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Unfinish'd things, one knows not what to call,
Their generation's fo equivocal:
To tell 'em, would a hundred tongues require,.
Or one vain Wit's that might a hundred tire,
ESSAY ON CRITICISM, V. I. p. 73:
FIRST follow Nature, and your judgment frame
By her juft ftandard, which is ftill the fame :-
Unerring Nature, ftill divinely bright,
One clear, unchang'd, and univerfal light,.
Life, force, and beauty, muft to all impart,
At once the fource, and end, and test of Art.
Art from that fund each just supply provides,
Works without fhow, and without pomp prefides..
In fome fair body thus th'informing foul
With fpirits feeds, with vigour fills the whole,
Each motion guides, and ev'ry nerve fuftains,
Itfelf unfeen, but in th'effects remains.
Some, to whom Heav'n in wit has been profufe,
Want as much more, to turn it to its ufe;
For wit and judgment often are at strife,
Though meant each other's aid, like man and
"Tis more to guide, than fpur the Mufe's fteed;
Reftrain his fury, than provoke his speed:
The winged courfer, like a gen'rous horse,
Shows moft true mettle when you check his course.
Thofe Rules of old difcover'd, not devis'd, Are Nature ftill, but Nature methodis'd: Nature, like Liberty, is but reftrain'd
By the fame laws which first herself ordain'd.
BOLDNESS IN COMPOSITION,
GREAT Wits fometimes may gloriously offend, And rife to faults true Critics dare not mend; From vulgar bounds with brave disorder part, And fnatch a grace beyond the reach of art, Which, without paffing through the judgment, gains
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 shapeless rock, or hanging precipice.
But though the Ancients thus their rules invade,
(As Kings difpenfe with laws themfelves have
Moderns, beware! or, if you must offend
Against the precept, n'er tranfgrefs its end;
Let it be feldom, and compell'd by need;
And have, at leaft, their precedent to plead :
The Critic elfe proceeds without remorse,
Seizes your fame, and puts his laws in force..
Of all the causes which conspire to blind
Man's erring judgment, and mifguide the mind,
What the weak head with ftrongest bias rules
Is Pride, the never-failing vice of fools.
Whatever Nature has in worth deny'd
She gives in large recruits of needlefs Pride!
For, as in bodies, thus in fouls, we find
What wants in blood, and spirits, fwell'd with wind..
Pride, where Wit fails, steps in to our defence,
And fills up all the mighty void of sense.
If once right reafon drives that cloud away,
Truth breaks upon us with refistless day.
Truft not yourself; but your defects to know,
Make use of ev'ry friend-and ev'ry foe.
A little learning is a dang'rous thing;
Drink deep, or tafte not the Pierian spring:.
There fhallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely fobers us again.
Fir'd at first fight with what the Mufe imparts,
In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Arts,
While from the bounded level of our mind,
Short views we take, nor fee the lengths behind;:
But, more advanc'd, behold with strange surprise
New diftant fcenes of endlefs fcience rife!
So pleas'd at firft the tow'ring Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the fky;
Th'eternal fnows appear already past,
And the first clouds and mountains feem the laft:
But, thofe attain'd, we tremble to furvey
The growing labours of the lengthen'd way;
Th'increasing profpect tires our wand'ring eyes
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!
IBID. P. 81.
A perfect judge will read each work of Wit.
With the fame fpirit that its author writ;
Survey the whole, nor feek flight faults to find
Where Nature moves, and rapture warms the mind;
Nor lofe, for that malignant dull delight,
The gen'rous pleafure to be charm'd with wit.
But, in fuch lays as neither ebb nor flow,
Correctly cold, and regularly low,
That, fhunning faults, one quiet tenor keep.
We cannot blame indeed-but we may sleep.
In Wit, as Nature, what affects our hearts
Is not th'exactnefs of peculiar parts;
'Tis not a lip, or eye, we beauty call,
But the joint force and full refult of all.
Thus when we view fome well-proportion'd dome,
('The world's juft wonder, and e'en thine, O Rome!}
No fingle parts unequally furprise,
All comes united to th'admiring eyes;
No monftrous height, or breadth, or length appear; The whole at once is bold, and regular,
SOME to Conceit alone their tafte confine, And glitt'ring thoughts ftruck out at ev'ry line; Pleas'd with a work where nothing's just or fit, One glaring chaos and wild heap of wit. Poets like painters, thus, unfkill'd to trace The naked nature and the living grace, With gold and jewels cover ev'ry part, And hide with ornaments their want of art. True Wit is Nature to advantage drefs'd, What oft was thought, but ne'er fo well exprefs'd; Something, whofe truth convinc'd at fight we find, That gives us back the image of our mind. As fhades more sweetly recommend the light, So modest plainnefs fets off sprightly wit;
For works may have more wit than does 'em good, As bodies perish through excess of blood.
HARMONY OF EXPRESSION.
BUT moft, by numbers, judge a Poet's fong; And smooth, or rough, with them is right or wrong:
In the bright Mufe though thoufand charms con
Her voice is all these tuneful fools admire ;
Who haunt Parnasus but to please the ear,
Not mend their minds; as fome to church repair,
Not for the doctrine, but the mufic there.