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First follow Nature, and your judgment frame By her just standard, which is still the same; Unerring Nature, still divinely bright, 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 : 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, 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 speed : The winged courser, like a generous horse, Shows most true mettle when


check his course. Those rules of old, discover’d, not devis’d, Are nature still, but nature methodiz’d : Nature, like liberty, is but restrain'd 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 flights : High on Parnassus' top her sons she show'd, And pointed out those arduous paths they trod; Held from afar, aloft, th' immortal prize, And urg'd the rest by equal steps to rise.

Just precepts thus from great examples given,
She drew from them what they deriv'd from Heaven.
The generous critic fann'd the poet's fire,
And taught the world with reason to admire.
Then Criticism the Muse's handmaid prov'd,
To dress her charms, and make her more belov'd :
But following wits from that intention stray'd :
Who could not win the mistress woo'd the maid ;
Against the poets their own arms they turn'd,
Sure to hate most the men from whom they learn’d.
So modern 'pothecaries, taught the art
By doctors' bills to play the doctor's part,
Bold in the practice of mistaken rules,
Prescribe, apply, and call their masters fools.
Some on the leaves of ancient authors prey;
Nor time nor moths e'er spoild so much as they ;
Some drily plain, without invention’s aid,
Write dull receipts how poems may be made ;
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,

you may, but never criticise.
Be Homer's works your study and delight,
Read them by day, and meditate by night;
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.
When first


Maro in his boundless mind A work ť outlast immortal Rome design’d, Perhaps he seem'd above the critic's law, And but from Nature's fountains scorn'd to draw; But when t examine every part he came, Nature and Homer were, he found, the same. Convinc'd, amazd, he checks the bold design, And rules as strict his labour'd work 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 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. 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, 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.
But though the ancients thus their rules invade,
(As kings dispense with laws themselves have made)
Moderns, beware! or if you must offend
Against the precept, ne'er transgress its end;
Let it be seldom, and compell’d 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 whose presumptuous thoughts
Those freer beauties, e’en in them, seem faults.
Some figures monstrous and misshap'd appear,
Consider'd singly, or beheld too near,
Which, but proportion’d to their light or place,
Due distance reconciles to form and grace.
A prudent chitf not always must display
His powers in equal ranks and fair array,
But with th' occasion and the place comply,
Conceal his force, nay, seem sometimes to fly.
Those oft are stratageins which errors seem,
Nor is it Homer nods, but we that dream.

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-involving age. See from each clime the learn’d their incense bring! Hear in all tongues consenting paans ring! In praise so just let every voice be join’d, And fill the general chorus of mankind.

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Hail, bards triumphant! born in happier days,
Immortal heirs of universal praise !
Whose honours with increase of ages grow,
As streams roll down, enlarging as they flow
Nations unborn your mighty names shall sound,
And worlds applaud that must not yet be found !
O may some spark of

celestial fire The last, the meanest of your sons inspire, (That on weak 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.


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