Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

for there's a happiness as well as care. Music resembles poetry; in each are nameless graces which no methods teach, and which a master-hand alone can reach. 145 If, where the rules not far enough extend, (since rules 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,

150 may boldly deviate from the common track. Great wits sometimes may gloriously offend, and rise to faults true critics dare not mend; from vulgar bounds with brave disorder part, and snatch a grace beyond the reach of art, 155 which, without passing thro' the judgment, gains the heart, and all it's end at once attains. In prospects thus some objects please our eyes, which out of Nature's common order rise, the shapeless rock, or hanging precipice. 160 But tho' the Ancients thus their rules invade, (as kings dispense with laws themselves have made) moderns, beware! or if you must offend against the precept, ne'er transgress it's end; let it be seldom, and compelld by need ;

165 and have, at least, their precedent to plead; the critic else proceeds without remorse, seizes your fame, and puts his laws in force.

I know there are to whose presumptuous thoughts those freer beauties ev'n in them seem faults. 170 Some figures monstrous and mis-shap'd appear consider'd singly or beheld too near, which but proportion'd to their light or place, due distance reconciles to form and grace. A prudent chief not always must display

175

his pow’rs in equal ranks and fair array, but with th' occasion and the place comply, conceal his force, nay seem sometimes to fly. Those oft' are stratagems which errors seem, nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream. 180

Still green with bays each ancient altar stands above the reach of sacrilegious hands, secure from flames, from envy's fiercer rage, destructive war, and all-involving age. See from each clime the learn’d their incense bring! hear in all tongues consenting Pæans ring ! 186 in praise so just let ev'ry voice be join'd, and fill the gen'ral chorus of mankind. Hail, Bards triumphant! born in happier days, immortal heirs of universal praise !

190 whose honours with increase of ages grow, as streamis roll down, enlarging as they flow; nations unborn your mighty name shall sound, and worlds applaud that must not yet be found ! O may some spark of your celestial fire

195 the last, the meanest, of your sons inspire, (that on weak wings, from far, pursues your flights, glows while he reads, but trembles as he writes) to teach vain wits a science little known, t'admire superior sense, and doubt their own! 200

Of all the causes wbich conspire to blind man's erring judgment, and misguide the mind, what the weak head with strongest bias rules, is pride, the never-failing vice of fools. Whatever nature has in worth deny'd

205 she gives in large recruits of needful pride: for as in bodies thus in souls we find what wants in blood and spirits swelld with wind : pride, where wit fails steps in to our defence,

and fills up all the mighty void of sense : 210 if once right reason drives that cloud away, truth breaks upon us with resistless day. Trust not yourself; but, your defects to know, make use of ev'ry friend---and ev'ry foe. A little learning is a dang’rous thing;

215 drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again. Fir'd at first sight with what the Muse imparts, in fearless youth we tempt the heights of arts, 220 while from the bounded level of our mind short views we take, nor see the lengths behind; but more advanc'd, behold with strange surprise new distant scenes of endless science rise! so pleas'd at first the towring Alps we try, 225 mount oe'r the vales, and seem to tread the sky! th' eternal snows appear already past, and the first clouds and mountains seem the last : but those attain'd, we tremble to survey the growing labours of the lengthen'd way;

230 th' increasing prospect tires our wand'ring eyes, hills peep

o'er hills and Alps on Alps arise! A perfect judge will read each work of wit with the same spirit that it's author writ; jurvey the whole, nor seek slight faults to find 235 vhere nature moves, and rapture warms the mind; for lose, for that malignant dull delight, he gen'rous pleasure to be charm'd with wit. But in such lays as neither ebb nor flow, orrectly cold, and regularly low,

249 hat shuoning faults one quiet tenor keep, le cannot blame indeed---but we may sleep: a wit, as nature, what affects our hearts

is not th' exactness of peculiar parts; 'tis not a lip, or eye we beauty call,

245 but the joint force and full result of all. Thus when we view some well-proportion'd dome, (the world's just wonder, and even thine, O Rome!) no single parts unequally surprise, all comes united to th' admiring eyes;

250 no monstrous height, or breadth, or length, appear; the whole at once is bold and regular.

Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see, thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall be. In ev'ry work regard the writer's end,

255 since none can compass more than they intend; and it the means be just, the conduct true, applause, in spite of trivial faults, is due. As men of breeding, sometimes men of wit, t'avoid great errors must the less commit; 260 neglect the rules each verbal critic lays, for not to know some trifles is a praise. Most critics, fond of some subservient art, still make the whole depend upon a part: they talk of principles, but notions prize, 265 and all to one lov’d folly sacrifice.

Once on a time La Mancha's Knight, they say, a certain bard encount'ring on the way, discours'd in terms as just, with looks as sage, as e'er could Dennis of the Grecian stage, 270 concluding all were desp’rate sots and fools who durst depart from Aristotle's rules. Our Author, happy in a judge so nice, produc'd his play, and begg'd the Knight's advice; made him observe the subject and the plot, 275 the manners, passions, unites; what not; all which exact to rule were brought about,

were but a combat in the lists left out. 3. What I leave the combat out?” exclaims the Knight yes, or we must renounce the Stagirite." 280 Not so, by Heav'n! (he answers in a rage) knights, squires, and steeds, must enter on the stage, so vast a throng the stage can ne'er contain,” “ Then build a new, or act it on a plain.”

Thus critics of less judgment than caprice, 285 curious, not knowing, not exact, but nice, form short ideas, and offend in arts (as most in manners) by a love to parts.

Some to Conceit alone their taste confine, and glittring thoughts struck out at ev'ry line; 290 pleas'd with a work where nothing's just or fit, one glaring chaos and wild heap of wit. Poets, like painters, thus unskill'd to trace the naked nature and the living grace, with gold and jewels cover ev'ry part,

295 and hide with ornaments their want of art. True wit is nature to advantage dress’d, what oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd; something whose truth convinc'd at sight we find, that give us back the image of our mind. 300 As shades more sweetly recommend the light, so modest plainness sets off sprightly wit: for works may have more wit than does them good, as bodies perish thro' excess of blood. Others for language all their care express, 305 and value books as women men, for dress : their praise is still---the style is excellent; the sense they humbly take upon content. Words are like leaves, and where they most abound, much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found. 310 False eloquence, like the prismatic glass,

« ПредишнаНапред »