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Such once were Critics ; such the happy few, Athens and Rome in better
knew. 645 The mighty Stagirite first left the shore, Spread all his fails, and durft the deeps explore; He steer'd securely, and discover'd far, Led by the light of the Mæonian Star. Poets, a race long unconfin'd, and free,
650 Still fond and proud of favage liberty, Receiv'd his laws; and stood convinc'd 'twas fit, Who conquer'd Nature, should preside o'er Wit.
Critic makes but a mean figure, who, when he has found out the excellencies of his author, contents himself in offering them to the world, with only empty exclamations on their beauties. His office is to explain the nature of those beauties, thew from whence they arise, and what effects they produce; or, in the better and fuller expression of the Poet,
To teach the world with Reason to admire. VER. 653. Who conquer'd Nature, frould prefide o'er Wit.] By this is not meant physical Nature, but moral. The force of
That bold Columbus of the realms of wit,
Horace ftill charms with graceful negligence, And without method talks us into sense, 655 Will, like a friend, familiarly convey The truest notions in the easiest way. He, who supreme in judgment, as in wit, Might boldly censure, as he boldly writ,
659 Yet judg’d with coolness, tho' he sung with fire ; His Precepts teach but what his works inspire. Our Critics take a contrary extreme, They judge with fury, but they write with flegm: Nor suffers Horace more in wrong
Translations By Wits, than Critics in as wrong Quotations. 665
See Dionyfius Homer's thoughts refine,
Fancy and art in gay Petronius please,
the observation consists in our understanding it in this sense. For the Poet not only uses the word Nature for kuman nature, throughout this poem ; but also, where, in the beginning of it, he lays down the principles of the arts he treats of, he makes the knowledge of human nature the foundation of all Criticism and Foetry. Nor is the observation less true than apposite. For, Aristotle's natural enquiries were superficial, and ill made, tho' extensive : But his logical and moral works are incomparable. In these he has unfolded the human mind, and laid open all the recefles of the heart and understanding; and by his Categories, not only conquered Nature, but kept her in tenfold chains : Not as Dulness kept the Muses, in the Dunciad, to filence them; but as Ariftæ:rs held Proteus in Virgil, to deliver Oracles.
VER. 666. See Dionysius.] Of Halicarnassus,
In grave Quintilian's copious work, we find 670 The juftest rules, and cleareft method join'd: Thus useful arms in magazines we place, All rang'd in order, and dispos’d with grace, But less to please the eye, than arm the hand, Still fit for use, and ready at command.
675 Thee, bold Longinus ! all the Nine inspire, And bless their Critic with a Poet's fire. An ardent Judge, who zealous in his trust, With warmth gives sentence, yet is always just; Whose ovin example itrengthens all his laws; 680 And is himself that great Sublime he draws.
Thus long fucceeding Critics juftly reign'd, License repress’d, and useful laws ordain'd. Learning and Rome alike in empire grew; And Arts still follow'd where her Eagles flew; 685 From the same foes, at last, both felt their doom, And the same age faw Learning fall, and Rome. With Tyranny, then Superstition join'd, As that the body, this enslav'd the mind; Much was believ'd, but little understood, боо And to be dull was constru'd to be good; A second deluge Learning thus o'er-run, And the Monks finish'd what the Goths begun.
Between €91. and 692. the author omitted these two,
Vain Wits and Critics were no more allow'd,
At length Erafmus, that great injur'd name, (The glory of the Priesthood, and the same !) 695 Stem'd the wild torrent of a barb’rous age, And drove those holy Vandals off the stage.
But see! each Muse, in Leo's golden days, Starts from her trance, and trims her wither'd
bays, Rome's ancient Genius, o'er its ruins spread, 700 Shakes off the dust, and rears his rev'rend head. Then sculpture and her sister-arts revive ; Stones leap'd to form, and rocks began to live; With sweeter notes each rising Temple rung; A Raphael painted, and a Vida sung.
705 Immortal Vida; on whose honour'd brow The Poet's bays and Critics ivy grow : Cremona now shall ever boast thy name, As next in place to Mantua, next in fame! 709
But soon by impious arms from Latium chas’d, Their ancient bounds the banish'd Muses pass’d; Thence Arts o'er all the northern world advance, But Critic-learning flourish'd most in France; The rules a nation, born to serve, obeys ; And Boileau still in right of Horace sways.
715 But we, brave Britons, foreign laws despis'd, And kept unconquer'd and unciviliz'd; Fierce for the liberties of wit, and bold, We still defy'd the Romans, as of old. Yet some there were, among the founder few 720 Of those who less presum'd, and better knew,
Who durst assert the jufter ancient cause,
Ver. 724. Such was the Muse-) Ejay on Poetry by the Duke of Buckingham. Our Poet is not the only one of his time who complimented this Elay, and its noble Author. Mr. Dryden had done it very largely in the Dedication to his tranflation of the Æneid ; and Dr, Garth in the first Edition of his Dispensary says,
The Tyber now no courtly Gallus sees,
But smiling Thames enjoys his Normanbys.
The Muse's friend,
Abf. and Achit.