Imágenes de páginas

As on the land while here the ocean gains,
In other parts it leaves wide fandy plains;
Thus in the foul while memory prevails,
The folid pow'r of understanding fails;
Where beams of warm imagination play,
The memory's foft figures melt away.
One science only will one genius fit;
So vaft is art, fo narrow human wit:
Not only bounded to peculiar arts,

But oft' in those confin'd to fingle parts.





Like Kings we lose the conquefts gain'd before,
By vain ambition still to make them more;
Each might his fev'ral province well command,
Would all but ftoop to what they understand.
Firft follow Nature, and your judgment frame
By her just standard, which is still the fame:
Unerring NATURE, ftill divinely bright,
One clear, unchang'd, and universal light,
Life, force, and beauty, muft to all impart,
At once the fource, and end, and teft of Art.
Art from that fund each juft fupply provides,
Works without fhow, and without pomp prefides:
In fome fair body thus th' informing foul
With fpirits feeds, with vigour fills the whole,
Each motion guides, and ev'ry nerve sustains;
Itself unseen, but in th' effects, remains.



VER. 67. Would all but stoop to what they understand.] The expreffion is delicate, and implies what is very true, that most men think it a degradation of their genius to employ it in cultivating what lies level to their comprehenfion, but had rather exercise their ambition in fubduing what is placed above it.



Some, to whom Heav'n in wit has been profufe,
Want as much more to turn it to its ufe;
For wit and judgment often are at ftrife,
Tho' meant each other's aid, like man and wife.
'Tis more to guide, than fpur the Mufe's fteed;
Restrain his fury, than provoke his speed;
The winged courfer, like a gen'rous horse,
Shows most true mettle when you check his course.
Thofe RULES of old discover'd, not devis'd,
Are Nature ftill, but Nature methodiz'd;
Nature, like Liberty, is but restrain'd


By the fame Laws which firft herself ordain'd.
Hear how learn'd Greece her useful rules indites,
When to reprefs, and when indulge our flights:
High on Parnaffus' top her fons fhe fhow'd,
And painted out those arduous paths they trod; 95
Held from afar, aloft, th' immortal prize,

And urg'd the reft by equal steps to rise.


VER. 88. Thofe rules of old, etc.] Cicero has, beft of any one I know, explained what that is which reduces the wild and fcattered parts of human knowledge into


-Nihil eft quod ad artem redigi poffit, nifi ille prius qui illa tenet, quorum artem inflituere vult, habeat illam fcientiam, ut ex iis rebus, quarum ars nondum fit, artem efficere poffit.-Omnia fere, quæ funt conclufa nunc artibus, difperfa et diffipata quondam fuerunt, ut in Muficis, it Adhibita eft igitur ars quædam extrinfecus ex alio genere quodam, quod fibi totum PHILOSOPHI offumunt, que rem diffolutam divulfamque conglutinaret, et ratione quad.m conftringeret. De Orat. 1. i. c 41, 2.

VER. 80.


There are whom Heav'n has bleft with ftore of wit,
Yet want as much again to manage it.

Juft precepts thus from great examples giv❜n,

She drew from them what they deriv'd from Heav'n.
The gen'rous Critic fann'd the Poet's fire,


And taught the world with reason to admire.
Then Criticism the Muses handmaid prov'd,
To dress her charms, and make her more belov❜d:
But following wits from that intention stray'd,
Who cou'd not win the mistress, woo'd the maid;
Against the Poets their own arms they turn'd,
Sure to hate most the men from whom they learn'd.
So modern 'Pothecaries, taught the art
By Doctor's bills to play the Doctor's part,
Bold in the practice of mistaken rules,
Prefcribe, apply, and call their mafters fools.
Some on the leaves of ancient authors prey,
Nor time nor moths e'er spoil'd so much as they.


VER. 98. Just precepts] Nec enim artibus editiš factum eft ut argumenta inveniremus, fed dicta funt omnia antequam præciperentur; mox ea fcriptores obfervata et collecta ediderunt. Quintil. P.

VER. 112. Some on the leaves-Some drily plain.] The first, the Apes of those Italian Critics, who at the restoration of letters having found the claffic writers miferably mangled by the hands of monkish Librarians, very commendably employed their pains and talents in restoring them to their native purity. The fecond, the plagiaries from the French, who had made fome admirable Commentaries on the ancient critics. But that acumen and tafe, which feparately conftitute the diftinct value "of thofe two fpecies of foreign Criticism, make no part of the character of these paltry mimics at home, described by our Poet in the following lines,

Thefe leave the fenfe, their learning to display,
And thofe explain the meaning quite away.

Which fpecies is the leaft hurtful, the Poet has enabled

[ocr errors]


Some drily plain, without invention's aid,
Write dull receits how poems may be made.
These leave the fenfe, their learning to display,
And those explain the meaning quite away.


You then whose judgment the right course would fteer,


Know well each ANCIENT's proper character;
His Fable, Subject, scope in ev'ry page ;
Religion, Country, genius of his Age:
Without all these at once before your eyes,
Cavil you may, but never criticize.
Be Homer's works your study and delight,
Read them by day, and meditate by night;
Thence form your judgment, thence your maxims


And trace the Mufes upward to their spring.



us to determine in the lines with which he opens his poem,

But of the two lefs dang'rous is th' offence

To tire our patience than mislead our fenfe.

From whence we conclude, that the reverend Mr. Upton was much more innocently employed when he quibbled upon Epictetus, than when he commented upon Shakefpear.


VER. 123. Cavil you may, but never criticize.] The author after this verfe originally inferted the following, which he has however omitted in all the editions:

Zoilus, had these been known, without a name
Had dy'd, and Perault ne'er been damn'd to fame;
The fenfe of found Antiquity had reign'd,
And facred Homer yet been unprophan'd.
None e'er had thought his comprehenfive mind
To modern cuftoms, modern rules confin'd;
Who for all ages writ, and all mankind.



Still with itself compar'd, his text peruse;
And let your comment be the Mantuan Muse.
When firft young Maro in his boundless mind
A work t'outlaft immortal Rome design'd,
Perhaps he feem'd above the Critic's law,
And but from Nature's fountains scorn'd to draw :
But when t' examine ev'ry part he came,
Nature and Homer were, he found, the fame.
Convinc'd, amaz'd, he checks the bold defign;
And rules as #trict his labour'd work confine,
As if the Stagirite o'erlook'd each line.
Learn hence for ancient rules a just esteem;
To copy nature is to copy them.

Some beauties yet no Precepts can declare,
For there's a happiness as well as care.
Mufic resembles Poetry, in each



Are nameless graces which no methods teach, And which a mafter-hand alone can reach. 145



VER. 130. When firft young Maro, etc.] Virg. Eclog. vi. Cum canerem reges et prælia, Cynthius aurem


It is a tradition preferved by Servius, that Virgil began with writing a poem of the Alban and Roman affairs; which he found above his years, and defcended first to imitate Theocritus on rural fubjects, and afterwards to copy Homer in Heroic poetry. P.

VER. 130.


When firft young Maro fung of Kings and Wars,
Ere warning Phoebus touch'd his trembling ears.

« AnteriorContinuar »