Page images

A fool might once himself alone expose,
Now one in verfe makes many more in profe.

'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none
Go juft alike, yet each believes his own.
In Poets as true genius is but rare,
True Tafte as feldom is the Critic's fhare;
Both muft alike from Heav'n derive their light,
These born to judge, as well as thofe to write.
Let fuch teach others who themselves excel,
And cenfure 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 clofely, we fhall find Moft have the feeds of judgment in their mind: 20 Nature affords at leaft a glimm'ring light; The lines, tho' touch'd but faintly, are drawn right. But as the flighteft fketch, if justly trac'd, Is by ill-colouring but the more difgrac'd, So by falfe learning is good fenfe defac'd :


VER. 15. Let fuch teach others] "Qui fcribit artificiofe, ab "aliis commode fcripta facile intelligere poterit." Cic. ad Heren. lib. iv. "De pictore, fculptore, fictore, nifi artifex, judicare non poteft." Pliny.


[ocr errors]

VER. 20. Moft have the feeds] " Omnes tacito quodam fenfu, "fine ulla arte, aut ratione, quæ fint in artibus ac rationibus "recta et prava dijudicant." Cic. de Orat. lib. iii.

VER. 25. So by falfe learning] " Plus fine doctrina prudentia, "c quam fine prudentia valet doctrina. Quint.

Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools,
And fome made coxcombs Nature meant but fools.
In fearch of wit thefe lofe their common fense,
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 ftill an itching to deride,
And fain would be upon the laughing fide.
If Mævius fcribble in Apollo's fpight,
There are, who judge ftill worse than he can write.

Some have at first for Wits, then Poets paft, 36
Turn'd Critics next, and prov'd plain fools at laft.
Some neither can for Wits nor Critics pass,
As heavy mules are neither horse nor afs.

Those half-learn'd witlings, num'rous in our ifle,40
As half-form'd infects on the banks of Nile;
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. 45

Many are fpoil'd by that pedantic throng,

Who with great pains teach youth to reafon wrong.
Tutors, like Virtuefo's, oft inclin'd



Between 25 and 26 were these lines, fince omitted by the author:

By ftrange transfufion to improve the mind,

Draw off the fenfe we have to pour in new;
Which yet, with all their skill, they ne'er could do.


But you who feek to give and merit fame, And justly bear a Critic's noble name, Be sure yourself and your own reach to know, How far your genius, taste, and learning go; Launch not beyond your depth, but be discreet, 50 And mark that point where fenfe and dulness


Nature to all things fix'd the limits fit,
And wifely curb'd proud man's pretending wit.
As on the land while here the ocean gains,
In other parts it leaves wide fandy plains;
Thus in the foul while memory prevails,
The folid pow'r of understanding fails;
Where beams of warm imagination play,
The memory's foft figures melt away.
One fcience only will one genius fit;
So vaft is art, fo narrow human wit :
Not only bounded to peculiar arts,
But oft' in thofe confin'd to fingle parts.
Like Kings we lofe the conquefts gain'd before,
By vain ambition ftill to make them more: 65
Each might his fev'ral province well command,
Would all but ftoop to what they understand.

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 teft of Art.




[ocr errors]

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 sustains;
Itself unfeen, but in th' effects remains.
Some, to whom Heav'n in wit has been profufe, 80
Want as much more, to turn it to its ufe;
For wit and judgment often are at ftrife,
Tho' meant each other's aid, like man and wife.
'Tis more to guide, than spur the Muse's steed;
Restrain his fury, than provoke his speed;
The winged courfer, like a gen'rous horse,
Shows most true mettle when you check his course.
Thofe RULES of old difcover'd, not devis'd,
Are Nature ftill, but Nature methodiz'd;


VER. 80.

There are whom Heav'n has bleft with ftore of wit,
Yet want as much again to manage it.


VER. 88. Thofe Rules of old, etc.] Cicero has, best of any one I know, explained what that is which reduces the wild and fcattered parts of human knowledge into arts." Nihil eft quod "ad artem redigi poffit, nifi ille prius, qui illa tenet, quorum "artem inftituere vult, habeat illam fcientiam, ut ex iis rebus, 66 quarum ars nondum fit, artem efficere poffit.-Omnia fere, quæ funt conclufa nunc artibus, difperfa et diffipata quondamn 66 fuerunt, ut in Muficis, etc. Adhibita eft igitur ars quædam "extrinfecus ex alio genere quodam, quod fibi totum PHILOSO"PHI affumunt, quæ rem diffolutam divulfamque conglutinaret, "et ratione quadam conftringeret." De Orat. 1. i. c. 41,2.



Nature, like Liberty, is but restrain'd
By the fame Laws which first herself ordain'd.
Hear how learn'd Greece her useful rules indites,
When to reprefs, and when indulge our flights:
High on Parnaffus' top her fons she show'd,
And pointed out thofe arduous paths they trod; 95
Held from afar, aloft, th' immortal prize,



And urg'd the reft by equal fteps to rife.
Juft precepts thus from great examples giv'n,
She drew from them what they deriv'd from Heav'n.
The gen'rous Critic fann'd the Poet's fire,
And taught the world with Reason to admire.
Then Criticism the Mufes handmaid prov'd,
To drefs her charms, and make her more belov'd:
But following wits from that intention ftray'd, 104
Who could not win the mistress, woo'd the maid;
Against the Poets their own arms they turn'd,
Sure to hate moft the men from whom they learn'd.
So modern 'Pothecaries, taught the art
By Doctors bills to play the Doctor's part,
Bold in the practice of miftaken rules,
Prefcribe, apply, and call their mafters fools.
Some on the leaves of ancient authors prey,
Nor time nor moths e'er spoil'd fo much as they :


VER. 98. Just precepts] " Nec enim artibus editis factum "eft ut argumenta inveniremus, fed dicta funt omnia antequam 66 præciperentur; mox ea fcriptores obfervata et collecta edi"derunt." Quintil.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »