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Each might his feveral province well command,
Would all but stoop to what they understand.
Firft follow Nature, and your judgment frame
By her just standard, which is ftill the fame :
Unerring NATURE, ftill divinely bright,
One clear, unchang'd, and universal light,
Life, force, and beauty, must to all impart,
At once the fource, and end, and teft 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 sustains;
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 ftrife,

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

Shows moft true mettle when you check his course.
Thofe RULES of old difcover'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.

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

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 rest 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.



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 feparate trade.

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 peruse;
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 comprehensive mind
To modern cuftoms, modern rules confin'd;
Who for all ages writ, and all mankind.

Ver. 126. Thence form your judgment, thence your notions bring.

When firft young Maro, in his boundless mind 130 A work t' outlast immortal Rome design'd,

Perhaps he feem'd above the Critic's law,
And but from Nature's fountains scorn'd to draw :
But when t' examine every part he came,
Nature and Homer were, he found, the fame.
Convinc'd, amaz'd, he checks the bold defign;
And rules, as ftrict his labour'd work confine,
As if the Stagirite o'erlook'd each line.
Learn hence for ancient rules a just esteem;
To copy nature, is to copy them.

Some beauties yet no precepts can declare,
For there's a happiness as well as care.
Mufic resembles Poetry, in each

Are nameless graces which no methods teach,
And which a master-hand alone can reach.
If, where the rules not far enough extend,
(Since rules were made but to promote their end)
Some lucky License answer to the full

Th' intent propos'd, that License is a rule.
Thus Pegasus, a nearer way to take,
May boldly deviate from the common track;

Ver. 130.









When firft young Maro fung of Kings and Wars Ere warning Phoebus touch'd his trembling ears. Ver. 130. Ed. 1. When firft great Maro, &c.

Ver. 136.

Convinc'd, amaz'd, he check'd the bold defign;
And did his work to rules as ftrict confine.

Ver. 145. Ed. 1. And which a master's hand, &.


From vulgar bounds with brave disorder part,
And fnatch a grace beyond the reach of art,
Which, without paffing through the judgment, gains
The heart, and all its end at once attains.




In profpects thus, fome objects please our eyes,
Which out of nature's common order rife,
The shapeless rock, or hanging precipice.
Great Wits fometimes may gloriously offend,
And rife to faults true Critics dare not mend.
But though the Ancients thus their rules invade
(As Kings dispense with laws themselves have made);
Moderns, beware! or, if you must offend
Against the precept, ne'er tranfgrefs its end;
Let it be feldom, and compell'd by need:
And have, at least, their precedent to plead.
The Critic elfe proceeds without remorse,
Seizes your fame, and puts his laws in force.



I know there are, to whofe presumptuous thoughts Those freer beauties, ev'n in them, feem faults. Some figures monftrous and mis-shap'd appear, Confider'd fingly, or beheld too near,

Which, but proportion'd to their light, or place,
Due distance reconciles to form and grace.
A prudent chief not always must display
His powers in equal ranks, and fair array,


After ver. 158. the first edition reads,

But care in poetry must still be had,

It afks difcretion ev'n in running mad;
And though the ancients, &c.

And what are now ver. 159, 160, followed ver. 151.



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