Page images

The Poem is in one book, but divided into three prin

cipal parts or members. The first (to ver. 201.] gives rules for the Study of the Art of Criticism; the second [from thence to ver. 560.] exposes the Causes of wrong Judgment; and the third [from thence to the end) anarks out the Morals of the Critic. When the Reader hath well considered the whole, and hath observed the regularity of the plan, the masterly conduct of the several paits, the penetration into Nature, and the compass of learning so conspicuous throughout, he shculd then be told that it was the work of an Author who had not attained the twentieth


of his age. --A very learned Critic has shewn, that Horace had the same attention to method in his Art of Poetry,







ill, as to write ill, and a more dangerous one to the public, ver. 1. That a true Taste is as rare to be found as a true Ge

nius, ver. 9 to 18. That most men are born with some Taste, but spoil'd

by false Education, ver. 19 to 25. The multitude of Critics and causes of them, ver. 26

to 45

That we are to study our own Taste, and know the limits

of it, ver. 46 to 67. Nature the best guide of judgment, ver. 68 to 87. Improved by Art and Rules, which are but methodized

Nature, ver. 88. Rules derived from the practice of the Ancient Poets,

ver. 88. to 110. That therefore the Ancients are necessary to be studied

by a Critic, particularly Homer and Virgil, ver. 120

[ocr errors]

to 138.

Of Licences, and the use of them by the Ancients, ver.

140 to 180. Reverence due to the Ancients, and praise of them, ver, 181, &c.


E S s





Is hard to say, if greater want of skill

Appear in writing or in judging ill;
But of the two, less dangerous is th' offence
To tire our patience, than millead our sense,
Some few in that, but numbers err in this,
Ten censure wrong for one who writes amiss ;
A fool might once himself alone expose,
Now one in verse makes many more in prose.

'Tis with our judgments as our watches ; none Go just alike, yet each believes his own.

10 In Poets as true genius is but rare, True taste as seldom is the Critic's share, Both must alike from Heaven derive their light, These born to judge, as well as those to write. La fuch teach others who themselves excel, 15 And censure freely who have written well. Authors are partial to their wit, 'tis true, But are not Critics to their judgment too?

Yet, if we look more closely, we shall find Moft have the seeds of judgment in their mind :




Natare affords at least a glimmering light;
The lines, though touch'd but faintly, are drawn right.
But as the slightest sketch, if justly trac'd,
Is by ill-colouring but the more disgrac’d,
So by false learning is good sense defac'd :
Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools,

And some made coxcombs Nature meant but fools.
In search of wit these lose their common sense,
And then turn Critics in their own defence :
Each burns alike, who can, or cannot write,
Or with a rival's, or an eunuch's fpite.
All fools have still an itching to deride,
And fain would be upon the laughing side.
If Mævius scribble in Apollo's spight,
There are who judge still worse than he can write. 35

Some have at first for Wits, then Poets past, Turn'd Critics next, and prov'd plain fools at last.




Between ver. 25 and 26 were these lines, since onitted by the Author :

Many are spoil'd by that pedantic throng,
Who with great pains teach youth to reason wrong.
Tutors, like Virtuosos, oft inclin'd
By strange transfusion to improve the mind,
Draw off the sense we have, to pour in new;

Which yet, with all their skill, they ne'er could do. Ver. 30, 31. In the first edition thus :

Those hate as rivals all that write; and others

envy wits, -as eunuchs envy lovers. Ver. 32. “ All fools,” in the first edition : « All such"

in edition 1717 ; since restored.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »