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other of plodding) was to be exemplified in some one great and remarkable action?: and none could be more so than that which our poet hath chosen, viz. the restoration of the reign of Chaos and Night, by the ministry of Dulness, their daughter, in the removal of her imperial seat from the city to the polite world; as the action of the Æneid is the restoration of the empire of Troy, by the removal of the race from thence to Latium. But as Homer, singing only the wrath of Achilles, yet includes in his poem the whole history of the Trojan war; in like manner, our author has drawn into this single action the whole history of Dulness and her children.
A person must next be fixed upon to support this action. This phantom, in the poet's mind, must have a name. He finds it to be he becomes of course the hero of the
poem. The fable being thus, according to the best example, one and entire, as contained in the proposition; the machinery is a continued chain of allegories, setting forth the whole power, ministry; and empire of Dulness, extended through her subordinate instruments, in all her various operations.
This is branched into episodes, each of which hath its moral apart, though all conducive to the main end. The crowd assembled in the second Book demonstrates the design to be more extensive than to bad poets only, and that we may expect other episodes of the patrons, encouragers, or paymasters, of such authors, as occasion shall ? Bossu, chap. vii. viii. Bossu, chap. viii. Vide Aristot. Poetic, cap. ix.
bring them forth. And the third Book, if well considered, seemeth to embrace the whole world. Each of the games relateth to some or other vile class of writers. The first concerneth the plagiary, to whom he giveth the name of Moore; the second the libellous novelist, whom he styleth Eliza; the third, the flattering dedicator; the fourth, the bawling critic, or noisy poet: the fifth, the dark and dirty party-writer; and so of the rest; assigning to each some proper name or other, such as he could find.
As for the characters, the public hath already acknowledged how justly they are drawn. The manners are so depicted, and the sentiments so peculiar to those to whom applied, that surely to transfer them to any other or wiser personages would be exceeding difficult; and certain it is, that every person concerned, being consulted apart, hath readily owned the resemblance of every portrait, his own excepted. So Mr. Cibber calls them a parcel of poor wretches, so many silly flies' ;' but adds, our author's wit is remarkably more bare and barren whenever it would fall foul on Cibber than upon any other person whatever.'
The descriptions are singular, the comparisons very quaint, the narration various, yet of one colour; the purity and chastity of diction is so preserved, that in the places most suspicious, not the words, but only the images, have been censured ; and yet are those images no other than have been sanctified by ancient and classical authority, (though, as was the manner of those good times,
9 Cibber's Letter to Mr. P. p. 9. 12. 41.
not so curiously wrapped up) yea, and commented upon by the most grave doctors and approved critics.
As it beareth the name of epic, it is thereby subjected to such severe indispensable rules as are laid on all neoterics, a strict imitation of the ancients; insomuch that
deviation, accompanied with whatever poetic beauties, hath always been censured by the sound critic. How exact that imitation hath been in this piece, appeareth not only by its general structure, but by particular allusions infinite, many whereof have escaped both the commentator and poet himself; yea divers, by his exceeding diligence, are so altered and interwoven with the rest, that several have already been, and more will be, by the ignorant abused, as altogether and originally his own.
In a word, the whole poem proveth itself to be the work of our author, when his faculties were in full vigour and perfection; at that exact time when years have ripened the judgment without diminishing the imagination; which, by good critics, is held to be punctually at forty: for at that season it was that Virgil finished his Georgics; and Sir Richard Blackmore, at the like age, composing his Arthurs, declared the same to be the very acme and pitch of life for epic poesy; though, since, he hath altered it to sixty, the year in which he published his Alfredo. True it is that the talents for criticism, namely, smartness, quick censure, vivacity of remark, certainty of asseveration, indeed all but acerbity, seem rather the gifts of youth than of riper age: but it is far otherwise in poetry; witness the works of Mr. Rymer and Mr. Dennis, who, beginning with criticism, became afterwards such poets as no age hath paralleled. With good reason, therefore, did our author choose to write his Essay on that subject at twenty, and reserve for his maturer years this great and wonderful work of The DUNCIAD. P.
10 See his Essays.
OF THE HERO OF THE POEM.
Of the nature of Dunciad in general, whence derived, and on what authority founded, as well as of the art and conduct of this our poem in particular, the learned and laborious Scriblerus hath, according to his manner, and with tolerable share of judgment, dissertated: but when he cometh to speak of the person of the hero fitted for such poem, in truth he miserably halts and hallucinates: for, misled by one Monsieur Bossu, a Gallic critic, he prateth of I cannot tell what phantom of a hero, only raised up to support the fable. A putrid conceit! as if Homer and Virgil, like modern undertakers, who first build their house, and then seek out for a tenant, had contrived the story of a war and a wandering before they once thought either of Achilles or Æneas. We shall therefore set our good brother, and the world also, right in this particular, by assuring them that, in the greater epic, the prime intention of the Muse is to exalt heroic virtue, in order to
propagate the love of it among the children of men; and, consequently, that the poet's first thought must needs be turned upon a real subject meet for laud and celebration; not one whom he is to make, but one whom he
may illustrious. This is the primum mobile of this poetic world, whence every thing is to receive life and motion : for this subject being found, he is immediately ordained, or rather acknowledged, an hero, and put upon such action as befitteth the dignity of his character.
But the Muse ceaseth not here her eagle-flight: for sometimes, satiated with the contemplation of these suns of glory, she turneth downward on her wing, and darts with Jove's lightning on the goose and serpent kind. For we apply to the Muse, in her various moods, what an ancient master of wisdom affirmeth of the gods in general ‘Si Dii non irascuntur impiis et injustis, nec pios utique justosque diligunt. In rebus enim diversis, ut in utramque partem moveri necesse est, aut in neutram. Itaque qui bonos diligit, et malos odit; et qui malos non odit, nec bonos diligit. Quia et diligere bonos ex odio malorum venit; et malos odisse ex bonorum caritate descendit. Which, in our vernacular idiom may be thus interpreted : 'If the gods be not provoked at evil men, neither are they delighted with the good and just; for contrary objects must either excite contrary affections or no affections at all. So that he who loveth good men must at the same time hate the bad; and he who hateth not bad men cannot love the good; because to love good men proceedeth from an aversion to evil, and to bate evil men from a tenderness