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'Tis best sometimes your censure to restrain,
And charitably let the dull be vain:
Your silence there is better than your spite,
For who can rail so long as they can write ?
Still humming on, their drowsy course they keep, 600
And lash'd so long, like tops, are lash'd asleep.
False steps but help them to renew the race,
As, after stumbling, jades will mend their pace.
What crowds of these, impenitently bold,
In sounds and jingling syllables grown old,

Still run on poets in a raging vein,
Ev'n to the dregs and squeezing of the brain,
Strain out the last dull droppings of their sense,
And rhyme with all the rage of Impotence.

Such shameless Bards we have; and yet, 'tis true, There are as mad, abandon'd Critics too.

611 The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read, With loads of learned lumber in his head, With his own tongue still edifies his ears, And always list’ning to himself appears.

615 All books he reads, and all he reads assails, From Dryden's Fables down to Durfey's Tales. With him most authors steal their works, or buy; Garth did not write his own Dispensary. Name a new play, and he's the poet's friend, 620 Nay, show'd his faults-but when would poets mend? No place so sacred from such fops is barrd, Nor is Paul's church more safe than Paul's church



Ver. 619. Garth did not write, &c.] A common slander at that time in prejudice of that deserving author. Our Poet did him this justice, when that slander most prevailed ; and it is now (perhaps the sooner for this very verse) dead and forgotten.-P.

Ver. 622. No place so sacred] This stroke of satire is literally taken from Boileau :

[“ Gardez VARIATIONS. Ver. 623. Between this and ver. 624.

In vain you shrug and sweat and strive to fly :
These know no manners but of Poetry.


Nay, fly to altars; there they'll talk you dead;
For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

Distrustful sense with modest caution speaks,
It still looks home, and short excursions makes;
But rattling nonsense in full volleys breaks,
And never shock’d, and never turn'd aside,
Bursts out, resistless, with a thund'ring tide. 630

But where's the man, who counsel can bestow, Still pleas'd to teach, and yet not proud to know?

COMMENTARY. Ver. 631. But where's the man, fc.] II. The second division of this last part, which we now come to, is of the Morals of Critics, by example. For, having in the first, drawn a picture of the false Critic, at large, he breaks out into an apostrophe, containing an exact and finished character of the true ; which, at the same time, serves for an easy and proper introduction to this second division. For having asked [from ver. 630 to 643] Where's the man, 8c. he answers (from ver. 642 to 681], That he was to be found in the happier ages of Greece and Rome; in the characters of Aristotle and Horace, Dionysius and Petronius, Quintilian and Longinus ; whose several excellencies he has not only well distinguished, but has contrasted them with a peculiar elegance : the profound science and logical method of Aristotle is opposed to the plain common sense of Horace, conveyed in a natural and familiar negligence : the study and refinement of Dionysius, to the gay and courtly ease of Petronius : and the gravity and minuteness of Quintilian, to the vivacity and general topics of Longinus. Nor has the Poet been less careful in these examples, to point out their eminence in the several critical Virtues he so carefully inculcated in his precepts. Thus in Horace he particularizes his Candour ; in Petronius his Good-breeding ; in Quintilian his free and copious Instruction; and in Longinus his great and noble Spirit.

“ Gardez vous d'imiter ce rimeur furieux,

Qui de ses vains écrits lecteur harmonieux
Aborde en récitant quiconque le salue,
Et poursuit de ses vers les passans dans le ruë,
Il n'est Temple si saint, des Anges respecté,

Qui soit contre sa muse un lieu du sûreté.” Which lines allude to the impertinence of a French poet called Du Perrier, who finding Boileau one day at church, insisted upon repeating to him an ode, during the elevation of the host ; and desired his opinion whether or not it was in the manner of Malherbe. Without this anecdote the pleasantry of the satire would be overlooked.

It is but justice to add, that the fourteen succeeding verses in the poem before us, containing the character of a true Critic, are superior to any thing in Boileau's Art of Poetry ; from which, however, Pope has borrowed many observations.-Warton.

Ver. 631. But where's the man, &c.] The Poet, by his manner of asking after this Character, and telling us, when he had described it, that such


They'll stop a hungry Chaplain in his grace,
To treat of Unities of time and place.--Warburton,

Unbiass’d, or by favour, or by spite;
Not dully prepossess’d, nor blindly right;
Tho' learn'd, well-bred; and tho well-bred, sincere;
Modestly bold, and humanly severe;

Who to a friend his faults can freely show,
And gladly praise the merit of a foe?
Blest with a taste exact, yet unconfin'd;
A knowledge both of books and human kind; 640
Gen'rous converse; a soul exempt from pride;
And love to praise, with reason on his side?

Such once were Critics; such the happy few,
Athens and Rome in better ages knew.
The mighty Stagirite first left the shore,

645 Spread all his sails, and durst the deeps explore ;


once were Critics, does not encourage us to search for it amongst modern writers. And indeed the discovery of him, if it could be made, would be but an invidious affair. However, I will venture to name the piece of Criticism in which all these marks may be found. It is entitled, Q. Hor. Fl. Ars Poetica, et ejusd. Ep. ad Aug. with an English Commentary and Notes.--Warburton.

This commentary is founded on the idea that Horace writes, in his Art of Poetry, with systematic order and the strictest method. An idea to which several capable critics will not accede, and which is directly contrary to Pope's own opinion. But it may be added, that Dr. Hurd was not the first who entertained this idea. A French writer, M. de Brueys, gave a paraphrase on this epistle of Horace, in 1683, totally grounded on this supposition. If my partiality to my lamented friend Mr. Colman does not mislead me, I should think his account of the matter the most judicious of any yet published. He conceives that the elder Piso had written or meditated a poetical work, probably a tragedy ; and had communicated his piece, in confidence, to Horace ; but Horace, either disapproving of the work, or doubting of the poetical faculties of the elder Piso, or both, wished to dissuade him from all thoughts of publication. With this view he wrote his epistle, addressing it with a courtliness and delicacy, perfectly agreeable to his acknowledged character, indifferently to the whole family, the father and his two sons. Epistle to the Pisos, with Notes by George Colman, 4to. 1783, p. 6.—Warton.

Ver. 642. with reason on his side ?] Not only on his side, but in actual employment. The Critic makes but a mean figure, who, when he has found out the beauties of his author, contents himself with showing them to the world in only empty exclamations. His office is to explain their nature, show from whence they arise, and what effects they produce ; or in the better and fuller expression of the Poet,

“ To teach the world with reason to admire.”—Warburton. Ver. 645. The mighty Stagirite] A noble and just character of the first


Between ver. 646 and 649, I have found the following lines, since suppressed by the author :


He steer'd securely, and discover'd far,
Led by the light of the Mæonian star.


and the best of Critics! Whoever surveys the variety and perfection of his productions, all delivered in the chastest style, in the clearest order, and the most pregnant brevity, is amazed at the immensity of his genius. His logic, however, at present neglected for those rudiments and verbose systems which took their rise from Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding, is a mighty effort of the mind; in which are discovered the principal sources of the art of reasoning, and the dependencies of one thought on another ; and where, by the different combinations he hath made of all the forms the understanding can assume in reasoning, which he hath traced for it, he hath so closely confined it, that it cannot depart from them, without arguing inconsequentially. His Physics contain many useful observations, particularly his History of Animals, which Buffon highly praises ; to assist him in which, Alexander gave orders, that creatures of different climates and countries should, at a great expense, be brought to him, to pass under his inspection. His Morals are, perhaps, the purest system of antiquity. His Politics are a most valuable monument of the civil wisdom of the ancients ; as they preserve to us the description of several governments, and particularly of Crete and Carthage, that otherwise would have been unknown. But, of all his compositions, his Rhetoric and Poetics are most excellent. No writer has shown a greater penetration into the recesses of the human heart, than this philosopher, in the second book of his Rhetoric ; where he treats of the different manners and passions that distinguish each different age and condition of man; and from whence Horace plainly took his famous description in the Art of Poetry (ver. 157). La Bruyère, La Rochefoucault, and Montaigne himself

, are not to be compared to him in this respect. No succeeding writer on eloquence, not even Tully, has added any thing new or important on this subject. His Poetics, which, I suppose, are here by Pope chiefly referred to, seem to have been written for the use of that prince, with whose education Aristotle was honoured, to give him a just taste in reading Homer and the tragedians ; to judge properly of which, was then thought no unnecessary accomplishment in the character of a prince. To attempt to understand poetry without having diligently digested this treatise, would be as absurd and impossible, as to pretend to a skill in geometry without having studied Euclid. The fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth chapters, wherein he has pointed out the properest methods of exciting terror and pity, convince us, that he was intimately acquainted with those objects which most forcibly affect the heart. The prime excellence of this precious treatise is the scholastic precision, and philosophical closeness, with which the subject is handled, without any address to the passions, or imagination. It is to be lamented, that the part of the Poetics in which he had given precepts for comedy, did not likewise descend to posterity. Warton.

That bold Columbus of the realms of wit,
Whose first discovery's not exceeded yet.
Led by the Light of the Mæonian Star,
He steer'd securely, and discover'd far.
He, when all Nature was subdu'd before,
Like his great Pupil, sigh'd and long’d for more :
Fancy's wild regions yet unvanquish'd lay,
A boundless empire, and that own'd no sway.
Poets, &c.Warburton.



Poets, a race long unconfin'd, and free,
Still fond and proud of savage liberty,
Receiv'd his laws; and stood convinc'd 'twas fit,
Who conquer'd Nature, should preside o'er Wit.

Horace still charms with graceful negligence,
And without method talks us into sense;
Will, like a friend, familiarly convey
The truest notions in the easiest way.
He, who supreme in judgment, as in wit,
Might boldly censure, as he boldly writ,
Yet judg’d with coolness, tho' he sung with fire;
His precepts teach but what his works inspire.
Our Critics take a contrary extreme,
They judge with fury, but they write with flegm:
Nor suffers Horace more in wrong translations
By Wits, than Critics in as wrong quotations.

See Dionysius Homer's thoughts refine,
And call new beauties forth from ev'ry line !




Ver. 652. Who conquer'd Nature, &c.] By this we must not understand physical nature, but moral. The force of the observation consists in giving it this sense.

The Poet not only uses the word Nature, for human nature, throughout this poem ; but also, where in the beginning of it, he lays down the principles of the arts he treats of, he makes the knowledge of human nature the foundation of all Criticism and Poetry. Nor is the observation less true than apposite. For Aristotle's natural inquiries were superficial and ill made, though extensive. But his logical and moral works are supremely excellent. In his moral, he has unfolded the human mind, and laid open all the recesses of the heart and understanding ; and in his logical, he has not only conquered Nature, but by his Categories, has kept her in tenfold chains ; not as Dulness kept the Muses in the Dunciad, to silence them ; but as Aristæus held Proteus in Virgil, to deliver oracles.Warburton.

Ver. 652. Who conquerd] By conquering Nature, our Poet certainly meant, was a perfect master of all natural philosophy, as far as it was then understood ; in his own manuscript lines quoted above, he uses the expression in the very same sense ;

He, when all Nature was subdu'd before.-Warton. Ver. 665. See Dionysius, &c.] In the first of these lines, on which the other depends, the peculiar excellence of this Critic, and indeed the most material and useful part of a Critic's office, is touched upon : who, like the refiner, purifies the rich ore of an original writer ; for such a one busied in creating, often neglects to separate and refine the mass ; pouring out his riches rather in bullion than in sterling.Warburton.

Ver. 665. See Dionysius] Of Halicarnassus.-P.
These prosaic lines, this spiritless eulogy, are much below the merit of

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