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Poets, like painters, thus, unfkill'd to trace
The naked nature and the living grace,
With gold and jewels cover ev'ry part,


And hide with ornaments their want of art.
True Wit is Nature to advantage drefs'd,
What oft was thought, but ne'er fo well exprefs'd;
Something, whose truth convinc'd at fight we find,
That gives us back the image of our mind.


As fhades more sweetly recommend the light,
So modeft plainnefs fets off sprightly wit.


VER. 297. Trus Wit is Nature to advantage drefs'd, etc.] This definition is very exact. Mr. Locke had defined Wit to confift in the affemblage of ideas, and putting thofe together, with quickness and variety, wherein can be found any refemblance or congruity, whereby to make up pleafant pictures and agreeable vifions in the fancy. But that great Philofopher, in feparating Wit from Judgment, as he does in this place, has given us (and he could therefore give us no other) only an account of Wit in general: In which falfe Wit, tho' not every species of it, is included. A friking Image therefore of Nature is, as Mr. Locke obferves, certainly Wit: But this image may ftrike on feveral other accounts, as well as for its truth and amiableness; and the Philofopher has explain'd the manner how. But it never becomes that Wit which is the ornament of true Poefy, whofe end is to represent Nature, but when it drefes that Nature to advantage, and prefents her to us in the clearest and most amiable light. And to know when the Fancy has done its office truly, the poet fubjoins this admirable Teft, viz. When we perceive that it gives us back the image of our mind. When it does that, we may be fure it plays no tricks with us: For this image is the creature of the Judgment; and whenever Wit correfponds with Judgment, we may fafely Ironounce it to be true.

Naturam intueamur, hanc fequamur: id facillime accint animi quod agnofcunt. Quintil. lib. viii. c. 3.

For works may have more wit than does 'em good, As bodies perish thro' excess of blood.



Others for Language all their care express, And value books, as women men, for Dress: Their praise is still,-the Style is excellent : The Senfe, they humbly take upon content. Words are like leaves; and where they most abound, Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found. Falfe Eloquence, like the prifmatic glafs, Its gaudy colours spreads on ev'ry place; The face of Nature we no more furvey, All glares alike, without distinction gay: But true Expreffion, like th' unchanging Sun, Clears, and improves whate'er it shines upon, It gilds all objects, but it alters none. Expreffion is the dress of thought, and still Appears more decent, as more fuitable; A vile conceit in pompous words exprefs'd, Is like a clown in regal purple drefs'd: For diff'rent styles with diff'rent fubjects fort, As feveral garbs with country, town, and court.




VER. 311. Falfe eloquence, like the prifmatic glass, etc.] This fimile is beautiful. For the falle colouring, given to objects by the prifmatic glafs, is owing to its untwisting, by its obliquities, thofe threads cf light. which Nature had put together in order to fpread over its works an ingenuous and fimple candor, that should not hide, but only heighten the native complexion of the objects. And falfe Eloquence is nothing elfe but the ftraining and divaricating the parts of true expreffion; and then daubing them over with what the Rhetoricians very properly term, COLOURS; in lieu of that candid light, now loft, which was reflected from them in their natural ftate while fincere and entire.

Some by old words to fame have made pretence, Ancients in phrafe, meer moderns in their fenfe ; Such labour'd nothings, in fo ftrange a style, 326 Amaze th' unlearn'd, and make the learned fmile. Unlucky, as Fungofo in the Play,


These sparks with aukward vanity display
What the fine gentleman wore yesterday;
And but fo mimic ancient wits at best,
As apes our grandfires, in their doublets drest.
In words, as fashions, the fame rule will hold;
Alike fantastic, if too new, or old:

Be not the first by whom the new are try'd,
Nor yet the last to lay the old afide.



But moft by Numbers judge a Poet's fong; And fmooth or rough, with them, is right or wrong: In the bright Muse tho' thousand charms confpire, Her Voice is all thefe tuneful fools admire; *340


VER. 324. Some by old words, etc.] Abolitz et abrogata retinere, infolentiæ cujufdam eft, et frivole in parvis jactania. Quintil. lib. i. c. 6.


Ópus eft ut verba à vetuftate repetita neque crebra fint, neque manifefta, quia nil eft odiofius affectatione, nec utique ab ultimis repetita temporibus. Oratio cujus fumma virtus eft perfpicuitas, quam fit vitiofa, fi egeat interprete ? Ergo at novorum optima erunt maxime vetera, ita veterum maxime nova. Idem. P.

VER. 328.-unlucky as Fungofo, etc.] See Ben Johnfon's Every Man in his Humour.


VER. 337. But most by Numbers, etc.]

Quis populi fermo eft? quis enim? nifi carmina molli
Nunc demum numero fluere, ut per læve feveros
Effundat juntara ungues: fcit tendere verfum
Non fecus ac fi oculo rubricam dirigat uno.


Perf. Sat. i. P.

Who haunt Parnaffus but to please their ear,
Not mend their minds; as fome to Church repair,
Not for the doctrine, but the mufic there.
Thefe equal fyllables alone require,
Tho' oft the ear the open vowels tire;

While expletives their feeble aid do join ;



And ten low words oft creep in one dull line :
While they ring round the fame unvary'd chimes,
With fure returns of ftill expected rhymes;
Where-e'er you find "the cooling western breeze,"
In the next line, it "whispers thro' the trees:"
If crystal streams "with pleafing murmurs creep,"
The reader's threaten'd (not in vain) with "fleep:"
Then, at the last and only couplet fraught
With fome unmeaning thing they call a thought,
A needlefs Alexandrine ends the fong,
That, like a wounded fnake, drags its flow length



Leave such to tune their own dull rhymes, and know
What's roundly smooth, or languishingly flow;
And praise the easy vigour of a line,
Where Denham's ftrength, and Waller's sweetness


VER. . 345. Tho' oft the ear, etc.] Fugiemus crebras vocalium concurfiones, quæ vaftam atque hiantem orationem reddunt. Cic. ad Heren. lib. iv. Vide etiam Quintil. lib. ix. c. 4.




VER. 346. While expletives their feeble aid do join. And ten low words oft creep in one dull line.] From Dryden, He creeps along with ten little words in every "line, and helps out his numbers with [for] [to] and [unto] and all the pretty expletives he can find, while "the fenfe is left half tired behind it." Effay on Dram. Poetry.

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True eafe in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.
'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,
The found must seem an Echo to the fense: 365
Soft is the ftrain when Zephyr gently blows,
And the fmooth ftream in fmoother numbers flows;
But when loud furges lafh the founding fhoar,
The hoarfe, rough verse should like the torrent roar :
When Ajax ftrives fome rock's vaft weight to throw,
The line too labours, and the words move flow;


VER. 364. 'Tis not enough no barfbnefs gives offence;

The found muft feem an Echo to the fenfe :] The judi cious introduction of this precept is remarkable. The Poets, and even some of the best of them, have been so fond of the beauty arifing from this trivial precept, that, in their practice, they have violated the very End of it, which is the encrease of harmony; and, fo they could but raife an Echo, did not care whofe ears they offended by its diffonance. To remedy this abufe therefore, the poet, by the introductory line, would infinuate, that Harmony is always prefuppofed as observed; tho' it may and ought to be perpetually varied, fo as to produce the

effect here recommended.

VER. 365. The found muft feem an Echo to the fenfe :] Lord Rofcommon fays,

The found is still a comment to the fenfe. They are both well expreffed: only this fuppofes the fenfe to be affifted by the found; that, the found affifted by the fenfe.


VER. 366. Soft is the ftrain, etc.]

Tam filata canunt, etc.

Vida Poet. 1. iii. v. 403.

Vida ib. 388.

VER. 368. But when loud furges, etc ]
Tum longe fale faxa fonant, etc.
VER. 370. When Ajax firives, etc.]

Atque ideo fi quid geritur molimine magno, etc.

Vida ib. 417.

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