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Written in the Year MDCCIX*,
• First advertised in the Spectator, No 65. May 15, 1711.
Reverence due to the Ancients, and praise of them, ver. 181, &c.
PART III. Ver. 560, &c.
ver. 563. Modesty, ver. 566. Good-breeding, ver. 572.
is hard to say, if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill; But, of the two, less dang’rous is th' offence To tire our patience, than mislead our sense.
COMMENTARY. An Efay] The poem is in one book, but divided into three principal parts or numbers. The first [to ver. 201.] gives rules for the Study of the Art of Criticism : the second [from thence to ver. 560.] exposes the Causes of wrong Judgment; and the third [from thence to the end] marks out the Morals of the Critic.
In order to a right conception of this poem, it will be necessary to observe, that though it be intitled simply An Esay on Criticism, yet several of the precepts relate equally to the good writing as well as the true judging of a poem. This is so far from violating the Unity of the subject, that it preserves and completes it: or from disordering the regularity of the Form, that it adds beauty to it, as will appear by the following confiderations : 1. It was
An Elay] For a person of only twenty years old to have produced such an Essay, so replete with a knowledge of life and manners, such accurate observations on men and books, such variety of literature, such strong good sense, and refined taste and judg