« 上一頁繼續 »
ILL-NATURE is the worst of all the bad Qualities of a Critic : They who attempt to criticize with this unhappy Disposition, prove more formidable and cruel than the Popish Inquisitors; they seize upon the miserable Author's Fame and Merit, and torture him without Remorse. As it is impossible they should have a good Opinion of another Man's Performance, so little GoodNature, Ingenuity, or Forgiveness is to be expected from them. They never fail of meeting with hard Quarters, who wretchedly fall under the severe Lashes of their malignant Tongues or Pens : But as the chief End of those enormous Productions of Nature is to delight themselves in sporting with, and endeavouring to destroy the Character and Esteem of Men eminent for Virtue and Wisdom, so they never fail of rendering themselves odious and detestable to all considerate and judicious Men; and as such I leave them.
PRIDE, next to Ill-Nature, is a Quality the most to be condemn'd in a Critic. Concerning the proud Cenfurer, hear the excellent Poet Mr. Pope.
Of all the Causes which conspire to blind
(Wind : Pride, where Wit fails, steps in to their De
[fence, And fills up all the mighty Void of Sense !
Thus where right Reafon drives that Cloud
[away, There beamy Truth shines with resistless Day.
The Capricious and Affected Critic, who can Caprice and relish only fome particular Things, and rejects Affectation. the Whole for want of these, makes the next Class of bad Judges. Some affect to make their Criterion, a fine Conceit, a glittering Thought, or Point of Wit, others judge a Performance by the Language, Style and Phrase, not attending to the Sense and Justness of the Ideas and their Connections. Again, some admire none but fereign, others none but antient, and others none but modern Productions. Lyftly, The Affectation of some is so wonderfully contrary to that of others, that some are to be found who can praise nothing, but what every body praises ; while others take as much Care to be singular, and will rather judge wrong by themselves, than right with the Multitude. But those who judge things right or wrong according as the Author is of their Opinion or Party, or on the contrary side, I do not dignify so much as with the Name of bad Critics, but rather that of bigotted or prejudiced Coxcombs.
In the last Place, the Pedantic Critic we find Pedantry. in the Rear of this Tribe. A Smatterer in Learning may serve to make a Criticafter, as well as one in Verse a Poetaster ; but both are alike dishonourable to the Science. For Critics, like Poetry, is an Art which can admit no Mean between very good, and very bad ; that is, a Hypercritic and a Criticaster. 'Tis easy for Persons to have Learning enough to deserve the latter Epitbet, but ’ris with much more Difficulty they merit the former. In short, a Pittance of Learning, as it is often most hurtful to Religion, so it
always is to Critics ; in puffing the Mind up with Vanity and Conceit, and a Presumption which generally spends itself in Ridicule, Contempt, and ungenerous Reflections on Men of Merit and solid Judgment and Learning. To this Purpose the before-mention'd celebrated Poet sings:
A little Learning is a dang’rous thing ;
(parts, In fearless Youth we tempt the Heights of
[Arts; While from the bounded Level of our Minds Short Views we take, nor see the Lengths be
(hind, But more advanc'd behold with strarge Sur
(prize New distant Scenes of endless Science rise!
Rules and ge
Having thus particularized the Character of neral Infiru- a Good and Bad Critic, it may be proper next itions for Critics by
to subjoin the excellent Advice and Initruction Mr. Pope.
which Mr. Pope gives to those who engage in Works of Criticism and Censure.
But you who seek to give and merit Fame,
[creet, And mark that point where Sense and Duline's
Nature to all Things fix'd the Limits fit,
(Rage. Yet Ihun their Fault, who scandalously nice Will needs mistake an Author into Vice.
All seems infected that th' Infected spy,
[dence, Some positive, persisting Fops we know, That, if once wrong, will needs be always so; But you with Pleasure own your Errors past, And make each Day a Critic on the last. 'Tis not enough your Counsel should be true, Blunt Truths more Mischiefs than nice False
[hoods do. Men must be taught as if you taught them not, And things unknown proposs’d as things forgot. Be Niggards of Advice on no Pretence, For the worst Avarice is that of Sense. With mean Complacence ne'er betray your
[Trust, Nor be so civil as to prove unjust. Fear not the Anger of the Wise to raise; Those best can bear Reproof who merit
[Praise. Fear most to tax an honourable Fool, Whofe Right it is uncensur'd to be dull. 'Tis best sometimes your Censure to restrain, And charitably let the Duh be Vain. Your Silence there is better than your Spight, For who can rail so long as they can write ? Of Censure careless be, nor fond of Fame, Still pleas’d to praise, yet not afraid to blame ; Averse alike to flatter, or offend, And, as not faultless, not too vain to mend. But where's the Man, who Counsel can bestow, Still pleas’d to teach, and yet not proud to
(know ; Unbiass’d or by Favour or by Spight ; Not dully prepoffefs’d, or blindly right;