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They reason and conclude by precedent,
And own ftale nonfenfe which they ne'er invent.
Some judge of authors' names, not works, and then
Nor praife nor blame the writings, but the men.
Of all this fervile herd, the worst is he
That in proud dulnefs joins with Quality.
A conftant Critic at the great man's board,
To fetch and carry nonfenfe for my Lord.
What woful stuff this madrigal would be,
In some starv'd hackney fonneteer, or me?
But let a Lord once own the happy lines,
How the wit brightens! how the stile refines!
Before his facred name flies ev'ry fault,
And each exalted stanza teems with thought!
The Vulgar thus through Imitation err;
As oft the Learn'd by being fingular;

410

415

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420

425

So

COMMENTARY.

VER. 424. The Vu'gar thus-As oft the Learn'd] II. He comes in the fecond place [from ver. 423 to 452.] to confider the inftances of partiality in the learned. 1. The first is fingularity.

WARBURTON.

NOTES.

they are checked or matured by the influence of government or religion upon them. Hence in fome parts of literature the An. cients excel; in others, the Moderns; just as those accidental circumstances occurred. WARBUR BURTON.

VER. 403. Enlights] Warton calls "enlights" an improper word, it is, I believe, in Shakespear.

VER. 420. let a Lord] "You ought not to write verses, (said George the Second, who had little tafte, to Lord Hervey,) 'tis beneath your rank; leave fuch work to little Mr. Pope; it is his trade." But this Lord Hervey wrote some that were above the level of those described here by our author. WARTON.

So much they scorn the croud, that if the throng
By chance go right, they purposely go wrong:
So Schifmatics the plain believers quit,

And are but damn'd for having too much wit.
Some praise at morning what they blame at night;
But always think the last opinion right.

431

A Mufe by thefe is like a mistress us'd,
This hour she's idoliz'd, the next abus'd;
While their weak heads, like towns unfortify'd,
'Twixt fenfe and nonfenfe daily change their fide.
Afk them the cause; they're wiser still, they say; 436
And still to-morrow's wifer than to-day.

We think our fathers fools, fo wife we grow ;

Our wifer fons, no doubt, will think us fo.
Once School-divines this zealous ifle o'er-spread;
Who knew most Sentences, was deepest read; 441
Faith, Gofpel, all, feem'd made to be difputed,
And none had fenfe enough to be confuted:
Scotifts and Thomifts, now, in peace remain,

Amidft their kindred cobwebs in Duck-lane.

445 If

NOTES.

VER. 444. Scotifls] So denominated from Johannes Duns Sco. tus. Erasmus tells us, an eminent Scotift affured him, that it was impoffible to understand one fingle propofition of this famous Duns, unless you had his whole metaphyfics by heart. This hero of incomprehenfible fame fuffered a miferable reverfe at Oxford in the time of Henry VIII. That grave antiquary, Mr. Antony Wood (in the Vindication of himself and his writings. from the reproaches of the Bishop of Salisbury), fadly laments the deformation, as he calls it, of that Univerfity by the King's Com

miffioners;

If Faith itself has diff'rent dreffes worn,

What wonder modes in Wit fhould take their turn?

Oft,

NOTES.

miffioners; and even records the blafphemous fpeeches of one of them, in his own words" We have fet Duns in Boccardo, with all his blind Gloffers, faft nailed up upon pofts in all common houses of easement." Upon which our venerable Antiquary thus exclaims: "If fo be, the Commiffioners had such disrespect for that most famous author J. Duns, who was so much admired by our predeceffors, and fo difficult to be understood, that the Doctors of those times, namely Dr. William Roper, Dr. John Keynton, Dr. William Mowfe, &c. profeffed, that, in twenty-eight years study, they could not understand him rightly, what then had they for others of inferior note ""-What indeed! But they, If so be, that most famous J. Duns was fo difficult to be understood (for that this is a molt theologic proof of his great worth, is past all doubt), I fhould conceive our good old Antiquary to be a little mistaken. And that the nailing up this Proteus of the Schools was done by the Commiffioners in honour of the most famous Duns: There being no other way of catching the fense of so flippery and dodging an Author, who had eluded the pursuit of three of their most renowned Doctors in full cry after him, for eight and twenty years together. And this Boccardo in which he was confined, feemed very fit for the purpose; it being obferved, that men are never more serious and thoughtful than in that place of retirement. Scribl. WARBURTON.

VER. 444. Thomifts] From Thomas Aquinas, a truly great genius, who, in those blind ages, was the fame in theology, that our Friar Bacon was in natural philosophy; less happy than our countryman in this, that he foon became furrounded with a number of dark Gloffers, who never left him till they had extinguished the radiance of that light, which had pierced through the thickest night of Monkery, the thirteenth century, when the Waldenses were fuppreffed, and Wickliffe not yet risen. WARBURTON.

The Summa fummæ, &c. of Thomas Aquinas, is a treatise well deferving a most attentive perusal, and contains an admirable view of Aristotle's Ethics.

Aquinas

Oft, leaving what is natural and fit,
The current folly proves the ready wit;

VARIATIONS.

VER. 447. Between this and ver. 452.

The rhyming clowns that gladded Shakespear's age,
No more with crambo entertain the stage.
Who now in anagrams their patron praise,
Or fing their mistress in acroftic lays?
Ev'n pulpits pleas'd with merry puns of yore;
Now all are banish'd to th' Hibernian fhore!
Thus leaving what was natural and fit,

The current folly prov'd their ready wit;
And authors thought their reputation safe,
Which liv'd as long as fools were pleas'd to laugh.

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NOTES.

Aquinas did not understand Greek; what he knew of Aristotle he got from Averroes, an Arabian, whom the Spanish Jews first tranflated into Hebrew, and from Hebrew into Latin. WARTON,

And

VER. 445. Amidft their kindred cobwebs] Were common sense difpofed to credit any of the Monkish miracles of the dark and blind ages of the Church, it would certainly be one of the feventh century recorded by honeft Bale. "In the fixth general council (fays he) holden at Conftantinople, Anno Dom. 680, contra Monothelitas, where the Latin Mafs was firft approved, and the Latin ministers deprived of their lawful wives, fpiders' webbs, in wonderfull copye were feen falling down from above, upon the heads of the people, to the marvelous astonishment of many." The jufteft emblem and prototype of School Metaphysics, the divinity of Scotifts and Thomifts, which afterwards fell, in wonderfull copye on the heads of the people, in fupport of Tranfubftantiation, to the marvelous astonishment of many, as it continues to do to this day. WARBURTON.

VER. 445. Duck-lane.] A place where old and fecond-hand books were fold formerly, near Smithfield. POPE.

VER. 448. Oft, leaving what is natural] Ita comparatum eft humanum ingenium, ut optimarum rerum fatietate defatigetur.

And authors think their reputation fafe,
Which lives as long as fools are pleas'd to laugh.

Some valuing those of their own side or mind,
Still make themselves the measure of mankind::

450

Fondly

COMMENTARY.

VER. 452. Some valuing those, &c.] III. The third and last inftance of partiality in the learned, is party and faction, which is confidered from verse 451 to verse 474.

NOTES.

Unde fit, artes, neceffitatis vi quâdam crefcere, aut decrefcere femper, & ad fummum faftigium evectas, ibi non diu poffe confiftere. Thus mufic, deferting fimple and pathetic expreffion, is taken up with tricks of execution, and a fort of flight of hand. Thus Borromini, to be new and original, has, as Mr. Walpole expreffes it, twisted and curled architecture, by inverting the volutes of the Ionic order. L'ennui du Beau, amene le gout du Singu lier. This will happen in every country, every art, and every WARTON.

age.

VER. 451. as long as fools] "Mirabile eft (fays Tully) De Oratore, lib. iii. quum plurimum in faciendo inter doctum & rudem, quàm non multum differant in judicando."

Horace and Milton declare against general approbation, and wish for "fit audience though few." And Tully relates, in his Brutus, the ftory of Antimachus, who, when his numerous auditors all gradually left him, except Plato, faid, I ftill continue reading my work; Plato, enim mihi unus inftar eft omnium. The noble confidence and ftrength of mind in Milton, is not in any circumstance more vifible and more admirable, than his writing a poem in a style and manner that he was fure would not be relished or regarded by his corrupt contemporaries.

He was different in this refpect from Bernardo Taffo, the father of his beloved Torquato, who, to fatisfy the vulgar taste and current opinions of his country, new-modelled his epic poem Amadigi, to make it more wild and romantic, and lefs fuited to the rules of Aristotle. WARTON,

VER. 452. fide or mind,] Are two vulgar words, unworthy of our author. WARTON.

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