than critics in as wrong quotations.
See Dyonisius Homer's thoughts refine,
Fancy and art in gay Petronius please,
In grave Quintilian's copious works we find
Thee, bold Longinus! all the nine inspire,
At length Erasmus, that great injur'd name,
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 its ruins spread, Shakes off the dust, and rears his reverend head. Then sculpture and her sister arts revive ; Stones leap'd to torm, 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 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 my impious arm from Latium chac'd Their ancient bounds the banish'd Muses pass'd; 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, And kept unconquer'd and unciviliz'd; Fierce for the liberties of wit, and bold, We still defied the Romans, as of olda
Yet some there were, among the sounder few,
OF THE KNOWLEDGE AND
CHARACTERS OF MEN.
To Sir Richard Temple, Lord Cobhan.
1. That it is not sufficient for this knowledge to con
sider man in the abstract ; books will not serve the purpose, nor yet our own experience singly. General máxims, unless they be formed upon both, will be but notional. Some peculiarity in every man's characteristic to himself, yet varying from himself. Difficulties arising from our own passions, fancies, faculties, &c. The shortness of life to observe in and the uncertainty of the principles of action in men to observe by. Our own principles of action often hid from ourselves. Some few characters plain, but in general confounded, dissembled, or inconsistent. The same man utterly different in different places and seasons. Unimaginable weaknesses in the greatest. Nothing constant but God and Nature. No judging of the motives from the action ; the same actions proceeding from contrary motives, and the same motive influencing contrary actions.-II. Yet to form characters, we can only take the strongest actions of a man's life, and try to make them agree; the utter uncertainty of this, from Nor ture itself, and from policy. Characters given according to the rank of men of the world : and some reason for it. Education alters the nature, or at least the character of many. Actions, passions, opinions, manners, humours, or principles, all sub ject to change. No judging by nature.---III. It only remains to find (if we can) his ruling passion: that will certainly influence all the rest, and can reconcile the seeming or real inconsistency of all his actions. Instanced in the extraordinary character of Clodio. A caution against mistaking second qualities for first, which will destroy all possibility of the