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Something, whose truth convinc'd at fight we find,
ned Wit to confift in the affemblage of ideas, and putting thofe together, with quickness and variety, where in 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 fpecies of it, is included. Á Ariking image therefore of Nature, is as Mr. Locke obferves, certainly Wit: But this image may frike on feveral accounts, as well as for its truth and amiableness; and the Philofopher has explained the manner how.
But it never becomes that Wit which is the ornament of true Poefy, whofe end is to reprefent Nature, but when it dreffes that Nature to advantage, and prefents her to us in the clearest and moft taking light. And to know when Wit has done its office, the poet fubjoins one admirable direction: viz. When we perceive that it gives us back the image of our mind. When it does that, we may be sure it plays no tricks with us: For this image is the creature of the Judgment: and whenever Wit correfponds with Judgment, we may fafely pronounce it to be true.
Naturam intueamur, bans fequamur: id facillimè accipiunt animi quod agnofcunt. Quintil. lib. viii. c. 3.
For works may have more wit than does 'em good, As bodies perifh thro' excefs of blood.
Others for Language all their care exprefs, 305 And value books, as women men, for Dress;
VER. 305. Others for Language, &c.] He proceeds fecondly to those narrow Critics whofe whole concern turns upon Language, and fhews [from 304 to 337] that this quality, where it holds the principal place, deferves no commendation; because it excludes qualities more effential. And when the abounding Verbiage has excluded the fenfe, the writer has nothing to do but to to hide the defect, by giving his words all the falfe colour and gilding he is able.
2. He fhews that the Critic who bufies himself with this quality alone, is altogether unable to make a right Judgment of it; because true Expreffion is only the drefs of Thought; and fo, must be perpetually varied according to the fubject and manner of thinking. But those who never concern themselves with the Senfe, can form no judgment of the correspondence between that and the Language:
Expreffion is the dress of thought, and ftill
Now as thefe Critics are ftrangers to all this fkill, their whole judgment in Language is reduced to the choice of fingle words; the higheft excellence of which is commonly thought to confift in their being antique and obfolete. On which our author has therefore bestow'd
Their praife is ftill, the Style is excellent:
a little raillery concluding with a fhort and proper direction concerning the use of words, as far as regards their novelty and antiquity.
311. Falfe eloquence, like the prifmatic glass, .] This fimile is beautiful. For the falfe colouring, given to objects by the prifmatic glass, is owing to its untwisting, by its obliquities, thofe threads of light, which nature had put together in order to spread 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 state while fincere and entire.
But true Expreffion, like th' unchanging Sun, 315
A vile conceit in pompous words exprefs'd, 320
324. Some by old words, &c.] Abolita & abrogata retinere, infolentia cujufdam eft, frivole in parvis jactantia. Quintil. lib, i. c. 6.
Opus 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 ut no vorum optima erunt maximè vetera, ita veterum max= imè nova. Idem.
Unlucky, as Fungofo in the Play,
As apes our grandfires, in their doublets dreft.
Be not the first by whom the new are try'd, 335
But most by Numbers judge a Poet's fong,
VER. 337. But most by Numbers judge, &c.] The laft fort are thofe [from 336 to 384.] whofe ears are attached only to the Harmony of a poem. Of which they judge as ignorantly and as perverfely as the other fort did of Eloquence; and for the very fame Reafon. He first defcribes that falfe Harmony with which they are fo much captivated; and fhews that it is wretchedly flat and unvaried: For
Smooth or rough with them is right or wrong. He then describes the true. 1. As it is in itself, confant; with a happy mixture of firength and fweetness, in contradiction to the roughness and flatness of falle Har
328. unlucky as Johnfon's Every Man in bis Fungofo, &.] See Ben. Humour.