Page images


Against the poets their own arms they turn'd
Sure to hate moft the men from whom they

So modern 'pothecaries, taught the art
By doctor's bills to play the doctor's part,
Bold in the practice of mistaken rules,
Preferibe, apply, and call their masters fools.
Some on the leaves of ancient authors prey,
Nor time nor moths e'er fpoil'd fo much as

Some dryly plain, without invention's aid,
Write dull receipts how poems may be made.
Thefe leave the fenfe, their learning to display,
And thofe explain the meaning quite away.

You then, whose judgment the right course
would steer
Know well each ANCIENT's proper character;
His fable, fubject, fcope in ev'ry page;
Religion, country, genius of his age:
Without all thefe at once before your eyes
Cavil you may, but never criticife.
Be Homer's works your study and delight,
Read them by day, and meditate by night;
Thence form your judgment, thence your maxims

And trace the Mufes upward to their spring,
Still with itself compar'd, his text perufe;
And let your comment be the Mantuan muse.

When firft young Maro in his boundlefs mind
A work t'outlaft immortal Rome defign'd,
Perhaps he feem'd above the critic's law,
And but from Nature's fountains fcorn'd to draw:
'But when t'examine ev'ry part he came,
Nature and Homer were, he found, the fame.
Convinc'd, amaz'd, he checks the bold defign;
And rules as ftrict his labour'd work confine,
As if the Stagirite o'erlook'd each line.



Learn hence for ancient rules a juft esteem;
To copy Nature is to copy them.

Some beauties yet no precepts can declare,
For there's happinefs as well as care.
Mufic refembles poetry; in each


Are nameless graces which no methods teach
And which a mafter-hand alone can reach.
If where the rules not far enough extend,
(Since rules were made but to promote their end)
Some lucky licence anfwer tho the full
Th' intent propos'd, that licence is a rule.
Thus Pegafus, a nearer way to take,
May boldly deviate from the common track,
From vulgar bounds with brave disorder part,
And fnatch a grace beyond the reach of art.
Which, without paffing through the judgment,

The heart, and all its end at once attains.
In profpects thus fome objects please our eyes,
Which out of nature's common order rife,
The fhapelefs rock, or hanging precipice.
Great wits fometimes may gloriously offend,
And rife to faults true critics dare not mend,
But though the ancients thus their rules in-

(As kings difpenfe with laws themselves have

Moderns, beware! or if you must offend
'Against the precept, ne'er transgrefs its end;
Let it be feldom, and compell'd by need;
And have, at leaft, their precedent to plead,
The critic elfe proceeds without remorle,
Seizes your fame, and puts his laws in force.

I know there are, to whofe prefumptuous thoughts
Those freer beauties, ev'n in them, seem faults.
Some figures monftrous and mis-fhap'd appear
Confider'd fingly, or beheld too near;
Which, but proportion'd to their light or place,

$ 4



[ocr errors][merged small]

Due distance reconciles to form and grace,
A prudent chief not always must display
His pow'rs in equal ranks and fair array,
But with th' occafion and the place comply.
Conceal his force, nay feem fometimes to fly.
Those oft are stratagems which errors feem;
Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream.

Still green with bays each ancient altar ftands,
Above the reach of facrilegious hands;
Secure from flames, from Envy's fierce rage,
Destructive war, and all-involving Age.
See from each clime the Learn'd their incenfe bring!
Hear, in all tongues confenting paeans ring!
In praise so just let ev'ry voice be join'd
And fill the gen'ral chorus of mankind.
Hail, bards triumphant! born in happier days;
Immortal heirs of univerfal praife!
Whofe honours with increase of ages grow,
As ftreams roll down, enlarging as they flow;
Nations unborn your mighty names fhall found
And worlds applaud that must not yet be found!
O may fome fpark of your celestial fire
The laft, the meanest of your fons inspire,
That on weak wings, from far, purfues your flights;
Glows while he reads, but trembles as he writes,
To teach vain wits a science little known,
T'admire fuperior fenfe, and doubt their own!

[ocr errors][merged small]


John Sheffield Herzog von Buckinghamshire (geb. 1650; geft. 1721.), ist weniger als Dichter merkwürdig, als wegen seiner Lebensumstände und politischen Verbindungen. Die Lobsprüche, welche ihm die besten Schriftsteller seiner Zeit, unter andern Dryden, Addison und Pope ertheilten, waren nicht ganz unpartheyisch, und galten mehr feine Liebe zu den Wissenschaften und seinen Eifer für den guten Geschmack, als sein, gewiß sehr mäßiges, dichterisches Talent. Nichtiger urtheilt Dr. Warton von ihm, in seinem Essay on Pope, Vol. I. p. 201. Sein Effay on Poetry ist indeß zu bes kannt, um-hier ganz übergangen zu werden. Er geht darin die verschiednen Dichtungsarten durch, und folgt überall dem Muster Boileau's, aber in einem sehr entfernten Abftande. Die Wendung des ganzen Gedichts ist mehr satirisch als didaktisch, aber bei dem allen nichts weniger als anziehend und unterhaltend, sondern vielmehr sehr arm an neuen und treffenden Zügen, und noch dazu sehr mittelmäßig verfificirt. Warton erklärt die folgende Stelle,` besonders den leztern Theil derselben, wo er über die Form des neuern Trauerspiels spottet, für das Beste des ganzen Gedichts. Vergl. Dusch's Briefe, Th. 1. Br. XVII.


The Unities of Action, Time and Place,
Which, if obferv'd, give Plays ío great a grace,
Are, tho' but little practis'd, too well known
To be taught here, where we pretend alone
From nicer faults to purge the prefent Age,
Lefs obvious errors of the English Stage.

First then, Soliloquies had need be few, Extreamly fhort, and spoke in paffion too.


[ocr errors]

Budingham, Our Lovers talking to themselves, for want
Of others, make the Pit their Confident:
Nor is the matter mended yet, if thus
They truft a Friend, only to tell it us.
Th' occafion fhould as naturally fall,
As when *) Bellario confeffes all.

Figures of fpeech, which Poets think fo fine,
(Art's needlefs varnish, to make Nature shine)
Are all but paint upon a beauteous face,
And in Defcriptions only claim a place:
But to make Rage declaim, and Grief difcourfe,
From Lovers in defpair fine things to force,
Muft needs fucceed, for who can chufe but pity
A dying Hero miserably witty?

But oh! the Dialogues, where jeft and mock
Is held up, like a reft at Shittle-cock!

Or elfe, like bells, eternally they chime;
They figh in Simile, and die in Rhime.

What things are thefe who would be Poets

By Nature not infpir'd, nor Learning taught?
Some wit they have, and therefore may deferve
A better courfe than this by which they starve
But to write Plays! why, 'tis a bold pretence
To judgment, breeding, wit, and eloquence:
Nay more, for they must look within to find
Thofe fecret turns of Nature in the mind.
Without this part, in vain would be the whole,
And but a body all without a foul.

All this united yet but makes a part
Of Dialogue, that great and pow'rful Art,
Now almoft loft, which the old Grecians knew,
From whom the Romans fainter copies drew,
Scarce comprehended fince but by a few.
Plato and Lucian are the beft remains
Of all the wonders which this Art contains:
Yet to ourselves we juftice must allow,
Shakspeare and Fletcher are the wonders now.

*) In Philafter, a play of Beaumont and Fletcher.


« PreviousContinue »