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They talk of principles, but notions prize,
Once on a time, La Mancha's Knight, they fay, A certain Bard encount'ring on the way,
Religion) and fhews it to be founded in the order of things: For if we examine, we shall find it arife from this principle of human nature, that the mind must always have fomething to rest upon, to which the paffions and affections may be interestingly directed. Common fense prompts us to feek it in the moft worthy object; and reflection points us to a Whole or System: But the clouds of Ignorance, and the falle lights of the Paffions, mislead and dazzle us; we ftop fhort, and before we get to a Whole, take up with fome Part; which from thence becomes our Favorite.
267. Once on a time, This tale is fo very appofite, that one would naturally take it to be of the Poet's own invention; and fo much in the fpirit of Cervantes, that one might eafily mistake it for a principal ornament of that incomparable Satire. But, in truth, it is neither one nor the others but a story taken
by our Author, from the spurious Don Quixote, which fhews how judicious an use may be made of General reading, when if there is but one good thing in a book (as in that wretched perfor mance there scarce was more) it may be pick'd out, and employ'd to an excellent purpose.
Difcours'd in terms as juft, with looks as fage,
Yes, or we muft renounce the Stagyrite.
So vaft a throng the ftage can ne'er contain.
VER. 285. Thus Critics of lefs judgment than caprice,
2. He concludes his obfervations on those two forts of judges by parts, with this general reflexion. The curious not knowing are the firft fort, who judge by parts, and with
Thus Critics, of lefs judgment than caprice, 285 Curious not knowing, not exact but nice,
a microscopic fight (as he fays elsewhere) examine bit by bit: The not exalt but nice, are the fecond, who judge by a favorite part, and talk of a whole to cover their fondnefs for a part; as Philofophers do of principles, in order to obtrude their notions or opinions for fuch. But the fate common to both is, to form fort ideas, or to have ideas fhort of truth: Tho' the latter fort, thro' à fondness to their favorite part, imagine that they comprehend the whole in epitome: As the famous Hero of La Mancha mentioned juft before used to maintain, that Knight Errantry comprised within itself the quinteffence of all Science civil and military.
285. Thus Critics of lefs judgment than caprice, Curious not knowing, not
exact but nice.] In these two lines the poet 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 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 usefulness the world least regards. Lastly, Exactness is the juft proportion of parts to one another, and
Form fhort Ideas; and offend in arts,
VER. 289. Some to Conceit alone, &c.] We come now to that fecond fort of bounded capacity, which betrays it felf in the manner of the work criticised. And this our Author profecutes from 288 to 384. Thefe are againfubdivided into divers claffes.
The first are those who confine their attention folely to Conceit or Wit. And here again we are to observe, that the Critics by parts, as to the manner, offend doubly in their judgments, just as those did in the matter: Not only by confining their attention to a part, when it fhould be extended to the whole; but likewife in judging falfely of that part. And this, in both cafes, is unavoidable, as the parts in the manner, bear the fame clofe relation to the whole, that the parts in the matter do; to which whole the ideas of thefe Critics have never yet extended. Hence it is, that our author, fpeaking here of those who confine their attention folely to Conceit or Wit, defcribes the two fpecies of true and falfe Wit; because they, not only mistake a wrong difpofition of true Wit for a right,
their harmony in a whole: But he who has not extent of capacity for the exercise of this quality, contents
himself with Nicety, which is a bufying one's self about points and fyllables,
Pleas'd with a work where nothing's just or fit;
but likewife falfe Wit for true: He defcribes falfe Wit firft, from y 288 to 305.
Some to Conceit alone, &c.
Where the reader may obferve our author's skill in representing in a defcription of falle Wit, the falfe difpofition of the true, as the Critic by parts is mifled by both these errors.
He next describes true Wit,
True Wit is Nature to advantage dress'd, &c.
And here the reader may obferve, as in the foregoing, the poet is not only explaining true Wit, but likewife the right difpofition of it: And illuftrating this, as he did the wrong, by ideas taken from the art of Painting.
297. True Wit is Nature to advantage drefs'd,
&c.] This definition is very exact. Mr Locke had defi