« AnteriorContinuar »
Some beauties yet no Precepts can declare,
Are nameless graces which no methods teach,
VER. 141. Some beauties yet no Precepts can declare, &c.] Our author, in thefe two general precepts of studying Na ture and her Commentators, having confidered Poetry as it is, or may be reduced to Rule; left this fhould be miftaken as fufficient to attain PERFECTION either in writing or judging, he proceeds [from 140 to 2c1.] to point up to thofe fublimer beauties which Rules will never reach, nor enable us either to execute or Tafte: And which rife fo high above all precept as not even to be defcribed by it; but being entirely the gift of Heaven, Art and Reason have no further concern with them than just to moderate their operations. These Sublimities of Poetry, like the Mysteries of Religion, fome of which are above Reason, and fome contrary to it, may also be divided into two forts, fuch as are above Rules, and fuch as are contrary to them.
VER. 146. If where the rules, &c.] The first fort our author describes [from y 145 to 158.] and fhews, that
146. If, where the rules, &c.] Neque tam fan&a
funt ifta Præcepta, fed hoc quicquid eft, Utilitas excogi
Some lucky Licence anfwers to the full
where a great beauty is in the Poet's view which no stated Rules will direct him how to reach, there, as the purpofe of Rules is only to promote an end like this, a lucky Licence will fupply the want of them: Nor can the Critic fairly object to it, fince this Licence, for the reafon given above, has the proper force and authority of a Rule.
tavit. Non negabo autem fic utile effe plerumqué; verum fi eadem illa nobis aliud fuadebit Utilitas, banc, relictis magiftrorum autorita tibus, fequemur. Quintil. Quintil. lib. ii. cap. 13.
150] Thus Pegafus, We have obferved how the precepts for writing and judging are interwoven throughout the whole work. He first defcribes the fublime flight of a Poet, foaring above all vulgar bounds, to fnatch a grace directly, which lies beyond the reach of a common ad
venturer. And afterwards, the effect of that grace upon the true Critic: whom it penetrates with an equal rapidity, going the nearelt way to his heart, without paffing thro' his Judgment. By which is not meant that it could not ftand the test of Judgment; but that being a beauty, uncommon, and above rule, and the Judgment habituated to determine only by rule, it makes its direct application to the Heart; which once gained, foon opens and enlarges the Judgment, whole concur
From vulgar bounds with brave disorder part,
VER. 159. Great Wits Sometimes may gloriously of fend, & He defcribes next the fecond fort, the beauties against rule. And even here, as he obferves, the offense is fo glorious, and the fault fo fublime, that the true Critic will not dare either to cenfure or reform them. Yet ftill the Poet is never to abandon himself to his Imagination: The rules our author lays down for his conduct in this respect, are thefe: 1. That tho' he tranfgrefs the letter of fome one particular precept, yet that he ftill adheres to the end or spirit of them all, which end is the creation of one perfect uniform Whole. And 2. That he
rence, it being now fet bove forms, is eafily pro*cured.
et's fhat this is the
But Poetry doth not attain et's fublime conception ap-all its end, 'till it hath gainpears from the concluding words:
ed the Judgment as well as Heart.
and all its end at once at tains.
But tho' the Ancients thus their rules invade,
I know there are, to whofe prefumptuous thoughts Those freer beauties, ev'n in them, seem faults: 170
have, in each particular inftance, the authority of the difpenfing power of the Ancients to plead for his excufe. Thele rules obferved, this licence will be feldom used, and only when compell'd by need: Which will difarm the Critic, and fereen the Poet from his laws. 131 VER. 169. I know there are, But as fome modern Critics have had the prefumption to fay, that this laft rule is only juftifying one fault by another, our author goes on [from 169 to 180] to vindicate the Ancients; and to fhew that this cenfure proceeds from frank Ignorance. As where their partial Judgment cannot fee that this licence is fometimes used as neceflary to give the moft graceful fymmetry and proportion to a perfect whole, from the point and in the light wherein it must be viewed: Or, where their hafty Judgment will not give them time to difcover, that a deviation from rule is for the fake of attaining a great and admirable purpose. These obferva-' tions are further useful as they tend to give modern Cri
Some figures monftrous and mishap'd appear,
Thofe oft are ftratagems which errors feem,
tics an humbler opinion of their own abilities, and an higher of the Authors they undertake to criticise. On ..which account he concludes with a fine ftroke of fatire, against a common proverb perpetually in the mouths of Critics, quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus; mifunderftanding the fenfe of Horace, and taking quandoque for aliquando:
180. Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream.] Modeflè,& circumfpecto judicio de tantis viris pronunciandum eft, ne (quod plerifque accidit) damnent
quod non intelligunt. de fi neceffe eft in alteram errare partem, omnia eorum legentibus placere, quam mùlta difplicere maluerim. Quintil.