« AnteriorContinuar »
He steer'd securely, and discover'd far,
Horace ftill charms with graceful negligence,
VER 6:3. Who conquer'd Nature, should prefde o'er Wit.] By this is not meant physical Nature, but moral.
The force of the observation consists in our underitanding it in this fenie. For the Poet not only uses the word Nature for human nature, throughout this poem ; but also, where, in the beginning of it, he lays down the princia ples of the arts he treats of, he makes the knowledge of human nature the foundation of all Criticism and Poetry. Nor is the observation less true than apposite. For, Aristotle's natural enquiries were superficial, and ill-made, tho' extensive: But his logical and moral works are incomparable. In theie he has unfolded the human mind, and laid open all the recesses of the heart and underltanding ; and by his Categories, not only conquer'd Naturi, but kept her in tenfold chains : Not as Dulness kept the Muses, in the Dunciad, to filence them ; bui as Ariftens held Proteus in Virgil, to deliver Oracles.
See Dionyfius Homer's thoughts refine,
Fancy and art in gay Petronius please,
In grave Quintilian's copious work, we find 670
Thee, bold Longinus ! all the Nine inspire, And bless their Critic with a Poet's fire.
1 An ardent Judge, who zealous in his trust, With warnith gives sentence, yet is always just; Whose own example strengthens all his laws; 680 And is himself that great Sublime he draws.
Thus long fucceeding Critics justly reign’d, Licence repress’d, and useful laws ordain'd. Learning and Rome alike in empire grew; And Arts still follow'd where her Eagles flew; From the fame foes, at last, both felt their doom, And the fame age saw Learning fall, and Rome. With Tyranny, then Superstition join'd, As that the body, this enslav'd the mind; Much was believ'd, but little understood, 690 And to be dull was constru'd to be good ;
Ver. 6C6. See Dionysiu] Of Halicarnaffus. P.
Vain Wits and Critics were no more allow'd,
A second deluge Learning thus o'er-run,
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, 700 Shakes off the dust, and rears his rev'rend head. Then Sculpture and her sister-arts revive; Stones leap'd to form, and rocks began to live; With sweeter notes each rising Temple rung; A Raphael painted, and a Vida sung.
703 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! 709
Ver. 695. The glory of the Priefthood and be so ime,] Our author elsewhere lets us know what he eft ems to be the glory of the Priesthood as well as of a Christian in general, where, comparing himself to Erasmus, he says,
In MODERATION placing all my glory, and consequently, what he efteems to be the shame of it. The whole of this character belong'd most eminently and almot solely to Erafmus: For the other Reformers, such as Lutber, Calvin, and their followers, understood so litzle in what tiue Chriflian Liberty confifted, that they carried with them, into the reformed Churches, that very fpirit of perfecution, which had driven them from the church of Rome.
Mantua vé miferæ nimium vicina Cremont. Virg.
But soon by impious arms from Latium chas’d, Their ancient bounds the banilhid Muses pafs'd; Thence Arts o'er all the northern world advance, But Critic-learning flourish'd most in France :
The rules a nation, born to ferve, obeys; And Boileau still in right of Horace sways. 715 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 defy'd the Romans, as of old. Yet some there were, among the founder few Of those who lefs presum'd, and better knew, 721 Who durft assert the juster ancient cause, And here restor'd Wit's fundamental laws, Such was the Muse, whose rules and practice tell, Nature's chief Master-piece is writing well.” 725
VER-724. Such was the Mufe--) Elay on Poetry by the Duke of Buckingham. Our Poet is not the only one of his time who complimented this Elsay, and its noble Author. Mr. Dryden had done it very largely in the Dedication to his translation of the Æneid ; and Dr. Garth in the first Edition of his Dispensary says,
The Tyber now no courtly Gallus fees,
But smiling Thames enjoys bis Normanbys. Tho'afterwards omitted, when parties were carried so high in the reign of Queen Anne, as to allow no commendation to an opposite in Politics. The Duke vas all his life a steady adherent to the Church of England Party, yet an enemy to the extravagant measures of the Court in the reign of Charles II." On which account after having frongly patronized Mr. Dryden, a coolness fucceeded between them on that poet's absolute attachment to the Court, which carried him some lengths beyond what the Duke could approve of. This Nobleman's
Such was Roscommon, not more learn’d than good,
744 Not free from faults, nor yet too vain to mend.
true character had been very well marked by Mr. Drydon before,
the Muse's friend, Himself a Muse. In Sanadrin's debate True to his prince, but not a fave of state.
Abr, and Achit. Our Author was more happy, he was honour'd very young with his friendship, and it continued till his death m all the circumstances of a familiar esteem,