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From fhort ideas; and offend in arts
Some to Conceit alone their tafte confine,
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 quick"ness and variety, wherein can be found any refemblance or con
gruity, whereby to make up pleasant 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 false Wit, though not every species of it, is included. Aftriking Image therefore of Nature is, as Mr. Locke obferves, certainly Wit: But this image may ftrike on feveral other accounts, as well for its truth and beauty; and the Philofopher has explained 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 brightest 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 pronounce it to be
Naturam intueamur, hanc fequamur: id facillime accipiunt animi quod agnofcunt.". Quintil. lib. viii. c. 3.
For works may have more wit than does 'em good,
Others for Language all their care express, And value books, as women men, for drefs: Their praise is still,-the ftyle is excellent : The fenfe, they humbly take upon content. Words are like leaves; and where they moft abound, Much fruit of fenfe beneath is rarely found. Falfe eloquence, like the prifmatic glafs, Its gaudy colours fpreads on ev'ry place; The face of Nature we no more survey, All glares alike, without diftin&tion gay : But true expreffion, like th' unchanging fun, 315 Clears and improves whate'er it shines upon, It gilds all objects, but it alters none. Expreffion is the drefs of thought, and fill Appears more decent, as more fuitable; A vile conceit in pompous words exprefs'd Is like a clown in regal purple dreft: For diff'rent flyles with diff'rent fubjects fort, As feveral garbs, with country, town, and court. Some by old words to fame have made pretence, Ancients in phrase, mere moderns in their fense; 325
VER. 311. Falle eloquence, like the prifmatic glafs, etc.] This fimile is beautiful. For the falfe colouring, given to objects by the prifmatic glafs, is owing to its untwifting, by its obliquities, those threads of light, which Nature had put together in order to fpread over its work an ingenious and fimple candour, that fhould not hide, but only heighten the native complexion of the objects. And falfe Eloquence is nothing else but the straining 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.
VER. 324. Some by old words, etc.] "Abolita et abrogata retinere, infolentiæ cujufdam eft, et frivolæ in parvis jactantiæ.' Quint. lib. 1. c. 6.
"Opus eft, ut verba à vetuftate repetita neque crebra fant
Such labour'd nothings, in fo ftrange a ftyle,
Amaze th' unlearn'd, and make the learned fmile.
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 these tuneful fools admire ; Who haunt Parnaffus but to please their ear, Not mend their minds; as fome to church repair, Not for the doctrine, but the mufc there. Thefe equal fyllables alone require, Tho' oft the ear the open vowels tire ; While expletives their feeble aid do join ; And ten low words oft creep in one dull line:
VER. 337. But moft by numbers, etc.]
Quis populi fermo eft? quis enim? nifi carmina molli
neque manifefta, quia nil eft odiofius affectatione, nec utique "ab ultimis repetita temporibus. Oratio cujus fumma virtus eft "perfpicuitas, quam fit vitiofa, fi egeat interprete? Ergo ut novorum optima erunt maxime vetera, ita veterum maxime nova.” Idem.
VER. 328.unlucky as Fungofa, etc.] See Ben Johnson's Every Man in bis Humour
Perf. Sat. i.
VER. 345. Tho' oft the ear, etc.] "Fugiemus crebras vocalium "concurfiones, quæ vaftam atque hiantem orationem reddunt." Cic. ad Heren, lib. iv. Vide etiam Quint. lib. ix. c. 4.
While they ring round the fame unvary'd chimes,
With fome unmeaning thing they call a thought, 355
That, like a wounded fnake, drags its flow length along.
The hoarfe, rough verfe should like the torrent roar.
VER. 366. Soft is the ftrain, etc.]
Tum fi læta canunt, etc. Vida Poet. 1. iii. ver. 403
VER. 368. But when loud furges, etc.]
Tum longe fale faxa fonant, etc. Vida ib. 388, VER. 370. When Ajax strives, etc.]
Atque ideo fi quid geritur molimine magno, etc.
VER. 372. Not fo, when fwift Camilla, etc.]
Vida ib. 417
Hear how Timotheus' vary'd lays furprise,
Avoid extremes; and fhun the fault of fuch,
Some foreign writers, fome our own despise;
VER. 374. Hear bow Timotheus, etc.] See Alexander's Feafs er the Power of Mufic; an Ode by Mr. Dryden.