An Essay on Criticism, by Alexander Pope

Table of Contents

Part First.

Introduction. — That ’tis as great a fault to judge ill, as to write ill, and a more dangerous one to the public, ver. 1. That a true taste is as rare to be found as a true genius, ver. 918. That most men are born with some taste, but spoiled by false education, ver. 1925. The multitude of critics, and causes of them, ver. 2645. That we are to study our own taste, and know the limits of it, ver. 4667. Nature the best guide of judgment, ver. 6887. Improved by art and rules, which are but methodised nature, ver. 88. Rules derived from the practice of the ancient poets, ver. 88110. That therefore the ancients are necessary to be studied by a critic, particularly Homer and Virgil, ver. 120138. Of licences, and the use of them by the ancients, ver. 140180. Reverence due to the ancients, and praise of them, ver. 181, &c.

Part Second.

Causes hindering a true judgment —(1.) pride, ver. 208; (2.) imperfect learning, ver. 215; (3.) judging by parts and not by the whole, ver. 233288. — Critics in wit, language, versification only, ver. 288, 305, 339, &c.; (4.) being too hard to please, or too apt to admire, ver. 384; (5.) partiality — too much love to a sect — to the ancients or moderns, ver. 394; (6.) prejudice or prevention, ver. 408; (7.) singularity, ver. 424; (8.) in constancy, ver. 430; (9.) party spirit, ver. 452, &c.; (10.) envy, ver. 466; against envy, and in praise of good-nature, ver. 508, &c. When severity is chiefly to be used by critics, ver. 526, &c.

Part Third.

Rules for the conduct of manners in a critic —(1.) candour, ver. 503; modesty, ver. 566; good-breeding, ver. 572; sincerity, and freedom of advice, ver. 578; (2.) when one’s counsel is to be restrained, ver. 584. Character of an incorrigible poet, ver. 600. And of an impertinent critic, ver. 610, &c. Character of a good critic, ver. 629. The history of criticism, and characters of the best critics — Aristotle, ver. 645; Horace, ver. 653; Dionysius, ver. 665; Petronius, ver. 667; Quintillian, ver. 670; Longinus, ver. 675. Of the decay of criticism, and its revival. Erasmus, ver. 693; Vida, ver. 705; Boileau, ver. 714; Lord Roscommon, &c., ver. 725. CONCLUSION.

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