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Thus ufeful arms in magazines we place,
All rang'd in order, and difpos'd with grace;
But lefs to please the eye, than arm the hand,
Still fit for use, and ready at command.

Thee, bold Longinus! all the Nine inspire, 675
And bless their Critic with a Poet's fire.
An ardent Judge, who zealous in his trust,
With warmth gives fentence, yet is always just ;
Whofe own example ftrengthens all his laws,
And is himself that great Sublime he draws.

680

Thus long fucceeding Critics juftly reign'd,
Licence reprefs'd, and ufeful laws ordain'd.

COMMENTARY.

VER. 681. Thus long fucceeding Critics, &c.] 2. The next period in which the true Critic (he tells us) appear'd, was at the revival and restoration of letters in the Weft. This occafions his giving a fhort hiftory [from 682 to 711.] of the decline and re-establishment of arts and sciences in Italy. He fhews that they both fell under the fame enemy, defpotic power; and that when both had made fome little efforts to restore themselves, they were foon quite overwhelmed by a Jecond deluge of another kind, Superftition; and a calm of Dulness finish'd upon Rome and Letters what the rage of Barbarism had begun:

A fecond deluge learning thus o'er run,

And the Monk finifb'd what the Goth begun.

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Learning and Rome alike in empire grew :
And Arts itill follow'd where her Eagles flew :
From the fame foes, at laft, both felt their doom, 685
And the fame age faw Learning fall, and Rome,
With Tyranny, then Superftition join'd,
As that the body, this enflav'd the mind;
Much was believ'd, but little understood,
And to be dull was conftru'd to be good;
A fecond deluge Learning thus o'er-run,
And the Monks finifh'd what the Goths begun.

699

At length Erafmus, that great, injur❜d name, (The glory of the Priefthood, and the fhame!)

COMMENTARY.,

When things had been long in this condition, and all recovery now appear'd defperate, it was a CRITIC, our author fhews us, for the honour of the Art he here teaches, who at length broke the charm of dulnefs, diffipated the inchantment, and, like another Hercules, drove those cowl'd and hooded ferpents from the Hefperian tree of knowledge, which they had fo long guarded from human approach.

VER. 693. At length Erafmus, &c.] Nothing can be conceived more artful than the application of his example; or more happy than the turn of compliment to this immortal man. And, to throw glory quite round his illuftrious character, he makes it to be (as in fact it really was) by his affiftance chiefly, that Leo was enabled to reflore letters and the fine arts, in his Pontificate.

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Stem'd the wild torrent of a barb'rous age,
And drove thofe holy Vandals off the stage.
But fee! each Mufe, in LEO's golden days,
Starts from her trance, and trims her wither'd bays!

J:
COMMENTARY.

695

VER. 697. But fee each Mufe in Leo's golden days] This brings us to that fecond period in which the true Critic

NOTES.

Between 690 and 691. the author omitted these two,

Vain Wits and Critics were no more allow'd,
When none but, Saints bad licence to be proud.

694. The glory of the Priesthood and the foame!] Our author elsewhere gives us to understand what he efteems to be the glory of the

Priesthood as well as of a Chriftian in general, where comparing himself to Eraf mus, he fays,

In moderation placing all my glory.
and confequently, what he
efteems to be the fame of it.
The whole of this character
belong'd moft eminently and
almoft folely to Erafmus:
For all the other Reformers,
fuch as Luther, Calvin, and
their followers, understood

fo little in what true Chriftian Liberty confifted, that they carried with them, into the churches they founded, that very fpirit of perfecution, which had drove them from the church they left.

Rome's ancient Genius, o'er its ruins spread,
Shakes off the duft, and rears his rev'rend head. 700
Then Sculpture and her sister-arts revive ;
Stones leap'd to form, and rocks began to live;
With sweeter notes each rifing Temple rung;
A Raphael painted, and a Vida fung.
Immortal Vida: on whofe honour'd brow

The Poet's bays and Critic's ivy grow?
Cremona now shall ever boast thy name,
As next in place to Mantua, next in fame!

But foon by impious arms from Latium chas❜d,

Their ancient bounds the banifh'd Mufes pafs'd;7 10

COMMENTARY.

appear'd; of, whom he has given us a perfect Idea in the fingle example of Marcus Hieronymus Vida: For his fubject being poetical Griticifm, for the ue principally of a. critical Poet; his example is an eminent poetical Critic, who had written of that Art in verle.

VER. 709. But foon by impious arms, &c.] This is the third period, after learning had till travelled farther Weft; when the arms of the Emperor, in the lack of Rome by

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705

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706. The Poet's bays, and Critic's ivy] The Ivy is afcribed to the Critic with no fmall propriety: The allegory is obvious enough;

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Thence Arts o'er all the northern world advance;
But Critic learning flourish'd most in France:
The rules, a nation born to ferve, obeys;
And Boileau ftill in right of Horace fways."

COMMENTARY

the duke of Bourbon, had drove it out of Italy, and forced it to pass the Mountains The Examples he gives in this period, are of Boileau in France, and of the lord Rofcommon and the duke of Buckingham in England: And thefe were all Poets as well as Critics in verfe. It is true, the daft inftance is of one who was no eminent poet, the late Mr. Wal. This fmall deviation might be well overlooked, was it only for its being a pious offering to the memory of his friend: But it may be farther juftified as it was an homage paid in particular to the MORALS of the Critic, nothing being more amiable than the character here drawn of this excellent perfon. He being our Author's Judge and Cenfor, as well as Friend, it gives him a graceful opportunity to add himself to the number of the later Critics; and with a character of himself, fuftained by that modefty and dignity which it is fo difficult to make confiftent; this performance concludes. 1 }}

I have given a fhort and plain account of the Essay on Criticism, concerning which I have but one thing more to acquaint the reader: That when he confiders the Regularity of the plan, the masterly Conduct of each part, the penetration into Nature, and the compaís, of Learning, fo confpicuous throughout, fhould at the fame time know, it was the work of an Author who had not attained the twentieth year of his age.

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