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Be filent always, when you doubt your fenfe ;
'Tis not enough your counsel ftill be true ;
Be niggards of advice on no pretence : For the worst avarice is that of sense. With mean complaisance ne'er betray your trust, Nor be so civil as to prove unjuft. Fear not the anger of the wise to raise ; Those best can bear reproof, who merit praise. 'Tis best sometimes your censure to restrain, And charitably let the dull be vain :: Your filence there is better than your spite ; For who can rail fo long as they can write ? Still humming on, their drowsy course they keeps And lash'd so long, like tops, are lash'd a-sleep. False steps but help them to renew the race, As, after stumbling, jades will mend their pace. What crouds of these, impertinently bold, In sounds and jingling fyllables grown old, Still run on poets, in a raging vein, Even to the dregs and squeezings of the brain, Strain out the last dull droppings of their sense, And rhyme with all the rage of impotence. Such shameless bards we have ; and yet
'tis true, There are as mad, abandon'd critics too. The book ful blockhead, ignorantly read, With loads of learned lumber in his head', With his own tongue ftill edifies his ears, And always list’ning to himself appears. All books he reads, and all he reads assails, From Dryden's fables down to Durfey's tales.
But where's the man, who counsel can beitow, Still pleas'd to teach, and yet not proud to know?
Unbiass'd, or by favour, or by spite ;
Here the poet introduces a concise history of criticism, with the characters of the beft critics, viz. Aristotle, Horace, Dionysius, Petronius, Quintilian, and Longinus. He then speaks of the decay of criticism and of its revival; gives us short characters of Erasmus, Vida, Boileau, the duke of Buckingham, lord Roscommon, and concludes with an elogium on his late friend and preceptor Mr. Walsh.
Thus have we given the reader the whole scope and design of Mr. Pope's efay, with an abstract of his precepts, and some of those ornamental parts which he has artfully and judiciously 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 tranfcribed the whole poem, which, notwithstanding the subject runs so much into common place, is indeed fo full of them, that what the author says of Longinus, may with propriety be applied to himself.
Him all the nine inspire,
We shall conclude this article on criticism with an obfervation of Dr. Garth's, which may help to excite candour in the professors of this art; an ingredient very necessary, yet much wanted by our modern critics.
“ 'Tis to be lamented, says he, that gentlemen ftill 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 Parnasus 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 (says the Doctor) was libelled in his life-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 fteal 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 care to chuse such subjects as are worthy of their muse, and of consequence to all markind ; for to bestow both parts and pains to teach people trifes that are unworthy of their attention, is to the last degree ridiculous.
Among poems of the useful and interesting kind, Dr. Armstrong's Art of preserving health deferves, 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 unentertaining, perfectly 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 pollions. It opens with an invocation to Hygeia the goddess of health, whose aid, he observes, the difficulty of the subject has render'd neceffary.
Without thy chearful active energy No rapture
swells the breast, no poet fings, No more the maids of Helicon delight. Come then with me, O Goddess heavenly gay ! Begin the song; and let it sweetly flow, And let it wilely teach thy wholesome laws : di How beft the fickle fabric to support « Of mortal man ; in healthful body how. “ A healthy mind the longest to maintain." 'Tis hard, in such a strife of rules, to chuse. The best, and those of moft extensive use;, Harder in clear and animated song,, Dry philosophic precepts to convey. Yet with thy aid the secret wilds. I trace Of nature, and with daring steps proceed: Thro' paths the muses never trod before.
He then pays a compliment to Dr. Mead, and entering on the subject air, inveighs against that which we breathe in London, and says,
It is not air
The reflection he has made on the benefit we receive from burning of pit-coal is truly philosophical, and drawn from experience; for, it has been observed, that no plague or pestilential disorder (properly so called) has appear'd in London since the introduction, and general use of this kind of fuel.
The directions he then gives for the choice of air,, and of a country situation, are delivered in a manner. very poetical and pleasing,
While yet you breathe, away; the rural wilds-
We have already taken notice of the allufions to ancient fables in Virgil and others, and of the frequent use made of the figure called Profopopeia, by which the properties of life are given, not only to inanimate Beings, but to Virtues, Vices, Diseases, &c. Some of thele beauties will be seen in the first paragraph of the following paffage.
Green rise the Kentish hills in chearful air ;