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As on the land while here the ocean gains,
But oft' in those confin'd to fingle parts.
Like Kings we lose the conquefts gain'd before,
VER. 67. Would all but stoop to what they understand.] The expreffion is delicate, and implies what is very true, that most men think it a degradation of their genius to employ it in cultivating what lies level to their comprehenfion, but had rather exercise their ambition in fubduing what is placed above it.
Some, to whom Heav'n in wit has been profufe,
By the fame Laws which firft herself ordain'd.
And urg'd the reft by equal steps to rise.
VER. 88. Thofe rules of old, etc.] Cicero has, beft of any one I know, explained what that is which reduces the wild and fcattered parts of human knowledge into
-Nihil eft quod ad artem redigi poffit, nifi ille prius qui illa tenet, quorum artem inflituere vult, habeat illam fcientiam, ut ex iis rebus, quarum ars nondum fit, artem efficere poffit.-Omnia fere, quæ funt conclufa nunc artibus, difperfa et diffipata quondam fuerunt, ut in Muficis, it Adhibita eft igitur ars quædam extrinfecus ex alio genere quodam, quod fibi totum PHILOSOPHI offumunt, que rem diffolutam divulfamque conglutinaret, et ratione quad.m conftringeret. De Orat. 1. i. c 41, 2.
There are whom Heav'n has bleft with ftore of wit,
Juft precepts thus from great examples giv❜n,
She drew from them what they deriv'd from Heav'n.
And taught the world with reason to admire.
VER. 98. Just precepts] Nec enim artibus editiš factum eft ut argumenta inveniremus, fed dicta funt omnia antequam præciperentur; mox ea fcriptores obfervata et collecta ediderunt. Quintil. P.
VER. 112. Some on the leaves-Some drily plain.] The first, the Apes of those Italian Critics, who at the restoration of letters having found the claffic writers miferably mangled by the hands of monkish Librarians, very commendably employed their pains and talents in restoring them to their native purity. The fecond, the plagiaries from the French, who had made fome admirable Commentaries on the ancient critics. But that acumen and tafe, which feparately conftitute the diftinct value "of thofe two fpecies of foreign Criticism, make no part of the character of these paltry mimics at home, described by our Poet in the following lines,
Thefe leave the fenfe, their learning to display,
Which fpecies is the leaft hurtful, the Poet has enabled
Some drily plain, without invention's aid,
You then whose judgment the right course would fteer,
Know well each ANCIENT's proper character;
And trace the Mufes upward to their spring.
us to determine in the lines with which he opens his poem,
But of the two lefs dang'rous is th' offence
To tire our patience than mislead our fenfe.
From whence we conclude, that the reverend Mr. Upton was much more innocently employed when he quibbled upon Epictetus, than when he commented upon Shakefpear.
VER. 123. Cavil you may, but never criticize.] The author after this verfe originally inferted the following, which he has however omitted in all the editions:
Zoilus, had these been known, without a name
Still with itself compar'd, his text peruse;
Some beauties yet no Precepts can declare,
Are nameless graces which no methods teach, And which a mafter-hand alone can reach. 145
VER. 130. When firft young Maro, etc.] Virg. Eclog. vi. Cum canerem reges et prælia, Cynthius aurem
It is a tradition preferved by Servius, that Virgil began with writing a poem of the Alban and Roman affairs; which he found above his years, and defcended first to imitate Theocritus on rural fubjects, and afterwards to copy Homer in Heroic poetry. P.
When firft young Maro fung of Kings and Wars,