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So pleas'd at first the tow'ring Alps we try, 225
A perfect judge will read each work of wit
240 That shunning faults one quiet tenor keep, We cannot blame indeed..., but we may sleep.. In wit, as nature, what affects our hearts Is not the exactness of peculiar parts: 'Tis not a lip or eye we beauty call,
245 But the joint force and full result of all. Thus when we view some well-proportion'd dome, (The world's just wonder, even thine, O Rome!) No single parts unequally surprise, All comes united to th' admiring eyes;
No monstrous height, or breadth, or length, appear, The whole at once is bold and regular.
Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see, Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall be. In ev'ry work regard the writer's end,
255 Since none can compass more than they intend; And if the means be just, the conduct true, Applause, in spite of trivial faults, is due. As men of breeding, sometimes men of wit, . T' avoid great errors, must the less commit; 260 Neglect the rules each verbal critic lays, For not to know some trifles is a praise. Most critics, fond of some subservient art, Still make the whole depend upon a part: They talk of principles, but notions prize, 265 And all to one lov'd folly sacrifice.
Once on a time, La Mancha's Knight, they say, A certain bard encountring on the way, Discours'd in terms as just, with looks as sage, As e'er could Dennis of the Grecian stage, 270 Concluding all were desp'rate sots and fools Who durst depart from Aristotle's rules. Our author, happy in a judge so nice, Produc'd his play, and begg'd the Knight's advice; Made him observe the subject and the plot, 275 The mamiers, passions, unities; what not?
All which exact to rule were brought about, Were but a combat in the lists left out. “What! leave the combat out?” exclaims the Knight. “Yes, or we must renounce the Stagirite." 280 “Not so, by heav'n! (he answers in a rage ;) “Knights, squires, and steeds, must enter on the
stage." “So vast a throng the stage can ne'er contain." " Then build a new, or act it on a plain.”
Thus critics of less judgment than caprice, 285 Curious, not knowing, not exact, but nice, Form short ideas, and offend in arts (As most in manners) by a love to parts.
Some to conceit alone their taste confine, And glitt'ring thoughts struck out at ev'ry line; 290 Pleas'd with a work where nothing's just or fit, One glaring chaos and wild heap of wit. Poets, like painters, thus unskill'd to trace The naked nature and the living grace, With gold and jewels cover ev'ry part,
295 And hide with ornaments their want of art. True wit is Nature to advantage dress’d, What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd; Something whose truth convinc'd at sight we find, That gives us back the image of our mind. 300 As shades more sweetly recommend the light, So modest plainness sets off sprightly wit:
For works may have more wit than does them good,
Unlucky as Fungoso in the play,
But most by numbers judge a poet's song, And smooth or rough with them is right or wrong: In the bright Muse tho' thousand charms conspire, Her voice is all these tuneful fools admire; 340 Who haunts Parnassus but to please their ear, Not mend their minds, as some to church repair, Not for the doctrine but the music there. These equal syllables alone require, Tho' oft the ear the open vowels tire,
345 While expletives their feeble aid do join, And ten low words oft creep in one dull line : While they ring round the same unvary'd chimes, With sure returns of still expected rhymes ; Where'er you find “ the cooling western breeze," In the next line, it " whispers thro’ the trees :" 351 If crystal streams “ with plea
urs creep," The reader's threatned (not in vain) with “sleep :"