« EelmineJätka »
Fear not the anger of the wise to raise ;
'Twere well might critics still this freedom take, But Appius reddens at each word you speak, 585
Ver. 584. 'Twere well might critics, &c.] The Poet having thus recommended in his general rules of conduct for the JUDGMENT, these three critical Virtues to the HEART; shews next [from ver. 583 to 631.) upon what three sorts of Writers these virtues, together with the advice conveyed under them, would be thrown away; and which is worse, be repaid with obloquy and scorn. These are the false Critic, the dull Man of Quality, and the bad Poet ; each of which species of incorrigible writers he hath very exactly painted. But having drawn the last of them at full length, and being always attentive to the two main branches of his subject, which are, of writing and judging well, he re-assumes the character of the bad Critic, (whom he had touched upon before) to contrast him with the other; and makes the charucteristic common to both, to be a never-ceasing repetition of their own impertinence.
The Poet-still runs on in a raging vein, &c. ver. 606, &c.
Ver. 580. With mean complacence ne'er betray your trust,
Nor be so civil as to prove unjust.] Our Poet practised this excellent precept in his conduct towards Wycherley, whose pieces he corrected with equal freedom and judgment.
Warton. Ver. 582. Fear not the anger of the wise to raise ;] The freedom and unreservedness with which Boileau and Racine communicated their works to each other, is hardly to be paralleled; of which many
amiable instances appear in their letters lately published by a son of the latter; particularly in the following: “ J'ai trouvé que la Trompette et les Sourds étoient trop joués, et qu'il ne falloit point trop appuyer sur votre incommodité, moins encore chercher de l'esprit sur ce sujet.” Boileau communicated to his
And stares, tremendous, with a threat'ning eye,
friend the first sketch of his Ode on the Taking Namur. It is entertaining to contemplate a rude draught by such a master; and is no less pleasing to observe the temper with which he receives the objections of Racine. “ J'ai deja retouché à tout cela ; mais je ne veux point l'achever que je n'aie reçu vos remarques, qui sûrement m'élaireront encore l'esprit."
Warton. Ver. 586. And stares, tremendous, &c.] This picture was taken to himself by John Dennis, a furious old critic by profession, who, upon no other provocation, wrote against this Essay and its author, in a manner perfectly lunatic : For, as to the mention made of him in ver. 270, he took it as a compliment, and said it was treacherously meant to cause him to overlook this abuse of his person.
What crouds of these, impenitently bold,
Such shameless Bards we have; and yet, 'tis true,
mend? No place so sacred from such fops is barr'd, Nor is Paul's church more safe than Paul's church
Ver. 619. Gurth did not write, &c.] A common slander at that time in prejudice of that deserving author. Our Poet did him this justice, when that slander most prevailed ; and it is now (perhaps the sooner for this very verse) dead and forgotten.
P. Ver. 622. No place so sacred] This stroke of satire is literally taken from Boileau :
“ Gardez vous d'imiter ce rimeur furieux,
Qui de ses vains écrits lecteur harmonieux
Nay, fly to altars; there they'll talk you dead;
But where's the man, who counsel can bestow, Still pleas'd to teach, and yet not proud to know?
Ver. 631. But where's the man, &c.] II. The second division of this last part, which we now come to, is of the Morals of Critics, by example. For, having in the first, drawn a picture of the false Critic, at large, he breaks out into an apostrophe, containing
Il n'est Temple si saint, des Anges respecté,
Qui soit contre sa muse un lieu du sûreté.” Which lines allude to the impertinence of a French poet called Du Perrier, who finding Boileau one day at church, insisted upon repeating to him an ode, during the elevation of the host; and desired his opinion, whether or not it was in the manner of Malherbe. Without this anecdote the pleasantry of the satire would be overlooked.
It is but justice to add, that the fourteen succeeding verses in the poem before us, containing the character of a true Critic, are superior to any thing in Boileau's Art of Poetry; from which, however, Pope has borrowed many observations. Warton.
Ver. 631. But where's the man, &c.] The Poet, by his manner of asking after this Character, and telling us, when he had de
Ver. 623. Between this and ver. 614.
In vain you shrug and sweat and strive to fly:
Unbiass'd, or by favour, or by spite;
635 Modestly bold, and humanly severe;
an exact and finished character of the true; which, at the same time, serves for an easy and proper introduction to this second division. For having asked (from ver. 630 to 643.] Where's the man, &c. he answers (from ver. 642 to 681.] That he was to be found in the happier ages of Greece and Rome; in the characters of Aristotle and Horuce, Dionysius and Petronius, Quintilian and Longinus; whose several excellencies he has not only well distinguished, but has contrasted them with a peculiar elegance: the profound science and logical method of Aristotle is opposed to the plain common sense of Horace, conveyed in a natural and familiar negligence: the study and refinement of Dionysius, to the gay and courtly, ease of Petronius : and the gravity and minuteness of Quintilian, to the vivacity and general topics of Longinus. Nor has the Poet been less careful in these examples, to point out their eminence in the several critical Virtues he so carefully inculcated in his precepts. Thus in Horace he particularizes his Candour ; in Petronius his Good-Breeding; in Quintilian his free and copious Instruction; and in Longinus his great and noble Spirit.
scribed it, that such once were Critics, does not encourage us to search for it amongst modern writers. And indeed the discovery of him, if it could be made, would be but an invidious affair. However, I will venture to name the piece of Criticism in which all these marks may be found. It is entitled, Q. Hor. Fl. Ars Poetica, et ejusd. Ep. ad Aug. with an English Commentary and Notes.
Warburton. This commentary is founded on the idea that Horace writes, in his Art of Poetry, with systematic order, and the strictest method. An idea to which several capable critics will not accede, and which