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C Ο Ν Τ Ε Ν

N IS

OF

THE

ESSAY ON CRITICISM.

I

PART 1.
NTRODUCTION. That 'tis as great a fault to judge

ill, as to write ill, and a more dangerous one to the
public, ver. 1.
That a true Taste is as rare to be found as a true Ge-

nius, ver. 9 to 18. That most men are born with some Taste, but spoild

by false Education, ver. 19 to 25. The multitude of Critics and causes of them, ver. 26

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to 45.

That we are to study our own Taste, and know the limits

of it, ver. 46 to 67.
Nature the best guide of judgment, ver. 68 to 87.
Improved by Art and Rules, which are but methodized

Nature, ver. 88.
Rules derived from the practice of the Ancient Poets,

ver. 88. to ITO.
That therefore the Ancients are necessary to be studied

by a Critic, particularly Homer and Virgil, ver. 120

to 138.

Of Licences, and the use of them by the Ancients, ver.

140 to 18o. Reverence due to the Ancients, and praise of them, &c.

PART

ver. 181,

1

AN

E S S

AY

ON

CRITICIS M. 'TA

IS hard to say, if greater want of skill

Appear in writing or in judging ill;
But of the two, less dangerous is th' offence
To tire our patience, than mislead our sense,
Some few in that, but numbers err in this,

s
Ten censure wrong for one who writes amiss ;
A fool might once himself alone expose,
Now one in verse makes many more in prose.

'Tis with our judgments as our watches; none
Go juft alike, yet each believes his own.

10
In Poets as true genius is but rare,
True taste as seldom is the Critic's share,
Both must alike from Heaven derive their light,
These born to judge, as well as those to write.
Le such teach others who themselves excel, 15
And censure 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 seeds of judgment in their mind :

Nature

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20

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26

Natare affords at least a glimmering light;
The lines, though touch'd but faintly, are drawn right.
But as the flightest sketch, if justly trac’d,
Is by ill-colouring but the more disgrac’d,
So by false learning is good sense defac'd :
Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools,
And some made coxcombs Nature meant but fools.
In search of wit these lose their common sense,
And then turn Critics in their own defence :
Each burns alike, who can, or cannot write, 30
Or with a rival's, or an eunuch's fpíte.
All fools have still an itching to deride,
And fain would be

upon the laughing side. If Mævius scribble in Apollo's spight, There are who judge still worse than he can write. 35

Some have at first for Wits, then Poets past, Turn'd Critics next, and prov'd plain fools at last.

Some

VARIATIONS.

Between ver. 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 Virtuosos, oft inclin'd
By strange transfusion to improve the mind,
Draw off the sense we have, to pour in new ;

Which yet, with all their skill, they ne'er could do. Ver. 30, 31. In the first edition thus :

Those hate as rivals all that write; and others
But

envy wits, as eunuchs envy lovers. Ver. 32. “ All fools,” in the first edition : “ All such”

in edition 1717 ; since restored,

40

Some neither can for Wits nor Critics pass,
As heavy mules are neither horse nor ass.
Those half-learn'd witlings, numerous in our isle,
As half-form'd insects on the banks of Nile;
Unfinish'd things, one knows not what to call,
Their generation 's so equivocal :
To tell them, would a hundred tongues require,
Or one vain wit's, that might a hundred tire. 45

But you, who seek to give and merit fame,
And justly bear a Critic's noble name,
Be sure yourself and your own reach to know,
How far your genius, taste, and learning, go ;
Launch not beyond your depth, but be discreet,

50 And mark that point where sense and dulness meet.

Nature to all things fix'd the limits fit,
And wisely curb’d proud man's pretending wit,
As on the land while here the ocean gains,
In other parts it leaves wide fandy plains ;

55
Thus in the soul while memory prevails,
The solid power of understanding fails ;
Where beams of warm imagination play,
The memory's soft figures melt away.
One science only will one genius fit;

60 So vast is art, so narrow human wit : Not only bounded to peculiar arts, But oft' in those confin'd to single parts. Like Kings, we lose the conquests gain'd before, By vain ambition still to make them more:

65

Each VARIATION. Ver. 63. Ed. 1. But ev’n in those, &c.

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