« VorigeDoorgaan »
Advice, 578.2. When one's Counsel is to be
667. Quintilian, 670. Longinus, 675.
IS hard to fay, if greater want of skill Appear in writing or in judging ill, But, of the two, lefs dang'rous is th' offence To tire our patience, than mislead our sense.
An Effay] The Poem is in one book, but divided into three principal parts or members. The first [to 203.] gives rules for the Study of the Art of Criticijm: the fecond [from thence to 562.] expofes the Caufes of wrong Judgment: and the third [from thence to the end] prescribes the Morals of the Critic.
In order to a right understanding of this poem, it will be neceffary to obferve, that tho' it be intitled fimply an Efay on Criticism, yet feveral of the precepts relate equally to the good writing as well as to the true judging
Some few in that, but numbers err in this, Ten cenfure wrong for one who writes amifs; a daive cit
of a poem. This is fo far from violating the Unity of the Subject that it rounds and compleats it: Or from difordering the regularity of the Form, that it produces the highest beauty which can arife out of method, as will appear from the following confiderations: 1. It was impoffible to give a full and exact idea of the Art of poetical Criticifm, without confidering, at the fame time, the Art of Poetry; fo far as Poetry is an Art. These therefore being closely connected in nature, the Author has judicioufly interwoven the precepts of both reciprocally thro' his whole poem. 2. As all the rules of the ancient Critics were taken from Poets, who copied nature, there is a double reason why every Poet fhould be a Critic: Therefore, as the fubject is poetical Criticifm, it is frequently addreffed to the critical Poet. And thirdly, the Art of Criticism is as neceffarily, and much more usefully exercifed in writing than in judging.
But men have been misled by the modefty of the Title: which only promifes an Art of Criticism, in a treatise, and that a compleat one, of the Art both of Criticism and Poetry. This, and the not attending to the confiderations offered above, perhaps was what mifled a very candid writer, after having given this piece all the praises on the fide of genius and poetry which his true tafte could not refuse it, to say, that the obfervations follow one another like thofe in Horace's Art of Poetry, without that methodical regularity which would have been requifite in a profe writer. Spec. N° 235. Whereas nothing can be more unlike, in this refpect, than these two po
A fool might once himself alone expofe,
'Tis with our Judgments as our watches, none Go juft alike, yet each believes his own. In Poets as true Genius is but rare,
ཐཱ ! ;
True Tafte as feldom is the Critic's fhare;
ems: The Efay on Criticism, having, as we fhall fhew, all the regularity that Method can demand, and the Art of Poetry all the loofenefs and inconnection that a familiar converfation would indulge. Neither (were it otherwife) would this excellent author's obfervation excufe our poet; who, writing in the formal way of a discourse, was obliged to obferve the method of fuch compofitions; while Horace in an eafy epiftle needed no apology for want of it. For 'tis the nature of the compofition, that makes Method proper or unneceflary.
VER. I. 'Tis hard to fay, &c.] The Poem opens [fiom to 9] with fhewing the ufe and feafonablenefs of the fubject. Its ufe, from the greater mifchief in wrong Crucifm than in bad Poetry, this only tiring, that mifleading the reader: Its feafonableness, from the growing number of falfe Critics, which now vaftly exceed of
VER. 9. 'Tis with our judgments, &c.] He obferves firft, that the JUDGMENTS of the multitude, like the artificial measures of Time, go different, and yet cach relies upon his But Tae in the Critic, is as rare as GENIUS in the Poet: both are derived from Heaven, and like the fun (the natural measure of Time) always conftant and equal.
Both muft alike from Heav'n derive their light,
VER. 15. Let fuch teach others, &c.] But it is not enough that the Critic hath natural endowments, he ought to give a further teft of his qualifications by fome acquired talents: And this on two accounts: 1. Because the office of a Critic is an exercise of Authority. 2. Because he being naturally as partial to his Judgment as the Poet is to his Wit, his partiality would have nothing to correct it, as that of the perfon judged hath. Therefore fome teft is reasonable; and the moft unexceptionable is his having writ well himself, as this is an approved remedy against Critical partiality; and the fureft means of fo maturing the Judgment, as to reap with glory what Longinus calls the last and most perfect fruits of much study and experience. Η ΓΑΡ ΤΩΝ ΛΟΓΩΝ ΚΡΙΣΙΣ ΠΟΛΛΗΣ ΕΣΤΙ ΠΕΙΡΑΣ ΤΕΛΕΥΤΑΙΟΝ ΕΠΙΓΕΝΝΗΜΑ. NOTES.
15. Let fuch teach others] Qui fcribit artificiofe, ab aliis commode fcripta facile intelligere poterit. Cic.
ad Herenn. lib. 4. De pillore, fculptore, fitore, nifi artifex judicare non poteft. Pliny.