Pope's Essay on Criticism

By Frederick M. A. Ryland; Alexander Pope | Go to book overview

NOTES

l. 4. sense, judgment.

1. 6. censure, judge. (Lat. censeo.) The word did not originally connote unfavourable judgment. "Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment ", in Hamlet, i. 3. 69, means "Hear each man's opinion, but reserve your own".

1. 15. who themselves excel. According to modern usage such should be followed by the relative as. But this rule was not by any means universal in the early 18th century. See l. 385 below. Compare Abbott, Shakespearian Grammar, § 278.

In support of his dictum, Pope quotes from a very doubtful work on Rhetoric, once ascribed to Cicero, and from Pliny: " Qui scribit artificiose, ab aliis commode scripta facile intellegere poterit" (Cicero, Ad Herennium, iv, cap. 4). "De pictore, sculptore, fictore, nisi artifex, judicare [non potest]" (Pliny the younger, Epistolœ, i. 10). Dennis pertinently asks, "Was Aristotle himself, the very father of critics, a poet? ... Dionysius Halicarnassus and Dionysius Longinus among the Greeks, and Quintilian among the Romans, were free censurers yet no poets. And so are Bossu and Dacier at present among the French " (Reflections upon a Late Rhapsody, p. 3).

1. 17. wit, poetical genius. See Introduction, p. lviii seq.

1. 20. Most have the seeds of judgment. Pope quotes Cicero (not quite accurately) to the same effect: "Omnes tacito quodam sensu, sine ulla arte aut ratione, quæ sint in artibus ac rationibus recta ac prava dijudicant" (De Oratore, iii, cap. 50). This was a favourite opinion in the 17th and 18th centuries. Thus Locke says: "Every man carries about him a touchstone, if he will make use of it, to distinguish substantial gold from superficial glitterings, truth from appearances. And indeed the use and benefit of this touchstone, which is natural reason, is spoiled and lost only by assumed prejudices, overweening presumption, and narrowing our minds" (Conduct of the Understanding, § 3). Pope, it will be noticed, does not go as far as Cicero or Locke; he only allows that the germs of correct judgment are to be found in the average man.

1. 23. But as the slightest sketch. There are eight triplets in the present work. Pope, though he still occasionally used them,

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Table of contents

  • Pope's Essay on Criticism *
  • Preface *
  • Contents *
  • Introduction *
  • Contents of the Essay on Criticism *
  • An Essay on Criticism. *
  • Notes *
  • Appendix I *
  • Appendix II *
  • Blackie's Standard English Classics - With Introductions and Generally with Notes *
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