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Some neither can for Wits nor Critics pass,
you, who seek to give and merit fame,
Nature to all things fix'd the limits fit,
60 So vast is art, so 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 ;
Each VARIATION, Ver. 63. Ed. 1. But ev'n in those, &c.
Each might his several province well command,
First follow Nature, and your judgment frame
70 One clear, unchang’d, and universal light, Life, force, and beauty, must to all impart, At once the source, and end, and test of Art. Art from that fund each just supply provides ; Works without show, and without pomp presides : 75 In some fair body thus th’ informing soul With spirits feeds, with vigour fills the whole, Each motion guides, and every nerve sustains ; Itself unseen, but in th' effects remains. Some, to whom Heaven in wit has been profuse, 80 Want as much more, to turn it to its use; For wit and judgment often are at strife, Though meant each other's aid, like man and wife. 'Tis more to guide, than spur the Muse's steed; Restrain his fury, than provoke his fpeed: The winged courser, like a generous horse, Shows most true mettle when you check his course.
Those Rules of old discover'd, not devis'd, Are Nature still, but Nature methodis'd :
That art is beft, which most resembles her;
Which still prefides, yet never does appear. Ver. 76.
- the secret foul. Ver. 80.
There are whom Heaven has bleft with store of wit, Yet want as much again to manage it.
Nature, like Liberty, is but restrain &
90 By the same laws which first herself ordain'd.
Hear how learn'd Greece her useful rules indites,
Ver. 90. Ed. 1. Nature, like Monarchy, &c.
When to repress and when indulge our flight.
Set up themselves, and drove a separate trade.
Some drily plain, without invention's aid,
115 These leave the sense, their learning to display, And those explain the meaning quite away.
You then whose judgment the right course would steer, Know well each ANCIENT's
character : His Fable, Subject, scope in every page ; Religion, Country, genius of his Age: Without all these at once before your eyes, Cavil you may, but never criticize. Be Homer's works your study and delight, Read them by day, and meditate by night; 125 Thence form your judgment, thence your maxims bring, And trace the Muses upward to their spring. Still with itself compar’d, his text peruse; And let your comment be the Mantuan Muse.
Ver. 116. Ed. 1. These loft, &c.
Ver. 123. Cavil you may, but never criticize.) The
Who for all ages writ, and all mankind. Ver. 126. Thence form your judgment, thence your no
When first young Maro, in his boundless mind 130 A work t' outlalt immortal Rome design'd, Perhaps he seem'd above the Critic's law, And but from Nature's fountains (corn'd to draw : But when t'examine every part he came, Nature and Homer were, he found, the fame. 135 Convinc'd, amaz’d, he checks the bold design; And rules as stri&t his labour'd work confine, As if the Stagirite oʻerlook'd cach line. Learn hence for ancient rules a juft esteem; To copy nature, is to copy them.
140 Some beauties yet no precepts can declare, For there's a happiness as well as care. Music resembles Poetry, in cach Are nameless graces which no methods teach, And which a master-hand alone can reach. 14 If, where the rules not far enough extend, (Since rules were made but to promote their end) Some lucky License answer to the full Th' intent propos'd, that License is a rule. Thus Pegasus, a nearer way to take,
156 May boldly deviate from the common track ;
Ere warning Phoebus touch'd his trembling ears.
Convinc'd, amaz’d, he check'd the bold design;
And did his work to rules as strict confine.