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say, in Helicon. There goes more to his making than so for to nature, exercise, imitation, and study, art must be added, to make all these perfect. And though these challenge to themselves much, in the making up of our maker, it is art only can lead him to perfection, and leave him there in possession, as planted by her hand. It is the assertion of Tully, if to an excellent nature, there happen an accession or conformation of learning and discipline, there will then remain somewhat noble and singular. For, as Simylus saith in Stobæus, Ούτε φυσις ικανή γίνεται τέχνης ατες, ούτε παν τέχνη μη φυσιν κεκτημενη" without art, nature can never be perfect; and without nature, art can claim no being. But our poet must beware, that his study be not only to learn of himself; for he that shall affect to do that, confesseth his ever having a fool to his master. He must read many, but ever the best and choicest: those that can teach him any thing, he must ever account his masters, and reverence: among whom Horace, and (he that taught him) Aristotle, deserved to be the first in estimation. Aristotle was the first accurate critic, and truest judge; nay, the greatest philosopher the world ever had: for he noted the vices of all knowledges, in all creatures; and out of many men's perfections in a science, he formed still one art. he taught us two offices together, how we ought to judge rightly of others, and what we ought to imitate specially in ourselves. But all this in vain, without a natural wit, and a poetical nature in chief. For no man, so soon as he knows this, or reads it, shall be able to write the better; but as he is adapted to it by nature, he shall grow the perfecter writer. He must have civil prudence and eloquence, and that whole; not
taken up by snatches or pieces, in sentences or remnants, when he will handle business, or carry counsels, as if he came then out of the declaimer's gallery, or shadow furnished but out of the body of the state, which commonly is the school of men.
Virorum schola respub.-Lysippus.--Apelles. Nævius.-The poet is the nearest borderer upon the orator, and expresseth all his virtues, though he be tied more to numbers, is his equal in ornament, and above him in his strengths. And (of the kind) the comic comes nearest; because in moving the minds of men, and stirring of affections (in which oratory shews, and especially approves her eminence) he chiefly excels. What figure of a body was Lysippus ever able to form with his graver, or Apelles to paint with his pencil, as the comedy to life expresseth so many and various affections of the mind? There shall the spectator see some insulting with joy, others fretting with melancholy, raging with anger, mad with love, boiling with avarice, undone with riot, tortured with expectation, consumed with fear: no perturbation in common life but the orator finds an example of it in the scene. And then for the elegancy of language, read but this inscription on the grave of a comic poet:
Immortales mortales si fas esset flere,
L. Elius Stilo.-Plautus.-M. Varro.-Or that modester testimony given by Lucius Elius Stilo upon Plautus, who affirmed, Musas, si latinè loqui voluissent, Plautino sermone fuisse loquuturas. R
And that illustrious judgment by the most learned M. Varro of him, who pronounced him the prince of letters and elegancy in the Roman language.
Sophocles. I am not of that opinion to conclude a poet's liberty within the narrow limits of laws, which either the grammarians or philosophers prescribe. For before they found out those laws, there were many excellent poets that fulfilled them amongst whom none more perfect than Sophocles, who lived a little before Aristotle.
Demosthenes. Pericles.- Alcibiades.- Which of the Greeklings durst ever give precepts to Demosthenes? or to Pericles (whom the age surnamed heavenly) because he seemed to thunder and lighten with his language? or to Alcibiades, who had rather nature for his guide, than art for his master?
Aristotle. But whatsoever nature at any time dictated to the most happy, or long exercise to the most laborious, that the wisdom and learning of Aristotle hath brought into an art; because he understood the causes of things: and what other meu did by chance or custom, he doth by reason; and not only found out the way not to err, but the short way we should take not to err.
Euripides.-Aristophanes.-Many things in Euripides hath Aristophanes wittily reprehended, not out of art, but out of truth. For Euripides is sometimes peccant, as he is most times perfect. But judgment when it is greatest, if reason doth not accompany it, is not ever absolute.
Cens. Scal. in Lil. Germ.-Horace.-To judge of poets is only the faculty of poets; and not of all poets, but the best. Nemo infeliciùs de poetis judicavit, quàm qui de poetis scripsit." But some will say critics are a kind of tinkers, that make more faults than they mend ordinarily. See their diseases and those of grammarians. It is true, many bodies are the worse for the meddling with; and the multitude of physicians hath destroyed many sound patients with their wrong practice. But the office of a true critic or censor is, not to throw by a letter any where, or damn an innocent syllabe, but lay the words together, and amend them; judge sincerely of the author, and his matter, which is the sign of solid and perfect learning in a man. Such was Horace, an author of much civility; and (if any one among the heathen can be) the best master both of virtue and wisdom; an excellent and true judge upon cause and reason; not because he thought so, but because he knew so, out of use and experience. Cato the grammarian, a defender of Lucilius."
Cato grammaticus, Latina syren,
Quintilian of the same heresy, but rejected. Horace his judgment of Choerillus defended against Joseph Scaliger. And of Laberius against Julius.
But chiefly his opinion of Plautus' vindicated against many that are offended, and say, it is a hard censure upon the parent of all conceit and sharpness. And they wish it had not fallen from
Senec. de brev. vit. cap.
1 Pag. 273, et seq.
13. et epist. 88.
P Pag. 270, 271. Pag. in comm. 153, et seq.
so great a master and censor in the art; whose bondmen knew better how to judge of Plautus, than any that dare patronize the family of learning in this age, who could not be ignorant of the judgment of the times in which he lived, when poetry and the Latin language were at the height; especially being a man so conversant and inwardly familiar with the censures of great men, that did discourse of these things daily amongst themselves. Again, a man so gracious, and in high favour with the emperor, as Augustus often called him his witty manling; (for the littleness of his stature;) and, if we may trust antiquity, had designed him for a secretary of estate, and invited him to the place, which he modestly prayed off, and refused.
Terence.-Menander.- Horace did so highly esteem Terence's comedies, as he ascribes the art in comedy to him alone among the Latins, and joins him with Menander.
Now let us see what may be said for either, to defend Horace's judgment to posterity, and not wholly to condemn Plautus.
The parts of a comedy and tragedy. The parts of a comedy are the same with a tragedy, and the end is partly the same; for they both delight and teach the comics are called didarnado of the Greeks, no less than the tragics.
Aristotle.-Plato.-Homer.-Nor is the moving of laughter always the end of comedy, that is rather a fowling for the people's delight, or their fooling. For as Aristotle says rightly, the moving of laughter is a fault in comedy, a kind of turpitude, that depraves some part of a man's