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Great Wits fometimes may gloriously offend,
And rife to faults true Critics dare not mend;
From vulgar bounds with brave disorder part,
And fnatch a grace beyond the reach of art,
Which, without paffing thro' the judgment, gains
The heart, and all its end at once attains.
In profpects thus, fome objects please our eyes,
Which out of nature's common order rise,
The fhapelefs rock, or hanging precipice.
But tho' the Ancients thus their rules invade,
(As Kings difpenfe with laws themselves have made)
Moderns, beware! or if you must offend
Against the precept, ne'er tranfgrefs its end;
Let it be feldom, and compell'd by need:
And have, at least, their precedent to plead.
The Critic elfe proceeds without remorse,
Seizes your fame, and puts his laws in force.
I know there are, to whofe prefumptuous thoughts T'hofe freer beauties, ev'n in them, feem faults. 170 Some figures monftrous and mifshap'd appear, Confider'd fingly, or beheld too near,
Which, but proportion'd to their light, or place,
Due diẞance reconciles to form and grace.
A prudent chief not always muft difplay
His pow'rs in equal ranks, and fair away,
But with th' occafion and the place comply,
Conceal his force, nay feem fometimes to fly.
Those oft are stratagems which errors feem,
Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream.
VER. 175. Aprudent chief, etc.] Oláv ti možtiv di pgónun 582τηλάται καὶ τὰς τάξεις τῶν εξάλευμάτων --- Dion. Pal. De firuet.
VER. 180. Nor is it Homer nads, but we that dream. "Modefte, "et circumspecto judicio de tantis viris pronunciandum eft, ne "(quod plerifque accidit) damnent quod non intelligunt. Ac "neceffe eft in alteram errare partem, omnia eorum legentibus. "placere, quam multa difpl.cere maluerim." Quint.
Still green with bays each ancient Altar ftands, Above the reach of facrilegious hands; Secure from Flames, from Envy's fiercer rage, Destructive War, and all-involving Age. See from each clime the learn'd their incenfe bring! Hear, in all tongues confenting Paans ring! In praise fo juft let ev'ry voice be join'd, And fill the gen'ral chorus of mankind. Hail, Bards triumphant! born in happier days; Immortal heirs of univerfal praise! Whose honours with increase of ages grow, As ftreams roll down, enlarging as they flow; Nations unborn your mighty names fhall found, And worlds applaud that must not yet be found! O may fome fpark of your celeftial fire, The laft, the meanest of your fons infpire,
(That on weak wings, from far, pursues your flights;.
Glows while he reads, but trembles as he writes)
To teach vain wits a fcience little known,
T'admire fuperior sense, and doubt their own!
Of all the caufes which confpire to blind
Man's erring judgment, and misguide the mind,
What the weak head with ftrongest bias rules,
IS PRIDE, the never-failing vice of fools.
Whatever Nature has in worth deny'd,
She gives in large recruits of needlefs Pride!
For as in bodies, thus in fouls, we find
What wants in blood and spirits, fwell'd with wind:
VER. 183. Secure from flames, from envy's fiercer rage, Deftructive war, and all-involving age.] The Poet here alludes to the four great caufes of the, ravage amongst ancient writings: The deftruction of the Alexandrine and Palatine libraries by fire; the fiercer rage of Zoilus and Mævius and their followers against Wit; the irruption of the Barbarians into the em pire; and the long reign of Ignorance and Superftition in the cloifters.
Pride, where Wit fails, fteps in to our defence,
And fills up all the mighty void of fense.
If once right reason drives that cloud away.
Truth breaks upon us with refiftless day.
Truft not yourself; but your defects to know,
Make ufe of ev'ry friend-and ev'ry foe.
A little learning is a dang'rous thing!
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian fpring:
There fhallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely fobers us again.
Fir'd at firft fight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Arts, 220
While from the bounded level of our mind,
Short views we take, nor fee the lengths behind;
But more advanc'd, behold with ftrange furprise
New diftant fcenes of endless science rife!
So pleas'd at first the tow'ring Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and feem to tread the sky,
Th' eternal fnows appear already past,
And the first clouds and mountains feem the laft:
But, those attain`d, we tremble to survey
The growing labours of the lengthen'd way,
Th' increafing profpect tires our wand'ring eyes,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arife!
A perfect judge will read each work of Wit
With the fame spirit that its author writ:
So pleas'd at firft the tow'ring Alps to try,
Fill'd with ideas of fair Italy,
The Traveller beholds with chearful eyes
The lefs'ning vales, and feems to tread the skies.
VER. 233. A perfect judge, etc.] “ Diligenter legendum eft ac "pæne ad fcribendi follicitudinem: Nec per partes inodo fcrutan"da funt omnia, fed perlectus liber utique ex integro refumendus." Quint.
Survey the WHOLE, nor feek flight faults to find 235
Where nature moves, and rapture warms the mind;
Nor lofe, for that malignant dull delight,
The gen'rous pleasure to be charm'd with wit.
But in fuch lays as neither ebb nor flow,
Correctly cold, and regularly low,
That hunning faults, one quiet tenor keep;
We cannot blame indeed-but we may fleep.
In 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 full result of all.
Thus when we view fome well proportion'd dome,
(The world's just wonder, and ev'n thine, O Rome!)
No fingle parts unequally furprife,
All comes united to th' admiring eyes;
No monstrous height, or breadth, or length appear;
The Whole at once is bold, and regular.
Whoever thinks a faultlefs piece to fee,
Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall be.
In ev'ry work regard the writer's end,
Since none can compass more than they intend;
And if the means' be juft, the conduct true,
Applaufe, in fpite of trivial faults, is due.
As men of breeding, fometimes men of wit,
T'avoid great errors, must the lefs commit:
Neglect the rules each verbal Critic lays,
For not to know fome trifles, is a praise.
VER. 235. Survey the whole, nor feek flight faults to find, Where nature moves, and rapture warms the mind;} The fecond line, in apologizing for thofe faults which the first fays fhould be overlooked, gives the reafon of the precept. For when a writer's attention is fixed on a general View of Nature, and his imagination warmed with the contemplation of great ideas, it can hardly be but that there must be small irregularities in the difpofition both of matter and ftyle, because the avoiding these requires a coolness of recollection, which a writer fo bufied is not mafter of..
Moft Critics, fond of fome fubfervient art,
Still make the Whole depend upon a Part:
They talk of principles, but notions prize,
And all to one lov'd folly facrifice.
Once on a time, La Mancha's Knight, they fay,
A certain Bard encount'ring on the way,
Difcours'd in terms as juft, with looks as fage,
As e'er could Dennis, of the Grecian stage;
Concluding all were defp'rate fots and fools,
Who durft depart from Ariftotle's rules.
Our Author happy in a judge fo nice,
Produc'd his play, and begg'd the Knight's advice
Made him obferve the subject, and the plot.
The manners, paffions, unities; what not?
All which, exact to rule, were brought about,
Were but a combat in the lifts left out.
"What! leave the combat out?" exclaims the Knight.
Yes, or we must renounce the Stagyrite.
"Not fo by heav'n, (he anfers in a rage)
"Knights, fquires, and fteeds, muft enter on the flage."
So vast a throng the ftage can ne'er contain.
"Then build a new, or act it in a plain."
Thus Critics, of lefs judgment than caprice, Curious, not knowing, not exact but nice,
VER. 285. Thus Critics of lefs judgment than caprice, Curicus, not knowing, not exact but nice.] In thefe two lines the Poet finely defcribes the way in which bad writers are wont to imitate the qualities of good ones. As true Judgment generally draws men out of popular opinions, fo he who cannot get from the croud by the affiftance of this guide, willingly follows Caprice, which will be fure to lead him into fingularities. Again, true Knowledge is the art of treasuring up only that which, from its ute in life, is worthy of being lodged in the memory. But Curiofity confifs in a vain attention to every thing out of the way, and which, for its ufeleffness, the world leaft regards. Laftly, Exactnefs is the juft proportion of parts to one another, and their harmo ny in the whole: but he who has not extent of capacity for the exercife of this quality, contents himself with Nicety, which is a^ bufying one's felf about points and fyllables.