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: In the two last lines, there is a happy and noble combination of imagery and sentiment.
But the next chorus affords a beauty of the softer kind, where the poet thus feelingly defcribes the delights of connubial love,
“ Oh source of ev'ry social tye,
“ What various joys on one attend, “ As son, as father, brother, husband, friend? « Whether his hoary fire he spies, ( While thousand grateful thoughts arise; 6. Or meets his spouse's fonder eye; “ Or views his fmiling progeny; " What tender passions take their turns,
“ What home-felt raptures move? “ His heart now melts, now leaps, now burns,
“ With rev'rence, hope, and love." A mind endued with the least fenfibility, cannot fail of being affected by the delicacy and tenderness of these sentiments, as well as charmed by the force and propriety of the epithets, and the elegance and harmony of the numbers.
The next piece which falls under consideration, is the Essay on Criticism, which, extraordinary as it may seem, was written before our poet had attained his twentieth year; and published within two years afterwards, being as short a time as he ever suffered any thing to lie by him.
It had not probably been published so soon, but for the importunity of his old friend Sir William Trumball, to whom he sent a copy of it, and who
was so charmed with it, that, in a letter which he addressed to him in return, he concludes thus, “ All I can add is, that if your excess of modesty “should hinder you from publishing this essay, “I shall only be sorry I have no more credit with
you, to persuade you to oblige the public, and “ in particular, Dear Sir, &c.
This poem, the writer of the effay candidly allows to be a master-piece of its kind, and that notwithstanding the partial commendation of Mr. Addison, who remarks that “thie obfervations “ follow one another, like those of Horace's Art “ of poetry *, without that methodical regularity, “ which would have been necessary in a profe “ writer,” yet it is evident that the plan is regular, and the conduct of it masterly.
Indeed, it is difficult, as our poet's learned friend and commentator observes, to conceive any prerogative in verse, to dispense with method and regularity. Besides, in truth, our poet laid the plan, and digested all the matter in prose; and then, as he has been heard to say, he turned it into verse with great rapidity.
The general order and design of this work is fully delineated in the admirable commentary fubjoined to it. But it would not be consistent with the professed plan of this history, should I omit to point out its most distinguished beauties and defects, which cannot be done, without giving a short analysis of the poet's chain of argument:
• That Horace attended to method in his Art of Poetry, has becn hewn by a learned critic. See Mr. Hurd's comment on the Epistle to the Pisos.
and I cannot help thinking it a capital objection to the essay above-mentioned on Mr. Pope's writ, ings, &c. that the essayist frequently only selects detached passages, as the foundation of his encomium or censure, without attempting to connect the sense. Unless we recollect the writer's general scope of reasoning, we cannot always fully relish the beauties of particular parts, more especially in Mr. Pope, who has the particular skill to employ poetical ornament in aid of his argu
Add to this, that when parts are thus taken detached, we may sometimes impute faults to the writer, which are so only from the partial view we have given of his work*
consists of one book, which is divided into three principal parts, or members. The first of them giving rules for the study of the art of criticism; the second exposing the causes of wrong judgment; and the third, marking out the morals of the critic.
Though this piece is intitled simply an Elay on Criticism, yet it contains several precepts, equally relative to the good writing, as to the true judging of a poem ; which is fo far from violating the unity of the subject, that it preserves and compleats it.
* To this effect, says our Poet, in the following lines :
“ The critic eye, that microscope of wit,
- The poet having in the opening, shewn the use and feasonableness of the subject, he proceeds to inquire into the proper qualities of a true critic. “ 'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none " Go just alike, yet each believes his own. "In Poets, as true genius is but rare, 4 True taste as feldom is the Critic's share; .Both must alike from Heav'n derive their light, .." These born to judge, as well as those to write."
The reasoning in these lines, as the learned commentator observes, is conclusive; and the similitude extremely just.
It may be necessary, however, to consider this passage respecting the human faculties, somewhat more critically; as it will be of use hereafter, in the attempt to ascertain the nature and extent of our author's genius.
It has been said that “judgment, when it goes “alone, is generally regulated, or at least much "influenced, by custom, fashion or habit; and
never certain and constant, but when founded upon Taste; which is the same in the critic,
as GENIUS in the poet. That, in fact, genius « and taste are but one and the same faculty dif“ferently exerting itself under different names, " in the two professions of poetry and criticism: “ for that the art of poetry consists in selecting “out of all thofe images which present them“ selves to the fancy, such of them as are truly “ beautiful: And the art of criticism in discerning, " and fully relishing, what it finds so selected.
Though it may be allowed, that judgment is never certain, but when ripened into taste: nevertheless we must be cautious how we fall into an error, which has been adopted by many writers, who have considered judgment and taste as things totally distinct : for they appear to be the fame faculty, and to differ only in the degree and extent of their application. Taste is nothing but judgment matured and refined. The faculty of judgment, is born with us; taste is, in a great measure, acquired. Judgment, is the faculty of comparing and separating our ideas : taste, is the same faculty of comparison improved, and applied to works of imagination and elegance.
The man of taste seems at one glance, by a kind of intuition, to discern what is beautiful and elegant; and this has misled many to imagine that taste is a faculty distinct from judgment. But, in truth, we cannot discover what is beautiful, but by comparison: and to compare, as has been said, is the office of judgment. Taste, therefore, is the result of repeated, tho' perhaps imperceptible operations of the judgment, by which, we at length acquire that quick discernment of, and habitual relish for, the beautiful.
The excellence of taste, depends on an extensive knowledge in the subjects of the fine arts ; and on that habit of comparison, which alone can enable us to discern and relish what is truly beautiful. For inftance, should a man of good natural judgment who had never seen a picture, behold two portraits of the human figure, daubed upon a sign, of which the one was manifestly a better imitation of nature than the