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nefs of his expreffions, fo little forced and unnatural, that they feem to be born, as it were with, his thoughts, display almost as much invention, as the first production of a thought entirely new. This induced La Bruyere to fay, "que Defpreaux paroiffoit creer "les penfees d'autruy." Both he and POPE might have answered to their * accusers, in the words with which Virgil is faid to have replied, to those who accufed him of borrowing all that was valuable in his Æneid from Homer CUR NON ILLI QUOQUE EADEM FURTA TENTARENT? VERUM INTELLECTUROS, FACILIUS ESSE HERCULI CLAVUM, QUAM HOMERO VERSUM SURRIPERE. †


*The Jefuits that wrote the journals of Trevoux ftrongly object plagiarism to Boileau.

+ Donat. Ed. Ultraject. 1704. 17.

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Of the ESSAY on Criticism.


E are now arrived at a poem of that fpecies, for which our author's genius was particularly turned, the DIDACTIC and the MORAL; it is therefore, as might be expected, a master-piece in its kind. I have been sometimes inclined to think, that the praises Addison has bestowed on it, * were a little partial and invidious. "The obferva"tions, fays he, follow one another, like

those in Horace's Art of Poetry, without "that methodical regularity which would "have been requifite in a profe writer." It is however certain, that the poem before us is by no means deftitute of a just integrity, and a lucid order: each of the precepts and remarks naturally introduce the fucceeding ones, fo as to form an entire whole. The ingenious Mr. Hurd, hath also usefully fhewn, that

*Spectator, No. 253.


Horace observed a strict method, and unity of defign, in his epiftle to the Pifones, and that altho the connexions are delicately fine and almost imperceptible, like the secret hinges of a well-wrought box, yet they artfully and closely unite each part together, and give coherence, uniformity, and beauty to the work. The Spectator adds; "The ob"servations in this effay are fome of them un

common;" there is, I fear, a fmall mixture of ill-nature in these words; for this ESSAY tho' on a beaten fubject, abounds in many new remarks, and original rules, as well as in many happy and beautiful illuftrations, and applications of the old ones. We are indeed amazed to find fuch a knowledge of the world, fuch a maturity of judgment, and fuch a penetration into human nature, as are here difplayed, in fo very young a writer as was POPE, when he produced this ESSAY; for he was not twenty years old. Correctness and a just taste, are usually not attained but by long practice and experience in any art; but a clear head, and ftrong sense were


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the characteristical qualities of our author, and every man fooneft difplays his radical excellencies. If his predominant talent be warmth and vigor of imagination, it will break out in fanciful and luxuriant defcriptions, the colouring of which will perhaps be too rich and glowing. If his chief force lies in the understanding rather than in the imagination, it will foon appear by folid and manly observations on life or learning, expreffed in a more chaft and fubdued style. The former will frequently be hurried into obfcurity or turgidity, and a false grandeur of diction; the latter will feldom hazard a figure, whose usage is not already established, or an image beyond common life; will always be perfpicuous if not elevated; will never difguft, if not transport his readers; will avoid the groffer faults, if not arrive at the greater beauties of compofition; The "eloquentiæ genus," for which he will be distinguished, will not be the " plenum, & erectum, & "audax, & præcultum," but the " preffum,

" &

" & mite, & limatum."* In the earliest letters of POPE to Wycherly, to Walsh, and Cromwell, we find many admirable and acute judgments of men and books, and an intimate acquaintance not only with fome of the best Greek and Roman, particularly the latter, but the most celebrated of the French and Italian claffics.

Du Bost fixes the period of time, at which, generally speaking, the poets and the painters have arrived at as high a pitch of perfection, as their geniufes will permit, to be the age of thirty years, or a few years more or less. Virgil was near thirty when he compofed his firft Eclogue; Horace was a grown man when he began to be talked of at Rome as a poet, having been formerly engaged in a bufy military life. Racine was about the fame age when his ANDROMACHE, which may be regarded as his first good tragedy, was played. Corneille was more than thirty

* Quintil. I. xi. c. I.

+ Sect. x. 2..


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