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Aristotle's Treatise




The Necessary, Rational, and Univer

fäl RULES for Epick, Dramatick, and the other Sorts of POETRY:


Reflections on the Works of the Ancient and Modern POETS, and their Faults noted.

Made English by Mr. Rymer : By whom are added

some Reflections on English POETS.


Printed in the Year MDCCXVI.






HE Artist would not take Pains to polish a Diamond, if none besides himself were quick-lighted enough to discern" the Flaw? And Poets

would grow negligent, if the Criticks had not a ftriat Eye over their Mifcarriages. Yet it often happens, that this Eye is fo distorted by Envy or Ill-nature, that it fees nothing åright. Some Criticks are like Wafps, that rather annoy the Bees, than terrifie the Drodej

. For this sort of Learning, our neighbour Nations have got far the Start of us ; in the laft Century, Italy fwarmd with Criticks, where amongst many of tefs Note, Caftelvetro opposed'all Comers; and the famous Academy La Crusca was always impeaching fome or other of the best - Authors." "Spain, in those Pays, bred great Wits, but, I think was never so crowded, that they needed to fall out and quarrel amongst themselves. But from Italy, France took the Cúdgëls; and tho? fome light Strokes passed in the Days of Marot, Baif, &c. Yet they fell not to it in earnest, nor was

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any noble Contest amongst them, till the Royal Academy was founded and Cardinal Riche: lieu encouraged and rallied all the scattered Wits under his Banner.? Then Malherb reform'd their ancient licentious Poetry; and Corneille's Gid rais'd' many Hactions amongst them. At this time with us many great Wits flourished; but Beň. Johnson, I think, had all the critical Learning to himself; and till of late Years, England was as free from Criticks, as it is from Wolves, that a harmless wellmeaning Book might pass without any Danger. But now this Priviledge, whatever extraordipary Talent it requires, is usurp'd by the most Ignorant: And they who are least acquainted with the Game, are aptest to bark at everything that comes in their Way, Our Fortune is, Aristotle, on whom our Author makes these Reflections, came to this great Work better accomplish'd. He who criticis'd on the ancient and his contemporary Philosophers, on Pythagoras, Democritus, Empedocles, Heraclitus, Epicbarmus,. Parmenides, Xenophanes, Melisus, Anaxagoras, Protagoras, Eudoxus, Solon, Aną. acimander, Anaximenes, Plato, Speysupras is Who examin'd and cenfur'd the Lamps and Polities of Minos, Lycurgus, Salon, Hyppodamus, Pbaleas, and all the other Common-wealths; ?tis he, I fay, that undertakes this Province, to pass a Judgment on the Poets, and their Works; and hiin Antiquity first honoured with the Name of Critick.

It is indeed-suspected that he dealt not al. ways fairly with the Philosophers, mis-reciting sometimes, and mis-interpreting their Opinions, But I find him not tax'd of that Injustice to the Poets, in whose Favour he is so ingenious, that to the Disadvantage of his

own Profession, he declares, That Tragedy more : conduces to the instruction of Mankind, than even Philosophy it self

. And however cry'd down in the Schools, and vilified by some modern Philosophers; since Men have had a Taste for good Sense, and could discern the Beauties of correct Writing, he is prefer'd in the politest Courts of Europe, and by the Poets held in great Veneration. Not that these can servilely yield to his Authority, who, of all Men living, affect Liberty. The Truth is, what Aristotle writes on this Subje&t, is not the Dictates of his own magisterial Will, or dry Deductions of his Metaphysicks: But the Poets were his Mafters, and what was their Practice, he reduced to Principles. ' Nor would the modern Poets blindly resign to this Practice of the Ancients, were not the Reasons convincing and clear as any Demonstration in Mathematicks. 'Tis only needful that we understand them, for our Consent to the Truth of them. The

Arabians, 'tis confess?d, who glory in their Poets and Poetry, more than all the World besides ; and who, I suppose, first brought the Art of Rhiming into Europe, observe but little these Laws of Aristotle: Yet Averroes rather On Arift, chooses to blame the Practice of his Country-de Poes, men as vicious, than to allow any Imputation on the Doctrine of this Philosopher as imperfeci. Fancy with them is predominant, is wild, vast and unbridled, over which their Judgment has little Command or Authority : Hence their Conceptions are monstrous, and have nothing of Exactness, nothing of Resemblance or Proportion.

The Author of these Reflections is as well known amongst the Criticks, as Aristotle to the Philosopher's : Never Man gave his Judgment so


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