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that some give all applause to the ancients, some admire only the moderns; that some affect to be singular whether right or wrong, while others borrow their opinions from the town, and change them, as they change their company.
Some ne'er advance a judgment of their own,
Some praise at morning what they blame at night
Some valuing those of their own side or mind,
Be thou the sirst true merit to befriend;
He then laments the fate of wit, which is ever pursued by envy, and advises the critic to temper his mind with good nature.
Unhappy wit, like most mistaken things,
He observes, and very justly, that seventy ought to be pointed at those pieces of immorality, obscenity, and blasphemy, that trnd to corrupt the minds of mankind, but withal adds this necessary caution.
Yet shun their fault, who, scandaloufly nice,
After this the poet gives rules for the conduct and manners in a critic, and recommends candour, modesty, good-breeding, sincerity, and freedom of advice; yet points out some cases where our counsel is to be restrained, and where advice would be ineffectual. He then draws the characters of an incorrigible poet, an impertinent Critic, and a good one.
Learn then what Morals critics ought to show,
Be silent always, when you doubt your fense;
Who if once wrong, will needs be always so;
'Tis not enough your counsel still be ttue;
Be niggards of advice on no pretence: For the worst avarice is that of sense. With mean complaifance ne'er betray your trust", Nor be so civil as to prove unjust.
Those best can bear reproof, who merit praise.
Such shameless bards we have; and yet 'tis true,
But where's the maB, who counsel can bestow, Still pleas'd to teach, and yet not proud to know?
Some positive, persisting fops we know,
Unbiass'd, or by fayour, or by spite;
Not dully prepossess'd, nor blindly right;
Tho' learn'd, well-bred; and tho' well-bred, sincere;
Modestly bold, and humanly severe:
Who to a friend his faults can freely. showr
And gladly praise the merit of a foe?
Blest with a taste exact, yet uticoasin'd;
A knowledge both of books and human kind;
Gen'rous converse; a soul exempt from pride;
And love to paise, with reason on his side?
Here the poet introduces a concise history of criticism, with the characters of the best critics, viz. Aristotle, Horace, Dionyjius, Petronius, Quintilian, and Lottginus. He then speaks of the decay of criticism and of its revival ; gives us short characters of Erasmus, Vida, Boileau, the duke of Buckinghanty lord Roscommon, and concludes with, an elogium on his late friend and preceptor Mr. Waljh.
Thus have we given the reader the whole scope and design of Mr. Pope's essay, with an abstract of his precepts, and some of those ornamental parts which he has artsully and judicioufly thrown in to enrich and adorn his rules, and render them the more permanent and pleasing. Had we introduced all the beauties, we must have transcribed the whole poem, which, notwithstanding the subject runs so much into common place, is indeed so full of them, that what the author fays of Lenginus, may with propriety be applied to himself.
Him all the nine inspire,
We shall conclude this article on criticism with an observation of Dr. Garth's, which may help to excite candour in the prosessors of this art; an ingredient very necessary, yet much wanted by our modern critics.
"'Tis to be lamented, fays he, that gentlemen still continue to behave thus unfairly, and treat one another every day with most injurious libels. The Muses should be ladies of chaste and fair behaviour ; when they are otherwise, they are Furies. 'Tis certain, that Parnassus is at best but a barren mountain, and its inhabitants contrive to make it more so by their unneighbourly deportment. The authors are the only corporation that endeavour at the ruin- of their own society; yet every day may convince them how much a rich fool is respected above a poor wit. The only talents in esteem at present are those of Exchange Alley; one tally is worth a grove of bays; and 'tis. of more consequence to be well red in the tables of interest, and the rise and fall of stocks, than in the revolution of empires. This reflection was occasioned by the treatment Mr. Dryden met with, who (fays the Doctor) was libelled in his lise-time by the very men who had no other excellencies, but as they were his imitators. Where he was allowed to have sentiments superior to all others, they charged him with theft: Bat how did he steal? No otherwise, than like those who steal beggars children, only to cloath them the better. As his earlier works wanted no maturity, so his latter wanted no force or spirit; and the falling off of his hair had no other consequence than to make his laurels be seen the more."
Poets who write in the preceptive manner-should take •are to chuse such subjects as are worthy of their muse, and of consequence to all mankind; for to bestow both parts and pains to teach people trifles that are unworthy of their attention, is to the last degree ridiculous.
Among poems of the usesul and interesting kind, Dr. Armstrong'* Art of preserving health deserves, I think, particular notice, as well in consideration of the subject, as of the elegant and masterly manner in which he has treated it; for he has made those things, which are in their own nature dry and unentcrtaining, persectly agreeable and pleasing, by adhering to the rules observed by Virgil and others in the conduct of these poems.
The author has divided this poem into four books, and considered how our health is-promoted or impair'd by air, diet, exercise, and the possions. It opens with an invocation to Hygeia the goddess of health, whose aid, he observes, the difficulty of. the subject has renders necessary.