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First published in May 1711, when Pope was twenty-three. It is representative of a long tradition exemplified by Horace's Ars Poetica, Vida's De Re Poetica in the Renaissance, and Boileau's Art poétique in the seventeenth century. The use of the word "essay" in the title associates Pope's work with the techniques of Bacon and Montaigne.
Against Envy, and in praise of Good Nature, 508 ff.
The History of Criticism, and characters of the best Critics, Aristotle, 645. Our poet is not the only one of his time who complimented this Essay and its noble author." John Sheffield (1648-1721), first Duke of Buckingham, an edition of whose works was published by Pope in 1723. He was one of the first critics to publicly praise Milton.
Reverence due to the ancients, and praise of them, 181 ff.
When Severity is chiefly to be used by critics, 526 ff.
That 'tis as great a fault to judge ill, as to write ill, and a more dangerous one to the public, 1.
That a true taste is as rare to be found, as a true genius, 9-18. Critics in Wit, Language, Versification, only, 288, 305, 339 ff. Being too hard to please, or too apt to admire, 384. Partiality--too much love to a Sect,--to the Ancients or Modern, 394.
That most men are born with some taste, but spoiled by false education, 19-25.
The multitude of critics, and causes of them, 26-45.