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Such shameless bards we have; and yet 'tis true There are as mad abandon'd critics too. 611 The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read, With loads of learned lumber in his head, With his own tongue still edifies his ears, And always list'ning to himself appears : 615 All books he reads, and all he reads assails, From Dryden's Fables down to Dursey's Tales. With him most authors steal their works or buy; Garth did not write his own Dispensary. Name a new play, and he's the poet's friend; 620 Nay, show'd his faults....but when would poets mend? No place so sacred from such fops is barr’d, Nor is Paul's Church more safe than Paul's Church
yard : Nay, fly to altars, there they'll talk you dead; For fools rush in where angels fear to tread. 625 Distrustful sense with modest caution speaks, It still looks home, and short excursions makes; But rattling nonsense in full vollies breaks, And never shock'd, and never turn'd aside, Bursts out, resistless, with a thund’ring tide. 630
But where's the man who counsel can bestow, Still pleas'd to teach, and yet not proud to know; Unbiass'd or by favour or by spite, Not dully prepossess'd nor blindly right :
Tho' learn'd well-bred, and tho' well-bred sincere; Modestly bold, and humanely severe;
636 Who to a friend his faults can freely show, And gladly praise the merit of a foe; Blest with a taste exact, yet unconfin'd, A knowledge both of books and humankind; 640 Gen'rous converse; a soul exempt from pride ; And loves to praise, with reason on his side.
Such once were Critics; such the happy few Athens and Rome in better ages knew. The mighty Stagirite first left the shore, 645 Spread all liis sails, and durst the deep explore; He steer'd securely, and discover'd far, Led by the light of the Mæonian star. Poets, a race long unconfin’d and free, Still fond and proud of savage liberty,
650 Receiv'd his laws, and stood convinc'd 'twas fit, Who conquer'd Nature should preside o'er wit.
Horace still charms with graceful negligence,
Our critics take a contrary extreme,
See Dionysius Homer's thoughts refine, 665 And call new beauties forth in ev'ry line!
Fancy and art in gay Petronius please,
In grave Quintillian's copious work we find
Thee, bold Longinus ! all the Nine inspire, 676 And bless their critic with a poet's fire : An ardent judge, who, zealous in his trust, With warmth gives sentence, yet is always just ; Whose own example strengthens all his laws, And is himself the great sublime he draws. 680
Thus long succeeding critics justly reign'd, License repress’d, and useful laws ordain'd: Learning and Rome alike in empire grew, And arts still follow'd where her Eagles flew; From the same foes at last both felt their doom, 685 And the same age saw learning fall and Rome,
With Tyranny then Superstition join'd,
At length Erasmus, that great injur’d name,
But see! each Muse in Leo's golden days
But soon by impious arms from Latium chas'd,
The rules a nation born to serve obeys,