Thus Wit, like Faith, by each Man is apply’d to one small Sect, and All are damn’d beside

From Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism (394-399).

Some foreign Writers, some our own despise;
The Ancients only, or the Moderns prize:
(Thus Wit, like Faith, by each Man is apply’d
To one small Sect, and All are damn’d beside.)
Meanly they seek the Blessing to confine,
And force that Sun but on a Part to shine;

The parentheses are not original. The couplet was taken by some as reducing ‘every Church to a sect, and at the same time sharply attack[ing] the Roman Catholic doctrine of Salvation’ (Twickenham editors) so Pope added the parentheses in a second edition to better indicate the ‘aside’ nature of the remark, which he intended as ironic commentary on those accusing the Catholic church of such exclusivity. This wasn’t change enough so he later – in a very Pope-ian move – removed them to restore the more inflammatory version.

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