Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

PART 11.

Causes hindering a true judgment. 1. Pride, v. 209. 2. Imperfect learning, v. 215. 3. Judging by parts, and not by the whole, v. 233. 288. Critics in wit, language, versification only, v. 289. 305. 337, &c. 4. Be. ing too hard to please, or too apt to admire, v. 384. 5. Partiality, too much love to a sect; to the ancients or moderns, v. 394. 6. Prejudice or prevention, v. 408. 7. Singularity, v. 424. 8. Inconstancy, v. 430. 9. Party spirit, v. 452, &c. 10. Envy, v. 466. Against envy, and in praise of good-nature, v. 508, &c. When severity is chiefly to be used by critics, v. 526, &c.

PART III.

Rules for the conduct of manners in a critic. 1. Candour, v. 563. Modesty, v. 566. Good-breeding, v. 572. Sincerity and freedom of advice, v. 578. Character of an incorrigible poet, v. 600; and of an impertinent critic, v. 610, &c. Character of a good critic, v. 631. The history of criticism, and characters of the best critics. Aristotle, v. 645. Horace, v. 653. Dionysius, v. 665. Petronius, v. 667. Quintilian, v. 669. Longinus, v. 675. Of the decay of criticism, and its revival. Erasmus, v. 693. Vida, v.705. Boileau, v. 714. Lord Roscommon &c. v. 725. Conclusion.

[ocr errors]

AN

ESSAY ON CRITICISM.

PART I.

'TIS hard to say if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill;
But of the two, less dang'rous is th’ offence
To tire our patience than mislead our sense:
Some few in that, but numbers err in this,

5
Ten censure wrong for one who writes amiss ;
A fool might once himself alone expose;
Now one in verse makes many more in prose.

'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none Go just alike, yet each believes his own.

10 In poets as true genius is but rare, True taste as seldom is the critic's share; Both must alike from heav'n derive their light, These born to judge as well as those to write. Let such teach others who themselves excel, And censure 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 closely we shall find Most have the seeds of judgment in their mind: 20 Nature affords at least a glimm'ring light; The lines tho' touch'd but faintly are drawn right:

D4

171029

16

But as the slightest sketch, if justly trac'd,
Is by ill-colouring but the more disgrac'd,
So by false learning is good sense defac'd: 25
Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools,
And some made coxcombs Nature meant but fools:
In search of wit these lose their common sense,
And then turn critics in their own defence :
Each burns alike who can or cannot write, 30
Or with a rival's or an eunuch's spite.
All fools have still an itching to deride,
And fain would be upon the laughing side.
If Mævius scribble in Apollo's spite,
There are who judge still worse than he can write.

Some have at first for wits, then poets, past, 36
Turn'd critics next, and prov'd plain fools at last.
Some neither can for wits nor critics pass,
As heavy mules are neither horse nor ass.
Those half-learn’d witlings, num'rous in our isle, 40
As half-form'd insects on the banks of Nile;
Unfinish'd things, one knows not what to call,
Their generation's so equivocal;
To tell them would an hundred tongues require,
Or one vain wit's that might an hundred tire.

But you who seek to give and merit fame,
And justly bear a Critic's noble name,
Be sure yourself and your own reach to know,
How far your genius, taste, and learning, go;

45

55

Launch not beyond your depth, but be discreet, 50
And mark that point where sense and dulness meet.
Nature to all things fix'd the limits fit,
And wisely curb'd proud man's pretending wit.
As on the land while here the ocean gains,
In other parts it leaves wide sandy plains;
Thus in the soul while memory prevails,
The solid pow'r of understanding fails;
Where beams of warm imagination play,
The memory's soft figures melt away.
One science only will one genius fit;

60
So vast is art, so narrow human wit:
Not only bounded to peculiar arts,
But oft in those confin'd to single parts.
Like kings we lose the conquests gain'd before,
By vain ambition still to make them more: 65
Each might his sev'ral province well command,
Would all but stoop to what they understand.

First follow Nature, and your judgment frame By her just standard, which is still the same : Unerring Nature! still divinely bright, One clear, unchang'd, and universal light, Life, force, and beauty, must to all impart, At once the source, and end, and test, of art. Art from that fund each just supply provides, Works without show, and without pomp presides:

70

In some fair body thus th' informing soul

76 With spirits feeds, with vigour fills, the whole; Each motion guides, and ev'ry nerve sustains, Itself unseen, but in th' effects remains. Some to whom heav'n in wit has been profuse, 80 Want as much more to turn it to its use; For wit and judgment often are at strife, Tho' meant each other's aid, like man and wife. "Tis more to guide than spur the Muses' steed, Restrain his fury than provoke his speed: 85 The winged courser, like a gen'rous horse, Shows most true mettle when you check his course. Those rules of old, discover'd, not devis'd, Are Nature still, but Nature methodiz'd: Nature, like liberty, is but restrain'd

90 By the same laws which first herself ordain'd.

Hear how learn'd Greece her useful rules indites, When to repress, and when indulge our flights : High on Parnassus' top her sons she show'd, And pointed out those arduous paths they trod; 95 Held from afar, aloft, th' immortal prize, And urg'd the rest by equal steps to rise. Just precepts thus from great examples givin, She drew from them what they deriv'd from heav'n;

he gen'rous critic fann'd the poets fire, . 100 And taught the world with reason to admire.

« ПредишнаНапред »