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Not only bounded to peculiar arts,
But oft' in those confin'd to single parts.
Like Kings we lose the conquests gain'd before,
By vain ambition still to make them more: 65
Each might his sev'ral province well command,
Would all but stoop to what they understand.

First follow Nature, and your judgment frame By her just standard, which is still the same:

COMMENTARY. VER. 68. Firft follow Nature, etc.] The Critic observing the directions here given, and finding himself qualified for his office, is shewn next how to exercise it. And as he was to attend to Nature for a Call, so he is first and principally to follow her when called. And here again in this, as in the foregoing precept, the poet (from Ỳ 67 to 88.] Thews both the fitness and the neceffity of it. It's fitness, 1. Because Nature is the source of poetic Art; that Art being only a representation of Nature, who is its great exemplar and original. 2. Because Nature is the end of Art; the design of poetry being to convey the knowledge of

NOTES pearance, the decay of memory by the vigorous exercise of Fancy, the poet himself seems to have intimated the cause of it in the epithet he has given to the Imagination. For if, according to the Atomic Philosophy, the memory of things be preserved in a chain of ideas, produced by the animal spirits moving in continued trains; the force and rapidity of the Imagination perpetually-breaking and diffipating the links of this chain by forming new associations, must necessarily weaken and disorder the recollective faculty.

Ver. 67. Would all but ftoop to what they understand.] The expression is delicate, and implies what is very true, that most men think it a degradation of their genius to employ it in cultivating what lies level to their comprehension, but had rather exercise their talents in the ambition of fubduing what is placed above it.

Unerring NATURE, still divinely bright, 70
One clear, unchang’d, and universal light,
Life, force, and beauty, must to all impart,
At once the source, and end, and test of Art.
Art from that fund each just supply provides;
Works without show, and without pomp presides :

COMMENTARY.

Nature in the most agreeable manner. 3. Because Nature is the test of Art, as she is unerring, constant, and still the same. Hence the poet observes, that as Nature is the source, The conveys life to Art: As she is the end, the conveys force to it, for the force of any thing arises from its being directed to its end : And, as she is the test, the conveys beauty to it, for every thing acquires beauty by its being reduced to its true standard. Such is the sense of those two important lines,

Life, force, and beauty must to all impart,

At once the source, and end, and test of Art. We come next to the necesity of the Precept. The two great constituent qualities of a Composition, as such, are Art and Wit: But neither of these attains perfection, 'till the first be hid, and the other judiciously restrained; this only happens when Nature is exactly followed; for then Art never makes a parade, nor can Wit commit an extravagance. Art, while it adheres to Nature, and has fo large a fund in the resources which Nature supplies, disposes every thing with so much ease and simplicity, that we see nothing but those natural images it works with, while itself stands unobserv'd behind: But when Art leaves Nature, misled either by the bold fallies of Fancy, or the quaint odnesses of Fashion, The is then obliged at every step to come forward, in a painful or pompous oftentation, in order to cover, to soften, or to regulate the shocking disproportion of unnatural images. In the first case, the poet compares Art to the Soul within, informing a beauteous Body; but, in the laft, it is rather like an outward habit, fitted only to hide the defects of a mis-Ihapen one. --- As to IVit, it might perhaps be ima

In some fair body thus th’informing soul 76
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,
Want as much more, to turn it to its use; 81
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;
Restrain his fury, than provoke his speed;
The winged courser, like a gen'rous horse,
Shows most true mettle when you check his course,

Those Rules of old discover'd, not devis’d,
Are Nature still, but Nature methodiz'd;

85

VARIATIONS.
VER. 80,

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

COMMENTARY. gined that this needed only Judgment to govern it: But, as he well obferves,

Wit and Judgment often are at strife,

Tho' meant each other's aid, like Man and Wife. They want therefore some friendly Mediator or Reconciler, which is Nature: And in attending to her, Judgment will learn where to comply with the charms of Wit, and Wit how to obey the fage directions of Judgment.

VER. 88. Those Rules of old, etc.] Having thus, in his first recept, to follow Nature, settled Criticism on its true bottom;

proceeds to fhew what affiftance may be had from Art, But Nature, like Liberty, is but restrain’d

90 By the same Laws which first herself ordain'd.

Hear how learn'dGreece her useful rules indites, When to repress, and when indulge our flights:

COMMENTARY. left this should be thought to draw the Critic from the foundation where he had before fixed him, he previously observes (from ♡ 87 to 92] that these Rules of Art, which he is now about to recommend to his study, were not invented by the mind, but discovered in the book of Nature, and that, therefore, tho' they may seem to restrain Nature by Laws, yet, as they are laws of her own making, the Critic is still properly in the very liberty of Nature. These Rules the antient Critics borrowed from the Poets, who received them immediately from Nature,

Just Precepts thus from great Examples giv'n,

These drew from them what they deriv'd from Heav'n; and are both therefore to be well studied.

VER. 92. Hear how learn'd Greece, etc.] He speaks of the ancient Critics first, and with great judgment, as the previous knowledge of them is necessary for reading the Poets, with that fruit which the intent here proposed requires. But having, in the previous observation, sufficiently explained the nature of ancient Criticism, he enters on the subject (treated of from x 91 to 118] with a sublime description of its End; which was to

NOTES. VER. 88. Those Rules of old, etc.] Cicero has, best of any one I know, explained what that is which reduces the wild and scattered parts of human knowledge into arts.-“ Nihileft quod “ ad artem redigi poffit, nisi ille prius, qui illa tenet, quorum

artem instituere vult, habeat illam fcientiam, ut ex iis rebus, quarum ars nondum fit, artem efficere poffit.-Omnia fere, quæ funt conclusa nunc artibus, dispersa et diflipata quondam

fuerunt, ut in Musicis, etc. Adhibita eft igitur ars quædam “ extrinfecus ex alio genere quodam, quod sibi totum Philoso“Phi affumunt, quæ rem diffolutam diyulsamque conglutinaret, " et ratione quadam conftringeret.” De Orat. l. i. c. 41, 2.

High on Parnassus' top her sons The 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'n.
The gen’rous Critic fann'd the Poet's fire,
And taught the world with Reason to admire.

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COMMENTARY. illustrate the beauties of the best Writers, in order to excite others to an emulation of their excellence. From the rapture which these Ideas inspire, the poet is naturally brought back to reflect on the degeneracy of modern Criticism : And as the restoring the Art to its original integrity and splendor is the great purpose of his poem, he first takes notice of those, who scem not to understand that Nature is exhaustless, that new models of good writing may be produced in every age, and consequently new rules

may be formed from these models in the same manner as the old Critics formed theirs, from the writings of the ancient Poets: but men wanting art and ability to form these new rules, were content to receive, and file up for use, the old ones of Aristotle, Quintilian, Longinus, Horace, etc. with the same vanity and boldness that Apothecaries practise with their Doctors bills : And then rashly applying them to new Originals (cases which they did not hit) it was no more in their power than their inclination to imitate the candid practice of the Ancients, when

The gen'rous Critic fann'd the Poet's fire,
And taught the world with Reason to admire.

NOTES. Ver. 98. Just precepts ] “ Nec enim artibus editis factum " est ut argumenta inveniremus, sed dicta sunt omnia antequam

præciperentur; mox ea scriptores observata et collecta edi“derunt. Quintil. P.

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