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quiesce, disingenuously imposing on itself, and maintaining it's ground with deceitful arguments. This will account for that seeming contradiction in many critical characters, who so acutely can see the faults of others, but at the same time are blind to the follies of their own espoused sentiments and opinions.
There is moreover in every person a particular bent and turn of mind, which, whenever forced a different way than what nature intended, grows auwkard. Thus Bentley, the greatest scholar of the age, took a strange kind of resolution to follow the muses : but whatever skill and sagacity he might discover in other authors, yet his Horace and Milton will testify to the world as much his want of elegance and a poetic tast, as his epistle to Dr. Mills and his differtations on Phalaris will witness for his being, in other respects, the best critic that ever appeared in the learned world.
Aristarchus seem'd very much to resemble Bentley Cicero tells us in his epistles, that whatever displeased him he would by no means
2 Cicer. epist. ad famil. III, 2. Sed fi, ut fcribis, eac literae non fuerunt disertae, scito meas non fuisse. Ut enim Aristarchus Homeri verfum negar quem non probat ; fic tu (libet enim mihi jocari) .quod difertum non erit, ne putetis
believe was Homer's : and I don't doubt but he found editors, whose backs were broad enough to bear whatever loads of reproaches he was pleased to lay on them.
3 The old rhapsodists, the Spartan lawgiver, or Athenian tyrant, might have served his turn much better than such a ghost of an editor, the very coinage of his brain, as was lately raised up by the Dr. when he fo miserably mangled Milton.
However this unbridled spirit of criticism fhould by all means be restrained. For these trifles, as they appear, will lead to things of a more serious consequence. By these means even the credit of all books must sink in proportion to the number of critical, as well as uncritical hands, thro' which they pass.
There is one thing, I think, should always be remember'd in settling and adjusting the context of authors; and that is, if they are worthy of criticism, they are worthy of so much regard as to be presumed to be in the right, 'till there are very good grounds to suppose them wrong. A critic should come with abilities to defend, not with arrogance at once to start up a corrector. Is this less finished ? Is it not so intended to set off what is principal, and requires
3 Aelian. Var. Hist, XIII, 14.
a higher a higher finishing? Is this less numerous ? Perhaps the poet fo designed it, to raife the imagination still higher, when we come to sublimer and more fonorous subjects. Does not even variety, which goes so far to constitute what is beautiful, carry with it a supposal of inferiority and fubordination ? Nay, where no other confideration can be presumed, fome allowances surely are to be given to the infirmity of human nature.
'Tis the artist of a lower class who finishes all alike. If you examine the designs of a mafterly hand, you'll perceive how rough these colours are laid on, how slightly that is touched, in order to carry on your view to what is principal, and deserves the chief attention : for by this correfpondence and relation, and by thus, making each part fubfervient to the other, a whole is formed.
And were it not a degree of prophanation, I might here mention the great Designer, who has Aung fome things into such strong shades, that 'tis no wonder so much gloominefs and melancholy is raifed in rude and undisciplined minds the sublime Maker, + who has set this universe before us as a book; yet what superficial readers
4 Milton VIII, 67.
are we in this volume of nature? Here I am certain we must become good men, before we become good critics, and the first step to wisdom is humility.
In a word, the most judicious critics, as well as the most approved authors are fallible ; the former therefore should have some modesty, the latter fome allowances. But modesty is of the highest importance, when a critical inquirer is examining writings which are truly originals ; such as Homer among the ancients, Milton and Shakespeare among the moderns. Here we are to proceed with caution, with doubt and hesitation. Such authors are really " Makers, as the original word Poet imports. In their extensive
minds 5 Sir Philip Sydney in his defence of poefie,
« The 6 Greekes named him NOIHTHN, which name hath, as the “ moft excellent, gone through other languages : it com“ meth of this word NOIEIN, which is to make : wherein ** I know not whether by lucke or wisdome wee Englishmen « have met with the Greekes in calling him a maker." Johnson in his Discoveries, “ A poet is that which by the 66 Greeks is called xat' goxnin, O HOIHTHE, a maker, or
a feigner, &c." And in Every Man out of his Humour. A& III. SC VI. “ Cor. I would fain hear one of these u autumne judgments define once, Quid fit Comoedia ? If he
cannot, let him content himself with Cicero's definition, “ ('till he have strength to propose to himself a better) « who would have a comedy to be Imitatio vita, Speculum
minds the forms and species of things lie in embryo, 'till callid forth into being by expressions answering their great idea.
“ confuetudinis, imago veritatis ; a thing throughout plea“ fant, and ridiculous, and accommodated to the correction “ of manners : if the Maker have failed in any particle “ of this, they may worthily tax him." So in his translation of Hor. art. poet. Dostum imitatorem : “ the learned • Maker." So Spencer uses the verb, to make, in his Fairy Queen, B. 3. c. 2. ft. 3.
“ But ah! my rhimes too rude and rugged are,
By Tityrus, he means Chaucer.
So too B. Johnson in his Epigrammes.
To John Donne.
« That so alone canst judge, so' alone doft make. notiv, versus facere. Julian in his Caefars, 'Dome Oumpo ogows noin non. Xenophon. in Sympof. "Ise yap de ότι ο “ΟμηρG- ο σοφώτατG- ΠΕΠΟΙΗΚΕ σχεδόν σερί σανίων. των ανθρωπίνων. Ρlato in Ione, 'Αλλα θεία μοίρα τυτο μόνον οίός τε έκασΘ- ποΙΕΙΝ καλώς, εφ' και η μέσα αυτόν ώρμησαν.
6 « The