An Essay on Criticism "Be Not The First By Whom The New Are Tried"
by Alexander Pope

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"Be Not The First By Whom The New Are Tried"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

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Context: In this section of An Essay on Criticism, Pope takes up the use of language in literature. He warns that one must see beyond the words, the language, to the thought or sense of the poet, censuring false eloquence when it be found. He suggests that good use of language, "true expression," will "gild all objects, but it alters none." The poet also warns the poet to use the language of his own time, not to use archaic language simply to mystify the unlearned and to amuse the learned with his false erudition. Following the advice he often gives in literary matters, Pope recommends:

In words as fashions the same rule will hold,Alike fantastic if too new or old:Be not the first by whom the new are tried,Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.