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Nature affords at least a glimmering light;



The lines, though touch'd but faintly, are drawn right.
But as the slightest sketch, if justly trac'd,
Is by ill-colouring but the more disgrac'd,
So by falfe learning is good sense defac'd :
Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools,
And fome made coxcombs Nature meant but fools.
In fearch of wit these lofe their common fenfe,

And then turn Critics in their own defence:
Each burns alike, who can, or cannot write,
Or with a rival's, or an eunuch's spite.


All fools have still an itching to deride,
And fain would be upon the laughing side.

If Mævius fcribble in Apollo's fpight,

There are who judge still worse than he can write.
Some have at firft for Wits, then Poets paft,
Turn'd Critics next, and prov'd plain fools at last.




Between ver. 25 and 26 were thefe lines, fince omit

ted by the Author:

Many are spoil'd by that pedantic throng,

Who with great pains teach youth to reason wrong. Tutors, like Virtuofos, oft inclin'd

By ftrange transfufion to improve the mind,

Draw off the fenfe we have, to pour in new;
Which yet, with all their skill, they ne'er could do...

Ver. 30, 31. In the first edition thus:

Those hate as rivals all that write; and others
But envy wits, as eunuchs envy lovers.

Ver. 32. "All fools," in the first edition: "All fuch” in edition 1717; fince restored.

Some neither can for Wits nor Critics pafs,
As heavy mules are neither horse nor ass.
Those half-learn'd witlings, numerous in our ifle,
As half-form'd infects on the banks of Nile;
Unfinish'd things, one knows not what to call,
Their generation's fo equivocal :

To tell them, would a hundred tongues require,
Or one vain wit's, that might a hundred tire.
But you, who seek to give and merit fame,
And justly bear a Critic's noble name,
Be fure yourself and your own reach to know,
How far your genius, tafte, and learning, go;
Launch not beyond your depth, but be discreet,
And mark that point where sense and dulness meet.
Nature to all things fix'd the limits fit,
And wifely curb'd proud man's pretending wit,
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 power of understanding fails
Where beams of warm imagination play,
The memory's soft 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:




Ver. 63. Ed. 1. But ev'n in thofe, &c.


Each might his feveral province well command,
Would all but stoop to what they understand.
First 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 univerfal light,
Life, force, and beauty, must to all impart,
At once the fource, and end, and test of Art.
Art from that fund each just supply provides ;
Works without show, and without pomp prefides: 75
In fome fair body thus th' informing foul

With spirits feeds, with vigour fills the whole,

Each motion guides, and every nerve fuftains;
Itfelf unfeen, but in th' effects remains.

Some, to whom Heaven in wit has been profuse,
Want as much more, to turn it to its use;
For wit and judgment often are at strife,

Though meant each other's aid, like man and wife.
'Tis more to guide, than fpur the Muse's steed;
Restrain his fury, than provoke his speed:
The winged courfer, like a generous horse,

Shows most true mettle when you check his course.
Thofe RULES of old discover'd, not devis'd,
Are Nature ftill, but Nature methodis'd:

Ver. 74.


That art is beft, which most resembles her;
Which still prefides, yet never does appear.

Ver. 76.

Ver. 80.

the fecret foul.




There are whom Heaven has bleft with store of wit,
Yet want as much again to manage


Nature, like Liberty, is but restrain’d

By the fame laws which first 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 she show'd,

And pointed out those arduous paths they trod :
Held from afar, aloft, th' immortal prize,
And urg'd the reft by equal steps to rife.

Juft precepts thus from great examples given,

She drew from them what they deriv'd from Heaven.
The generous Critic fann'd the Poet's fire,

And taught the world with reafon to admire.
Then Criticism the Mufe's handmaid prov'd,
To drefs her charms, and make her more belov'd:
But following wits from that intention stray'd,




Who could not win the mistress, woo'd the maid; 105
Against the poets their own arms they turn'd,
Sure to hate moft the men from whom they learn'd.
So modern 'Pothecaries, taught the art

By Doctors bills to play the Doctor's part,
Bold in the practice of mistaken rules,..
Prescribe, apply, and call their masters fools.
Some on the leaves of ancient authors prey,
Nor time nor moths e'er spoil'd so much as they :


Ver. 90. Ed. 1. Nature, like Monarchy, &c.

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Ver. 92. First learned Greece juft precepts did indite,
When to reprefs and when indulge our flight.

Ver. 97. From great examples useful rules were given.
After ver. 104. this line is omitted,

Set up themselves, and drove a separate trade.

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Some drily plain, without invention's aid,

Write dull receipts how poems may be made.
These leave the fenfe, their learning to display,
And those explain the meaning quite away.



You then whofe judgment the right course would steer, Know well each ANCIENT's proper character : His Fable, Subject, scope in every page ; Religion, Country, genius of his Age: Without all thefe 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 bring,

And trace the Muses upward to their spring.
Still with itself compar'd, his text perufe ;

And let your comment be the Mantuan Muse.


Ver. 116. Ed. 1. These loft, &c.

Ver. 117. And these explain'd, &c.

Ver. 123. Ed. 1. You may confound, but, &c.


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.


Ver. 126. Thence form your judgment, thence your no

tions bring.

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