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Thus in the soul while memory prevails, Hear how learned Greece her useful rules The solid power of understanding fails;

indites, Where beams of warm imagination play, When to repress, and when indulge our The memory's soft figures melt away.

flights: One science only will one genius fit; High on Parnassus' top her sons she So vast is art, so narrow human wit:

showed, Not only bounded to peculiar arts,

And pointed out those arduous paths they But oft in those confined to single parts.

trod; Like kings we lose the conquests gained Held from afar, aloft, the immortal prize, before,

And urged the rest by equal steps to rise. By vain ambition still to make them more; Just precepts thus from great examples Each might his several province well com

given, mand,

She drew from them what they derived Would all but stoop to what they under

from Heaven. stand.

The generous critic fanned the poet's fire, First follow Nature, and your judgment And taught the world with reason to adframe

mire. By her just standard, which is still the Then criticism the Muses' handmaid same:

proved, Unerring Nature, still divinely bright, To dress her charms, and make her more One clear, unchanged, and universal light,

beloved : Life, force, and beauty, must to all impart, But following wits from that intention At once the source, and end, and test of strayed, Art.

Who could not win the mistress, wooed the Art from that fund each just supply pro

maid; vides,

Against the poets their own arms they Works without show, and without pomp

turned, presides :

Sure to hate most the men from whom In some fair body thus the informing soul they learned With spirits feeds, with vigor fills the So modern 'pothecaries, taught the art whole,

By doctor's bills to play the doctor's part, Each motion guides, and every nerve sus- Bold in the practice of mistaken rules, tains;

Prescribe, apply, and call their masters Itself unseen, but in the effects, remains.

fools. Some, to whom Heaven in wit has been Some on the leaves of ancient authors prey, profuse,

Nor time nor moths e'er spoiled so much Want as much more, to turn it to its use;

as they. For wit and judgment often are at strife, Some dryly plain, without invention's aid, Though meant each other's aid, like man Write dull receipts, how poems may be and wife.

made. 'T is more to guide than spur the Muse's These leave the sense, their learning to dissteed;

play, Restrain his fury, than provoke his speed; And those explain the meaning quite away. The winged courser, like a generous horse, You, then, whose judgment the right Shows most true mettle when you check his

course would steer, course.

Know well each ancient's proper character; Those rules of old discovered, not de- His fable, subject, scope in every page; vised,

Religion, country, genius of his age: Are Nature still, but Nature methodized; Without all these at once before your eyes, Nature, like liberty, is but restrained Cavil you may, but never criticise. By the same laws which first herself or- Be Homer's works your study and delight, dained.

Read them by day, and meditate by night;

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Thence form your judgment, thence your But though the ancients thus their rules inmaxims bring,

vade, And trace the Muses upward to their (As kings dispense with laws themselves spring.

have made) Still with itself compared, his text peruse; Moderns, beware! or if you must offend And let your comment be the Mantuan Against the precept, ne'er transgress its Muse.

end; When first young Maro in his boundless Let it be seldom and compelled by need ; mind

And have, at least, their precedent to plead. A work to outlast immortal Rome designed, The critic else proceeds without remorse, Perhaps he seemed above the critic's law, Seizes your fame, and puts his laws in And but from nature's fountains scorned

force. to draw:

I know there are, to whose presumptuous But when to examine every part he came, thoughts Nature and Homer were, he found, the Those freer beauties, even in them, seem

faults. Convinced, amazed, he checks the bold de- Some figures monstrous and mis-shaped sign;

appear, And rules as strict his laboured work con- Considered singly, or beheld too near, fine,

Which, but proportioned to their light or As if the Stagirite o'erlooked each line.

place, Learn hence for ancient rules a just es- Due distance reconciles to form and grace. teem;

A prudent chief not always must display To copy nature is to copy them.

His powers in equal ranks, and fair array, Some beauties yet no precepts can de- But with the occasion and the place comclare,

ply, For there's a happiness as well as care. Conceal his force, nay, seem sometimes to Music resembles poetry, in each

fly. Are nameless graces which no methods Those oft are stratagems which errors teach,

seem, And which a master-hand alone can reach. Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream. If, where the rules not far enough extend, Still green with bays each ancient altar (Since rules were made but to promote stands, their end)

Above the reach of sacrilegious hands; Some lucky license answer to the full Secure from flames, from envy's fiercer The intent proposed, that license is a rule.

rage, Thus Pegasus, a nearer way to take, Destructive war, and all-involving age. May boldly deviate from the common See, from each clime the learned their intrack;

cense bring ! From vulgar bounds with brave disorder Hear, in all tongues, consenting peans ring! part,

In praise so just let every voice be joined, And snatch a grace beyond the reach of art, And fill the general chorus of mankind. Which without passing through the judg- Hail, bards triumphant! born in happier ment, gains

days; The heart, and all its end at once attains. Immortal heirs of universal praise ! In prospects thus, some objects please our Whose honours with increase of ages grow, eyes,

As streams roll down, enlarging as they Which out of nature's common order rise,

flow; The shapeless rock, or hanging precipice. Nations unborn your mighty names shall Great wits sometimes may gloriously of

sound, fend,

And worlds applaud that must not yet be And rise to faults true critics dare not mend.


Oh, may some spark of your celestial fire, The eternal snows appear already past, The last, the meanest of your sons in- And the first clouds and mountains seem spire,

the last; (That on weak wings, from far, pursues But, those attained, we tremble to survey your flights;

The growing labours of the lengthened Glows while he reads, but trembles as he

way, writes)

The increasing prospect tires our wanderTo teach vain wits a science little known,

ing eyes, To admire superior sense, and doubt their Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps own!


A perfect judge will read each work of II


With the same spirit that its author writ: Of all the causes which conspire to blind Survey the whole, nor seek slight faults to Man's erring judgment, and misguide the

find mind,

Where nature moves, and rapture warms What the weak head with strongest bias

the mind; rules,

Nor lose, for that malignant dull delight, Is pride, the never-failing vice of fools. The generous pleasure to be charmed with Whatever nature has in worth denied,

wit. She gives in large recruits of needful pride; But in such lays as neither ebb, nor flow, For as in bodies, thus in souls, we find Correctly cold, and regularly low, What wants in blood and spirits, swelled That shunning faults, one quiet tenor with wind :

keep; Pride, where wit fails, steps in to our de- We cannot blame indeed, but we may fense,

sleep. And fills up all the mighty void of sense. In wit, as nature, what affects our hearts If once right reason drives that cloud Is not the exactness of peculiar parts; away,

'Tis not a lip, or eye, we beauty call, Truth breaks upon us with resistless day. But the joint force and full result of all. Trust not yourself; but your defects to Thus when we view some well-proknow,

portioned dome, Make use of every friend — and every foe. (The world's just wonder, and e'en thine, A little learning is a dangerous thing;

O Rome!) Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring : No single parts unequally surprise, There shallow draughts intoxicate the All comes united to the admiring eyes; brain,

No monstrous height, or breadth, or length And drinking largely sobers us again.

appear; Fired at first sight with what the Muse im- The whole at once is bold, and regular. parts,

Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see, In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall arts,

be. While from the bounded level of our mind, In every work regard the writer's end, Short views we take, nor see the lengths Since none can compass more than they behind;

intend; But more advanced, behold with strange And if the means be just, the conduct true, surprise

Applause, in spite of trivial faults, is due ; New distant scenes of endless science rise! As men of breeding, sometimes men of wit, So pleased at first the towering Alps we To avoid great errors, must the less comtry,

mit : Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the Neglect the rules each verbal critic lays, sky,

For not to know some trifles, is a praise.

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