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No fingle parts unequally surprize,
All comes united to th' admiring eyes;
No monftrous height, or breadth, or length appear;
Whoever thinks a faultlefs piece to fee,
Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall be.
Once on a time, La Mancha's Knight, they say,
Produc'd his Play, and begg'd the Knight's advice;
VER. 261. verbal Critic] Is not here used in its common fignification, of one who retails the fenfe of fingle words; but of one who deals in large cargo's of them without any fenfe at all.
All which, exact to rule, were brought about,
* What! leave the Combat out?" exclaims the
Yes, or we muft renounce the Stagirite.
"Not fo, by Heav'n" (he anfwers in a rage)
66 Knights, fquires, and steeds, must enter on the "ftage."
So vaft a throng the stage can ne'er contain. “Then build a new, or act it on a plain."
Thus Critics, of lefs judgment than caprice, 285 Curious not knowing, not exact but nice, Form fhort Ideas; and offend in arts (As moft in manners) by a love to parts. Some to Conceit alone their tafte confine, And glitt'ring thoughts ftruck out at ev'ry line; 290 Pleas'd with a work where nothing's just or fit; One glaring Chaos and wild heap of wit.
VER. 285. Thus Critics of lefs judgment than caprice, Curious not knowing, not exact but nice.] In these two lines the poet finely describes 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 affitance of this guide, willingly follows Caprice, which will be fure to lead him into fingularities. Again, true Knowledge is the art of treafuring up only that which, from its use in life, is worthy of being lodged in the memory. But Curiofity confifts in a vain attention to every thing out of the way, and which, for its ufeleffnefs, the world leaft regards. Lastly, Exactness is the jaft proportion of parts to one another, and their harmony in a 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.
Poets, like painters, thus, unfkill'd to trace
VER. 297. True Wit is Nature to advantage drefs'd, etc.] This definition is very exact. Mr. Locke had defined Wit to confift in the affemblage of ideas, and putting thofe together, with quickness and variety, wherein can found any refemblance or congruity, whereby to make up pleafant pictures and agreeable vifions in the fancy. But that great Philofopher, in feparating Wit from Judgment, as he does in this place, has given us (and he could therefore give us no other) only an account of Wit in general: In which falfe Wit, tho' not every species of it, is included. A friking Image therefore of Nature is, as Mr. Locke obferves, certainly Wit: But this image may ftrike on feveral other accounts, as well as for its truth and amiableness; and the Philofopher has explain'd the manner how. But it never becomes that Wit which is the ornament of true Poefy, whofe end is to reprefent Nature, but when it dreffes that Nature to advantage, and prefents her to us in the clearest and most amiable light. And to know when the Fancy has done its office truly, the poet fubjoins this admirable Teft, viz. When we perceive that it gives us back the image of our mind. When it does that, we may be fure it plays no tricks with us: For this image is the creature of the Judgment; and whenever Wit correfponds with Judgment, we may fafely Ironounce it to be true.
Naturam intueamur, hanc fequamur: id facillime acciut animi quod agnofcunt. Quintil. lib. viii. c. 3.
For works may have more wit than does 'em good, As bodies perifh thro' excefs 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 Senfe, they humbly take upon content.
Words are like leaves; and where they most abound,
VER. 311. Falfe eloquence, like the prifmatic glass, etc.] This fimile is beautiful. For the falfe colouring, given to objects by the prifmatic glafs, is owing to its untwisting, by its obliquities, thofe threads of light. which Nature had put together in order to fpread over its works an ingenuous and fimple candor, that should not hide, but only heighten the native complexion of the objects. And falfe Eloquence is nothing elfe but the ftraining and divaricating the parts of true expreffion; and then daubing them over with what the Rhetoricians very properly term, COLOURS; in lieu of that candid light, now loft, which was reflected from them in their natural ftate while fincere and entire.
Some by old words to fame have made pretence, Ancients in phrafe, meer moderns in their sense; Such labour'd nothings, in fo ftrange a style, 326 Amaze th' unlearn'd, and make the learned smile. Unlucky, as Fungofo in the Play,
These sparks with aukward vanity display
Be not the first by whom the new are try'd,
But moft by Numbers judge a Poet's fong; And fmooth or rough, with them, is right or wrong: In the bright Mufe tho' thoufand charms confpire, Her Voice is all thefe tuneful fools admire;
VER. 324. Some by old words, etc.] Abolita et abrogata retinere, infolentiæ cujufdam eft, et frivole in parvis jactania. Quintil. lib. i. c. 6.
Opus eft ut verba à vetuftate repetita neque crebra fint, neque manifefta, quia nil est odiofius affectatione, nec utique ab ultimis repetita temporibus. Oratio cujus fumma virtus eft perfpicuitas, quam fit vitiofa, fi egeat interprete? Erge at novorum optima erunt maxime vetera, ita veterum maxime nova. Idem. P.
VER. 328. unlucky as Fungofo, etc.] See Ben Johnfon's Every Man in his Humour.
VER. 337. But most by Numbers, etc.]
Quis populi fermo eft? quis enim? nifi carmina molli
Perf, Sat. i. P.