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Still green with bays each ancient Altar stands
COMMENTARY. 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 breaks into a rapturous exclamation on the felicity of the Ancients in rising superior over time and accidents : And, as it were disdaining any longer to reason with his Critics, offers this to them as the surest confutation of their censures. Then with the bumility of a fupplicant at the fhrine of Immortals, and the Sublimity of a Poet participating of their fire, he turns again to these ancient worthies, and apoftrophifes their Manes :
from envy's fiercer rage, of Zoilus and Mèvius and Desiructive war, and all-in. their followers against Wit volving age.]
the irruption of the BarbariThe four great causes of the sans into the Roman Emravage amongst ancient writ- pire; and the long reign of ings are here alluded to: The Ignorance and Superftition destruction of the Alexan- in the Cloisters, drine and Palatine libraries
See, from each clime the learnd their incense bring!
COMMENTARY. Ver. 200. T'admire fuperior Jense, and doubt their own.] Here our author concludes the first division of his discourse, where the last line not only tells us the subje&t of that and the following, and thews the connection they have to one another, but ferves likewise to introduce the second part. -The effect of studying the Ançients, as hitherto recommended, would be the admiration of their fuperior 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 Audy) the
Or all the Causes which conspire to blind Man's erring judgment, and misguide the mind, What the weak head with strongest biafs rules, Is Pride, the never-failing vice of fools.
poet helps forward their modesty, in his second part ; by shewing them, in a regular deduction of the causes and effects of wrong Judgment, their own image and turn of mind.
VER. 201. Of all the caufes, &c.] Having, in tha first part, delivered Rules for perfecting the Art of Criticism, the second is employ'd in explaining the Impediments
The order of the two Parts is judicious. For the causes of wrong judgment being Pride, superficial Learning, narrow Thinking, and Partiality; those 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 effect, had not the author previously both enlightned and convicted them, by the foregoing observations, on the vasiness of Art, and nar. rowness of Wit; the extensive sudy of human Nature and Antiquity; and the Chara&ters of ancient Poetry and Criticisin; the natural remedies to the four epidemic disorders he is now endeavouring to redress,
Ver. 203. Wbat the weak bead, &c.] The first cause of wrong Judgment is Pride. He very properly begins with this, as on other accounts, so on this, that it is the very thing which gives modern Criticism its character ; whole complexion is abuse and censure. He calls it the vice of Fools; by whom are not meant those to whom Nature ha given no Judgment for he is here speaking of what mil
Whatever Nature has in worth deny'd, 205
COMMENTARY. leads the Judgment) but thofe in whom education and study has made no improvement; as appears from the happy fimilitude of an ill-nourished body; where the fame words which express the cause, express likewise the mature of pride :
For as in bodies, thus in fauls we find,
What wants in blood and spirits, swelld with wind. But the mischief is, that the rays of reason, diverted by felf-love, sometimes gild this cloud, inflcad of dilipating it. So that the Judgment, by faļse lights reflected back upon itself, is still apt to be a little dazzled, and to mistake its object. He therefore advises to call in ftill more helps : Ver. 213. Trust not yourself; but your defeats to knoro,
Make use of ev'ry Friend and ev'ry Foe. Both the beginning and conclusion of this precept are re
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.
COMMENTARY. markable. The question is of the means to subduc Pride. He directs the Critic to begin with a distrust off bimself; and this is Modely, the first mortification of Pride: And then to seek the aslistance of others, which concludes with making 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 quite subdued it, or is in a fair way of so doing.
VER. 215. A little learning, &c.]. 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 fecond cause of wrong Judg. ment, SUPERFICIAL LEARNING, is what gives birth to that critical Pride, which he mentioned first.
Ver. 217. There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, &c) Nature and Learning are the pole stars of all true Criticism : But Pride hinders the light of Nature; and a smattering of letters takes away all sense of the want of learning. The natural consequence is what he here advises, either to drink deep, or not to taste at all; for the least fip 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