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95 Pulpits their facred satire learn'd to spare,
550 And Vice admir'd to find a flatt'rer chere! Encourag'd thus, Wit's Titans brav'd the kies, And the press groan'd with licens'd blasphemies. These Monsters, Critics! with your darts engage, Here point your thunder, and exhaust your rage! 555 Yet fhun their fault, who, scandalously nice, Will needs mistake an author into vice; All seems infected that th' infected spy, As all looks yellow to the jaundic'd eye.
LEARN then what Morals Critics ought to show, For 'ris but half a judge's task, to know.
561 'Tis not enough, taste, judgment, learning, join ; In all you speak, let truth and candour shine : That not alone what to your sense is due All may allow; but seek your friendship too. 565
Be filent always, when you doubt your sense;
'Tis not enough your counsel ftill be true;
Be niggards of advice on no pretence ; For the worst avarice is that of sense. With mean complacence ne'er betray your trust, 580 Nor be so civil as to prove unjust. Fear not the anger of the wise to raise ; Those best can bear reproof, who merit praise.
'Twere well might Critics ftill this freedom take, But Appius reddens at each word you speak, 585 And lases, tremendous, with a threat’ning eye, Like some fierce tyrant in old tapestry. Fear mot to tax an honourable fool, Whose right it is, uncensur'd, to be dull! Such, without wit, are Poets when they please, 590 As without learning they can take degrees. Leave dang’rous truths to unsuccessful fatires, And Hattery to fulsome dedicators, Whom, when they praise, the world believes no more, Than when they promise to give foribbling o'er. 595 'Tis best fometimes your cenfure to restrain, And charitably let the dull be vain: Your filence there is better than your spite, For who can rail so long as they can write ? Still humming on, their drowzy course they keep, 6co And lah'd so long, like tops, are lash'd asleep. False steps but help them to renew the race, As, after fumbling, jades will mend their pace. What crowds of these, impenitently bold, In sounds and jingling syllables grown old, Still run on poets, in a raging vein, Ev'n to the drugs and squeezings of the brain, Strain out the last dull dropping of their sense, And rhyme with all the rage of impotence.
Such shameless Bards we have: and yet ’ris true, 610 There are a's mad, abandon'd Critics too. The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read, With loads of learned lumber in his head.
VER. 586. And stares, tremendous, etc,) This picture was taken iò himself by foln Dennis, a furious old critic by profesion, who, upon no other provocation, wrote against this Efay, and its author, in a manner perfectly lunatic : For, as to the mention' made of him in ver. 270. he took it as a compliment, and said it was trea: cherously meant to cause him to overlook this Abuje uf his Person,
With his own tongue ftill edifies his ears,
But where's the man, who counsel can bestow,
VER. 619. Garth did not write, etc.] A common Nander at that time in prejudice of that deserving author. Our Poet did him this justice, when that Nander most prevailed ; and it is now (perhaps the fooner for this very verse) dead and forgotten.
VER. 631. But where's the man, etc.] He answers, That he was to be found in the happier ages of Greece and Rome ; in the perfuns of Aristotle and Horace, Dionyfius and Petronius, Quintilian
In vain you Shrug and sweat, and strive to fly:
Who to a friend his faults can freely show,
Such once were Critics ; such the happy few,
and Longinus. Whose chara&ters he has not only exactly drawn, but contrafted them with a peculiar elegance; the profound science and logical method of Aristotle being, opposed to the plain common sense of Horace, conveyed in a natural and familiar negligence; the Audy and refinement of Dionyfius, to the gay and courtly ease of Petronius; and the gravity and minuteness of Quintilian, to the vivacity and general topics of Longinus. Nor has the Poet been less careful, in these examples, to point out their eminence in the several critical Virtues he so carefully inculcated in his precepts. Thus, in Horace, he particularizes his Candour ; in Petronus, his Good-Breeding; in Quintilian, his free and copious Inftruction : and in Longinus, his great and noble Spirit.m-By this queftion and answer, we see, he does not encourage us to search for the true Critic amongst moderne writers. And indeed the discovery of him, if it could be made, would be but an invidious bufiness. I will venture no farthet, than to name the piece of Criticism in which these marks may be found. It is intitled, R. Hir. Fl. Ars Poetica, et ejufd. Epi ad Aug. with an English Commentary and Notes.
VER. 642. with REASON on bis fide ? ] Not only on his side, bat actually exercised in the fervice of his profession. That Critic makes but a mean figure, who, when he has found out the excel. lencies of bis author, contents himself in offering them to the world, with only empty exclamations on their beauties. His of. fice 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.
Poets, a race long unconfin'd, and free,
650 Receiv'd his laws; and stood convinced 'twas fit, Who conquer'd Nature, should prefide o'er Wit,
Horace ftill charms with graceful negligence,
660 They judge with fury, but they write with flegm :
VER. 652. Whio conquerid Nature, pould prefide p'er Wir.] By this is not meant physical Nature, but moral. The force of the observation consists in our understanding it in this fenfe. For the Poet not only uses the word Nature for buman 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 buman nature the foundation of all Criticism and Poetry. Nor is the observation less true than-apposite. For, Aristoc le's natural enquiries were superficial and ill-made, though extensive: But his logical and moral works are incomparable. In these he has unfolded the human mind, and laid open all the receffes of heart and undertanding; and by his Categories not only conquered Nature, but kept her in terfold cbains • Not as Dulness kept the Muses, in the Dunciad, to filence them; but as Arifaus held Proteus in Virgil, to deliver Oracles.
That bold Columbus of the realms of wit,
He ftcer'd securely, and discover'd far.
Like his great Pupil, sigh'd, and long d for more :