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PART II. Ver, 203, etc. Causes hindering a true Judgment. 1. Pride, 208.
2. Imperfect Learning, x 215. 3. Judging by parts, and not by the whole, 233 to 288. Critics in Wit, Language, Versification, only, 288. 305. 339, etc. 4. Being too hard to please, or too apt to admire, * 384. 5. Partiality
too much love to a Sect, to the Ancients or Moderns, X 394. 6. Prejudice or Prevention, ☆ 408. 7. Singularity, ¥ 424. 8. Inconstancy, ¥ 430. 9. Party Spirit, * 452, etc. 10. Envy, # 466. Against Envy and in praise of Good-nature, Ý 508, etc. When Severity is chiefly to be used by Critics, ♡ 526, etc.
PART III. Ver. 560, etc,
dour, 563. Modesty, $ 566. Good-breeding,
IS hard to say, if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill; But of the two, less dang’rous is th’offence To tire our patience, than mislead our sense.
COMMENTARY. An Elay.] The Poem is in one book, but divided into three principal parts or members. The first sto ♡ 201.) gives rules for the Study of the Art of Criticism: the second [from thence to ý 560.) exposes the Causes of wrong Judgment; and the third [from thence to the end] marks out the Morals of the Critic.
In order to a right conception of this poem, it will be necessary to observe, that tho' it be intitled simply An Esay on Criticism, yet several of the precepts relate equally to the good writing as well as to the true judging of a poem. This is fo far from violating the Unity of the Subject, that it preserves and compleats it: or from disordering the regularity of the Form, that it adds beauty to it, as will appear by the following confiderations: 1. It was impossible to give a full and exact idea of the Art of Poetical Criticism, without considering at the same time the Art of Poetry; so far as Poetry is an Art. These therefore being clofely connected in nature, the Author has with much judgment reciprocally interwoven the precepts of each thro' his
Some few in that, but numbers err in this, 5
'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none Go just alike, yet each believes his own.
COMMENTARY. whole poem. 2. As the rules of the antient Critics were taken from Poets who copied nature, this is another reason why every Poet should be a Critic: Therefore, as the subject is poetical Criticism, it is frequently addressed to the critical Poet. And 3dly, the Art of Criticism is as necessarily, and much more usefully exercised in writing than in judging,
But readers have been misled by the modesty of the Title: which only promises an Art of Criticism, in a treatise, and that no incompleat one, of the Art both of Criticism and Poetry, This and not attending to the confiderations offered above, was what, perhaps, milled a very candid writer, after having given this Piece all the praises on the side of genius and poetry which his true taste could not refuse it, to say, that the obfervations follow one another like those in Horace's Art of Poetry, without that methodical regularity which would have been requisite in a profe writer. Spec. N° 235. I do not see how method can hurt any one grace of Poetry; or what prerogative there is in verse to dispense with regularity. The remark is false in every part of it. Mr. Pope's Essay on Criticism, the Reader will soon see, is a regular piece: And a very learned Critic has lately shewn,that Horace had the same attention to method in his Art of Poetry.
Ver. 1. 'Tis hard to say, etc.) The Poem opens [from y 1 to 9.) with shewing the use and seasonableness of the subject. Its ufe, from the greater mischief in wrong Criticism than in ill Poetry, this only tiring, that misleading the reader : Its fiafonableness, from the growing number of False Critics, which now vastly exceeds that
of bad Poets. Ver. 9. 'Tis with cur judgments, etc.] The author having
In Poets as true genius is but rare,
COMMENTARY. shewn us the expediency of his fubject, the Art of Criticism, next inquires [from s 8 to 15] into the proper Qualities of a true Critic: and observes first, that JUDGMENT, simply and alone, is not fufficient to constitute this character, because Judgment, like the artificial measures of Tine, goes different, and yet each relies upon his own. The reason is conclusive; and the similitude extremely just. For Judgment, when alone, is always regulated, or at least much influenced by custom, fashion, and habit; and never certain and constant but when founded upon TASTE: which is the same in the Critic, as Genius in the Poet: both are derived from Heaven, and like the Sun (the natural measure of Time) always constant and equal.
Nor need we wonder that Judgment alone will not make a Critic in poetry, when we see that it will not make a Poet. And on examination we shall find, that Genius and Taste are but one and the fame faculty, differently exerting itself under different names, in the two professions of Poet and Critic. For the Art of Poetry confifts in selecting, out of all those images which present themselves to the fancy, such of them as are truly poetical: And the Art of Criticism in discerning, and fully relishing what it finds so selected. 'Tis the same operation of the mind in both cafes, and exerted by the same faculty. All the difference is, that in the Poet this faculty is eminently joined with a bright imagination, and extensive comprehension, which provide stores for the selection, and can form that selection, by proportioned parts, into a regular whole: In the Critic, with a solid judgment and accurate discernment; which penetrate into the causes of an excellence, and can shew that excellence in all its variety of lights. Longinus had taste in an eminent degree; so this, which is indeed common to all true Critics, our Author makes his distinguishing character,
Thee, bold Longinus! all the Nine inspire,
Let such teach others who themselves excel,
Yet if we look more closely, we shall find Most have the seeds of judgment in their mind : 20
COMMENTARY. Ver. 15. Let such teach others, etc.] But it is not enough that the Critic hath these natural endowments to entitle him to exercise his Art, he ought, as our author shews us (from Ý 14 to 19] to give a further test of his qualification, by fome acquired talents : And this on two accounts: 1. Because the office of a Critic is an exercise of Authority. 2. Because he being naturally as partial to his Judgment as the Poet is to his Wit, his partiality would have nothing to correct it, as that of the perfon judged hath. Therefore some test is reasonable; and the best and most unexceptionable is his having written well himself, an approved remedy against Critical partiality; and the fureft means of fo maturing the Judgment, as to reap with glory what Longinus calls “the last and most perfect fruits of much « ftudy and experience.”Η ΓΑΡ ΤΩΝ ΛΟΓΩΝ ΚΡΙΣΙΣ ΠΟΛΛΗΣ ΕΣΤΙ ΠΕΙΡΑΣ ΤΕΛΕΥΤΑΙΟΝ ΕΠΙΓΕΝΝΗΜΑ. .
Ver. 19. Yet if we look, etc.) But having been so free with this fundamental quality of Criticism, Judgment, as to charge it with inconstancy and partiality, and to be often warped by custom and affection; that this may not be mistaken, he next explains [from y 18 to 36.] the nature of Judgment, and the accidents
NOTES. Ver. 15. Let such teach others] «
“ Qui scribit artificiose, ab aliis commode fcripta facile intelligere poterit.” Cic.ad Herenn. lib. iv. “ De pictore, sculptore, fictore, nisi artifex, judicare “ non poteft.” Pliny. P.
VER. 20. Mot have the feeds] “Omnes tacito quodam sensu, “ fine ulla arte, aut ratione, quæ fint in artibus ac rationibus " recta et prava dijudicant." Cic. de Orat, lib. iii. P.