Imágenes de páginas

No longer now that golden age appears,
When Patriarch-wits surviv'd a thousand years :
Now length of Fame (our second life) is lost, 480
And bare threescore is all ev'n that can boast;
Our sons their fathers' failing language see,
And such as Chaucer is shall Dryden be.
So when the faithful pencil has design'd
Some bright Idea of the master's mind, 485


these the unlearned are not attentive, because they look upon them as the least important parts of language; and hence they come to be omitted or misapplied in conversation, and afterward in writing. Besides, the spirit of commerce, manufacture, and naval enterprise, so honourable to modern Europe, and to Great Britain in particular, and the free circulation of arts, sciences, and opinions, owing, in part, to the use of printing, and to our improvements in navigation, must render the modern tongues, and especially the English, more variable than the Greek or Latin."

Ver. 482. failing language) “In England (says an ingenious Italian) the Translation of the Bible is the standard of their language; in Italy the standard is, the Decamerone of Boccacio. Those tales have been so highly applauded, and so universally read, that they seem to have overwhelmed his other works, which are seldom spoken of. It is only within a few years that the Teseide of Boccacio was known, or talked of, even among professed critics, though this epic poem was frequently quoted by Tasso in his Discorsi del Poema Eroico. Voltaire calls the languages of modern Europe, Enfans bossus et boiteaux d'un grand homme de belle taille, meaning Latin.”

Ver. 484. So when the faithful pencil, &c.] This similitude from painting, in which our author discovers (as he always does on that subject) real science, has still a more peculiar beauty, as at the same time that it confesses the just superiority of ancient writings, it insinuates one advantage the modern have above them, which is this; that in these latter, our more intimate acquaintance with the occasion of writing, and with the manners described, lets us into those living and striking graces which may be well compared to that perfection of imitation given only by the pencil.

مائے نی

Where a new world leaps out at his command,
And ready nature waits upon his hand :
When the ripe colours soften and unite,
And sweetly melt into just shade and light;
When mellowing years their full perfection give,
And each bold figure just begins to live, 491
The treach’rous colours the fair art betray,
And all the bright creation fades away!

Unhappy Wit, like most mistaken things,
Atones not for that envy which it brings. 495
In youth alone its empty praise we boast,
But soon the short-liv'd vanity is lost :
Like some fair flow'r the early spring supplies,
That gaily blooms, but e'en in blooming dies.
What is this Wit, which must our cares employ?
The owner's wife, that other men enjoy ; 501
Then most our trouble still when most admir'd,
And still the more we give, the more requir'd;
Whose fame with pains we guard, but lose with ease,
Sure some to vex, but never all to please; 505
"Tis what the vicious fear, the virtuous shun,
By fools 'tis hated, and by knaves undone!


While the ravages of time, amongst the monuments of former ages, have left us but the gross substance of ancient wit; so much only of the form and fashion of bodies as may be expressed in brass or marblé. W.:

The same may be said of this passage, as of that which relates to verse 468, above mentioned.

Ver. 494. Unhappy Wit] “Ceux qui manient le plomb et le mercure (says Voltaire with his usual pleasantry), sont sujets a des coliques dangereuses, et a des tremblemens de nerfs très facheux. Ceux qui se servent de plumes et d'encre, sont attaqués d'une vermine, qu'il faut continuellement sécouer.” Ver. 507. by knaves undone !] By which the poet would

If Wit so much from Ign'raňce undergo, Ah let not learning too commence its foe! Of old, those met rewards who could excel, 510 And such were prais'd who but endeavour'd well : Though triumphs were to gen’rals only due, Crowns were resery'd to grace the soldiers too. . Now, they who reach Parnassus' lofty crown, Employ their pains to spurn some others down; And while self-love each jealous writer rules, 516 Contending wits become the sport of fools : But still the worst with most regret commend, For each ill Author is as bad a Friend.


insinuate, a common but shameful truth, That men in power, if they got into it by illiberal arts, generally left Wit and Science to starve. W.

Ver. 508. If Wit so much from Ign'rance undergo,] The inconveniences that attend wit are well enumerated in this excellent passage. “Poets, who imagine they are known and admired, are frequently mortified, and humbled. Boileau going one day to receive his pension, and the treasurer reading these words in his order; "the pension we have granted to Boileau, on account of the satisfaction his works have given us," asked him of what kind were his works ; “Of masonry (replied the poet), I am a builder.” Racine always reckoned the praises of the ignorant among the chief sources of chagrin; and used to relate, that an old magistrate, who had never been at a play, was carried, one day, to his Andromaque. This magistrate was very attentive to the tragedy, to which was added the Plaideurs; and going out of the theatre, he said to the author, “I am extremely pleased, Sir, with your Andromaque: I am only amazed that it ends so gaily;" j'avois d'abord eu quelque envie de pleurer, mais la vue des petits chiens m'a fait rire.

Ver. 519. each ill Author] This might be expected. But how mortifying, that geniuses of a higher rank should malign and harass each other. What shall we say of the disgraceful dissensions betwixt Sophocles and Euripides ; Plato and Aristotle;

To what base ends, and by what abject ways,

Are mortals urg'd through sacred lust of praise !
Ah ne'er so dire a thirst of glory boast,
Nor in the Critic let the Man be lost.
Good-nature and good sense must ever join;
To err, is human, to forgive, divine.

But if in noble minds some dregs remain
Not yet purg'd off, of spleen and sour disdain ;

fit critin bi kurre

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NOTES. Bossuet and Fenelon; Boileau and Quinault; Racine and Moliere; Tasso and the La Crusca Academicians ; Corneille, Scudery, and Cardinal Richlieu; Bayle and Le Clerc; Voltaire and Crebillon; Bentley and Boyle; Clarke and Atterbury; Locke and Stillingfleet; and


others ! Mr. Harte related to me, that being with Mr. Pope when he received the news of Swift's death, Harte said to him, he thought it a fortunate circumstance for their friendship, that they had lived so distant from each other; Pope resented the reflection, but yet, said Harte, I am convinced it was true.

Ver. 526. But if in noble minds some dregs remain, &c.] So far as to what ought to be the true critic's principal study and employment. But if the sour critical humour abounds, and must therefore needs have vent, he directs to its proper object; and shews [from ver. 525 to 556] how it may be innocently and usefully pointed. This is very observable; our author had made spleen and disdain the characteristics of the false critic, and yet here supposes them inherent in the true. But it is done with judgment, and a knowledge of Nature. For as bitterness and astringency in unripe fruits of the best kind are the foundation and capacity of that high spirit, race, and flavour, which we find in them when perfectly concocted by the warmth and influence of the sun, and which, without those qualities, would gain no more by that influence than only a mellow insipidity; so spleen and disdain in the true critic, when improved by long study and experience, ripen into an exactness of judgment and an elegance of taste : although, in the false critic, lying remote from the influence of good letters, they remain in all their first offensive harshness and acerbity. The poet therefore shews how, after the exaltation of these qualities into their state of perfection, the

Discharge that rage on more provoking crimes,
Nor fear a dearth in these flagitious times.
No pardon vile Obscenity should find,

530 Tho' wit and art conspire to move your

mind; But Dulness with Obscenity must prove As shameful sure as Impotence in love. In the fat age of pleasure, wealth, and ease, Sprung the rank weed, and thriv'd with large increase :

535 When love was all an easy Monarch's care; Seldom at council, never in a war : Jilts rul'd the state, and statesmen farces writ: Nay wits had pensions, and young Lords had wit: The Fair sat panting at a Courtier's play, : 540 And not a Mask went unimprov'd away : The modest fan was lifted up no more, And Virgins smild at what they blush'd before. The following licence of a foreign reign Did all the dregs of bold Socinus drain; 545


very dregs (which, though precipitated, may possibly, on some occasions, rise and ferment even in a noble mind) may be usefully employed; that is to say, in branding obscenity and impiety. W.

I have preserved this remark, to justify the censure I have presumed to pass on Warburton's manner of criticising.

Ver. 545. -- bold Socinus] “This author (says Dr. Jortin) seems to have had two particular antipathies ; one to grammatical and verbal criticism, the other to false doctrine and heresy. To the first we may ascribe his treating Bentley, Burman, Kuster, and Wasse, with a contempt which recoiled upon himself. To the secoud, we will impute his pious zeal against those divines of King William's time, whom he supposed to be infected with the Infidel, or the Socinian, or the Latitudinarian spirit, and not so orthodox as himself, and his friends Swift, Bolingbroke, &c.

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