صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

d its reception. Men are often offended by trut sing Antly uttered.

of lit

578-609] The Critic should be liberal of advice, and mus: Wals not, for the sake of making things pleasant, betray his trust.rst Authors who deserve praise can bear reproof best. Dull poets Dead grow indignant at censure, and the safest course is to leave um them alone, for they will always have the last word.

610-630] There are critics to match poets of this stamp. There is the learned blockhead, who reads every book and attacks it,―scatters broadcast charges of plagiarism,—declares that before publication he pointed out faults as a friend, but the author would not correct them. It is impossible to silence a critic of this sort.

631-642] The true Critic is free from pride, partiality, and prejudice. He is well-read, courteous, and sincere. His confidence is tempered by modesty, and his severity by kindliness. When his friend is in error, he tells him: when his enemy does well, he gladly recognises his merits. His taste is delicate, but catholic. He knows not only books, but also

men.

643-686] Such were the critics at Athens and at Rome. Aristotle laid down principles based on Homer, and the ancient poets accepted them. Horace in an unmethodical fashion teaches temperately in his precepts what he exemplifies with fire in his own poems. Modern critics, on the contrary, keep their fire for their criticisms. Dionysius, Petronius, Quintilian, and Longinus were critics who illuminated their subject and were recognised as authorities till learning and Rome fell together.

687-714] Then followed the dark ages, during which men's minds were enslaved by superstition, till the rise of Erasmus and the Renaissance, the age of Raphael in Art and of Vida in Literature. When Rome was sacked, the influence of this classical revival spread from Italy over northern Europe, but criticism took root most securely in France, where Boileau was supreme.

715-744] Owing to their spirit of independence, the

Scio

thei

and

tiali

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

English generally refused to recognise the validity of laws of literature obeyed abroad, but Sheffield, Roscommon, and Walsh were exceptions. It was Walsh who guided Pope's first footsteps in the paths of poetry, and, now that Walsh is dead, Pope has no heart to venture upon anything greater than humble essays, satisfied if he can but make the ignorant conscious of their short-comings and cause the learned to pass their critical principles in review, indifferent alike to censure and to fame, ready to pronounce his judgments with impartiality, and willing when wrong to submit to correction.

CONTENTS OF THE ESSAY ON CRITICISM.

PART I.

Introduction-That 'tis as great a fault to judge ill, as to write ill, and a more dangerous one to the public, l. I. That a true Taste is as rare to be found, as a true Genius, 1. 9 to 18. That most men are born with some Taste, but spoiled by false Education, 1. 19 to 25. The multitude of Critics, and causes of them, 1. 26 to 45. That we are to study our own Taste, and know the Limits of it, 1. 46 to 67. Nature the best guide of Judgment, 1. 68 to 87. Improv'd by Art and Rules, which are but methodis'd Nature, 1. 88. Rules deriv'd from the Practice of the Ancient Poets, 1. id. to 110. That therefore the Ancients are necessary to be studyd, by a Critic, particularly Homer and Virgil, 1. 120 to 138. Of Licences, and the use of them by the Ancients, 1. 140 to 180. Reverence due to the Ancients, and praise of them, l. 181, etc.

PART II.

Lines 203, etc. Causes hindering a true Judgment-1. Pride, 1. 208. 2. Imperfect Learning, 1. 215. 3. Judging by parts, and not by the whole, 1. 233 to 288. Critics in Wit, Language, Versification, only, 1. 288, 305, 339, etc. 4. Being too hard to please, or too apt to admire, 1. 384. 5. Partialitytoo much Love to a Sect, to the Ancients or Moderns, 1. 394. 6. Prejudice or Prevention, 1. 408. 7. Singularity, 1. 424 8. Inconstancy, 1. 430. 9. Party spirit, 1. 452, etc. IO. Envy, 1. 466. Against Envy, and in praise of Good-nature, 1. 508, etc. When Severity is chiefly to be used by Critics,

1. 526, etc.

PART III.

Lines 560, etc. Rules for the Conduct of Manners in a Critic-1. Candour, 1. 563. Modesty, l. 566. Good-breeding, 1. 572. Sincerity, and Freedom of advice, 1. 578. 2. When one's Counsel is to be restrained, 1. 584. Character of an incorrigible Poet, 1. 600. And of an impertinent Critic, 1. 610, etc. Character of a good Critic, l. 629. The History of Criticism, and Characters of the best Critics, Aristotle, 1. 645. Horace, 1. 653. Dionysius, 1. 665. Petronius 1.667. Quintilian, 1. 670. Longinus, 1. 675. Of the Decay Erasmus, 1. 693. Vida, 1. 705. common, etc., 1. 725. Conclusion

riticism, and its Revival. bileau, 1. 714. Lord Ros

ΑΝ ESSAY ON CRITICISM.

1711

I.

"Tis hard to say-if greater want of skill 20
Appear in writing-or in judging ill; 2

But of the two less dang'rous is th' offence N. 7
To tire our patience than mislead our sense:

Some few in that, but numbers err in this,m

Ten censure wrong for one who writes amiss; PDMS

[merged small][ocr errors]

Now one in verse makes many more in prose.

[ocr errors]

'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none //!!!

I

Go just alike, yet each believes his own.

110

6

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,

[ocr errors]

15

These born to judge, as well as those to write.in &
Let such teach others who themselves excel,
And censure freely who have written well.
Authors are partial to their wit, 'tis true,
But are not Critics to their judgment too?

4

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:

20

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,

[blocks in formation]

And some made coxcombs Nature meant but fools:
In search of wit these lose their common sense, -

And then turn Critics 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,

30

And fain would be upon the laughing side.

If Mævius scribble in Apollo's spite,

There are who judge still worse than he can write.
Some have at first for Wits, then Poets pass'd;
Turn'd Critics next, and prov'd plain fools at last.
Some neither can for Wits nor Critics pass,
As heavy mules are neither horse nor ass.
Those half-learn'd witlings, num'rous in our isle,
As half-form'd insects on the banks of Nile ;
Unfinish'd things, one knows not what to call,
Their generation's so equivocal;

To tell 'em would a hundred tongues require,
Or one vain wit's, that might a hundred tire.
But you who seek to give and merit fame,
And justly bear a Critic's noble name,

35

40

45

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,

50

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,

55

« السابقةمتابعة »