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Still green with bays each ancient altar stands
OF all the causes which conspire to blind Man's erring judgment, and misguide the mind, What the weak head with strongest bias rules, Is pride, the never-failing vice of fools. Whatever Nature has in worth deny'd,
205 She gives in large recruits of needful pride: For as in bodies thus in souls we find, What wants in blood and spirits swell'd with wind: Pride, where wit fails, steps in to our defence, And fills up all the mighty void of sense : 210 If once right reason drives that cloud away, Truth breaks upon us with resistless day. Trust not yourself; but, your defects to know, Make use of ev'ry friend....and ev'ry foe. A little learning is a dang’rous thing ;
215 Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring : There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again. Fir'd at first sight with what the Muse imparts, In fearless youth we tempt the heights of arts, 220 While from the bounded level of our mind Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind; But more advanc'd, behold with strange surprise, New distant scenes of endless science rise!
So pleas'd at first the tow'ring Alps we try, 225
A perfect judge will read each work of wit
240 That shunning faults one quiet tenor keep, We cannot blame indeed....but we may sleep. In wit, as nature, what affects our hearts Is not the exactness of peculiar parts: 'Tis not a lip or eye we beauty call,
215 But the joint force and full result of all. Thus when we view some well-proportion'd dome, (The world's just wonder, even thine, O Rome!) No single parts unequally surprise, All comes united to th' admiring eyes ;
No monstrous height, or breadth, or length, appear, The whole at once is bold and regular.
Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see, Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall be. In ev'ry work regard the writer's end,
255 Since none can compass more than they intend; And if the means be just, the conduct true, Applause, in spite of trivial faults, is due. As men of breeding, sometimes men of wit, T'avoid great errors, must the less commit; 260 Neglect the rules each verbal critic lays, For not to know some trifles is a praise. Most critics, fond of some subservient art, Still make the whole depend upon a part: They talk of principles, but notions prize, 265 And all to one lov'd folly sacrifice.
Once on a time, La Mancha's Knight, they say, A certain bard encount'ring on the way, Discours'd in terms as just, with looks as sage, As e'er could Dennis of the Grecian stage,
270 Concluding all were desp'rate sots and fools Who durst depart from Aristotle's rules. Our author, happy in a judge so nice, Produc'd his play, and begg'd the Knight's advice; Made him observe the subject and the plot, 275 The mamiers, passions, mities; what not?
All which exact to rule were brought about, Were but a combat in the lists left out. “What! leave the combat out?”' exclaims the Knight. “Yes, or we must renounce the Stagirite." 280 * Not so, by heav'n! (he answers in a rage ;) “Knights, squires, and steeds, must enter on the
Thus critics of less judgment than caprice,
Some to conceit alone their taste confine,