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From short ideas; and offend in arts
Some to Conceit alone their tafte conhne,
295 And hide with ornaments their want of art. True Wit is Nature to advantage dress'd, What oft was thought, but ne'er fo well express'd; Something, whose truth convinc'd at fight we find, That gives us back the image of our mind. 300 As shades more sweetly recommend the light, So modeft plainness sets off fprightly wit.
VER. 297. True Wit is Nature to advantage dress’d, etc.) This definition is very exact. Mr. Locke had defined Wit to conlift in “ the assemblage of ideas, and putting those together, with quick. “ ness and variety, wherein can be found any resemblance or con* gruity, whereby to make up pleasant pictures and agreeable " visions in the fancy.” But that great Philosopher, in feparating Wit from Judgment, as he does in this place, has given us (and he could therefore give us no other) only an account of Wit in general : In which false Wit, though not every species of it, is includ. ed. A friking Image therefore of Nature is, as Mr. Locke observes; certainly Wit : But this image may strike on several other accounts, as well for its truth and beauty; and the Philosopher has explained the manner how. But it never becomes that Wit, which is the ornament of true Poesy, whose end is to represent Nature, but when it dresses that Nature to advantage, and prefents her to us in the brightest and most amiable light. And to know when the Fancy has done its office truly, the poet fubjoins this admirable Test, viz. When we perceive that it gives us back the image of our mind. When it does that, we may be sure it plays no tricks with us : For this image is the creature of the Judgment; and whenever Wit corresponds with Judgment, we may fafely pronounce it to be
.Naturam intueamur, hanc fequamur : id facillime accipiunt " animi quod aznoscunt.”. Quintil, lib. viii, c.
For works may have more wit than does 'em good,
VIR. 311. False elequence, like the prismatic glass, etc.) This fimile is beautiful. For the false colouring, given to objects by the prismatic glass, is owing to its untwifting, by its obliquitjes, those threads of light, which Nature had put together in order to spread over its work an ingenious and simple candour, that should not hide, but only heighten the native complexion of the objects. And false Eloquence is nothing else but the straining and divaricating the parts of true expreffion; and then daubing them over with what the Rhetoricians very properly term COLOURS ; in lieu of tbat candid light, now loft, which was reflected from them in their. natural state while sincere and entire.
VER. 324. Some by old words, etc.) “ Abolita et abrogata re
tinere, insolentiæ cujusdam est, et frivolæ in parvis jactantiæ." Quint. lib. 1. c. 6.
16 Opus eft, ut verba à vetuftate repetita neque crebra funt
Such labour'd nothings, in fo ftrange a style,
335 Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.
But moft by numbers judge a poet's fong; And smooth or rough, with them, is right or wrong: In the bright Muse tho' thousand charms conspire, Her voice is all these tuneful fools admire ;
340 Who baunt Parnassus but to please their ear, Not mend their minds; as fome to church repair, Not for the doctrine, but the music there. These equal syllables alone require, Tho' ose the ear the open vowels tire ;
345 While expletives their feeble aid do join ; And ten low words oft creep.in one dell line:
“ neque manifesta, quia nil eft odioffus affectatione, nec utique « ab ultimis repetita temporibus. Oratio cujus fumma virtus eft “ perspicuitas, quam sit vitiosa, fi egeat interprete ? Ergo ut non « vorum uptima erunt maxime vetera, ita veterum maxime nova.' Idem.
VER. 328. - unlucky as Fungofa, etc.] See Ben Johnson's Every
Quis populi fermo eft? quis enim ? nifi carmina molli
Non secus ac fi oculo rubricam dirigat uno. Perf. Sat. i. VER. 345. Tbo' oft the car, etc.] “Fugiemus crebras vocalium ** concurfiones, quæ vaftam atque hiantem orationem reddunt.” Cic. ad Hered, lib. iv. Vide etiam Quint. lib. ix. C. 4.
While they ring round the fame unnary'd chimes,
find “the cooling western breeze," 350 In the next line it “
whispers thro’the trees :" If chrystal streams “ with pleasing murmurs creep," The reader's threaten'd (not in vain) with“ fleep :" Then, at the last and only couplet fraught With some unmeaning thing they call a thought, 355 A needless Alexandrine ends the fong, That, like a wounded snake, drags its flow length along. Leave such to tune their own dull rhymes, and know What's roundly smooth, or languishingly flow; And praise the easy vigour of a line,
360 Where Denham's strength, and Waller's sweetnessjoin) True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, As those move easiest who have learo'd to dance. "Tis not enough no harshness give offence, The found must seem an Echo to the sense: 365 Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows, And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows; But when loud surges lash the founding shore, The hoarfe, rough verse should like the torrent roar. When Ajax strives some rock’s vast weight to throw,The line too labours, and the words move flow : 371 Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain, Flies o'er th'unbending corn, and skims along the main,
VER. 366. Soft is tbe firain, etc.]
Vida Poet. 1. iii. ver. 4036
Tum longe fale faxa fonant, etc. Vida ib. 388.
Vida ib. 4171
Vida ib. 4205
Hear how Timotheus' vary'd lays surprise,
Avoid extremes ; and shun che fault of such, Who still are pleas'd too little or too much. 385 At ev'ry trifle scorn to take offence, That always thews great pride, or litele sense ; Those heads, as-ftomachs, are not sure the best, Which nauseate all, and nothing can digest. Yer let not each gay turn thy rapture move ; 390 For fools admire, but men of sense approve: As things seem large which we thro' miss defcry, Dulness is ever apt to magnify.
Some foreign witers, fome our own despise ; The Ancients.only, or the Moderns prize; 395 Thus Wit, like Faith, by each man is apply'd To one small red, and all are dann'd befide. Meanly they seek the blelling to confine, And force that sun but on a part to shine, Which not alone the southern wit sublimes, 400 But ripens spirits in cold northern climes; Which from the first has shone on ages pait, Enlights the present, and shall warm the last; Tho' each may feel encreases and decays, And see now clearer and now darker days. 405
Ver. 374. Hear bow Timothens, etc.] See Alexander's Feafts er tbe Power of Mufic; an Oje by Mr. Dryden.