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VIS 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.
Some few in that, but numbers err in this,
Ten censure wrong, for one who writes amiss.
A fool might once himself alone expose,
Now one in verse makes many more in prose.
'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none
Go just alike, yet each believes his own.
In poets as true genius is but rare,
True taste as seldom is the critic's share;
Both must alike from heav'n derive their light,
These born to judge, as well as those to write.
+ Let such teach others who themselves excel,
And censure freely.who have written well.
+ Qui scribit artificiose, ab aliis commode fcripta facile intelligere poterit.
Cuc, ad Herenn. b. 4.
ICTU difficile eft, an fit dementia major:
Egiffe invitâ vatem criticumne Minervâ
Ille tamen certe venia tibi dignior errat
Qui lassat, quam qui feducit in avia, sensus.
Sunt, qui absurda canunt; sed enim ftultislima stultos
Quam longe exuperat criticorum natio vates.;;
Se folum exhibuit quondam, melioribus annis.
Natus hebes; ridendum ; at nunc musa improba prolem
Innumeram gignit, quæ mox fermone soluto
Æquiparet solidos versus, certetque ftupendo..
Nobis judicium, veluti quæ dividit horas Machina, construitur, motus non omnibus idem, Non pretium, regit usque tamen sua quemque. Poetas Divite
perpaucos venâ donavit Apollo, Et criticis recte fapere est rarissima virtus;
15 Arte in utraque nitent felices indole soli, Musaque quos placido nascentes lumine vidit. Ille alios melius, qui inclaruit ipse, docebit, Jureque quam meruit, poterit tribuiffe coronanı.
Authors are partial to their wit, 'tis true ;
But are not criticks to their judgment too?
Yet if we look more closely, we shall find,
+ Most have the seeds of judgment in their mind :
Nature affords at least a glimm'ring light;
The lines, tho' touch'd but faintly, are drawn right.
But as the slightest sketch, if justly trac'd,
Is by ill-colouring but the more disgrac’d,
So by false learning is good sense defac’d.
Some are bewilder'd in the maze of schools,
And some made coxcombs, nature meant but fools.
In search of wit, those lose their common sense,
And then turn criticks in their own defence.
Each burns alike, who can, or cannot write,
Or with a rival's, or an eunuch's spite.
All fools have still an itching to deride,
And fain wou'd be upon the laughing side :
If Mævius scribble in Apollo's spight,
There are, who judge still worse than he can write.
Some have at first for wits, then poets past,
Turn'd criticks next, and prov'd plain fools at last.
Some neither can for wits or criticks pass,
As heavy mules are neither horse, nor ass.
+ Omnes tacito quodam sensu, sine ullâ arte, aut ratione, quæ sint in artibus ac rationibus recta ac prava dijudicant.
Cic. de Orat. lib. 3.
Scriptores (fateor) fidunt propriæ nimis arti,
Nonne autem criticos pravus favor urget ibidem ?
At vero propius si stemus, cuique fatendum est,
Judicium quoddam natura inseverit olim :
Illa diem certe dubiam diffundere callet
Et, strictim descripta licet, sibi linea constat.
Sed minimum ut specimen, quod pictor doctus adumbrat,
Deterius tibi fiat eo mage, quo mage vilem
Inducas isti fucum, fic mentis honestæ
Doctrina effigiem maculabit prava decoram.
His inter cæcas mens illaqueata scholarum
Ambages errat, stolidisque supervenit illis
(Diis aliter visum eft) petulantia. Perdere sensum
Communem hi sudant, dum frustra ascendere Pindum
Conantur, mox, ut se defensoribus ipfis
Utantur, critici quoque fiunt: omnibus idem
35 Ardor scribendi, studio hi rivalis aguntur, Illis invalida Eunuchi violentia gliscit. Ridendi proprium est fatuis cacoethes, amantque Turbæ perpetuo sese immiscere jocosæ. Mævius invito dum sudat Apolline, multi Pingue opus exuperant (fi diis placet) emendando.
Sunt qui belli homines primo, tum deinde poetæ, Mox critici evasêre, meri tum denique stulti. EA, qui nec criticum nec vatem reddit, inersque Ut mulus, medium quoddam est asinum inter equmuque.
Those half-learn'd witlings num'rous in our ifle,
As half-form'd insects on the banks of Nile,
Unfinish'd things one knows not what to call,
Their generation's fo equivocal :
To tell 'em, wou'd a hundred tongues require,
Or one vain wit's, that might a hundred tire.
you who seek to give and merit Fame,
And justly bear a critick’s noble name;
Be sure yourself and your own reach to know,
How far your genius, taste, and learning go.
Launch not beyond your depth, but be discreet,
And mark that point where sense and dulness meet.
Nature to all things fix'd the limits fit,
And wisely curb'd proud man's pretending wit.
As on the land while here the ocean gains,
In other parts it leaves wide sandy plains.
Thus in the soul, while memory prevails,
The folid pow'r of understanding fails ;
Where beams of warm inragination play,
The memory's soft figures melt away. .
One science only will one genius fit ;
So vast is art, fo narrow human wit:
Not only bounded to peculiar arts,
But oft in those confin’d to single parts.
Like kings, we lose the conquests gain'd before,
By vain ambition still to make them more.