High on Parnassus' top her sons the show'd, i.
And pointed out those arduous paths they trod; 95
Held from afar, aloft, th’immortal prize,
And urg'd the rest by equal steps to rise.
Just precepts thus from great examples giv'n,
She drew from them what they deriv'd from

The gen'rous Critic fann'd the Poet's fire, Іоо
And taught the world with reason to admire.
Then Criticism the muses handmaid prov'd,
To dress her charms, and make her more belov'd:
But following wits from that intention stray'd,
Who cou'd not win the mistress, woo'd the maid;
Against the Poets their own arms they turn'd, 106
Sure to hate most the men from whom they learn’d.

COMM E N TARY. new rules may be discovered from these new works, in the same manner as the old Critics discovered theirs, from the writings of their contemporary Poets : But these men wanting art and ability to discover these new rules, were content to receive and file up for use, the old ones of

[ocr errors]

NOTES. *98.7 s precepts] Nac antequam præciperentur ; enim artibus editis fa&tum mox ea fcriptores observata eft ut argumenta invenire & colleta ediderunt. Quinmus, fed di&a funt emnia til,


So modern 'Pothecaries, taught the art
By Doctor's Bills to play the Doctor's part,
Bold in the practice of mistaken rules,
Prefcribe, apply, and call their master's fools.
Some on the leaves of antient authors prey,
Nor time nor moths e'er spoild so much as they.
Some drily plain, without invention's aid,
Write dull receits how poems may be made. I15
These leave the sente, their learning to display,
And those explain the meaning quite away.

COMMENTARY. Aristotle, Quintilian, Longirus, Horace, &c. with the same vanity and insolence that Apothecaries practise with their Doctors Bills: And thus boldly applying them to new Originals (cases which they did not bit) it was no more in their power than their will to imitate the practice of the Ancients, when

The generous Critic fann'd be Poet's fire,
And tanght the world with reason to admire.

For, as Ignorance when joined with Humility produces a blind admiration, on which account it is so commonly observed to be the mother of Devotion; so when joined with Pride (as it always is in bad Critics) it gives birth to every iniquity of abuse and flander.

[ocr errors]

You then whose judgment the right course would

steer, Know well each ANCIENT's proper character; His Fable, Subject, seope in every page ;3; izol Religion, Country, genius of his Agen't 10 in


7. Mini 911; COATÀI E N TARY. Ver 118. You then whole Judgment, &4] He comes next to the Ancient Poets, those other and more intimate. 'commentators of Nature, And fhews Efrom ý 117 to 141.) that, the study of these mult indispensably follow that of the ancient Critics, as they furnish us with what is not to be supplied by any Critics,, who can only give general directions, insufficient alone to conduct us safely thro’ any considerable works : But the study of a great original Peet, in

His fable, fubjedl, Prope in ev'ry Page,

Religion, country, genius of bis age, will help us to those particular rules, of so much service to us in their application to whatever work we undertake to examine , and without which, as the poet truly observes, we may cavil indeed, but can never criticise. We mnight as well think that Vitruvius alone would make a perfect Judge of Architecture, without the knowledge fome great mafterpiece of science, such as the Rotonda at Rome, or the Temple of Minerva at Athens; as that Ari jlotle should make a perfe&t Judge of wit without the study of Homer and Virgil. These therefore he principally recommends to perfect the Critic in his Art. But

Without all those at once before your eyes,
Cavil you may, but never criticize.'

COMMENTARY. as this latter Poet by some superficial writers has been *considered rather as a copyer of Homer, than an original himself, our Author obviates that common error, and shews it to have arisen" (as often error does) from a truth, 'viz. that Homer and Nature were the same ; and there<fore the ambitious young Poet, tho' he scorned to stoop at any thing short of Nature, yet when he understood this great truth, he had the prudence to contemplate her

in the place where she was seen to most advantage, collected in all her charms in the clear mirror of Homer. Hence it would follow that tho' Virgil ftudied Nature, the vulgar reader would judge him a copier of Homer; and tho' he copied Homer, the judicious would see him to be 'an imitator of Nature: The finest praise which any one who came after Homer could receive.

NOT E S. * 12). Cadil you may nally inferted the following, but never criticise) The au- which he has however omitthor after this verse origi- ted in all the editions:

Zoilus, bad these been known, without a name
Had dy'd, and Perault ne'er been damnd to fame ;
Tbe fenfe of found Antiquity had reign'd,
And sacred Homer yet been unprophan'd.
None e'er bad thought bis comprebenhve mind
To modern Cuftoms, modern Rules.confin'di;
Wbo for all ages writ, and all mankind.


[ocr errors]

Be Homer's works your study, and delight,
kicad them by day, and meditate by night; : 125
Thence form your judgment, thence your maxims

And tråce the Muses upward to their spring.
Sull with itself compar'd, his text perufe ,
And let your comment be the Mantuan Muse.

When first young Maro in his boundless mind 130
A work t' outlast immortal Rome design'd,
Perhaps he seem'd above the Critic's law,
Alid but froin Nature's fountains (corn’d to draw:
But when t'examine ev'ry part he came,
Natule and Homer' were, he found, the same. 135
Convinc,d, amaz'd, he checks the bold design
And rules as strict his labour'd work confine,
As if the Stagyrite o’erlook'd each line,
Learn hence for ancient rules a just esteem ;
To copy nature is to copy them.'



[ocr errors]


Ý 130. When firf young the Alban and Roman afMaro, &c.] Virgil, Eclog. 6. fairs ;. which he found aCum canerem reges @o pree bove his years, and descended bia, Cynthiusnurem Vellit first to imitate Tbeocritus It is a tradition preserved on rural subjects, and afterby Servius, that Virgil be- wards to copy Homer in gan with writing a poem of Heroic poetry.

« VorigeDoorgaan »