« PrécédentContinuer »
As on the land while here the ocean gains,
Firft follow Nature, and your judgment frame By her juft standard, which is still the same: Unerring NATURE, still divinely bright, 70 One clear, unchang’d, and universal light, Life, force, and beauty, muft to all impart, At once the source, and end, and teft of Art. Art from that fund each just fupply provides, Works without show, and without pomp prefides : In some fair body thus th' informing foul With spirits feeds, with vigour fills the whole, Each motion guides, and ev'ry nerve sustains ; Itself unseen, but in th' effects, remains.
Ver. 67. Would all but floop to what they understand.) The expression is delicate, and implies what is very true, that most men think it a degradation of their genius to employ it in cultivating what lies level to their comprehension, but had rather exercise their ambition in sub. duing what is placed above it.
Some, to whom Heav'n in wit has been profuse, Want as much more to turn it to its use ;
81 For wit and judgment often are at Itrife, Tho' meant each other's aid, like man and wife. 'Tis more to guide, than spur the Mufe's steed
; Restrain his fury, than provoke his speed; The winged courser, like a gen'rous horse, Shows most true mettle when you check his course.
Those RULES of old discover'd, not devis'd, Are Nature still, but Naturé methodiz'd; Nature, like Liberty, is but restrain'd
90 By the same Laws which first herself ordain'd.
Hear how learn'd Greece her useful rules indites, When to repress, and when indulge our fights : High on Parnassus' top her sons she show'd, And painted out those arduous paths they trod; 95 Held from afar, aloft, th' immortal prize, And urg'd the rest by equal steps to rise.
Ver. 88. Those rules of old, etc.] Cicero has, best of any one I know, explained what that is which reduces the wild and fcattered parts of human knowledge into arts.-Nihil eft quod ad artem redigi poffit, nifi ille prins, qui illa tenet; quorum artem inftituere vult, habeat illum scientiam, ut ex iis rebus, quarum ars nondum fit, artein efficere poffit.--Omnia fere, quæ funt conclufa nunc arribus, dispersa et dilipata quondam fuerunt, ut in Muficis, ise Adhibita eft igitur ars quædam extrinfecus, ex alio genere quodam, quod fibi totum PHILOSOPHI fumunt, qut i en de folutum divulfamque conglutinaret, et ratione quud.in conftringeret. De Orat. 1. i. c 41, 2.
There are whom Heav'n has bleft with store of wit,
Just precepts thus from great examples giv'n,
VER. 98. Just precepts] Nec enim artibus editis faétum eft ut argumenta inveniremus, sed dieta funt omnia antequam præciperentur ; mox ea scriptores observata et cola Testa ediderunt. Quintil. P.
Ver. 112. Some on the leaves--Some drily plain. ) The first, the Apes of those Italian Critics, who at the restoration of letters having found the classic writers miserably mangled by the hands of monkish Librarians, very commendably employed their pains and talents in restoring them to their native purity. The second, the plagiaries from the French, who had made some admirable Com. mentaries on the ancient critics. But that acumen and tafle, which separately conftitute the distinct value of those two species of foreign Criticism, make no part of the character of these paltry mimics at home, de cribed by our Poet in the following lines,
These leave the sense, their learning to display,
And those explain the meaning quite away. Which species is the least hurtful, the Poet has enabled
Some drily plaing without invention's aid,
bring, And trace the Muses upward to their spring.
us to determine in the lines with which he opens his poem,
But of the two less dang'rous is th' offence
To tire our patience than mislead our sense. From whence we conclude, that the reverend Mr. Upton was much more innocently employed when he quibbled upon Epictetus, than when he commented upon Shake. spear.
VARIATIONS. VER. 123. Cavil you may, but never criticize.) The author after this verse originally inserted the following, which he has however omitted in all the editions :
Zoilus, had these been known, without a name
Still with itself compar'd, his text peruse;
When firft young Maro in his boundless mind
140 Some beauties yet no Precepts can declare, For there's a happiness as well as care. Music resembles Poetry, in each Are nameless graces which no methods teach, And which a master-hand alone can reach. 145
VER. 130. When first young Maro, etc.] Virg. Eclog. vi,
Cum canerem reges et prælia, Cynthius aurem
It is a tradition preserved by Servius, that Virgil began with writing a poem of the Alban and Roman affairs; which he found above his years, and descended first to imitate Theocritus on rural subjects, and afterwards to copy Homer in Heroic poetry. P.
When first young Maro sung of Kings and Wars,