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IS hard to fay, if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill;
But of the two, lefs dangerous is th' offence
To tire our patience, than mislead our fenfe,
Some few in that, but numbers err in this,
Ten cenfure wrong for one who writes amiss ;
A fool might once himself alone expose,
Now one in verfe makes many more in prose.

'Tis with our judgments as our watches; none
Go juft alike, yet each believes his own.
In Poets as true genius is but rare,
True taste as feldom is the Critic's fhare,
Both muft alike from Heaven derive their light,
These born to judge, as well as thofe to write.
Let fuch teach others who themselves excel,
And cenfure freely who have written well.
Authors are partial to their wit, 'tis true,
But are not Critics to their judgment too?
Yet, if we look more closely, we shall find
Most have the feeds of judgment in their mind:

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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 difgrac'd,
So by falfe learning is good fenfe defac'd:
Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools,
And fome made coxcombs Nature meant but fools.
In fearch of wit these lose 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 fpite.
All fools have ftill an itching to deride,
And fain would be upon the laughing fide.

'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 past,
Turn'd Critics next, and prov'd plain fools at last.





Between ver. 25 and 26 were thefe lines, finçe 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 Crities pass,
As heavy mules are neither horfe nor ass.
Thofe half-learn'd witlings, numerous in our isle,
As half-form'd infects on the banks of Nile;
Unfinish'd things, one knows not what to call,
Their generation 's so 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, taste, 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 wisely 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 foft 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 thofe confin'd to single parts.

Like Kings, we lose the conquefts gain'd before,
By vain ambition ftill to make them more:


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








Each might his several province well command,
Would all but stoop to what they understand.
First 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 univerfal light,
Life, force, and beauty, must to all impart,
At once the fource, and end, and teft of Art.
Art from that fund each juft fupply provides;
Works without show, and without pomp prefides:
In some fair body thus th' informing foul
With spirits feeds, with vigour fills the whole,
Each motion guides, and every nerve sustains;
Itself unfeen, but in th' effects remains.



Some, to whom Heaven in wit has been profufe,
Want as much more, to turn it to its ufe;
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 Mufe's steed;
Restrain his fury, than provoke his speed:
The winged courfer, like a generous horse,

Shows most true mettle when you check his courfe.
Thofe RULES of old difcover'd, not devis'd,
Are Nature still, but Nature methodis'd:

Ver. 74.


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

Ver. 76.

Ver. 80.

-the fecret foul.



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

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