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THE Poem is in one book, but divided into three principal parts or members. The firft [to ver. 201.] gives rules for the Study of the Art of Criticism; the fecond [from thence to ver. 560.] expofes the Caufes of wrong Judgment; and the third [from thence to the end] marks out the Morals of the Critic. When the Reader hath well confidered the whole, and hath obferved the regularity of the plan, the masterly conduct of the feveral parts, the penetration into Nature, and the compafs of learning fo confpicuous throughout, he should then be told that it was the work of an Author who had not attained the twentieth year of his agc.. A very learned Critic has fhewn, that Horace had the fame attention to method in his Art of Poetry.

AN

ESSAY

ΟΝ

CRITICISM.

'T

IS hard to fay, if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill;
But of the two, lefs dangerous is th' offence
To tire our patience, than mislead our fenfe.
Some few in that, but numbers err in this,
Ten cenfure wrong for one who writes amifs;
A fool might once himself alone expose,
Now one in verse makes many more in profe.
'Tis with our judgments as our watches; none
Go juft alike, yet each believes his own.
In Poets as true genius is but rare,

True tafte as feldom is the Critic's fhare,
Both must alike from Heaven derive their light,
These born to judge, as well as thofe to write.
Let fuch teach others who themselves excel,
And cenfure freely who have written well.
Authors are partial to their wit, 'tis true,
But are not Critics to their judgment too?

Yet, if we look more clofely, we shall find
Moft have the feeds of judgment in their mind :

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Nature

Nature affords at leaft a glimmering light;

}

26

The lines, though touch'd but faintly, are drawn right.
But as the flightceft sketch, if justly trac'd,
Is by ill-colouring but the more difgrac'd,
So by falfe learning is good fenfe defac'd :
Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools,
And fome made coxcombs Nature meant but fools.
In fearch of wit thefe lofe their common fenfe,
And then turn Critics in their own defence:
Each burns alike, who can, or cannot write,
Or with a rival's, or an eunuch's fpite.
All fools have ftill an itching to deride,
And fain would be upon the laughing fide.

If Mævius fcribble in Apollo's fpight,

There are who judge ftill worse than he can write.
Some have at firft for Wits, then Poets paft,
Turn'd Critics next, and prov'd plain fools at laft.

VARIATIONS.

૩૦

35

Some

Between ver. 25 and 26 were thefe lines, fince omit

ted by the Author:

Many are spoil'd by that pedantic throng,

Who with great pains teach youth to reason wrong.
Tutors, like Virtuofos, oft inclin'd

By ftrange transfufion to improve the mind,
Draw off the fenfe we have, to pour in new;
Which yet, with all their skill, they ne'er could do.

Ver. 30, 31. In the first edition thus:

Those hate as rivals all that write; and others
But envy wits, as eunuchs envy lovers.

Ver. 32. All fools," in the first edition: "All fuch" in edition 1717; fince reftored.

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