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Without all these at once before your eyes,
Cavil you may, but never criticize.
Be Homer's warks your study and delight,
Read them by day, and meditate by night,
Thence form your judgment, thence you notions
And trace the muses upward to their spring.
[bring. Ştill with itself compar'd, his text peruse; And let your comment be the Mantuan muse.
When first young Marosụng of Kings and wars,
E're warning Phoebus touch'd his tremblipg. ears,
Perhaps he seem'd above the critic's law,
And but from nature's fountains scorn'd to draw;
But when t' examine ev'ry part he came,
Nature and Homer were, he found, the fame:
And rules as strict his labour'd works 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.
Some beauties yet no precepts can declares.
For there's a happiness as well as care,
Virgil, Eclog. 6, Cùm canerem Reges & prælia, Cynthius aurema:
Music resembles poetry, in each
2 Are nameless graces which no methods teach, And which a master-hand alone can reach. If, † where the rules not far enough extend, (Since rules were made but to promote their end) Some lucky licence answers to the full Th'intent propos'd, that licence is a rule. Thus Pegasus, a nearer way to take, May boldly deviate from the common track. Great wits sometimes may gloriously offend, And rise to faults true critics dare not mend; From vulgar bounds with brave disorder part, And snatch a grace beyond the reach of art, Which, without passing thro' the judgment, gains The heart, and all its end at once attains. In prospects, thus, some objects please our eyes, Which out of nature's common order rise, The shapeless rock, or hanging precipice.
S But care in poety must still be' had, It asks discretion ev'n in running mad:
† Neque tam san&a funt ifta pracepta, Sed hoc quicquid eft, utilitas excogitavit ; non negabo autem fic utile effe .plerumque; venim fi eadem illa nobis aliud fuadébit utilitas, hanc reliétis magistrorum axseritatibus, fequemur. Quintil. lib. 2. cap. 13.
And tho' the ancients thus their rules invade,
(As Kings difpenfe with laws themselves have made)
Moderns beware! or if you muft offend
Against the precept, ne'er transgress its end;
Let it be feldom, and compellid by need;
And have at least their precedent to plead:
The critic else proceeds without remorse,
Seizes your fame, and puts his laws in force.
I know there are, to whofe presumptuous thoughts
Those freer beauties, ev’n in them, seem faults.
Some figures monstrous and mis-fhap'd appear,
Consider'd fingly, or beheld too near,
Which, but proportion'd to their light, or place,
Due diftance reconciles to form and grace.
A prudent chief not alway must display
His pow'rs in equal ranks, and fair array,
But with th' occafion and the place comply,
Conceal his force, nay seem fometimes to fly.
Those oft are ftratagems which errors seem,
Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream.
Still green with bays each ancient altar stands,
Above the reach of sacrilegious hands;
Secure from flames, from envy's fiercer rage,
Destructive war, and all-devouring age.
See, from each clime the learn'd their incense bring
Hear, in all tongues consenting Peans ring!
In praise fo just let every voice be join'd,
And fill the gen'ral chorus of mankind!
Hail, bards triumphant! born in happier days;
Immortal heirs of universal praise !
Whofe honours with increase of ages grow,
As streams roll down, enlarging as they flow!
Nations unborn your mighty names shall found,
And worlds applaud that must not yet be found!
Oh may some spark of your celestial fire,
The last, the meanest of your sons-inspire,
(That onweak wings, from far, pursues your flights:
Glows while he reads, but trembles as he writes)
To teach vain wits, a science little known,
T'admire superior sense, and doubt their own!
Of all the causes which conspire to blind
Man's erring judgment, and misguide the mind,
What the weak head with strongest biass rules,
Is pride, the never-failing vice of fools.
Whatever nature has in worth deny'd,
She gives in large recruits of needful pride; .
For as in bodies, thus in souls, we find
What wants in blood and spirits, swell'd with wind ::
Pride, where wit fails, steps in to our defence,
And fills up all the mighty void of sense !
If once right season drives that cloud away,
Truth breaks upon us with resistless day;
Truft not yout self; but your defects to know,
Make use of ev'ry friend and ev'ry foe.
A little learning is a dang’rous thing;
Drink deep, or tafte not the Pierian spring;
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Fir'd at first fight with what the mule imparts,
in fearless youth we tempt the heights of arts,
While from the bounded level of our mind,
Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind;
But more advanc'd, behold with Itrange surprize
New distant fcenes of endless science rise!
So pleas'd at first the tow'ring Alps we trị,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky,
Th' eternal snows appear already paft,
And the first clouds and mountaints seen the last:
But those attain'd, we tremble to survey
The growing labours of the lengthen'd way,
Th' increaling prospect tires our wand'ring eyes,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise !