An Essay on Criticism "Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear To Tread"
by Alexander Pope

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"Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear To Tread"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

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Context: In this part of Part III, Pope outlines the attributes of a good critic. His satirical sense, however, is too strong in this essay, as it usually is, to be forgotten very long. The poet returns to satire, bludgeoning the critic who is but a "bookful blockhead ignorantly read,/ With loads of learned lumber in his head." Such critics are all too eager to comment, and do so foolishly, maintains Pope; he then goes on to say that these overly eager critics are to be found everywhere, and always voicing their foolish opinions:

No place so sacred from such fops is barr'd,Nor is Paul's church more safe than Paul's churchyard:Nay, fly to altars; there they'll talk you dead;For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.Distrustful sense with modest caution speaks,It still looks home, and short excursions makes;But rattling nonsense in full volleys breaksAnd never shock'd, and never turn'd aside,Bursts out, resistless, with a thund'ring tide.