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In prospects, thus, some objects please our eyes,
Which out of Nature's common order rise,
The shapeless rock, or hanging precipice.

160 But tho' 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 transgress its end; Let it be seldom, and compelld by need;

165 And have, at least, their precedent to plead. The Critic else proceeds without remorse, Seizes your fame, and puts his laws in force.

I know there are, to whose presumptuous thoughts Those freer beauties, ev'n in them, seem faults. 170 Some figures monstrous and mis-shap'd appear, Consider'd singly, 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

175 His pow’rs, in equal ranks, and fair array, , But with th' occasion and the place comply, Conceal his force, nay seem sometimes to fly.


Ver. 169. I know there are, &c.] But as some modern Critics have pretended to say, that this last reason is only justifying one fault by another, our author goes on [from ver. 168 to 181] to vindicate the Ancients ; and to show that this presumptuous thought, as he calls it, proceeds from mere Ignorance. As where their partiality will not let them see that this licence is sometimes necessary for the symmetry and proportion of a perfect whole, in the light, and from the point, wherein it must be viewed : or where their haste will not give them time to observe, that a deviation from rule is for the sake of attaining some great and admirable purpose. These observations are further useful, as they tend to give


Ver. 175. A prudent chief, &c.] Ołóv ti TOLOūOL oi ppóvipou otpatýlarat karà tàs táteis tūv otpatevpátwy. Dion. Hal. De Struct. Orat.-P. Ver. 178. Conceal, &c.]

“ Far the greatest part
Of what some call neglect, is study'd art.
When Virgil seems to trifle in a line,
'Tis but a warning piece which gives the sign
To wake your fancy, and prepare your sight
To reach the noble height of some unusual flight.”


Those oft are stratagems which errors seem,
Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream.

Still green with bays each ancient Altar stands,
Above the reach of sacrilegious hands;
Secure from Flames, from Envy's fiercer rage,
Destructive War, and all-involving Age.
See, from each clime the learn'd their incense bring;
Hear, in all tongues consenting Pæans ring ! 186
In praise so just let ev'ry voice be join'd,
And fill the gen’ral chorus of mankind.
Hail, Bards triumphant! born in happier days;
Immortal heirs of universal praise !



modern Critics an humbler opinion of their own abilities, and a higher of the Authors they undertake to criticise. On which account he concludes with a fine reproof of their use of that common proverb perpetually in the mouths of the Critics, quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus ; misunderstanding the sense of Horace, and taking quandoque for aliquando :

“ Those oft are stratagems which errors seem,

Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream.” Ver. 181. Still green with bays, &c.] But now fired with the name of Homer, and transported with the contemplation of those beauties which a cold Critic can neither see nor conceive, the Poet (from ver. 180 to 201] breaks out into a rapturous salutation of the rare felicity of those few Ancients who have risen superior over time and accidents : and disdaining, as it were, any longer to reason with his Critics, offers this as the surest confutation of their censures. Then with the humility of a suppliant at the shrine of Immortals, and the sublimity of a poet participating of their fire, he turns again to these ancient worthies, and apostrophises their Manes :

Hail, Bards triumphant!" &c.


Ver. 180. Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream.] “ Modeste, et circumspecto judicio de tantis viris pronunciandum est, ne (quod plerisque accidit) damnent quod non intelligunt. Ac si necesse est in alteram errare partem, omnia eorum legentibus placere, quam multa displicere maluerim.” Quint.-P.

Ver. 183. Secure from flames, &c.] The poet here alludes to the four principal causes of the ravage amongst ancient writings. The destruction of the Alexandrine and Palatine libraries by fire, the fiercer rage of Zoilus, Mævius, and their followers, against wit; the irruption of the Barbarians into the Empire ; and the long reign of ignorance and superstition in the cloisters.- Warburton.

Ver. 184. all-involving Age.] In his Epistle to Addison, Pope has “ alldevouring Age,” but the epithet here is more original and striking, and admirably suited to the subject. This shows a nice discrimination.

“ Allinvolving” would be as improper in the Essay on Medals, as “all-devouring" would be in this place.-Bowles.



Whose honours, with increase of ages, grow,
As streams roll down, enlarging as they flow;
Nations unborn your mighty names shall sound,
And worlds applaud, that must not yet be found !
O may some spark of your celestial fire,

195 The last, the meanest of your sons inspire, (That on weak wings, from far, pursues your flights; Glows while he reads, but trembles as he writes) To teach vain Wits a science little known, T admire superior sense, and doubt their own ! 200

Of all the causes which conspire to blind
Man's erring judgment, and misguide the mind,


Ver. 200. To admire superior sense, and doubt their own !] This line concludes the first division of the Poem ; in which we see the subject of the first and second part, and likewise the connexion they have with one another. It serves likewise to introduce the second. The effect of studying the Ancients, as here recommended, would be the admiration of their superior sense ; which, if it will not of itself dispose Moderns to a diffidence of their own (one of the great uses, as well as natural fruits of that study), our author, to help forward their modesty, in his second part shows them in a regular deduction of the causes and effects of wrong Judgment) their own bright image and amiable turn of mind.

Ver. 201. Of all the causes, fc.] Having, in the first part, delivered Rules for perfecting the Art of Criticism, the second is employed in explaining the Impediments to it. The order of the two parts was well adjusted. For the causes of wrong Judgment being Pride, superficial Learning, a bounded Capacity, and Partiality; they to whom this part is principally addressed, would not readily be brought either to see the malignity of the causes, or to own themselves concerned in the effects, had not the author previously both enlightened and convinced them, by the foregoing observations, on the vastness of Art, and narrowness of Wit: the extensive study of human Nature and Antiquity; and the Characters of ancient Poetry and Criticism ; the natural remedies to the four epidemic disorders he is now endeavouring to redress.

Ver. 201. Of all the causes,&c.] The first cause of wrong Judgment is PRIDE. He judiciously begins with this, (from ver. 200 to 215.] as on other accounts, so on this, that it is the very thing which gives modern Criticism its character ; whose complexion is abuse and censure. He calls it the vice of fools, by which term is not meant, those to whom Nature has given no Judgment (for he is here speaking of what misleads the Judgment), but those to whom learning and study have given more erudition than taste ; as appears from the happy similitude of an ill-nourished body; where the same words which express the cause, express likewise the nature of L’RIDE :

“ For as in bodies, thus in souls, we find

What wants in blood and spirits, swell?d with wind.”

What the weak head with strongest bias rules,
Is Pride, the never-failing vice of fools.
Whatever Nature has in worth denied,

She gives in large recruits of needful Pride;
For as in bodies, thus in souls, we find
What wants in blood and spirits, swelld with wind :
Pride, where Wit fails, steps in to our defence,
And fills up all the mighty void of sense.

210 If once right reason drives that cloud away, Truth breaks upon us with resistless day. Trust not yourself; but your defects to know, Make use of ev'ry friend—and ev'ry foe.


'Tis the business of Reason, he tells us, to dispel the cloud in which pride involves the mind : but the mischief is, that the rays of Reason, diverted by self-love, sometimes gild this cloud, instead of dispelling it. So that the Judgment, by false lights reflected back upon itself, is still apt to be a little dazzled, and to mistake its object. He therefore advises to call in still more helps :

Trust not yourself ; but your defects to know,

Make use of ev'ry friend and ev'ry foe. Both the beginning and conclusion of this precept are remarkable. The question is of the means to subdue Pride : he directs the Critic to begin with a distrust of himself; and this is Modesty, the first mortification of Pride : and then to seek the assistance of others, and make use even of an Enemy; and this is Humility, the last mortification of Pride : for when a man can once bring himself to submit to profit by an enemy, he has either already subdued his vanity, or is in a fair way of so doing.


Ver. 206. She gives in large recruits of needful Pride ;] So in the Essay on Man :

“ And each vacuity of sense by Pride." Ver. 209. Pride, where Wit fails, steps in to our defence,


fills up all the mighty void of sense.] A very sensible French writer makes the following remark on this species of Pride : “Un homme qui sçait plusieurs langues, qui entend les Auteurs Grecs et Latins, qui s'élève même jusqu'à la dignité de SCHOLIASTE ; si cet homme venoit à peser son véritable mérite, il trouveroit souvent qu'il se réduit, avoir eu des yeux et de la mémoire ; il se garderoit bien de donner le nom respectable de science à une érudition sans lumière. Il y a une grande différence entre s'enrichir des mots ou des choses, entre alléguer des autorités ou des raisons. Si un homme pouvoit se surprendre à n'avoir que cette sorte de mérite, il en rougiroit plutôt que d'en être vain.”— Warburton.

Ver. 213. defects to know,] Akenside injured his poem by too much correction. Ariosto, as easy and familiar as he seems to be, made many and great alterations in his enchanting poem. Some of Rochefoucault's Maxims were corrected and new written, more than thirty times. The Provincial Letters of Pascal, the model of good style in the French



A little learning is a dang’rous thing ;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring :
There, shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Fir'd at first sight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Arts,
While from the bounded level of our mind,
Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind;
But more advanc'd, behold, with strange surprize,
New distant scenes of endless science rise!
So, pleas'd at first the tow’ring Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky,



Ver. 215. A little learning, 8c.) We must here remark the Poet's skill in his disposition of the causes obstructing true Judgment. Each general cause which is laid down first, has its own particular cause in that which follows. Thus, the second cause of wrong Judgment, SUPERFICIAL LEARNING, is what occasions that critical Pride, which he places first.

Ver. 216. Drink deep, &c.] Nature and Learning are the pole-stars of all true Criticism : but Pride obstructs the view of Nature ; and a smattering of letters makes us insensible of our ignorance. To avoid this ridiculous situation, the Poet (from ver. 214 to 233] advises, either to drink deep, or not to drink at all ; for the least sip at this fountain is enough to make a bad Critic, while even a moderate draught can never make a good one. And yet the labours and difficulties of drinking deep are so great, that a young author, “ Fir'd with ideas of fair Italy,” and ambitious to snatch a palm from Rome, here engages in an undertaking like that of Hannibal : finely illustrated by the similitude of an inexperienced traveller penetrating through the Alps. language, were submitted to the judgment of twelve members of the Port Royal,

who made many corrections in them. All that can be said about correction, is contained in these few incomparable words of Quintilian : " Hujus operis est, adjicere, detrahere, mutare. Sed facilius in his simpliciusque judicium, quæ replenda vel dejicienda sunt ; premere verò tumentia, humilia extollere, luxuriantia astringere, inordinata dirigere, soluta componere, exultantia coercere, duplicis operæ.” Quint. lib. x. c.3.Warton.

Ver. 213. your defects to know,] Gray has, “ Exact my own defects to scan,” and the exact knowledge of our defects, in conduct as well as in writing, is perhaps equally difficult to attain. Pope's rule, in either case, is a very good one. He followed it himself, with regard to his antagonist, Dennis. Some faults in this Essay, which Dennis detected, Pope had the good sense to correct.Bowles.

Ver. 225. So, pleas'd, &c.] Dr. Warton does not agree with Johnson, who



Ver. 225.

So pleas’d at first the tow’ring Alps to try,
Fill’d with ideas of fair Italy,

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