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The Poem is in one book, but divided into three prin
cipal parts or members. The first (to ver. 201.] gives rules for the Study of the Art of Criticism; the second [from thence to ver. 569.) exposes the Causes of wrong Judgment; and the third [from thence to the end] marks out the Morals of the Critic. When the Reader hath well considered the whole, and hath observed the regularity of the plan, the masterly conduct of the several parts, the penetration into Nature, and the compass of learning so conspicuous throughout, he should then be told that it was the work of an Author who had not attained the twentieth year of his age. -A very learned Critic has fhewn, that Horace had the same attention to method in his Art of Poetry.
PART I. NTRODUCTION. That 'tis as great a fault to judge
ill, as to write ill, and a more dangerous one to the public, ver. 1. That a true Tatte is as rare to be found as a true Ge
nius, ver'. 9 to 18. . That most men are born with some Taste, but spoil'd
by false Education, ver. 19 to 25." The multitude of Critics and causes of them, ver. 26
That we are to study our own Taste, and know the limits
of it, ver. 46 to 67. Nature the best guide of judgment, ver. 68 to 87. Improved by Art and Rules, which are but methodized
Nature, ver. 88. Rules derived from the practice of the Ancient Poets,
ver. 88. to 110. That therefore the Ancients are necessary to be studied
by a Critic, particularly Homer and Virgil, ver. 120
to 138. Of Licences, and the use of them by the Ancients, ver.
140 to 180. Reverence due to the Ancients, and praise of them, ver. 181, &c.
E S S A Y
'IS hard to say, if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill; But of the two, less dangerous is th' offence To tire our patience, than mislead our sense. Some few in that, but numbers err in this,
'Tis with our judgments as our watches; none
Yet, if we look more closely, we shall find Most have the seeds of judgment in their mind :
Nature affords at least a glimmering light;
Some have at first for Wits, then Poets past, Turn’d Critics next, and prov'd plain fools at last.
Between ver. 25 and 26 were these lines, fince oinit. ted by the Author :
Many are spoil'd by that pedantic throng,
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 such"
in edition 1717 ; since restored.