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own taste, and know the limits of our genius, and judgment, before we attempt to criticise on others.
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,
And mark that point where sense and dulness meet.
And in the following beautisul lines he resers us to nature as the best, and indeed, the only unerring guide to the judgment.
First follow Natub E, and your judgment frame
By her just standard, which is still the lame;
Unerring nature, still divinely bright,
One clear, unchang'd, and univerfal light,
Lise, force, and beauty, must to all impart,
At once the source, and end, and test of ai t.
Art srom that sund, each just supply provides;
Works without show, and without pomp presides;
In some fair body thus th' informing soul
With spirits seeds, with vigour sills the whole,
Each motion guides, and ev'ry nerve sustains *
Itself unseen, but in th' esfects, remains*
But the judgment, he observes, may be improved by the rules of art, which rules, if just and sit, are only nature methodised; and as these rules are derived from the practice of the ancient poets, the ancients, particularly Homer and Virgil, ought to be study'd by the critic.
You then whose judgment the right course wou'd steer, Know well each Ancient's proper character; His fable, subject, scope in ev'ry page; Religion, country, genius of his age: Without all these at once before your eyes, Cavil you may, but never criticize. Be Homer's works your study, and delight, Read them by day, and meditate by night; Thence form your judgment, thence your maxims bring, And trace the muses upward to their spring.
Still with itself compar'd, his text peruse;
And let your comment be the Mantuan muse.
He then speaks of the licences allow'd to poetry,. and of the use of them by the ancients ; which is thus happily expressed.
Some beauties yet,, no precepts can declare,
For there's a happiness as well as care.
Musick resembles poetry; in each
Are nameless graces which no methods teach,
And which a master-hand alone can reach.
If, where the rules not far enough extend,
(Since rules were made but to promote their end)
Some lucky Licence answers to the sull
Th' intent propos'd, that licence is a rule.
Thus Pegasus, a nearer way to take,
May boldly deviate from the common track.
Great wits sometimes may glorioufly offend,
And rise to faults true critics dare not mend;
From vulgar bounds with brave disorder parr,
And match a grace beyond the reach of art.
Which, without passing thro'the judgment, gains-
The heart, and all its ends at once attains.
In prospects thus, some objects please our eyes,
Which out of nature's common order rile,.
The shapeless rock, or hanging precipice.
Bat care in poetry must still be had,
It asks discretion ev'n in running mad:
And tho' the ancients thus their rules invade,
(As kings dispense with laws themselves have made}
Moderns beware! Or if you must offend
Against the precept, ne'er transgress its end;
Let it be seldom; and compell'd by need;
And have, at least, their precedent to plead.
The critic else proceeds without remorse,
Seizes your fame, and puts his laws in force.
I know there are, to whose presumptuous thoughts Those freer beauties, ev'n in them, seem faults. Some sigures monstrous and mif-shap'd appear, Considcr'd singly, or beheld too near,
Which, but proportion'cl to their light, or place,
Due distance reconciles to form and grace.
A prudent chief not always must display
His pow'rs in equal ranks, and fair array,
But with th'occasion and the place comply,
Conceal his force, nay seem sometimes to fly.
Those oft are stratagems which errors seem,
Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream.
After this he speaks of the reverence and praise due to the ancients, observes that pride and impersect learning hinder us from forming a true judgment, and illustrates his subject with a most beautisul simile.
Os all the causes which conspire to blind
Man's erring judgment, and misguide the mind,
What the weak head with strongest byass rule*,
Is Pride, the never failing vice of fools-.
Whatever nature has in worth deny'd,
She gives in large recruits of needsul pride:
For as in bodies, thus in fouls, we sind
What wants in blood and spirits, swell'd with wind;
Pride, where wit fails, steps in to our desence,
And sills up all the mighty void of sense.
If once right reafon drives that cloud away,
Truth breaks upon us with resistless day.
Trust not yourself; but your desects to know,
Make use of ev'ry friend—and ev'ry foe.
A little learning is a dang'rous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Fir'd at sirst sight with what the muse imparts,
In searless youth we tempt the heights of arts,
While from the bounded level of our mind,
Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind;
But more advanc'd, behold with strange surprize
New- distant scenes of endless science rile!
So pleas'd at sirst the tow'ring Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky,
Th' eternal snows appear already past,
And the sirst clouds and mountains seem the last:
Bat, those attain'd, we tremble to survey
The growing labours of the lengthen'd way,
Th' increasing prospect tires our wand'ring eyes,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise i.
He then condemns those who judge by a part and not the whole of a performance, as well as these who are critics only in Wit, Language, or Verfijkation, and ridicules ethers who are too hard to please, or too apt to admire.
A persect judge will read each work of wit,
With the fame spirit that its author writ:
Survey the Whole, nor seek flight faults to find
Where nature moves, and rapture warms the mind;
Nor lose, for that malignant dull delight,
The gen'rous pleasure to be charm'd with wit
Sut in such lays as neither ebb nor flow,
Correctly cold and regularly low,
That shunning faults, one quiet tenor keep:
We cannot blame indeed—but we may fleep,
la wit, as nature, what affects our hearts,
Is not th' exactness of peculiar parts;
'Tis not a lip, or eye, we beauty call,
But the joint force and sull result of all.
Some to conceit alone their taste consine.
And glitt'ring thoughts struck out at ev'ry line I
Pleas'd with a work where nothing's just or sit ;.
One glaring chaos and wild heap of wit.
Poets, like painters, thus unskill'd to trace
The naked nature and the living grace,
With gold and jewels cover ev'ry part,
And hide with ornaments their want of art.
For works may have more wit than does them good.
As bodies perish through excess of blood.
Others for Language all their care express
And value books, as women men, for dress:
Their praise is still,—the style is excellent:
The sense, they humbly take upon content.
Words are like leaves; and where they most abound,
Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found.
False eloquence, like the prismatic glass,
Its gaudy colours spreads on ev'ry place »
The face of nature we no more survey,
All glares alike, without distinction gay:
But true expression, like th' unehangiug sun,
Clears, and improves whate'er it stiines upon,
It gilds all objects, but it alters none.
But most by numbers judge a poet's song;
And smooth or rough, with them, is right or wrong:
In the bright muse tho' thoufand charms conspire,
Her voice is all these tunesul fool* admire;
Who haunt Parnassus but to please their ear,
Not mend their minds; as some to church repair,
Not for the doctrine but the music there.
These equal syllables alone require,
Tho' oft the ear the open vowels tire:
While expletives their seeble aid do join;
And ten low words oft creep in one dull line:
While they ring round the fame unvary'd chimes,
With sure returns of still expected rhymes;
Where'er you sind «• the cooling western breeze,"
In the next line, it, "whispers thro' the trees:"
If crystal streams " with pleasing murmurs creep,"
The reader's threaten'd (not in vain) with " sleep:"
Then, at the last and only couplet fraught
With some unmeaning thing they call a thought,
A needless Alexandrine ends the song,
That, like a wounded snake, drags its flow length along.
True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.
'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,
The sound must seem an eccho to the sense.
Avoid extremes; and sttun the fault of such,
Who still are pleas'd too little or too much.
At ev'ry trifle scorn to take offence,
That always shews great pride or little sense;
Those heads, as stomachs, are not sure the best,
Which nauseate all, and nothing can digest.
Yet let not each gay turn thy rapture move;
For fools admire, but men of sense approve:
As things seem large which we thro' mists descry,
Dulness is ever apt to magnify.
The poet next complains of the partiality of critics to fome particular sect, party, nation, or age; He observes