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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 paft,
Turn'd Critics next, and prov'd plain fools at last:
Some neither can for Wits nor Critics pass,
As heavy mules are neither horse nor ass.
Those half-learn'd witlings, num'rous in our isle, 40
As half-form'd insects on the banks of Nile;
Unfinish'd things, one knows not what to call,
Their generation's so equivocal :
To tell 'em, would a hundred tongues require,
Or one vain wit's, that might a hundred tire,

But you who seek to give and merit fame,
And juftly 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,
And mark that point where sense and dulness meet.

Nature to all things fix'd the limits fit,
And wisely 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 soul while memory prevails,
The solid pow'r of understanding fails ;
Where beams of warm imagination play,
The memory's soft figures melt away.
One science only will one genius fit;
So vaft is art, fo narrow human wit :
Not only bounded to peculiar arts,
But oft' in those confin'd to single parts.
Like Kings we lose the conquetts gain'd before,
By vain ambition still to make them more:
Each might his servile province well command,
Would all but foop to what they understand.



First follow Natore, and your judgment frame By her just flandard, which is still the same : Unerring NATURE, ftill divinely bright,

70 One clear, unchang'd, and universal light, Life, force, and beauty, muft to all impart, At once the source, and end, and test of Art. Art from that fund each just fupply provides ; Works without show, and without pomp prefides : 75 In some fair body thus th' informing foul With spirits feeds, with vigour fills the whole, Each motion guides, and ev'ry nerve sustains ; Itself unseen, but in th' effects remains. Some, to whom Heav'n in wit has been profuse, 8 Want as much more, to turn it to its use; For wit and judgment often are at strife, Tho' meant each other's aid, like man and wife. 'Tis more to guide, than spur the Muse's steed; Refrain his fury, than provoke his speed: The winged.coarser, like a gen'rous horse, Shows most true mettle when you check his course.

Those Rules of old discover'd, not devis'd, Are Natare lill, but Nature methodiz'd:


VER. 88. Tbose rules of old, etc.] Cicero has, best of any one i know, explained what that is which reduces the wild and scatter: ed parts of human knowledge into art. -“Nihil eft quod ad 90

artem redigi poffit, nifi ille prius, qui illa tenet, quorum « artem inftituere vult, habeat illam fcientiam, ut ex iis rebus,

quarum ars nondum fit, aitem efficere poflit.Omnia fere, quæ “ funt corclusa nunc artibus, dispersa et dilipata quondan fuerunt, " ut in Muficis, etc. Adhibita eft igitur ars quædam extrinfecas" « ex alio genere quodam, quod fibi totum PHILOSOPHI affumunt,

quæ rei diffolutam divulfamque conglutinaret, et ratione qua- dam confiringeret." De Orat. l. i. c. 41, 2.


VER. 8o.

There are whom Heav'n has blest with fore of wit,
Yet want as much again to manage it,


Nature, like Liberty, is but refrain'd
By the same laws which first herself ordain'd.

Hear how learn'd Greece her useful rules indites,
When to repress, and when indulge our flights;
High on Parnassus' top her fons (lie show'd,
And pointed out those arduous paths they trod : 95
Held from afar, aloft, th' immortal prize,
And urg'd the rest by equal steps to rise.
Just precepts thus from great examples giv'n,
She drew from them what they deriv'd from Heav'ni.
The gen'rous Critic fann'd the Poet's fire,
And taught the world with reason to admire.
Then Criticism the Muse's herdmaid prov'd,
To dress her charms, and make her more belov'd :
But following avits from that intention firavid,
Who could not win the mistress, woo'd the maid ; 105
Against the poets their own arms they turn’d,
Sure to hate most the men from whom they learn'da
So modern 'Pothecaries, taught the art
By Doctors bills to play the Dodor's part,
Bold in the practice of mistaken rules,
Prescribe, apply, and call their rafters fools.
Some on the leaves of ancient authors prey,
Nor time nor moths e'er spoild fo much as they :
Some drily plain, without invention's aid,
Write dull receipts how poems may be made, 115
These leave the sense, their learning to display,
And those explain the meaning quite away.
You then whose judgment the right course would

fteer, Know well each Ancient's proper character:

VER. 98. Juft precepts] “ Nec enim artibus editis factum eft « ut argumenta inveniremus, sed dicta sunt omnia antequam pres ciperentur : mox ea fcriptores observata et collecta ediderunt," Quintil.

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His Fable, Subject, fcope in ev'ry page;

126 Religion, Country, genius of his Age: Without all these at once before your eyes, Cavil you may, but never criticize.

it 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 Muses upward to their spring.
Étill with itself compar'd, his text peruse;
And let your comment be the Mantuan Muse.

When first young Maro in his boundless mind 130
A work toutlast immortal Rome design'd,
Perhaps he feem'd above the Critic's law,
And but from Nature's fountains scorn'd to draw :

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VER. 123. Cavil you may, but never criticize.] The Author af. ter this verse originally inserted the following, which he has however omitted in all the editions :

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

VER. 130.

When firit young Maro sung of Kings and Wars
Ere warning Phoebus touch'd his trembling ears.


VIR. 130. When first young Maro, etc.] Virg. Ecl. vi.

Cum canerem reges et prælia, Cynthius aurem

Vellit, It is a tradition preserved by Servius, that Virgil began with writ. ing a poem of the Alban and Roman affairs : which he found above his years, and descended first to imitate Theocritus on rural subfeets, and afterwards to copy Homer in Heroic poetry.

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 design;
And rules as Itrict 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.

140 Some beauties yet no precepts can declare, For there's a happiness as well as care, Music resembles Poetry, in each

2 Are nameless graces which no methods teach, And which a master-hand alone can reach.

145) If, where the roles not far enough extend, (Since roles 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,

15 May boldly deviate from the common track.

VIR. 146. If, wbere the rules, etc.] “ Neque enim rogationibus « plebisve scitis fancta sunt ifta præcepta, fed hoc, quicquid eft, « Utiliras excogitavit. Non negabo autem fic utile efle plerum“ que; verum fi eadem illa nobis aliud suadebit Utilitas, hanc, “ relictis magiftrorum autoritatibus, fequemur." Quintil. lib. ii. cap. 13.

VER, 750. Tbus Pegasus, etc.] He first describes the fublime fight of a Poet, soaring 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 beart, without pafing through his Judgment. By which is not meant that it could not stand the test 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, loon opens and enlarges the Judgment, whose concurrence (it being now fet above forms) is easily procured. That this is the Poet's sublime conception appears from the concluding words:

and all its end at once attains. For Poetry doth not attain all its end, till it hath gained the Judgment as well as Heart.

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