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Some drily plain, without invention's aid,
Write dull receipts how poems may be made. 115
These leave the fenfe, their learning to display,
And those explain the meaning quite away.

You then whofe judgment the right course would fteer,

Know well each ANCIENT'S proper character;
His Fable, Subject, fcope in ev'ry page;
Religion, Country, genius of his Age:
Without all these at once before your eyes,
Cavil you may, but never criticize.
Be Homer's works your ftudy and delight,
Read them by day, and meditate by night; 125
Thence form your judgment, thence your maxims

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

Zoilus, had these been known, without a Name
Had dy'd, and Perault ne'er been damn'd to fame;
The fenfe of found Antiquity had reign'd,
And facred Homer yet been unprophan'd.
None e'er had thought his comprehenfive mind
To modern cuftoms, modern rules confin'd;
Who for all ages writ, and all mankind.

I 20


VER. 123. Cavil you may, but never criticize.] The author after this verfe originally inferted the following, which he has however omitted in all the editions:


When firft young Maro in his boundless mind 130
A work t' outlast immortal Rome design'd,
Perhaps he feem'd above the Critic's law,
And but from Nature's fountains scorn'd to draw :
But when t' examine ev'ry part he came,
Nature and Homer were, he found, the fame. 135
Convinc'd, amaz'd, he checks the bold design:
And rules as ftrict his labour'd work confine,
As if the Stagirite o'erlook'd each line.
Learn hence for ancient rules a just esteem;
To copy nature is to copy them.

Some beauties yet no Precepts can declare,
For there's a happiness as well as care.
Mufic resembles Poetry, in each
Are nameless graces which no methods teach,
And which a mafter hand alone can reach.


VER. 130. When first young Maro, etc.] Virg. Eclog. vi.、
Cum canerem reges et prælia, Cynthius aurem



It is a tradition preferved by Servius, that Virgil began with writing a poem of the Alban and Roman affairs: which he found above his years, and defcended first to imitate Theocritus on rural fubjects, and afterwards to copy Homer in Heroic poetry.

VER. 130.

When first young Maro fung of Kings and Wars,
Ere warning Phoebus touch'd his trembling ears,

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If, where the rules not far enough extend,
(Since rules were made but to promote their end)
Some lucky License answer to the full
Th' intent propos'd, that License is a rule:
Thus Pegasus, 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 thro' the judgment, gains
The heart, and all its end at once attains.



VER. 146. If, where the rules, etc.] "Neque enim rogal "tionibus plebifve fcitis fancta funt ifta præcepta, fed hoc, "quicquid eft, Utilitas excogitavit. Non negabo autem fic utile “ esse plerumque; verum fi eadem illa nobis aliud fuadebit "Utilitas, hanc, relictis magiftrorum autoritatibus, fequemur." Quintil. lib. ii. cap. 13.

VER. 150. Thus Pegasus, etc.] He first describes the sublime flight of a Poet, foaring above all vulgar bounds, to snatch a grace directly, which lies beyond the reach of a common adventurer. And afterwards, the effect of that grace upon the true Critic whom it penetrates with an equal rapidity; going the nearest way to his heart, without paffing through his Judgment. By which is not meant that it could not ftand the teft of Judgment; but that, as it was a beauty uncommon, and above rule, and the Judgment habituated to determine only by rule, it makes its direct application to the heart; which once gained, foon opens and enlarges the Judgment, whofe concurrence (it being now fet above forms) is eafily procured. That this is the poet's fublime conception appears from the concluding words: and all its end at once attains. For Poetry doth not attai all its end, till it hath gained the Judgment as well as Heart


In profpects thus, fome objects please our eyes,
Which out of nature's common order rife,
The shapeless rock, or hanging precipice.
Great Wits fometimes may gloriously offend,
And rife to faults true Critics dare not mend.
But tho' the Ancients thus their rules invade,
(As Kings difpenfe with laws themselves have made)
Moderns, beware! or if you must offend
Against the precept, ne'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.

I know there are, to whose presumptuous thoughts Those freer beauties, ev'n in them, feem faults. 170 Some figures monftrous and mis-fhap'd appear, Confider'd fingly, or beheld too near,

Which, but proportion'd to their light, or place,
Due diftance reconciles to form and grace.
A prudent chief not always muft difplay
His pow'rs in equal ranks, and fair array,
But with th' occafion and the place comply,
Conceal his force, nay seem fometimes to fly.
Those oft are ftratagems which errors feem,
Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream.





VER. 175. A prudent chief, etc.] ofóv ti wakow vi góvíznos ςρατηλάται καὶ τὰς τάξεις τῶν seαλυμάτων ---Dion. Hal. De Struct. orat.

VER. 180. Nor is it Ilomer nods, but we that dream.] "Mo

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Still green with bays each ancient Altar stands,
Above the reach of facrilegious hands;
Secure from Flames, from Envy's fiercer rage,
Destructive War, and all-involving Age.

See from each clime the learn'd their incenfe bring!
Hear, in all tongues confenting Pæans ring! 186
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 praise !
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 spark of your celestial fire,
The laft, the meaneft of your fons inspire.
(That on weak wings, from far, pursues your flights;
Glows while he reads, but trembles as he writes)



"defte, et circumfpecto judicio de tantis viris pronunciandum "eft, ne (quod plerifque accidit) damnent quod non intelligunt. "Ac fi neceffe eft in alteram errare partem, omnia eorum le"gentibus placere, quam multa difplicere maluerim. Quint.

VER. 183. Secure from flames, from envy's fiercer rage, Destructive war, and all-involving age.] The Poet here alludes to the four great caufes of the ravage amongst ancient writings The deftruction of the Alexandrine and Palatine libraries by fire; the fiercer rage of Zoilus and Mævius and their followers against Wit; the irruption of the Barbarians into the empire; and the long reign of Ignorance and Superftition in the cloifters.

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