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Title: Epistle to a Friend Concerning Poetry (1700) and the Essay on Heroic Poetry (second edition, 1697)
Author: Wesley, Samuel
Language: English
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Series Two:
_Essays on Poetry_

No. 2

Samuel Wesley's
_Epistle to a Friend concerning Poetry_ (1700)
and the
_Essay on Heroic Poetry_ (second edition, 1697)

With an Introduction by
Edward N. Hooker

The Augustan Reprint Society
January, 1947
_Price:_ 75c

GENERAL EDITORS: _Richard C. Boys_, University of Michigan, Ann
Arbor; _Edward N. Hooker, H.T. Swedenberg, Jr._, University of
California, Los Angeles 24, California.

Membership in the Augustan Reprint Society entitles the subscriber to six
publications issued each year. The annual membership fee is $2.50. Address
subscriptions and communications to the Augustan Reprint Society, in care
of one of the General Editors.

EDITORIAL ADVISORS: _Louis I. Bredvold_, University of Michigan;
_James L. Clifford_, Columbia University; _Benjamin Boyce_,
University of Nebraska; _Cleanth Brooks_, Louisiana State University;
_Arthur Friedman_, University of Chicago; _James R. Sutherland_,
Queen Mary College, University of London; _Emmett L. Avery_, State
College of Washington; _Samuel Monk_, Southwestern University.

Lithoprinted from Author's Typescript


We remember Samuel Wesley (1662-1735), if at all, as the father of a great
religious leader. In his own time he was known to many as a poet and a
writer of controversial prose. His poetic career began in 1685 with the
publication of _Maggots_, a collection of juvenile verses on trivial
subjects, the preface to which, a frothy concoction, apologizes to the
reader because the book is neither grave nor gay. The first poem, "On a
Maggot," is composed in hudibrastics, with a diction obviously Butlerian,
and it is followed by facetious poetic dialogues and by Pindarics of the
Cowleian sort but on such subjects as "On the Grunting of a Hog." In 1688
Wesley took his B.A. at Exeter College, Oxford, following which he became
a naval chaplain and, in 1690, rector of South Ormsby; he became rector of
Epworth in 1695. During the run of the _Athenian Gazette_ (1691-1697)
he joined with Richard Sault and John Norris in assisting John Dunton, the
promoter of the undertaking. His second venture in poetry, the _Life of
Our Blessed Lord and Saviour_, an epic largely in heroic couplets with
a prefatory discourse on heroic poetry, appeared in 1693, was reissued in
1694, and was honored with a second edition in 1697. In 1695 he dutifully
came forward with _Elegies_, lamenting the deaths of Queen Mary and
Archbishop Tillotson. _An Epistle to a Friend concerning Poetry_
(1700) was followed by at least four other volumes of verse, the last of
which was issued in 1717. His poetry appears to have had readers on a
certain level, but it stirred up little pleasure among wits, writers, or
critics. Judith Drake confessed that she was lulled to sleep by
Blackmore's _Prince Arthur_ and by Wesley's "heroics" (_Essay in
Defence of the Female Sex_, 1696, p. 50). And he was satirized as a
mare poetaster in Garth's _Dispensary_, in Swift's _The Battle of
the Books_, and in the earliest issues of the _Dunciad_. Nobody
today would care to defend his poetry for its esthetic merits.

For a few years in the early eighteenth century Wesley found himself in
the vortex of controversy. Brought up in the dissenting tradition, he had
swerved into conformity at some point during the 1680's, possibly under
the influence of Tillotson, whom he greatly admired (cf. _Epistle to a
Friend_, pp. 5-6). In 1702 there appeared his _Letter from a Country
Divine to his friend in London concerning the education of dissenters in
their private academies_, apparently written about 1693. This attack
upon dissenting academies was published at an unfortunate time, when the
public mind was inflamed by the intolerance of overzealous churchmen.
Wesley was furiously answered; he replied in _A Defence of a Letter_
(1704), and again in _A Reply to Mr. Palmer's Vindication_ (1707). It
is scarcely to Wesley's credit that in this quarrel he stood shoulder to
shoulder with that most hot-headed of all contemporary bigots, Henry
Sacheverell. His prominence in the controversy earned him the ironic
compliments of Defoe, who recalled that our "Mighty Champion of this very
High-Church Cause" had once written a poem to satirize frenzied Tories
(_Review_, II, no. 87, Sept. 22, 1705). About a week later Defoe,
having got wind of a collection being taken up for Wesley--who in
consequence of a series of misfortunes was badly in debt--intimated that
High-Church pamphleteering had turned out very profitably for both Lesley
and Wesley (Oct. 2, 1705). But in such snarling and bickering Wesley was
out of his element, and he seems to have avoided future quarrels.

His literary criticism is small in bulk. But though it is neither
brilliant nor well written (Wesley apparently composed at a break-neck
clip), it is not without interest. Pope observed in 1730 that he was a
"learned" man (letter to Swift, in _Works_, ed. Elwin-Courthope, VII,
184). The observation was correct, but it should be added that Wesley
matured at the end of an age famous for its great learning, an age whose
most distinguished poet was so much the scholar that he appeared more the
pedant than the gentleman to critics of the succeeding era; Wesley was not
singular for erudition among his seventeenth-century contemporaries.

The "Essay on Heroic Poetry," serving as Preface to _The Life of Our
Blessed Lord and Saviour_, reveals something of its author's erudition.
Among the critics, he was familiar with Aristotle, Horace, Longinus,
Dionysius of Halicarnasseus, Heinsius, Bochart, Balzac, Rapin, Le Bossu,
and Boileau. But this barely hints at the extent of his learning. In the
notes on the poem itself the author displays an interest in classical
scholarship, Biblical commentary, ecclesiastical history, scientific
inquiry, linguistics and philology, British antiquities, and research into
the history, customs, architecture, and geography of the Holy Land; he
shows, an intimate acquaintance with Grotius, Henry Hammond, Joseph Mede,
Spanheim, Sherlock, Lightfoot, and Gregory, with Philo, Josephus, Fuller,
Walker, Camden, and Kircher; and he shows an equal readiness to draw upon
Cudworth's _True Intellectual System_ and Boyle's new theories concerning
the nature of light. In view of such a breadth of knowledge it is somewhat
surprising to find him quoting as extensively as he does in the "Essay"
from Le Bossu and Rapin, and apparently leaning heavily upon them.

The "Essay" was composed at a time when the prestige of Rymer and
neo-Aristotelianism in England was already declining, and though Wesley
expressed some admiration for Rapin and Le Bossu, he is by no means docile
under their authority. Whatever the weight of authority, he says, "I see
no cause why Poetry should not be brought to the Test [of reason], as well
as Divinity...." As to the sacred example of Homer, who based his great
epic on mythology, Wesley remarks, "But this [mythology] being now
antiquated, I cannot think we are oblig'd superstitiously to follow his
Example, any more than to make Horses speak, as he does that of Achilles."
To the question of the formidable Boileau, "What Pleasure can it be to
hear the howlings of repining Lucifer?" our critic responds flippantly, "I
think 'tis easier to answer than to find out what shew of Reason he had
for asking it, or why Lucifer mayn't howl as pleasantly as either
Cerberus, or Enceladus." Without hesitation or apology he takes issue with
Rapin's conception of Decorum in the epic. But Wesley is empiricist as
well as rationalist, and the judgment of authority can be upset by appeal
to the court of experience. To Balzac's suggestion that, to avoid
difficult and local proper names in poetry, generalized terms be used,
such as _Ill-luck_ for the _Fates_ and the _Foul Fiend_ for _Lucifer_, our
critic replies with jaunty irony, "... and whether this wou'd not sound
extreamly Heroical, I leave any Man to judge," and thus he dismisses the
matter. Similarly, when Rapin objects to Tasso's mingling of lyric
softness in the majesty of the epic, Wesley points out sharply that no man
of taste will part with the fine scenes of tender love in Tasso, Dryden,
Ovid, Ariosto, and Spenser "for the sake of a fancied Regularity." He had
set out to defend the Biblical epic, the Christian epic, and the propriety
of Christian machines in epic, and no rules or authority could deter him.
As good an example as any of his independence of mind can be seen in a
note on Bk. I, apropos of the poet's use of obsolete words (_Life of Our
Blessed Lord_, 1697, p. 27): it may be in vicious imitation of Milton and
Spenser, he says in effect, but I have a fondness for old words, they
please my ear, and that is all the reason I can give for employing them.

Wesley's resistance to a strict application of authority and the rules
grew partly out of the rationalistic and empirical temper of Englishmen in
his age, but it also sprang from his learning. From various sources he
drew the theory that Greek and Latin were but corrupted forms of ancient
Phoenician, and that the degeneracy of Greek and Latin in turn had
produced all, or most, of the present European tongues (_ibid._, p. 354).
In addition, he believed that the Greeks had derived some of their
thought from older civilizations, and specifically that Plato had received
many of his notions from the Jews (_ibid._, p. 230)--an idea which recalls
the argument that Dryden in _Religio Laici_ had employed against the
deists. Furthermore, he had, like many of his learned contemporaries, a
profound respect for Hebrew culture and the sublimity of the Hebrew
scriptures, going so far as to remark in the "Essay on Heroic Poetry" that
"most, even of [the heathen poets'] best Fancies and Images, as well as
Names, were borrow'd from the Antient Hebrew Poetry and Divinity." In
short, however faulty his particular conclusions, he had arrived at an
historical viewpoint, from which it was no longer possible to regard the
classical standards--much less the standards of French critics--as having
the holy sanction of Nature herself.

Some light is shed on the literary tastes of his period by Wesley's two
essays here reproduced, which with a few exceptions were in accord with
the prevailing current. _The Life of Our Blessed Lord_ shows strongly
the influence of Cowley's _Davideis_. Wesley's great admiration
persisted after the tide had turned away from Cowley; and his liking for
the "divine Herbert" and for Crashaw represented the tastes of sober and
unfashionable readers. In spite of the fact that he professed unbounded
admiration for Homer as the greatest genius in nature, in practise he
seemed more inclined to follow the lead of Cowley, Virgil, and Vida.
Although there was much in Ariosto that he enjoyed, he preferred Tasso;
the irregularities in both, however, he felt bound to deplore. To
Spenser's _Faerie Queene_ he allowed extraordinary merit. If the plan
of it was noble, he thought, and the mark of a comprehensive genius, yet
the action of the poem seemed confused. Nevertheless, like Prior later,
Wesley was inclined to suspend judgment on this point because the poem had
been left incomplete. To Spenser's "thoughts" he paid the highest tribute,
and to his "Expressions flowing natural and easie, with such a prodigious
Poetical Copia as never any other must expect to enjoy." Like most of the
Augustans Wesley did not care greatly for _Paradise Regained_, but he
partly atoned by his praise for _Paradise Lost_, which was an
"original" and therefore "above the common Rules." Though defective in its
action, it was resplendent with sublime thoughts perhaps superior to any
in Virgil or Homer, and full of incomparable and exquisitely moving
passages. In spite of his belief that Milton's blank verse was a mistake,
making for looseness and incorrectness, he borrowed lines and images from
it, and in Bk. IV of _The Life of Our Blessed Lord_ he incorporated a
whole passage of Milton's blank verse in the midst of his heroic couplets.

Wesley's attitude toward Dryden deserves a moment's pause. In the "Essay
on Heroic Poetry" he observed that a speech of Satan's in _Paradise
Lost_ is nearly equalled in Dryden's _State of Innocence_. Later
in the same essay he credited a passage in Dryden's _King Arthur_
with showing an improvement upon Tasso. There is no doubt as to his vast
respect for the greatest living poet, but his remarks do not indicate that
he ranked Dryden with Virgil, Tasso, or Milton; for he recognized as well
as we that the power to embellish and to imitate successfully does not
constitute the highest excellence in poetry. In the _Epistle to a
Friend_ he affirmed his admiration for Dryden's matchless style, his
harmony, his lofty strains, his youthful fire, and even his wit--in the
main, qualities of style and expression. But by 1700 Wesley had absorbed
enough of the new puritanism that was rising in England to qualify his
praise; now he deprecated the looseness and indecency of the poetry, and
called upon the poet to repent. One other point calls for comment.
Wesley's scheme for Christian machinery in the epic, as described in the
"Essay on Heroic Poetry," is remarkably similar to Dryden's. Dryden's had
appeared in the essay on satire prefaced to his translation of Juvenal,
published late in October, 1692; Wesley's scheme appeared soon after June,

The _Epistle to a Friend concerning Poetry_ is neither startling nor
contemptible; it has, in fact, much more to say than the rhymed treatises
on verse by Roscommon and Buckinghamshire. Its remarks on Genius are
fresh, though tantalizing in their brevity, and it defends the Moderns
with both neatness and energy. Much of its advice is cautious and
commonplace--but such was the tradition of the poetical treatise on verse.
Appearing within two years of Collier's first attack upon the stage, it
reinforces some of that worthy's contentions, but we are not aware of its
having had much effect.

The _Epistle to a Friend concerning Poetry_ is here reproduced, with
permission, from the copy at Harvard. The "Essay on Heroic Poetry" is
reproduced, with permission, from a copy of the 1697 edition of _The
Life of Our Blessed Lord_ owned by the Henry E. Huntington Library, at
San Marino, California. Our reproduction of the second item was made from
a typescript because the printing of the original lacks the size and
clarity which are necessary for satisfactory results In lithoprinting. The
typescript follows the original accurately except that italics (crazily
profuse in the 1697 edition) are omitted, the use of quotation marks is
normalized, and three obvious typographical errors are silently emended.

  Edward Niles Hooker



_Fungor vice Cotis._


Printed for CHARLES HARPER, at the _Flower de Luce_
in _Fleetstreet_. MDCC.
_25. Aprill_.


_I have not much to say of this Poem, before I leave it to the_ Mercy _of
the Reader. There's no need of looking far into it, to find out that the
direct_ Design _of a great part of it, is to Serve the_ Cause of Religion
_and_ Virtue; _tho' 'twas necessary for that End to dispose the_ whole _in
such a manner as might be agreeable to the_ Tast _of the present Age, and
of those who usually give such sort of Books the_ Reading. _If there be
any Thoughts in it relating to_ Poetry, _that either are not known to_ all
Persons, _or are tolerably_ ranged _and_ expressed, _the Reader is welcome
to 'em for_ Over-weight: _If there are too few of these, I yet hope the
Pardon of all_ candid Judges, _because I've done the best I cou'd on this_
Argument. _I can't be angry with any Person for ranking me amongst the_
Ogylbys; _my Quarrel is with these that rank themselves amongst_ Atheists,
_and impudently defend and propagate that_ ridiculous _Opinion of the_
Eternity of the World, _and a fatal_ invincible Chain of Things, _which,
it seems, is now most commonly made use of to destroy the_ Faith, _as our_
lewd Plays _are to corrupt the_ Morals _of the_ Nation: _An Opinion, big
with more_ Absurdities _than_ Transubstantiation _it self, and of far
more_ fatal Consequence, _if receiv'd and believ'd: For besides its
extremely weakening, if not destroying, the_ Belief _of the_ Being _and_
Providence of God, _it utterly takes away any sort of_ Freedom _in_ Humane
Actions, _reduces Mankind beneath the_ Brute Creation; _perfectly_ excuses
_the greatest_ Villanies _in_ this World, _and entirely vacates all_
Retribution _hereafter. One wou'd wonder with what Face or Conscience such
a_ Sett _of Men shou'd hope to be treated by the Rules of_ Civility, _when
they themselves break through those of_ Society, _and_ common Humanity:
_How they can expect any fairer_ Quarter _than_ Wolves _or_ Tygers; _or
what Reason they can give why a_ Price _should not be sett upon their_
Heads, _as well as on the_ Others; _or at least why they should not be
securely_ hamper'd _and_ muzzled, _and led about for a_ Sight, _like
other_ Monsters. _'Tis the fatal and spreading_ Poyson _of these Mens_
Examples _and_ Principles _which has extorted these_ warm Expressions
_from me; I cannot with_ Patience _see my_ Countrey ruin'd _by the
prodigious increase of_ Infidelity _and_ Immorality, _nor forbear crying
out with some_ Vehemence, _when I am giving Warning to all honest Men to
stand up in the_ Defence _of it, when it is in greater and more eminent
danger than it wou'd have been formerly, if the_ Spanish Armada _had made
a Descent amongst us: I don't speak of these things by distant_ Hear-say,
_or only from our publick_ Prints, _but from my own_ Knowledg _and little_
Acquaintance _in the World, and therefore others must have observ'd much
more, and cannot but fear, that if things go on as they now are, without a
greater_ Check, _and more_ severe Laws _against these wide and contagious_
Mischiefs, _at least without a more general united_ Endeavour _to put
those Laws already made in_ strict Execution, _we are in a fair way to
become a_ Nation of Atheists. _'Tis now no difficult matter to meet with
those who pretend to be_ lewd _upon_ Principles; _They'll talk very_
gravely, _look as if they were in earnest, and come_ sobrii ad perdendam
Rempublicam: _they wou'd be_ Criticks _too, and_ Philosophers: _They
attack_ Religion _in_ Form _and batter it from every_ Quarter; _they wou'd
turn the very_ Scriptures _against themselves, and labour hard to remove
a_ Supreme Being _out of the World; or if they do vouchsafe him any_ room
_in it, 'tis only that they may find_ Fault _with his_ Works, _which they
think, with that_ Blasphemer _of old, might have been much better order'd,
had they themselves stood by and directed the_ Architect. _They'll tell
you the_ Errors _of_ Nature _are every where_ plain _and_ visible, _all_
monstrous, _here_ too much _and there_ too little; _or, as_ one of their
own Poets,

  Here she's _too sparing_, there _profusely_ vain.

_What would these Men have, or why can't they be content to sink_ single
_into the_ bottomless Gulph, _without dragging so much Company thither
with 'em? Can they grapple_ Omnipotence, _or are they sure they can be_
too hard _for_ Heaven? _Can they_ Thunder _with a_ Voice like God, _and
cast abroad the_ Rage _of their_ Wrath? _Cou'd they_ annihilate _Hell,
indeed, or did it only consist of such_ painted Flames _as they'd fain
believe it, they might make a shift to be tolerably happy, more quietly
rake through the World, and_ sink _into_ Nothing. _There's too great
reason to apprehend, that this_ Infection _is spred among Persons of
almost all_ Ranks _and_ Qualities; _and that tho' some may think it_
decent _to keep on the_ Masque, _yet if they were search'd to the_ bottom,
_all_ their Religion _wou'd be found that which they most blasphemously
assert of_ Religion _in_ general, _only a_ State Engin _to keep the_ World
in Order. _This is_ Hypocrisie _with a Witness; the_ basest _and_ meanest
_of_ Vices; _and how come Men to fall into these_ damnable Errors _in
Faith, but by_ Lewdness _of Life? The Cowards wou'd not believe a God
because they_ dare _not do it, for Woe be to 'em if there be one, and
consequently any_ Future Punishments. _From such as these, I desire no
Favour, but that of their_ Ill Word, _as their_ Crimes _must expect_ none
_from me, whose_ Character _obliges me to declare an_ eternal War
_against_ Vice _and_ Infidelity, _tho' at the same time heartily to_ pity
_those who are_ infected _with it. If I cou'd be_ ambitious _of a_ Name
_in the World, it shou'd be that I might_ sacrifice _it in so glorious a_
Cause _as that of_ Religion _and_ Virtue: _If none but_ Generals _must
fight in this_ sacred War, _when there are such_ infernal Hosts _on the
other side, they cou'd never prevail without one of the_ antient Miracles:
_If_ little People _can but well discharge the Place of a_ private
Centinel, _'tis all that's expected from us. I hope I shall never let the_
Enemies of God and my Countrey _come on without_ Fireing, _tho' it serve
but to give the_ Alarm, _and if I dye without_ quitting _my_ Post, _I
desire no greater Glory_. _I have endeavour'd to shew that I had no_
Personal Pique _against any whose_ Characters _I may have given in this
Poem, nor think the worse of them for their_ Thoughts _of me. I hope I
have every where done 'em_ Justice, _and as well as I cou'd, have given
'em_ Commendation _where they deserve it; which may also, on the other
side, acquit me of_ Flattery _with all_ Impartial Judges; _for 'tis not
only the_ Great _whose_ Characters _I have here attempted. And if what I
have written may be any ways_ useful, _or_ innocently diverting _to the
virtuous and ingenious_ Readers, _he has his End, who is_

  Their Humble Servant



  As Brother _Pryme_ of old from Mount _Orgueil_,
  So I to you from _Epworth_ and the _Isle_:
  Harsh _Northern_ Fruits from our cold Heav'ns I send,
  Yet, since the _best_ they yield, they'll please a _Friend_.
    You ask me, What's the readiest way to _Fame_,
  And how to gain a _Poet's_ sacred Name?
  For _Saffold_ send, your Choice were full as just,
  When burning _Fevers_ fry your Limbs to Dust!
  Yet, lest you _angry_ grow at your _Defeat_,      }
  And me as ill as that fierce _Spark_ should treat }                 10
  Who did the Farrier into Doctor _beat_;           }
  You to my little _Quantum_, Sir, are free,
  Which I from HORACE glean or NORMANDY;
  These with some grains of _Common Sense_ unite,
  Then freely _think_, and as I think I write.
    First _poize_ your _Genius_, nor presume to write
  If _Phoebus_ smile not, or some _Muse_ invite:
  Nature refuses _Force_, you strive in vain,
  She will not _drag_, but struggling breaks the Chain.
  How bright a Spark of _Heav'nly Fire_ must warm!                    20
  What _Blessings_ meet a _Poet's Mind_ to form!
  How oft must he for those _Life-Touches_ sit,
  _Genius, Invention, Memory, Judgment, Wit_?
  There's here no _Middle-State_, you must excel;
  _Wit_ has no _Half-way-House_ 'twixt _Heav'n_ and _Hell_
  _All cannot All things_, lest you mourn too late,
  Remember _Phaeton_'s unhappy _Fate_!
  Eager to guide the _Coursers_ of the _Day_,       }
  Beneath their _Brazen Hoofs_ he trampled lay,     }
  And his bright _Ruines_ mark'd their flaming Way. }                 30
                                                   [Sidenote: _Genius_.]
    You'll ask, What GENIUS is, and Where to find?
  'Tis the full _Power_ and _Energy_ of _Mind_:
  A _Reach_ of _Thought_ that skims all Nature o'er,
  _Exhausts_ this narrow _World_, and asks for _more_:
  Through every _Rank of Beings_ when't has flown,
  Can frame a _New Creation_ of its own:
  By _Possible_ and _Future_ unconfin'd:
  Can stubborn _Contradictions_ yoke, and bind
  Through _Fancy_'s Realms, with Number, Time and Place,
  _Chimera-Forms_, a thin, an airy Race;                              40
  Then with a secret _conscious Pride_ surveys
  The _Enchanted Castles_ which't had _Power_ to raise.
                                                      [Sidenote: _Wit_.]
    As _Genius_ is the _Strength_, be WIT defin'd
  The _Beauty_ and the _Harmony_ of _Mind_:
  _Beauty's_ Proportion, Air, each lively Grace
  The _Soul_ diffuses round the _Heav'nly Face_:
  'Tis _various_, yet 'tis _equal_, still the same
  In _Alpine Snows_, or _Ethiopian Flame_;
  While _glaring Colours_ short-liv'd Grace supply,
  Nor _Frost_ nor _Sun_ they bear, but _scorch_ and _die_.            50
                                                 [Sidenote: _Judgment_.]
    Nor these alone, tho much they can, suffice,
  JUDGMENT must join, or never hope the Prize:
  Those _Headstrong Coursers_ scowr along the Plains,
  The _Rider's_ down, if once he lose the _Reins_:
  Soon the _Mad Mixture_ will to all give Law,
  And for the _Laurel Wreaths_ present thee _Wreaths of Straw_.
  _Judgment's_ the _Act of Reason_; that which brings
  Fit _Thoughts_ to _Thoughts_, and argues _Things_ from _Things_,
  True, Decent, Just, are in its _Balance_ try'd,
  And thence we learn to _Range, Compound, Divide_.                   60
                                     [Sidenote: _Invention and Memory_.]
    A _Cave_ there is wherein those _Nymphs_ reside
  Who all the Realms of _Sense_ and _Fancy_ guide;
  Nay some affirm that in the deepest _Cell_
  Imperial _Reason's_ self does not disdain to dwell:
  With Living _Reed_ 'tis thatch'd and guarded round,
  Which mov'd by _Winds_ emit a Silver Sound:
  Two _Crystal Fountains_ near its _Entrance_ play,      }
  Wide scatt'ring _Golden Streams_ which ne'er decay,    }
  Two _Labyrinths_ behind harmonious Sounds convey:      }
  Chiefly, within, the _Room of State_ is fam'd                       70
  Of rich _Mosaick Work_ divinely fram'd:
  Of small _Extent_ to view, 'twill all things hide,
  Heav'n's Azure _Arch_ it self not half so wide:
  Here all the _Arts_ their sacred Mansion chuse,
  Here dwells the MOTHER of the Heav'n-born Muse:
  With wond'rous mystic _Figures_ round 'tis wrought
  _Inlaid_ with FANCY, and _anneal'd_ with _Thought_:
  With more than humane Skill depicted here
  The various _Images of Things_ appear;
  What _Was_, or _Is_, or labours yet to _Be_                         80
  Within the Womb of Dark _Futurity_,
  May _Stowage_ in this wondrous _Storehouse_ find,
  Yet leave unnumber'd empty _Cells_ behind:
  But ah! as fast they come, they fly too fast,
  Not _Life or Happiness are more in haste_:
  Only the _First Great Mind_ himself can stay
  The _Fugitives_ and at _one Glance_ survey;
  But those whom he disdains not to befriend,  }
  _Uncommon Souls_, who nearest Heav'n ascend  }
  Far more, at once, than others comprehend:   }                      90
  Whate'er within this _sacred Hall_ you find,    }
  Whate'er will _lodge_ in your _capacious Mind_  }
  Let _Judgment_ sort, and skilful _Method_ bind; }
  And as from these you draw your antient Store
  Daily supply the _Magazine_ with more.
  Furnish'd with such _Materials_ he'll excel
  Who when he _works_ is sure to work 'em _well_;
  This ART alone, as _Nature_ that bestows,
  And in _Perfection_ both, th' accomplish'd _Verser_ knows.
  Knows to _persuade_, and how to _speak_, and when;                 100
  The _Rules of Life_, and _Manners_ knows and _Men_:
  Those _narrow Lines_ which _Good_ and _Ill_ divide;
                                                 [Sidenote: _Learning_.]
  And by what _Balance Just_ and _Right_ are try'd:
  How _Kindred-Things_ with _Things_ are closely join'd; }
  How _Bodies_ act, and by what _Laws_ confin'd,         }
  Supported, mov'd and rul'd by th' _Universal Mind_.    }
  When the moist _Kids_ or burning _Sirius_ rise;  }
  Through what ambiguous Ways _Hyperion_ flies,    }
  And marks our _Upper_ or the _Nether Skies_.     }
  He knows those _Strings_ to _touch_ with artful Hand               110
  Which rule Mankind, and all the World command:
  What _moves_ the _Soul_, and every secret _Cell_
  Where _Pity, Love_, and all the _Passions_ dwell.
  The _Music_ of his _Verse_ can _Anger_ raise,
  Which with a softer _Stroak_ he _smooths_ and _lays_:
  Can _Emulation, Terror_, all excite,
  _Compress_ the _Soul_ with _Grief_, or _swell_ with vast Delight.
  If this you can, your _Care_ you'll well bestow,
  And some new _Milton_ or a _Spencer_ grow;
  If not, a _Poet_ ne'er expect to be,                               120
  Content to _Rime_, like _D----y_ or like me.
    But here perhaps you'll stop me, and complain,
  To such _Impracticable Heights_ I strain
  A Poet's _Notion_, that if _This_ be _He_,
  There ne'er was one, nor e'er is like to be.
  --But soft, my Friend! may we not _copy_ well
  Tho far th' _Original_ our _Art_ excel?
  _Divine Perfection_ we our _Pattern_ make
  Th' _Idea_ thence of _Goodness_ justly take;
  But they who _copy_ nearest, still must fall                       130
  Immensely short of their _Original_;
                                                 [Sidenote: _Converse_.]
    But _Wit_ and _Genius_, _Sense_ and _Learning_ join'd,
  Will all come short if _crude_ and _unrefin'd_;
  'Tis CONVERSE only melts the stubborn _Ore_
  And _polishes_ the _Gold_, too rough before:
  So _fierce_ the _Natural Taste_, 'twill ne'er b' endur'd,
  The _Wine_ is _strong_, but never rightly _cur'd_.
                                                    [Sidenote: _Style_.]
    STYLE is the _Dress_ of _Thought_; a _modest_ Dress,
  _Neat_, but not _gaudy_, will true _Critics_ please:
  Not _Fleckno's Drugget_, nor a worse Extream                       140
  All daub'd with _Point_ and _Gold_ at every Seam:
  Who only _Antique Words_ affects, appears
  Like old King _Harry's_ Court, all Face and Ears;
  Nor in a _Load_ of _Wig_ thy Visage shrowd,
  Like _Hairy Meteors glimm'ring through a Cloud_:
  Happy are those who here the _Medium_ know,
  We hate alike a _Sloven_ and a _Beau_.
  I would not follow _Fashion_ to the height
  Close at the _Heels_, not yet be _out of Sight_:
  _Words_ alter, like our _Garments_, every day,                     150
  Now _thrive_ and _bloom_, now _wither_ and _decay_.
  Let those of greater _Genius_ new _invent_,
  Be you with those in _Common Use_ content.
    A different _Style's_ for _Prose_ and _Verse_ requir'd,
  _Strong figures_ here, _Neat Plainness_ there desir'd:
  A different _Set of Words_ to both belong;
  What _shines_ in _Prose_, is, _flat_ and _mean_ in _Song_.
  The _Turn_, the _Numbers_ must be vary'd here,
  And all things in a _different Dress_ appear.
  This every _School Boy_ lash'd at _Eaton_ knows,  }                160
  Yet _Men of Sense_ forget when they _compose_,    }
  And Father DRYDEN's Lines are sometimes _Prose_.  }
  A _vary'd Stile_ do various Works require,
  This _soft_ as _Air_, and _tow'ring_ that as _Fire_.
  None than th' _Epistle_ goes more _humbly_ drest,
  Tho _neat_ 'twou'd be, and _decent_ as the _best_.
  Such as th' ingenious _Censor_ may invite     }
  Oft to return with eager _Appetite_;          }
  So HORACE wrote, and so I'd _wish_ to write.  }
  Nor _creeps_ it always, but can _mount_ and _rise_,                170
  And with _bold Pinions_ sail along the Skies.
  The self-same Work of _different Style_ admits,
  Now _soft_, now _loud_, as best the _Matter_ fits:
  So Father THAMES from unexhausted _Veins_,
  Moves _clean_ and _equable_ along the _Plains_;
  Yet still of different _Depth_ and _Breadth_ is found,
  And _humours_ still the _Nature_ of the _Ground_.
                                                  [Sidenote: _Reading_.]
    READING will mend your Style and raise it higher,
  And _Matter_ find to feed th' _Immortal Fire_:
  But if you would the _Vulgar Herd_ excel,                          180
  And justly gain the _Palm_ of _Writing well_,
  Wast not your Lamp in scanning _Vulgar Lines_,
  Where _groveling_ all, or _One in twenty_ shines;
  With _Prudence_ first among the _Antients_ chuse,
  The _noblest_ only, and the _best_ peruse;
  Such HOMER is, such VIRGIL's sacred Page,
  Which _Death_ defie, nor yield to _Time_ or _Age_;
  New _Beauties_ still their _Vigorous Works_ display,
  Their _Fruit_ still _mellows_, but can ne'er _decay_.
  The _Modern Pens_ not altogether slight,                           190
  Be _Master_ of your _Language_ e'er you write!
  _Immortal_ TILLOTSON with Judgment scan,
  "That _Man of Praise, that something more than Man_!"
  Ev'n those who hate his _Ashes_ this advise,         }
  As from black Shades resplendent Lightning flies,    }
  _Unwilling Truths_ break through a _Cloud of Lies_.  }
  He _Words_ and _Things_ for _mutual Aid_ design'd,
  Before at _Variance_, in just _Numbers_ join'd;
  He always _soars_, but never's _out of sight_,
  He taught us how to _Speak_, and _Think_, and _Write_.             200
    If _English Verse_ you'd in _Perfection_ see,
  ROSCOMMON read, and _Noble_ NORMANDY:
  We _borrow_ all from their _exhaustless Store_,
  Or little say they have not said _before_.
  _Poor Insects_ of a _Day_, we toil and strive
  To creep from _Dust_ to _Dust_, and think we _live_;
  These weak _imperfect Beings_ scarce enjoy
  E'er _Death's_ rude Hand our _blooming Hopes_ destroy:
  With _Lynx's_ Eyes each others _Faults_ we find,
  But to our _own_ how few who are not _blind_?                      210
  How _long is Art_, how _short_, alas! our _Time_!   }
  How few who can above the _Vulgar_ climb,           }
  Whose _stronger Genius_ reach the _True Sublime_!   }
  With _tedious Rules_ which we our selves transgress,
  We make the _Trouble more_ who strive to make it _less_.
    But meanly why do you your _Fate_ deplore,
  Yet still write on?--Why do a _Thousand_ more,
  Who for their _own_ or some _Forefathers_ Crime
  Are _doom'd_ to wear their _Days_ in _beating Rhime_?
  But this a _Noble Patron_ will redress,                            220
  And make you _better write_, tho you _write less_:
  Whate'er a _discontented Mind_ pretends,
  _Distinguish'd Worth_ can rarely miss of _Friends_:
  Do but _excel_, and he'll at last arise
  Who from the _Dust_ may lift thee to the _Skies_;
  For his _own Sake_ will his _Protection_ grant;
  What _Horace_ e'er did yet _Mecænas_ want?
  Or if the _World_ its _Favours_ should refuse,
  With _barren Smiles_ alone _reward_ thy Muse;
  Be thy _own Patron_, thou no more wilt need,                       230
  For all will _court_ thee if thy _Works succeed_;
  At least the few _Good Judges_ will commend,
  And _secret growing Praise_ thy Steps attend.
  Who shew'd _Columbus_ where the _Indies_ lay?
  True to thy self, _charge through_, and _force_ to _Fame_ the way!
  If _Envy snarl_, indulge it no _Reply_,
  Write _better_ still, and let it _burst_ and _die_!
  Rest pleas'd if you can please the _Wiser Few_,
  Since _to please all is more than Heav'n it self can do_.
  There are who _can_ whate'er they _will_ believe,                  240
  That _Bail's_ too hard for _Beady_, _Three_ are _Five_:
  That Nature, Justice, Reason, Truth must fall,
  With _Clear Idea's_ they'll _confound_ 'em all:
  That _Parallels_ may _travel_ till they _meet_;
  _Faith_ they can find in L----, no _Sense_ in STILLINGFLEET.
  Disturb 'em not, but let 'em still enjoy
  Th' _unenvy'd Charms_ of their _Eternal Moi_.
    If to the _craggy Top of Fame_ you rise,
  Those who are _lab'ring after_ ne'er _despise_.
  Nor those _above_ on _Honours_ dazling Seat      }                 250
  Tho _disoblig'd_, with _sawcy Rudeness_ treat,   }
  _Revenge_ not always is _below the Great_.       }
  Their _Stronger Genius_ may o'er thine prevail:
  _Wit, Power_ and _Anger_ join'd but rarely fail.
  Tho _Eagles_ would not chuse to _hawk_ at _Flies_       }
  They'd _snap_ 'em, should their _buzzing Swarms_ arise  }
  Importunate, and hurt their _Sun bright Eyes_.          }
  Nor should the _Muses Birds_ at _random_ fly,
  And _strike_ at all, lest if they strike _they die_.
    Why should we still be _lazily content_                          260
  With thredbare _Schemes_, and nothing _new_ invent?
  All _Arts_ besides _improve, Sea, Air_ and _Land_  }
  Are every day with _nicer Judgment_ scan'd,        }
  And why should _this_ alone be at a _stand_?       }
  Or _Nature_ largely to the _Ancients_ gave
  And little did for _younger Children_ save;
  Or rather we _impartial Nature_ blame
  To hide our _Sloth_, and cover o'er our _Shame_;
  As _Sinners_, when their _Reason's_ drown'd in _Sense_,
  Fall out with _Heav'n_, and quarrel _Providence_.                  270
    Yet should you our _Galenic Way_ despise,
  And some _new Colbatch_ of the _Muses_ rise;
  No _Quarter_ from the _College_ hope, who sit
  _Infallible_ at _Will's_ and judg of _Sense_ and _Wit_:
  Keep fair with these, or _Fame_ you _court_ in vain,
  A strict _Neutrality_ at least _maintain_!
  Speak, like the wise _Italian_, well of all;
  Who knows into what _Hands_ he's doom'd to _fall_?
    Write _oft_ and _much_, at _first_, if you'd _write well_,
  For he who ne'er _attempts_ will ne'er _excel_;                    280
  _Practice_ will _file_ your _Verse_, your _Thoughts refine_,
  And _Beauty_ give, and _Grace_ to every Line:
  The _Gnat_ to fam'd _Æneis_ led the way,
  And our _Immortal_ COWLEY once did _play_.
  Let not the _Sun of Life_ in vain decline,
  Or _Time_ run _waste; No Day without a Line_.
  Yet learn by me, my Friend, from _Errors_ past;
  O never _write_, or never _Print_ in _Haste_!
  The _worst Excuse_ Ill Authors e'er advance,
  Which does, like _Lies_, a _single Guilt_ enhance.                 290
  Lay by your _Work_, and leave it on the _Loom_,
  Which if at _mod'rate distance_ you resume,
  A _Father's Fondness_ you'll with Ease look through,
  And _Objects_ in a proper _Medium_ view.
  'Tis _Time_ alone can _Strength_ and _Ripeness_ give;
  A _Hasty Birth_ can ne'er expect to _live_.
    Fly, _low_ at first, you'll with Advantage _rise_;
  This _pleases_ all, as that will all _surprize_.
                                              [Sidenote: _The Subject_.]
    No _Work_ attempt but where your _Strength_ you know,
  Be _Master of your Subject_, _Thoughts_ will _flow_:               300
  The _newer_ 'tis, the _choicer Fruit_ 'twill yield,
  More _Room_ you have to work if _large_ your _Field_;
  The _Sponge_ you oftner than the _Pen_ will want,
  And rather _Reason_ see to _prune_ than _plant_;
  Yet where the _Thoughts_ are _barren, weak_ and _thin_,
  New _Cyons_ should be neatly _grafted_ in.
                                                  [Sidenote: _A Judge_.]
    If you with _Friend_ or _Enemy_ are blest,
  Your _Fancy's Offspring_ ne'er can want a _Test_,
  Tho _Both_, perhaps may _overshoot_ the _Mark_:
  First _Spite_ with _Envy_ charges in the _Dark_;                   310
  _Unread_ they _damn_, and into _Passion_ fall,
  'Tis _Stuff_, 'tis _Blasphemy_ 'tis _Nonsense_ all;
  They _sleep_ (when _doz'd before_) at every _Line_,       }
  While your more _dang'rous Friend_ exclaims,--'Tis fine,  }
  'Tis _furiously Delightful_, 'tis _Divine_;               }
  Th' _inspiring God's_ in ev'ry Page confess'd;
  A COWLEY or a DRYDEN at the least!
  Yet you'll from _both_ an _equal Judgment_ frame
  And stand the _nearest Candidate_ for _Fame_:
  What _Envy praises_, or what _Friends dislike_,                    320
  This bears the _Test_, and that the _Sponge_ should strike.
  Chuse to be _absent_ when your _Cause_ is try'd,
  Lest _Favour_ should the _partial Judge_ misguide;
  Not _others Thoughts_ implicitly prefer,
  Your _Friend's_ a _Mortal_, and like _you_, may _err_.
  Upon the _last Appeal_ let _Reason_ sit,
  And _here_, let _all Authority_ submit.
  Divest your _self of self_ whate'er you can,
  And think the _Author_ now some _other Man_.
  A thousand trivial _Lumber-Thoughts_ will come,                    330
  A thousand _Fagot-Lines_ will crowd for room;
  _Reform_ your _Troops_, and no _Exemption_ grant,
  You'll gain in _Strength_, what you in _Numbers_ want.
  Nor yet _Infallibility_ pretend;
  He still _errs on_ who thinks he ne'er can _mend_:
  Reject that _hasty_, that _presumptuous Thought_!
  None e'er but VIRGIL wrote without a _Fault_;
  (Or _none_ he has, or none that _I can find_,
  Who, dazzled with his _Beauties_, to his _Moles_ am blind.)
  Who has the _least_ is _happiest_, he the _best_,                  340
  Who _owns_ and _mends_ where he has once _transgrest_.
  Nor will _good Writers smaller Blots_ despise,
  Lest those neglected should to _Crimes_ arise;
  Such _Venial Sins_ indulg'd will _mortal_ prove,
  At least they from _Perfection_ far remove.
  Nor _Critical Exactness_ here deride,
  It looks like _Sloth_ or _Ignorance_, or _Pride_;
  _Good Sense_ is spoild in _Words unapt_ exprest,
  And _Beauty_ pleases more when 'tis _well drest_.
                                                   [Sidenote: _Method_.]
    Forget not METHOD if the _Prize_ you'd gain,                     350
  'Twill cost you _Thought_, but richly pays the _Pain_;
  What _first_, what _second_, or what _last_ to place,
  What here will _shine_, and there the _Work_ disgrace.
    Before you build, your MODEL justly lay,
  And ev'ry Part in _Miniature_ survey;
  Where airy _Terraces_ shall threat the _Skies_,
  Where _Columns_ tow'r, or neat _Pilasters_ rise;
  Where cool _Cascades_ come _roaring_ down the Hill,
  Or where the _Crystal Nymph_ a _mossie Bason_ fill:
  What _Statues_ are to grace the _Front_ design'd,                  360
  And how to throw the _meaner Rooms_ behind.
  Draw the _Main Strokes_ at first, 'twill shew your _Skill_,
  _Life-Touches_ you may add whene'er you will.
  Ev'n _Chance_ will sometimes all our _Art_ excel,
  The _angry Foam_ we ne'er can _hit_ so well.
  A _sudden Thought_, all beautiful and bright,
  Shoots in and _stunns_ us with _amazing Light_;
  Secure the _happy Moment_ e'er 'tis past,
  Not _Time_ more _swift_, or _Lightning_ flies so fast.
    All must be _free_ and _easie_, or in vain                       370
  You _whip_ and _spur_, and the _wing'd Courser_ strain:
  When _foggy Clouds_ hang _bellying_ in the _Skies_,
  Or _fleety Boreas_ through th' _Horizon_ flies;
  He then, whose _Muse_ produces ought that's _fine_,
  His _Head_ must have a _stronger Turn_ than mine:
  Like _Sybils Leaves_ the _Train of Thoughts_ are rang'd,
  Which by _rude Winds_ disturb'd, are _nothing_ if they're chang'd.
  Or are there too in _Writing softer Hours_?
  Or is't that _Matter_ nobler _Mind_ o'erpow'rs,
  Which boasts her _native Liberty_ in vain,                         380
  In _Mortal Fetters_ and a _Slavish Chain_?
  _Death_ only can the _Gordian Knot_ divide,      }
  Tho by what secret wondrous _Bands_ 'tis ty'd,   }
  Ev'n _Reason's_ self must own she can't decide:  }
  For as the _rapid Tides_ of _Matter_ turn           }
  We're fann'd with _Pleasure_ or with _Anger_ burn,  }
  We _Love_ and _Hate_ again, we _Joy_ and _Mourn_.   }
  Now the swift _Torrent_ high and headstrong grows,
  _Shoots_ through the Dykes, and all the Banks _o'erflows_;
  Strait the _capricious Waters_ backward fly,
  The _Pebbles_ rake and leave the Bottom _dry_;                     390
  Watch the _kind Hour_ and seize the _rising Flood_,
  Else will your _dreggy Poem_ taste of _Mud_.
  Hence old and batter'd _Hackneys_ of the _Stage_,
  By long Experience render'd _Wise_ and _Sage_,
  With pow'rful _Juices_ restive Nature urge,
  Or else with _Bays_ of old, they _bleed_ and _purge_;
  Thence, as the _Priestess_ from her _Cave_ inspir'd,
  When to his _Cell_ the _rancid God_ retir'd,
  _Double Entendres_ their fond _Audience_ blind,
  Their _boasted Oracles_ abuse Mankind:                             400
  _False Joys_ around their _Hearts_ in _Slumbers_ play,
  And the warm _tingling Blood_ steals fast away;
  The _Soul_ grows _dizzy_, lost in _Senses Night_,
  And melts in pleasing _Pain_ and vain _Delight_.
    Not that the _sowrest Critick_ can reprove
  The _soft_ the moving _Scenes_ of _Virtuous Love_:
  _Life's Sunny Morn_, which wears, alas! too fast;
  _Pity_ it e'er should _hurt_, or should not _always last_!
  Has _Bankrupt Nature_ then no _more_ to give,
  Or by a _Trick_ persuades Mankind to _live_?                       410
  No--when with _Prudence_ join'd 'tis still the _same_  }
  Or _ripens_ into _Friendship's_ nobler _Name_,         }
  The _Matter_ pure, immortal is the _Flame_.            }
  No _Fool_, no _Debauchee_ could ever prove
  The _honest Luxury of Virtuous Love_;
  Then _curs'd_ are those who that _fair Name_ abuse,
  And holy _Hymen's_ sacred _Fillets_ loose;
  Who _poison Fountains_, and _infect_ the _Air_,
  _Ruine_ the _Witty_, and _debauch_ the _Fair_;
  With _nauseous Images_ their _Scenes_ debase                       420
  At once their Country's _Ruine_ and _Disgrace_.
  _Weigh_ well each _Thought_ if all be _Just_ and _Right_,
  For those must clearly _think_ who clearly _write_.
  Nothing _obscure_, _equivocal_, or _mean_,
  Much less what is or _impious_ or _obscene_:
  Altho the tempting _Serpent_ play his part,
  And wind in _glitt'ring Folds_ around thy _Heart_;
  Reject the _trait'rous Charmer_, tear him thence,
  And keep thy _Vertue_ and thy _Innocence_.
                             [Sidenote: _The Manchinel, or Eves Apple_.]
    In wild _America's_ rank _Champaign_ grows                       430
  A _Tree_ which _Europe_ oft too dearly knows;
  It rises high in _cool inchanting Groves_,
  Whose green broad Leaves the fainting _Trav'ler_ loves;
  _Fair_ is the treach'rous _Fruit_, and charms your _Eye_,
  But ah! beware! for if you _taste_ you _die_.
  Too well alas! it _thrives_ when _planted_ here,
  Its deadly Branches shade our _Theatre_.
    Of _Mesures, Numbers, Pauses_ next I sing,
  And rest the breathless _Muse_ with cautious _Wing_:
  Of _Embryo Thoughts_, unripen'd yet by Time,                       440
  The Rules of _Verse_, of _Quantity_ and _Rhime_:
  With trembling Steps through _Shades_ unknown I stray,
  And mark a _rugged_ and a _dubious_ way;
  Yet some small _glimm'ring Light_ will hence be show'd,
  And future _Trav'lers_ may enlarge the _Road_.
                                                  [Sidenote: _Measure_.]
    Of CHAUCER'S Verse we scarce the _Measures_ know,
  So _rough_ the _Lines_, and so _unequal_ flow;
  Whether by Injury of _Time_ defac'd,
  Or _careless_ at the _first_, and writ in _haste_;
  Or _coursly_, like old _Ennius_, he _design'd_                     450
  What After-days have _polish'd_ and _refin'd_.
  SPENCER more _smooth_ and _neat_, and none than He
  Could better skill of _English Quantity_;
  Tho by his _Stanza_ cramp'd, his _Rhimes_ less chast,
  And _antique Words_ affected all disgrac'd;
  Yet _vast_ his _Genius, noble_ were his _Thoughts_,
  Whence equal Readers wink at _lesser_ Faults.
    From _France_ their _Alexandrins_ we receive
  Which more of _Liberty_ and _Compass_ give;
  Hence by our dull Translators were they us'd,                      460
  Nor CHAPMAN nor old STERNHOLD these refus'd;
  They borrow from _Hexameters_ their _Feet_,
  Which with _Asclepiads_ and _Iambicks_ meet;
  Yet in the midst we still a _Weakness_ see,
  Their _Music_ gives us no _Variety_.
  More _num'rous_ the _Pentameter_ and _strong_,
  Which to our _Saxon Fathers_ did belong.
  In this their antient _Edda_[1] seems to write,
  _Mysterious Rhimes_, and _horrid_ to the _sight_:
  Their _Runic Staves_ in this on _Rocks_ engrav'd,                  470
  Which long th' Assaults of _Time_ it self have brav'd.
  In this our antient _British Bards_ delight;  }
  And, if I measure his _rough Numbers_ right,  }
  In this old _Taliessin_ us'd to Write[2].     }
  This still _Possession_ keeps, few else we read,
  And _Right_ as well as _Fact_ may justly plead;
  Altho the _French Intruders_ oft pursue
  Their _baffled Title_, and their _Claim_ renew;
  Too oft _Impressions_ on our _Armies_ make,
  Cut off our _Straglers_ and our _Out-Guards_ take,                 480
  Which lazily our Authors now admit,
  And call th' _Excursions of Luxuriant Wit_;
  With _Badger-Feet_ the two-top'd _Mount_ we climb,
  And stalk from _Peak_ to _Peak_ on _Stilts of Rime_.
    Sweet WALLER'S _Dimeter_ we most approve
  For cheerful _Songs_ and _moving Tales of Love_,
  Which for _Heroic Subjects_ wants of _Strength_,
  Too _short_, as _Alexandrins_ err in _Length_.
    Our _Ear's_ the Judge of _Cadence_; nicely weigh
  What _Consonants_; rebel, and what obey;                           490
  What _Vowels_ mixt compose a pleasing _Sound_,
  And what the tender _Organs_ grate and wound.
  Nor at thy Reader's _Mercy_ chuse to lie,
  Nor let _his Judgment_ want of _thine_ supply:
  So _easie_ let thy _Verse_ so _smoothly_ fall,
  They must be read _aright_ if read at all.
                                                  [Sidenote: _Numbers_.]
  Nor _equal Numbers_ will for all suffice,
  The _Sock_ creeps low, the _Tragic Bushkins_ rife;
  None knew this _Art_ so well, so well did use
  As did the _Mantuan Shepherd's_ Heav'nly Muse:                     500
  He marry'd _Sound and Sense_, at odds before,
  We hear his _Scylla bark, Charybdis roar_;
  And when in Fields his _Fiery Coursers_ meet
  The _hollow Ground_ shakes underneath their feet:
  Yet nicer _Ears_ can taste a _Diff'rence_ when
  Of _Flocks_ and _Fields_ he _sings_ or _Arms_ and _Men_.
  If I our _English Numbers_ taste aright,
  We in the grave _Iambic_ most delight:
  Each _second_ Syllable the Voice should _rest_,
  _Spondees_ may serve, but still th' _Iambic's_ best:               510
  Th' unpleasing _Trochee_ always makes a _Blot_,
  And lames the _Numbers_; or, if this forgot,
  A strong _Spondaic_ should the _next_ succeed,
  The feeble _Wall_ will a good _Buttress_ need:
  Long _Writing, Observation, Art_ and _Pain_
  Must here unite if you the _Prize_ would gain.
                                                   [Sidenote: _Pauses_.]
    _Pause_ is the _Rest_ of _Voice_, the poor _Remains_
  Of _antient Song_ that still our _Verse_ retains:
  The _second Foot_ or _third's_ our usual _Rest_,
  Tho more of _Art's_ in _varying_ oft exprest.                      520
  At ev'ry Word the _Pause_ is sometimes[3] made,
  And wond'rous _Beauty_ every where displaid:
  --But here we _guess_, and _wander_ in the _dark_;
  How should a hoodwink'd _Archer_ hit the Mark?
  The little _Glimpse_ that DRYDEN gives, is more
  Than all our _careless Writers_ knew before;
  A few _Chance Lines_ may smooth and roundly fly,
  But still no Thanks to us, we know not why.
  He finds _Examples_, we the _Rule_ must make,
  Tho who without a Guide may not mistake?                           530
    [4] "_Tho deep yet clear, tho gentle yet not dull,
        Strong without Rage, without o'er flowing full._"
  If we that _famous Riddle_ can unty,
  Their brightest _Beauties_ in the _Pauses_ lie,
  To Admiration _vary'd_; next to these
  The _Numbers_ justly order'd charm and please:
  Each _Word_, each happy _Sound_ is big with _Sense_,
  They all _deface_ who take one _Letter_ thence.
                                                 [Sidenote: _Quantity_.]
    But little more of _Quantity_ we know
  Than what our _Accent_ does, and _Custom_ show:                    540
  The _Latin Fountains_ often we forsake,
  As they the _Greek_; nay _diff'rent Ages_ take
  A _diff'rent Path; Perfùme_ and _Envy_ now
  We say, which _Ages past_ would scarce allow:
  If no _Position_ make our _Accent_ strong
  Most _Syllables_ are either _short_ or _long_.
                                                    [Sidenote: _Rhime_.]
    _Primitive Verse_ was grac'd with pleasing _Rhimes_,
  The _Blank_ a lazy Fault of _After-times_;
  Nor need we other proof of this to plead
  With those the sacred [5] _Hebrew Hymns_ can _read_:               550
  If this to _lucky Chance_ alone be _due_,
  Why _Rhime_ they not in _Greek_ and _Latin_ too?
  [6] PINDAR at first his ancient _Copy_ trac'd,
  And sometimes equal _Sounds_ his _Numbers_ grac'd;
  Till with the more than _human Labour_ tir'd,
  He _drop'd_ his _Rhime_, and own'd him _uninspir'd_.
  ORPHEUS and HOMER too, who first did dream
  Of _num'rous Gods_, and left the _One Supreme,
  Religion_ both and _Poetry_ did wrong,
  _Apostatiz'd_ from _Rhime_, and lost the _Soul of Song_.           560
  Yet still some weak and glimm'ring _Sparks_ remain'd,
  And still our _Great Forefathers_ this retain'd;
  Nor _Inundations_ of _Barbarian Rome_,
  Our ancient _Rhime_ could wholly overcome.
                                               [Sidenote: _Vide p._ 13.]
    Ne'er _cramp_ thy _Reason_ for some paltry _Chime_,
  Nor sacrifice _Good Sense_ to _Numbers_ and to _Rhime_:
  Both may be _sav'd_ and made _good Friends_; and here
  The Poets _Art_ and _Happiness_ appear:
  But when some _stubborn Word_ denies to draw
  In _Numbers_, and defies the _Muses Law_,                          570
  Reject it strait, unworthy such a _Grace_,
  Another _yoke_ which better fills the _Place_:
  Much _Reading_ will thy _Poverty_ amend
  And _Taggs_ without the help of _Crambo_ lend.
    The _Double Rhime_ is _antiquated_ grown,
  Or us'd in _Satyr_ or _Burlesque_ alone;
  Nor loves our stronger _Tongue_ that tinkling _Chime_,
  The _Darling_ of the _French_, a _Female Rhime_.
    Now, daring _Muse_! attempt a _stronger Flight_,
  Beyond a _Vulgar Verser's_ cautious Height,                        580
  Beyond thy self, and consecrate to _Fame_   }
  Those who a _Title_ to the _Laurel_ claim,  }
  And may to after-times _embalm_ thy Name;   }
  Commend the _Good_, to all but _Vice_ be kind,
  And cast the _smaller Faults_ in _shades_ behind;
  Who _first_, who _next_; the _Balance_ justly hold,
  As that which shines above, and flames with _Heav'nly Gold_.
    Great N----BY the first, ROSCOMMON gone,
  He rules our _Empire_ now of _Wit_ alone:
  The _Beauties_ he of _Verse_ exactly knows,                        590
  The famous DRYDEN'S not more smoothly flows:
  Had ORPHEUS half so sweetly mourn'd his _Fate_,
  As VIRGIL sung, or _Sh----d_ did _translate_;
  H' had made the _Manes_ once again _relent_,
  They would again _Eurydice_ have sent:
  _Death's Temple_ we with _sacred Aw_ survey,
  With _Admiration_ read his _Great Essay_:
  Was _Art_ or bounteous _Nature_ here more _kind_?       }
  _Strong Sense_! Uncommon _Learning! Thoughts_ refin'd!  }          600
  A _Godlike Person_, and an _equal Mind_!                }
               [Sidenote: _Paraphrase on_ Psal. 148 O Azure Vaults, &c.]
    The _next_ in Dignity, if not the _same_,
  Is Deathless Dorsot's lov'd and noble _Name_:
  How did he sing, (listen'd the _Heav'nly Quire_;)
  The Wond'rous Notes of DAVID's _Royal Lyre_!
  Ah! _Why no more_ must we for ever long
  And vainly languish for so _sweet_ a _Song_?
    The next is _Tityrus_, who not disdains
  To read his _Name_ among the _tuneful Swains_;
  _Unweary'd_ in his _Prince's_ glorious _Cause_,                    610
  As he of _Faith_, Defender of the _Laws_;
  _Easie_ to all but to himself, he shares
  His Monarch's _Favours_, and his Monarch's _Cares_:
  His flowing _Language_ cloaths his _massie Sense_,  }
  Nor makes with _pompous Words_ a vain pretence,     }
  _Sound_ without _Soul_, to _Wit_ and _Eloquence_.   }
  Tho _Great_, he's still the same he was before:
  --I _sue for nothing_, and I'll say no more.
    _Montague_ left the _Muses_ peaceful _Seat_,
  And bore the _Cares_ and _Honours_ of the _Great_:                 620
  The _Pollio_ he of our _Augustan_ days,
  Who _Wit_ rewards with more than _hungry Praise_;
  _True Worth_ his _Patronage_ can never miss,
  He has his _Prince's Smiles_ and _that_ has _his_.
    Nor should he pass unprais'd whom all admire,
  Who, mixt with _Seraphs_, rules the _Western_ Quire;
  _Flowing_ and _pure_ his unexhausted _Vein_,
  As Silver _Thames_, which, rolling down the _Plain_,
  Salutes his _Sacred Dome_.----
  But those _profane_ who meanly thus _commend_,                     630
  Th' _Immortal Cowley's_ and the _Muses_ Friend.
    Of _matchless_ DRYDEN only _Dryden's_ Skill
  Could justly say enough,--of _Good_ or _Ill_.
  _Envy_ must own he has our _Tongue refin'd_,
  And manly _Sense_ with tend'rest _Softness_ join'd:
  His _Verse_ would _Stones_ and _Trees_ with _Soul_ inspire,
  As did the _Theban_ and the _Thracian_ Lyre:
  His youthful _Fire_ within, like _Etna, glows_,
  Tho _Venerable Age_ around his Temples _snows_:
  If from the _modern_ or the _antient_ Store                        640
  He _borrows_ ought, he always _pays_ 'em more:
  So much _improv'd_, each _Thought_, so _fine_ appears,
  WALLER or OVID scarce durst own 'em _theirs_.
  The Learned _Goth_ has scowr'd all _Europe_'s Plains,  }
  _France, Spain_, and fruitful _Italy_ he _drains_,     }
  From every Realm and every Language _gains_:           }
  His _Gains_ a _Conquest_ are, and not a _Theft_;
  He wishes still new _Worlds_ of _Wit_ were left:
  Thus _haughty Rome_, when, all the _Firm_ surpass'd,
  Her _Eagles_ found our _moated World_ at last;                     650
  Touching upon th' _unhospitable_ Coast,
  _Good Laws_ bestow'd for our _wild Freedom_ lost;
  With _Arts of Peace_ our stubborn Soil manur'd,
  And _naked Limbs_ from _Frost_ and _Sun_ secur'd:
  --But ah' how _dear_ the _Price_ of all we gain!       }
  What _Shoals of Vices_ with 'em cross'd the Main?      }
  What _Pride_, what _Luxury_, a foul, an odious Train?  }
  Who weighs, like _Galcacus_, the _Good_ with _Ill_,
  Would wish they'd let us been _Barbarians_ still:
  Such _thankless Pains Ignatian Firebrands_ take                    660
  An _honest Pagan_ spoil, and a _bad Christian_ make.
    Blest be kind Heav'n, which wrap'd me in a _Gown_,
  And drew me early from the _fatal Town_!
  And blest _Her Name_, to endless Ages blest,
  Who gave my weary _Muse_ this calm _Retreat_ and _Rest_.
  True to my God, my Country, and my Friend,              }
  Here, may I Life, not _wholly useless_, spend,          }
  _Steal_ through the World, and _smiling_ meet my _End_! }
  I envy not _Great Dryden_'s loftier Strain           }
  Of _Arms_ and _Men_ design'd to entertain,           }             670
  _Princes_ and _Courts_, so I but please the _Plain_: }
  Nor would I barter _Profit_ for _Delight_,
  Nor would have _writ like him, like him to write_.
  If there's _Hereafter_, and a last _Great Day_,
  What _Fire_'s enough to _purge_ his _Stains_ away?
  How will he _wish_ each _lewd_ applauded _Line_      }
  Which makes _Vice pleasing_, and _Damnation shine_,  }
  Had been as _dull_ as honest _Quarles_ or _mine_!    }
  With _sixty Years of Lewdness_ rest content!
  It mayn't be yet _too late_, O yet _Repent_!                       680
  Ev'n _Thee_ our _injur'd Altar_ will receive;
  While yet there's _Hopes_ fly to its _Arms_ and live!
  So shall for _Thee_ their _Harps_ the _Angels_ string,
  And the _Returning Prodigal_ shall sing;
  New _Joys_ through all the _Heav'nly Host_ be shown
  In _Numbers_ only _sweeter_ than thy _own_.
    CONGREVE from _Ireland_ wond'ring we receive,      }
  Would he the _Town's loose way_ of Writing leave,    }
  More Worth than all their Forfeit Lands will give:   }
  _Justness_ of _Thought_, a _Courtly Style_, and clear,             690
  And well-wrought _Passions_ in his _Works_ appear:
  None knows with _finer Strokes_ our Souls to move,
  And as he please we _smile_, or _weep_, or _love_.
  When _Dryden_ goes, 'tis he must fill the _Chair_,
  _With_ Congreve _only_ Congreve _can compare_.
  Yet, tho he _natural_ is as untaught Loves,
  His _Style_ as _smooth_ as _Cytherea_'s Doves,
  When e'er unbyass'd _Judges_ read him o'er,
  He sometimes _nodds_, as _Homer_ did before:
  Some Lines his most _Admirers_ scarce would please,                700
  Nor _B----_'s Verse alone could _raise Disease_.[7]
    For _smooth_ and _well turn'd Lines_ we _T----_ admire,
  Who has in _Justness_ what he wants in _Fire_:
  Each _Rhime_, each _Syllable_ well-weigh'd and fair,
  His _Life_ and _Manners_ scarce more _regular_.
    With _Strength_ and _Flame_ prodigious _D----s_ writes
  Of _Loves_ lost _Wars_, and cruel martial _Fights_:
  Scarce LEE himself strove with a _mightier Load_,
  Or _labour'd_ more beneath th' _Incumbent God_:
  Whate'er of old to _Rome_ or _Athens_ known,                       710
  What _France_ or _We_ have _glean'd_, 'tis all his _own_.
    How few can equal _Praise_ with _C----ch_ obtain,
  Who made _Lucretius smooth_, and _chast_, and _plain_?
  Courted by _Fame_ he could her _Charms_ despise,  }
  Still woo'd by that _false Fair_ he still denies, }
  And press'd, for _Refuge_ to the _Altar_ flies;   }
  Like _votive Tablets_ offers up his _Bays_,
  "_And leaves to our lewd Town the Drudgery of Plays_."
    In lofty _Raptures_, born on Angels Wings       }
  Above the _Clouds_, above _Castalian Springs_,    }                720
  N---- inspir'd, of God and _Nature_ sings;        }
  And if one _Glance_ on this _poor World_ he throw,
  If e'er he mind the _Croud_ and _Buzz_ below;
  Pities our _fruitless Pains_ for _Fame_ and _Praise_,
  And wonders why we _drudge_ for _Crowns_ and _Bays_.
    Could _B_---- be _sober_, many he'd excel,
  Few know the _Antients_, or could use so well;
  But ah! his _Genius_ with his _Virtue's_ fled,
  Condemn'd to _Want of Grace_ and _Want of Bread_.
    Ev'n Envy _B----re's Subject_ must confess }                     730
  _Exact_ and _rare_, a _curious Happiness_, }
  Nor many could the _Fable better dress_:   }
  Of _Words_ what _Compass_, and how vast a _Store_!
  His _Courage_ and his _Vertue's_ only more:
  More various _Scenes of Death_ his _Fights_ display
  Then _Aghrim's_ Field or _London's_ fatal Day:
  Let beauteous _Elda's Tears_ and _Passion_ prove
  His _Soul_ is not _unknowing how to love_:
  Disrob'd of _Clouds_ he view'd the _Stagyrite_
  As _Nature_ he, confess'd to _Human sight_:
  His _Rules_ surveys, and traces to their _Springs_,  }             740
  Where the _blind Bard_ of flaming _Ilium_ sings;     }
  Thence with the _Mantuan Swan_ in narrower Rings,    }
  Tho more _exact_, he, stooping from his height,
  Reviews the same _fierce Wars_ and _Gods_ and _Heroes_ fight:
  That beauteous antient _Palace_ he surveys         }
  Which _Maro's Hands_ had only Strength to raise,   }
  _Models_ from thence, and _copies_ every _Grace_:  }
  Each _Page_ is big with _Virgil's Manly Thought_,
  To _follow him too near's a glorious Fault_.
  He dar'd be _virtuous_ in the _World's_ Despite,                   750
  _While_ D----n _lives he dar'd a Modest Poem write_.
    Who can th' ingenious S----y's Praise refuse,
  Who serves a grateful _Prince_, and grateful _Muse_?
  Or _P----r_ read unmov'd, whose every _Page_
  So just a _Standard_ to the opening _Age_?
    Neat _S----n_'s courtly _Vein's_ correct and clear,
  Nor shall he miss his _Praise_ and _Station_ here:
  Nor should the _rest_ whom I _unnam'd_ must leave,
  (Tho such _Omission_ they'll with ease _forgive_:)                 760
  _Unknown_ to me, let each his _Works_ commend,
  Since _Virtue, Praise_, as _Shame_ does _Vice_ attend.
  _Poets_, like _Leaves_ and _Words_, their _Periods_ know,
  Now _fresh_ and _green_, now _sear_ and wither'd grow;
  Or _burnt_ by _Autumn's_ Heat, and _Winter's_ Cold,
  Or a _new hasty Birth_ shoves off the _old_.
  Happy are those, and such are _some_ of ours,            }
  Who blest by bounteous _Heav'n's_ indulgent _Show'rs_    }
  Bear wholsome _Fruit_, and not gay _pois'nous Flow'rs_:  }
  Who would not ev'n a _Lawreat's self_ commence                     770
  Or at their _Virtue's_ or their _Faith's_ Expence:
  Renounce their _Creed_ to save a _wretched Play_,   }
  And for a _crowded House_ and _full Third Day_      }
  At one _bold Stroke_ throw all their _Heav'n_ away. }
  What gain'd _Euripides_ by all his _Sense_,
  Who madly rail'd against a _Providence_?
  _Apostate Poets_ first seduc'd _Mankind_,
  _But ours upon the Pagan Herd refin'd_;
  They Vertue _prais'd_ at least, which ours _abuse_,
  And more than _Paganize_ the Heav'n-born Muse:                     780
  No Signs of _Grace_, or of _Repentance_ show,
  Like _Strumpets lash'd_, more _impudent_ they grow.
    Now learn, my Friend, and freely I'll impart
  My _little All_ in this delightful Art:
  Of _Poetry_ the various _Forms_ and _Kinds_,
  The widest, strongest _Grasp_ of human Minds:
  Not _all_ from _all_, but _some_ from _each_ I take,
  Since we a _Garland_ not a _Garden_ make.
                                                     [Sidenote: _Epic_.]
    EPIC's the _first_ and _best_, which mounting sings  }
  In _Mighty Numbers worthy mighty Things_,              }           790
  Of _High Adventures, Heroes, Gods_ and _Kings_:        }
  By lively _Schemes_ the Mind to _Vertue_ forms,
  And far beyond _unactive Precept_ warms.
  The _Subject_ may be either _feign'd_ or _true_,
  _Too Old_ it should not be, but less _too New_:
  _Narration_ mixt with _Action_ most delights,
  _Intrigues_ and _Councils_, vary'd _Games_ and _Fights_:
  Nothing so _long_ as may the Reader _tire_,
  But all the just well-mingled _Scenes_ admire.
  Your _Heroe_ may be _virtuous_, must be _brave_;
  Nothing that's _mean_ should his great Soul enslave:
  Yet Heav'ns unequal _Anger_ he may _fear_,
  And for his _suffering Friends_ indulge a _Tear_:
  Thus when the _Trojans Navy_ scatter'd lay
  He _wept_, he _trembled_, and to Heav'n did _pray_;
  But when bright _Glory beckon'd_ from afar,
  And _Honour_ call'd him out to meet the _War_;
  Like a fierce _Torrent_ pouring o'er the _Banks_,
  Or _Mars_ himself, he _thunders_ through the _Ranks_;
  _Death_ walks before, while he a _Foe_ could find,                 810
  _Horror_ and _Ruine_ mark long frightful _Lanes_ behind.
                                                 [Sidenote: _Machines_.]
    For _worn_ and _old_ MACHINES few Readers care,
  They're like the _Pastboard Chaos in the Fair_:
  If ought surprizing you expect to shew,
  The _Scenes_ if not the _Persons_ should be _new_:
  With _both_ does MILTON'S wondrous Scheme begin,
  The _Pandemonium, Chaos, Death_ and _Sin_;
  Which _D----s_ had with like _Success_ assay'd,       }
  Had not the _Porch_ of _Death's Grim Court_ been made }
  Too _wide_, and there th' impatient _Reader_ staid.   }            820
  And _G----h_, tho _barren_ is his _Theme_ and _mean_,
  By this has _reach'd_ at least the fam'd _Lutrine_.
  If _tir'd_ with such a plenteous _Feast_ you call
  For a far meaner _Banquet_, _Meal_ and _Wall_;
  The _best_ I have is _yours_, tho 'tis too _long_,
  And what's behind will into _Corners_ throng.
    A _Place_ there is, if _Place_ 'tis nam'd aright,  }
  Where scatter'd _Rays_ of pale and sickly _Light_,   }
  Fringe o'er the _Confines_ of _Eternal Night_.       }
  _Shorn_ of their _Beams_ the _Sun_ and _Phoebe_ here               830
  Like the _fix'd Stars_, through _Glasses_ view'd, appear;
  Or those faint _Seeds of Light_, which just display
  Ambiguous Splendor round the _milky Way_;
  The _Waste_ of _Chaos_, whose _Auguster_ Reign
  Does those more barren doubtful Realms disdain:
  Here dwell those _hideous Forms_ which oft repair  }
  To breath our upper _World's_ more _chearful_ Air  }
  Bleak _Envy_, grinding _Pain_, and meagre _Care_;  }
  _Disease_ and _Death_, the _Goddess_ of the _place_,
  _Death_, the _least frightful Form of all their Race_;             840
  _Ambition, Pride_, false _Joys_ and _Hopes_ as vain,
  _Lewdness_ and _Luxury_ compose her Train:
  How large their _Interest_, and how vast their _Sway_
  Amid the wide invaded Realms of _Day_!
  Soon would they our frail Race of _Mortals_ end,
  Did not kind _Heav'n_ auspicious _Succours_ lend;
  Sweet _Angel-Forms, Peace, Virtue, Health_ and _Love_,
  How near ally'd, how like to those _above_!
  These often drive the _Air_, those _Furies_ chace
  And fetter in their own _infernal Place_:                          850
  These lent at once NASSAW and ENGLAND Aid,
  And bright MARIA to our _Shores_ convey'd:
  Her, all their _Pow'r_ and all their _Charms_ they gave,
  To _govern_ what her _Heroe_ came to _save_.
    Nor _Envy_ this, who in her noisome Cell
  By _Traitors_ in their swift _Descent to Hell_,
  Her rising _Glories_ heard, then with a _Groan_
  She crawl'd before her _Sov'reign's_ direful _Throne_:
  A _Pile of Sculls_ the odious _Fantom_ bore,
  With _Bones_ half-naked mixt, and dropping putrid _Gore_;          860
  There thus--Shall _Heav'n_ defraud us of our _Reign_,
  And BRITAIN, only BRITAIN break her _Chain_?
  What can we there, while more than _mortal Grace_
  Forbids our _Entrance_, and secures the _Place_?
  Awhile I _gaz'd_ and _viewed_ her as I _fled_,
  When first she came, till half my _Snakes_ were dead;
  And had I tarry'd longer near her _Throne_,
  Had soon some base _insipid Vertue_ grown:
  So fast the wide _progressive Ills_ increase,  }
  If longer unoppos'd our _Power_ will cease;    }                   870
  The base degenerate World _dissolve_ to Peace; }
  Our boasted _Empire_ there will soon be o'er,
  And _Mortals_ tremble at our _Arms_ no more.
    She said, her _Tidings_ all the _Court_ affright,
  And doubled _Horror_ fill'd the _Realms of Night_:
  Till out foul _Lewdness_ leap'd, and shook the Place.  }
  The _fulsom'st Fiend_ of all th' _infernal Race_;      }
  A crusted _Leprosie_ deform'd her _Face_;              }
  With half a _bloodshot_ Eye the _Fury_ glar'd,
  Yet when for _Mischief_ she above prepar'd,                        880
  She _painted_ and she _dress'd_, those _Arts_ she knew,
  And to her _self_ her self a _Stranger_ grew,
  (Thus _old_ and batter'd _Bawds_ behind the Scenes,
  New _rigg'd_ and _dawb'd_, pass on the _Stage_ for _Queens_;)
  Nor yet, she cries, of _Britain_ we'll _despair_   }
  I've yet some _trusty Friends_ in _Ambush_ there,  }
  All is not lost, we've still the _Theatre_:        }
  I'll batter _Virtue_ thence, nor fear to gain   }
  New _Subjects daily_ from her _hated Reign_;    }
  Is not Great _D----_ ours and all his _Train_?  }
  He knows he has new _Laurels_ here prepar'd,        }              890
  For those he lost _above_, a just Reward,           }
  For his wide _Conquests_ he'll _command the Guard_: }
  _Headed_ by him one _Foot_ we'll scorn to yield,
  Tho _Virtue's_ glitt'ring _Squadrons_ drive the _Field_:
  Grant me, Dread _Sov'reign_! a _Detachment_ hence  }
  We'll not be long alone on our _Defence_,          }
  But hope to drive the proud _Assailants_ thence.   }
  Bold _Blasphemy_ shall lead our black _Forlorn_,
  With _Colours_ from _Heav'n's Crystal Ramparts_ torn,
  And _Anti-Thunderrs_ arm'd; _Profaneness_ next                     900
  Their _Canon_ seize, and turn the _Sacred Text_
  Against th' _Assailants_; brave _Revenge_ and _Rage_
  Shall our _main Batt'ry_ ply, and guard the _Stage_.
  --But most I on dear _Ribaldry_ depend,
  We've not a _surer_ or a _stronger Friend_.
  Now shall she _broad_ and _open_ to the Skie,
  Now _close_ behind some _double Meaning_ lye;
  Now with _sulphureous Rivers_ lave the _French_,
  And choak th' _Assailants_ with infernal _Stench_;
  Each nicer _Vertue_ from the _Walls_ repel,                        910
  And _Heav'n_ it self regale with the Perfumes of _Hell_.
  This from the World our dreaded _Foe_ will drive,
  As _murm'ring Bees_ are forc'd to leave their _Hive_;
  _Souls_ so _refin'd_ such _Vapours_ cannot bear,
  But seek their _native Heav'n_ and purer Air:
  When _She_ and all her heav'nly _Guards_ are gone
  And her bright _Heroe_ absent, all's our own:
  If any _pious Fools_ should make a stand,
  To stop our _Progress_ through the conquer'd Land,
  They soon shall pass for _hot-brain'd Visionairs_,                 920
  We'll run 'em down with _Ridicule_ and _Farce_.
  Must they _reform_ the World! A likely _Task_!
  Tis _Vizard_ all, and them we'll soon _unmask_.
  The rest will _tumble_ in, or if they stay
  And loiter in _Damnation's_ ample Way,
  I've one _Expedient_ left, which can't but take,
  My last _Reserve_; From yon black _brimstone_ Lake,
  Whence two _Canals_ thro _subterranean Veins_
  Are drawn to _Sodom_ and _Campania's_ Plains,
  My self I'll fill a _Vial_, and infuse                             930
  My very Soul amid the _potent Juice_:
  This _Essence_ near my _Heart_ I'll with me bear,  }
  And this among my _dearest Fav'rites_ share,       }
  Already _tutor'd_ by the _Theatre_;                }
  Who pass'd those _Bugbears Conscience, Law_ and _Shame_
  Have there been taught that _Virtue's_ but a _Name_:
  _Exalted Souls_ who _vulgar Sins_ despise;
  Fit for some _new discover'd_ nobler _Vice_;
  One _Drop_ of this their _frozen Blood_ shall warm,
  And _frighted Nature's feebler Guards_ disarm                      930
  Till their _chill Veins_ with hotter _Fevers_ glow  }
  Than any _Etna_ or _Vesuvius_ know,                 }
  Scarce equal'd by their _Parent Flames_ below;      }
  Till wide around the _gen'rous Canker_ spread,
  And _Vengeance_ draw on each _devoted Head_:
  Impatient _Heav'n_ it self our _Arms_ shall join,
  The _Skies_ again with _forky Lightnings_ shine;
  Till glutted _Desolation_ pants for Breath,
  And _guilty Shades_ shall croud the _Realms of Death_.
  --She said, the _Motion pleas'd_ she _wings_ away                  940
  And in blue _pois'nous Foggs_ invades the _Day_:
  Part of her _direful Threats_ too true we find,
  And _Heav'n_ avert the _Plagues_ that yet remain _behind_!
                                                  [Sidenote: _Tragedy_.]
    The _Path_ which _Epic_ treads the TRAGIC Muse
  With _daring_ tho _unequal_ Steps pursues,
  A _little Epic_ shines through every _Scene_,
  Tho more of _Life_ appears, and less _Machine_;
  More _Action_, less _Narration_, more _Delight_;
  We _see_ the _Gods_ descend, and _Heroes_ fight.
  While _Oedipus_ is _raving_ on the _Stage_,                        950
  Mild _Pity_ enters and dissolves our _Rage_;
  We _low'r_ our _haughty Spirits_, our _Pride_ and _Hate_,
  And learn to _fear_ the sad _Reverse of Fate_.
  A _Tyrant's Fall_, a treach'rous _Statesman's_ End
  Clear the _Just Gods_, and equal _Heav'n_ defend:
  Ungrateful _Factions_ here themselves torment,
  And _bring_ those very _Ills_ they would _prevent_:
  Nor think the lost _Intrigues_ of _Love_ too mean
  To fill the _Stage_ and grace toe _Tragic Scene_!
  Who from the _World_ this _Salt of Nature_ takes,                  960
  _Twice Slaves of Kings_ of _Life_ a _Desart_ makes.
    The _Moral_ and _Pathetick_ neatly join'd,
  Are best for _Pleasure_ and for _life_ design'd.
    Be this in _Tragic_ an _Eternal Law_;
  _Bold Strokes_ and _larger_ than the _Life_ to draw:
  Let all be _Great_; when here a _Woman's_ seen,
  Paint her a _Fury_, or a _Heroine_:
  _Slaves, Spendthrifts_, angry _Fathers_, better fit
  The meaner _Sallies_ of COMEDIAN Wit;
  But _Courtly_ HORACE did their _Stage_ refuse,                     970
  Nor was it trod by _Maro's_ heav'nly Muse:
  A _Walk_ so _low_ their _nobler Minds_ disdain,
  Where _sordid Mirth's_ exchang'd for _sordid Gain_;
  Where, in false _Pleasure_ all the _Profit's_ drown'd,
  Nor _Authors_ with just _Admiration_ crown'd:
  Hence was the _Sock_ a Task for _servile Wit_,
  Course PLAUTUS hence, and neater TERENCE writ:
  Yet if you still your _Fortune_ long to take,
  And long to hear the _crouded Benches_ shake;                      980
  If you'd _reform_ the _Mob_, lov'd _Vice restrain_,
  The _Pulpits_ break, and neighb'ring _B----_ drain;
  Let _Heav'n_ at least, if not its _Priests_, be free,
  The _Bible_ sures's too _grave_ for _Comedy_:
  If she nor _lewdly_ nor _profanely_ talk
  She'll have a _cleaner_, tho a _narrower Walk_.
  Our Nation's _endless Humour_ will supply
  So large a _Fund_ as never can be _dry_;
  Why then should _Vice_ be _bare_ and _open_ shown,
  And with such _Nauseous Scenes_ affront the _Town_?                990
  Why thrive the _Lewd_, their _Wishes_ seldom crost,
  And why _Poetic Justice_ often lost?
  They plead they copy _Nature_.--Don't abuse
  Her _sacred Name_ with such a _vile Excuse_!
  She wisely _hides_ what these, like Beasts _display_, }
  Ev'n _Vice_ it self, less _impudent_ than they,       }
  Remote in _Shades_, and far from _conscious_ Day.     }
    From this _Retrenchment_ by strong _Reason_ beat,
  They next to _poor Necessity_ retreat:
  The _Murderers, Bawds_ and _Robbers_ last pretence                1000
  With equal _Justice_, equal _Innocence_!
  So _Crack_, in _pious Fit_, will plead she's _poor_,
  'Tis a _hard Choice_, Good Sir, to _starve_ or _whore_!
  --Is there no _Third_, or will such _Reas'nings_ pass
  In _Bridewel's_ rigid Court, or save the _Lash_?
  Where the _stern Judge_, like _Radamanth_, surveys
  The _trembling Sinner_, and each Action _weighs_.
  A lazy, black, encumber'd _Stream_ rolls by,
  Whole thick _sulphureous Vapours_ load the Sky;
  Near where, in _Caves_ from _Heav'n's_ sweet _Light_ debar'd,     1010
  _Shrieks, Groans_, and _Iron Whips_, and _Clanks of Chains_ are heard.
  And can't you _thrash_, or _trail_ a _Pike_ or _Pole_?
  Are there no _Jakes_ in Town, or _Kennels_ foul?
  No _honester Employment_, that you chuse
  With such _vile Drudgery_ t'abase the heav'n born _Muse_?
    The num'rous ODE in various _Paths_ delights,
  _Love, Friendship, Gods_, and _Heroes, Games_ and _Fights_:
  Her _Age_ with _Veneration_ is confess'd
  The _first great Mother_ she of all the rest,
  This [8]MOSES us'd, and DAVID'S Royal Lyre,          }
  This he whom wond'ring _Seraphs_ did _inspire_,      }            1020
  Whence PINDAR stole some _Sparks of heav'nly Fire_,  }
  Who now by COWLEY's happy Muse improv'd,
  Is _understood_ by some, by more _belov'd_:
  The _Vastness_ of his Thought, the daring _Range_,
  That imperceptible and pleasing _Change_,
  Our jealous _Neighbours_ must themselves confess
  The _British Genius_ tracks with most Success;
  But still the _Smoothness_ we of _Verse_ desire,
  The _Regulation_ of our _Native Fire_:
  This from experienc'd _Masters_ we receive,                       1030
  Sweet FLATMAN'S Works, and DRYDEN'S this will give.
    If you in _pointed_ SATYR most delight,
  _Worry_ not, where you only ought to _bite_:
  _Easie_ your _Style_, unstudy'd all and clear.
  _Prosaic Lines_ are _pardonable_ here.
  There are whose _Breath_ would blast the _brightest Fame_, }
  Who from _base Actions_ court an _odious Name_,            }
  With _Beauty_ and with _Virtue_ War proclaim;              }
  Who _bundle_ up the _Scandals_ of the _Town_,                     1040
  And in _lewd Couplets_ make it all their _own_:
  _Just Shame_ be _theirs_ who thus _debauch_ a _Muse_,
  To vile _Lampoons_ a _noble Art_ abuse:
  As _ill_ be _theirs_, and _half of_ DATS'_s Fate_,
  Who always dully rail against the _State_.
  _Kings_ are but _Men_, nor are their _Councils_ more,
  Those _Ills_ we can't _avert_ we must _deplore_:
  Not _many Poets_ were for _Statesmen_ made,
  It asks more _Brains_ than stocks the _Rhiming_ Trade:
  (At least, when they the _Ministry_ receive,                      1050
  To _Poets Militant_ their _Muse_ they leave.)
  All _sordid Flat'ry_ hate, it pleases none
  But _Tyrants_ grinning on their _Iron Throne_:
  Yet where wer'e rul'd with _wise_ impartial Sway,
  The _Muses_ should their _grateful Homage_ pay:
  'Tis _base_ alike a _Tyrant's_ Name to raise,
  And grudg a _Parent Prince_ our _tributary Praise_.
  No wonder those who by _Proscriptions_ gain   }
  In _Marian_ Days, or _Sylla's_ bloody Reign,  }
  Of the divine _Augustus_ should complain;     }                   1060
  Who stoops to wear a _Crown's uneasie Weight_,
  As _Atlas_ under Heav'n, to prop the _State_:
  No _Glory_ strikes his Great exalted Mind,
  No _Pleasure_ like obliging all Mankind;
  He lets the _Factious_ their weak _Malice_ vent,
  Punish'd enough while they themselves _torment_:
  _Satiate_ with _Conquest_, his dread _Sword_ he sheaths,
  And with a _Nod disbands ten thousand Deaths_.
  Who dares _Rebellious Arms_ against him move
  While his _Prætorian Guard_'s his Subjects _Love_?                1070
  Admir'd by all the _bravest_ and the _best_,
  Who wear a _Roman Soul within their ample Breast_:
  Tho _charm'd_ with _both_, which shall they more _admire_
  In _Peace_ his _Wisdom_, or in _War_ his _Fire_?
  --_One Labour_ yet remains, and that they _ask_,
  _Alcides_ never clear'd a _nobler Task_;
  O _Father_! banish'd _Vertue_ O restore!
  Let _Hydra Vice_ pollute thy _Reign_ no more!
  Strike through the _Monster-Form_, which threatning stands,
  Fierce with a _thousand Throats_, a _thousand Hands_!             1080
  _Rescue_ once more thy _Trojans sacred Line_         }
  From _slavish Chains_, so shall thy _Temples_ shine  }
  With _Stars_, and all _Elysium_ shall be _thine_.    }



[1] _Vide Edda Samundi--apud Sheringham, de Gentis Anglorum
Origine, pag._ 28, 29.

  _Hiaelp beiter eitt eun thad thier hialpa mun
  Vid Sikum og Sottum goiru allum,
  Thad kenn eg aunad er thorfa Ita
  Syner their ed vilia lakner lisfa._
[Transcriber's Note: extremely difficult to read in the original.
Transcription may not be accurate.]

  I know your only Help, the pow'rful Charm
  That aids in ev'ery Grief and every Harm,
  I know the Leaches Craft, and what they need
  Who Doctors in that Noble Art proceed.

[2] the _Vide_ British Chronicle, _and_ Taliessin's _Prophecies_;

  Prryff fard l'yffred in ydwyfi i Elphin
  Am gwalad gynifio [indecipherable] Goribbin.
  Ionas ddewn am golwis Merddin
  Sebach Pob Brenmam geilw Taliesin.
  Gwea a gasgle elud Tra feyna bud,
  Gwererbin didd brawd in chospo i gnawd,
  Gwae ni cheidw i geil ag if yufug eil,
  Gwae in cheidw i ddefend chog bleiddna.
[Transcriber's Note: extremely difficult to read in the original.
Transcription may not be accurate.]

  Me _Elphin_ now his Bard may justly boast
  Who long of old amid the Fire-wing'd Host:
  Once _Merlin_ was I call'd, well known to Fame,
  Whom future Kings shall _Taliessin_ name.
  Wo to the Wretch who Wealth by Rapine gains,
  And wo to him who Fasts and Pray'rs refrains;
  Wo to the Shepherds who their Flocks betray,
  And will not drive the _Ravish_ Wolves away.

[3] _Olli sedaro rescondit corde Latinus._ Virg.

[4] _Mr._ Dryden's _Riddle, in his Preface to_ Virgil.

[5] _This was observ'd before Mr._ Le Clerc _was born. Vide_ Song of the
Well, _Num._ 21. 17.

     [Hebrew text]

_Vide_ Psal. 80, & 81. _Where some Verses have Treble, where Quadruple
Rhimes, four in one Verse._

[6] Ode 1. [Greek: indecipherable]

[7] _Vide_ Collier's _Reflexions on_ Moarning Bride, _and_ Garth's

[8] _I know some have affirm'd that_ Moses's _Song in the_ 14_th of_
Exodus _was writ in Hexameters, but I can't perceive any such thing in
it, any more than in the_ 90_th_ Psalm, _or the Book of_ Job, _which seem
to be written about the same time with it. The Song of the_ Well, _in_
Numbers, _pag._ 15. _is clearly an_ Ode _of unequal Measures_.

[Illustration: _THE_

An Heroic Poem.

with sixty Copper Plates._

_Printed for Charles Harper, & Benj. Motte._]

Blessed Lord & Saviour

Her Most Sacred MAJESTY.

_In Ten Books._

Chaplain to the most Honourable JOHN Lord Marquess of _Normanby_,
and Rector of _Epwerth_ in the County of _Lincoln_.

Each Book Illustrated by necessary Notes, explaining all the more
difficult Matters in the whole History: Also a Prefatory Discourse
concerning Heroic Poetry.

_The Second Edition, revised by the Author, and improved with the
addition of a large Map of the_ HOLY-LAND, _and a table of the
principal matters._

With Sixty Copper-Plates, by the celebrated Hand of _W. Faithorn_.

Printed for _Charles Harper_, at the _Flower-de-Luce_ over against St.
_Dunstan_'s Church, and are to be Sold by him, and _Roger Clavel_ at the
_Peacock_ against _Fetter-Lane_, both in _Fleetstreet_, 1697.


A Just Heroic Poem is so vast an Undertaking, requires so much both of Art
and Genius for its Management, and carries such Difficulty in the Model of
the Whole, and Disposition of the several Parts, that it's no Wonder, if
not above One or Two of the Ancients, and hardly any of the Moderns, have
succeeded in their Attempts of this Nature. Rapin, and other Masters of
Epic, represent it as an Enterprize so hardy, that it can scarce enter
into the Mind of a wise Man, without affrighting him, as being the most
perfect Piece of Work that Art can produce. That Author has many excellent
Reflexions and Rules concerning it in his Discourse sur la Poetique; but
Bossu is the first I've seen who has writ a just and perfect Tract
thereon, wherein he has in a clear and Scholastic Method amass'd together
most that's to be found in Antiquity on that Subject, tho' chiefly keeping
to the Observations of Aristotle, which he drew from Homer, and who seems
the first that reduced Poetry to an Art. That Author defines Epic, "An
Artificial Discourse, in order to form the Manners by Instructions,
disguis'd under the Allegories of some one important Action, recited in
Verse, in a manner probable, diverting and admirable;" which he thus
himself abridges, "'Tis a Fable, agreeably imitated on some important
Action, recited in Verse in a manner that's probable and admirable;" In
which Definition are contain'd, as he afterwards explains it, the general
Nature of Epic, and that double, Fable and Poem: The Matter, some one
important Action probably feign'd and imitated: Its Form, Recitation or
Narration: And lastly, its End, Instruction, which is aimed at in general
by the Moral of the Fable; and besides in the particular Manners of the
Persons who make the most considerable Figure in the Work.

To begin with Fable, which he makes included in the general Nature or
Essence of Epic. This, he says, is the most essential Part of it; "That
some Fables and Allegories scatter'd up and down in a Poem don't suffice
to constitute Epic, if they are only the Ornaments, and not the very
Foundation of it." And again, "That 'tis the very Fund and principal
Action that ought to be Feign'd and Allegorical:" For which reason he
expresly excludes hence all simple Histories, as by Name, Lucan's
Pharsalia, Silius Italicus's Punic War, and all true Actions of particular
Persons, without Fable: And still more home; that 'tis not a Relation of
the Actions of any Hero, to form the Manners by his Example, but on the
contrary, a Discourse invented to form the Manners by the Relation of some
one feign'd Action, design'd to please, under the borrow'd Name of some
illustrious Person, of whom Choice is made after we have fram'd the Plan
of the Action which we design to attribute to him.

Nor indeed is Bossu singular in his Judgment on this Matter, there being
few or none who have ever writ on the same Subject, but are of the same
mind: For thus Boileau in his Art of Poetry,

  Dans la vaste recit d'une longue action
  Se soutient par la Fable & vit de Fiction.

Which his Translator I think better;

  In the Narration of some great Design,
  Invention, Art, and Fable, all must join.

Rapin too gives his Vote on the same side, Rien n'est, says he, plus
essentiel au Poem Epique, que la Fiction; and quotes Petronius to that
purpose, Per ambages, Deorumque ministeria praecipitandus est Liber
Spiritus. Nor is't only the Moderns who are of this Opinion; for the
Iliads are call'd in Horace, Fabula qua Paridis, &c. And lastly, even
Aristotle himself tells us, "That Fable is the principal thing in an
Heroic Poem; and, as it were, the very Soul of it." [Greek: Archê kai oion
psychê.] And upon this occasion commends Homer for lying with the best
Grace of any Man in the World: Authorities almost too big to admit any
Examination of their Reason, or Opposition to their Sentiments. However, I
see no cause why Poetry should not be brought to the Test, as well as
Divinity, or any more than the other, be believed on its own bare ipse

Let us therefore examine the Plan which they lay for a Work of this
Nature, and then we may be better able to guess at those Grounds and
Reasons on which they proceed.

In forming an Heroic-Poem, the first thing they tell us we ought to do, is
to pitch on some Moral Truth, which we desire to enforce on our Reader, as
the Foundation of the whole work. Thus Virgil, as Bossu observes,
designing to render the Roman People pleased and easie under the new
Government of Augustus, laid down this Maxim, as the Foundation of his
Divine Æneis: "That great and notable Changes of State are not
accomplished but by the Order and Will of God: That those who oppose
themselves against them are impious, and frequently punished as they
deserve; and that Heaven is not wanting to take that Hero always under its
particular Protection, whom it chuses for the Execution of such grand
Designs." This for the Moral Truth; we must then, he says, go on to lay
the general Plan of the Fiction, which, together with that Verity, makes
the Fable and Soul of the Poem: And this he thinks Virgil did in this
manner, "The Gods save a great Prince from the Ruines of his Country, and
chuse him for the Preservation of Religion, and re-establishing a more
glorious Empire than his former. The Hero is made a King, and arriving at
his new Country, finds both God and Men dispos'd to receive him: But a
neighbouring Prince, whose Eyes Ambition and Jealousie have closed against
Justice and the Will of Heaven, opposes his Establishment, being assisted
by another King despoil'd of his Estate for his Cruelty and Wickedness.
Their Opposition, and the War on which this pious Prince is forc'd, render
his Establishment more just by the Right of Conquest, and more glorious by
his Victory and the Death of his Enemies." These are his own Words, as any
may see who are at the pains to consult him; nor can I help it, if either
Virgil or Bossu happen to be Prophets.

When the Poet has proceeded thus far, and as Bossu calls it, dress'd
his Project, he's next to search in History or receiv'd Fable, for some
Hero, whose Name he may borrow for his Work, and to whom he may suit his
Persons. These are Bossu's Notions, and, indeed, very agreeable to
Aristotle, who says, that Persons and Actions in this sort of Poetry must
be feign'd, allegorical, and universal.

This is the Platform they lay; and let's now see if we can discover the
Reasons whereon they found these Rules, being so unanimous for Fable
rather than true History, as the Matter of an Heroic Poem; and, if I
mistake not, these are some of the principal.

1. Because they had observ'd the best Models of Heroic Poems were laid
after this manner; the greatest part of the Action both in Homer and
Virgil being pure Fable. Homer beginning, and all the rest following his

2. Because no single Hero, or true History, which the Ancients knew was
sufficient, without Fable, to furnish Matter for an Epic Poem. History,
says Aristotle, treats of particular Things as they really are; Poetry, as
they ought to be; and therefore he prefers Poetry as the more grave and
more instructive; the Poets being forc'd to follow the same Methods with
their Kindred-Art, that of the Painters, and gather a great many Beauties
together, out of 'em all, to steal one Venus.

3. A third Reason may be, because, supposing they should have found some
one Example from whence to enforce strongly any particular Point of
Morality, yet it would have miss'd those other Characters of Epic, most of
its Agreeableness, and all its Power to raise Admiration. A chast
Historian must not go about to amuse his Reader with Machines; and a Poet
that would imitate him, must have been forc'd to thin his Stage
accordingly, and disband all his glorious Train of Gods and Godesses,
which composes all that's admirable in his Work; according to that of
Boileau; Chaque Virtue devient une divlnitie.

And these, if I mistake not, were the main Reasons on which the
foremention'd Rules were grounded. Let's now enquire into the Strength and
Validity of them: To begin with Homer, he wrote in that manner, because
most of the ancient Eastern Learning, the Original of all others, was
Mythology. But this being now antiquated, I cannot think we are oblig'd
superstitiously to follow his Example, any more than to make Horses speak,
as he does that of Achilles, 2. If a Poet lights on any single Hero, whose
true Actions and History are as important as any that Fable ever did or
can produce, I see no reason why he may not as well make use of him and
his Example to form the Manners and enforce any Moral Truth, as seek for
one in Fable for that purpose: Nay, he can scarce fail of persuading more
strongly, because he has Truth it self; the other but the Image of Truth,
especially if his History be, in the Third place, of it self diverting and
admirable. If it has from its own Fund, and already made to his hand those
Deorum Ministeria, which cost the Poet so much in the forming 'em out of
his own Brain. Nor can we suppose Fiction it self pleases; no, 'tis the
agreeable and the admirable, in the Dress of Truth; and such a Plan as
this would effectually answer both the Ends of Poetry in general,
delectari & monere, nay come up fuller to the End of Epic, which is
agreeable Instruction; and thence it follows strongly, that a Poem written
in such a manner, must, notwithstanding the foregoing Rules, be a true and
proper Heroic Poem, especially if adorn'd with Poetical Colours and
Circumstances through the whole Body thereof.

Now that all this is not gratis dictum, I think I can prove, even from
most of those very Authors I've already produc'd, as of the contrary
Opinion; and that I can make it appear, Bossu goes too far in fixing Fable
as the Essential Fund and Soul of the principal Action in an Epic Poem. To
begin with Rapin, who has this Passage, sur la Poetique, Reflex. 5. La
Poesie Heroique, &c. "Heroique Poesie, according to Aristotle, is a
Picture or Imitation of an Heroic Action; and the Qualities of the Action
are, That it ought to be (among others) true, or at least, such as might
pass for true;" Thus he. And hence it follows, according to him and
Aristotle, that the principal Action in Heroic, not only ought to pass for
Truth, but may be really true: For Horace, he does indeed call the Iliads
a Fable; but then he does not oblige his Poet superstitiously to follow
Homer in every thing, owning that he sometimes doats as well as other Men:
Further, this may, and I think does, refer rather to the Dress and Turn of
the Action, than to the Bottom and Ground of his History, which there's at
least as much, if not more reason to believe true than false: And in the
same Sense may we take Petronius and Boileau; nay, if we don't take 'em
thus, I can't tell whether there were ever such a thing as a true Heroic
Poem in the World; not so much as the Fairy-Queen, Gondibert, or Orlando
Furioso; all which have Fable enough in 'em of any reason; but their
principal Actions might be still true, as we are sure was that of the best
Heroic that ever was written; (I need not say I mean Virgil) since few or
no Authors ever deny'd that there was such a Man as Æneas, or even that he
came into Italy, built Cities there, and erected a Kingdom, which Tully
mentions, as a generally receiv'd Tradition in those Parts, and which it
seems he thought not frivolous, but true and solid; otherwise he'd scarce
have given it a place in his Argument for his Client. Of this Opinion too
seems Horace himself, in his Art of Poetry, namely, That there's no
necessity of the principal Action's being feign'd; for his Direction is,
"Aut famam sequere, aut sibi convenientia finge; Either follow Tradition
or Fame, or else feign what's agreeable thereunto." He makes not feigning
essential to Heroic Action, but gives leave to follow Fame, who is not so
great a Lyar, but that she is sometimes in the right. Nay, what if we
should after all have Bossu himself on our side, which I'm mistaken if he
be not; for these are his Expressions, Lib. 1. Cap. 7. Le Fiction, &c.
"The Fiction may be so disguis'd under the Verity of the History, that
those who are ignorant of the Art of the Poet, may believe it not a
Fiction; and to make the Disguisement well, he ought to search into
History for the Names of some Persons, to whom such an Action has probably
or truly happen'd, &c." Hence 'tis evident, that according to Bossu's own
Notion, the main Action may be true; which appears even from Aristotle
himself, as quoted by him, 97. [Greek: Kan ara] &c. "An Author is not less
a Poet, because the Incidents he recites have truly happen'd; if so be
that which happen'd had the appearance of Truth, and all that Art demands,
and be really such as it ought to have been feign'd." And this Bossu
himself illustrates admirably well by an ingenious Simile; "A Statuary,"
says he, "first forms his Design, Posture, Altitudes which he intends for
his Image; but if he then lights on any precious Material, Agate, or such
like, where the Figure, the Colours, and Veins will not be accommodated to
all he design'd, he regulates his Design and Imagination according to his
Matter; nor ought we to believe, at the same time, that these singular
lucky Hits condemn the Justness of his Art." From all which, I must leave
it to the Reader, whether I han't sufficiently prov'd what I've
undertaken; that Fiction is not necessary to the principal Action of our
Heroic Poem; on which I've been something more large, not so much on my
own account; for 'tis indifferent to me by what Name any Man calls my
Poem, so it answers the great End of Epic, which is Instruction; but
because I've heard some Persons have been so conceited as to criticise on
our immortal Cowley for this very reason, and deny his Davideis the Honour
of being an Heroic Poem, because the Subject thereof is a true History.

And here I should drop the Discourse of Fable, were there not another sort
of Persons still to deal with, perhaps more importunate than the former:
The first will not like a Piece unless 'tis all Fable, or at least the
Foundation of it: These latter run into the contrary extreme, and seam
unwilling or afraid to admit anything of Fable in a Christian Poem; and as
Balzac in his Critics on Heinsius his Baptista, are frighted, as at some
Magical Charm, if they find but one Word there which was made use of by
the old Heathens; which, says he, (unluckily as things have since
happened) is as preposterous as to see Turks wear Hats, and Frenchmen
Turbants; the Flower-de-lis in the Musselmens Colours, or the Half-Moon on
the Standard of France. He's, however, it must be granted, justly angry
with Tasso, as Mr. Dryden since, for setting his Angels and Devils to
stave and tail at one another; Alecto and Pluto on one side, and Gabriel
and Raphael o' t'other; as well as with Sannazarius, for mingling Proteus
and David, and calling the Muses and Nymphs to the Labour of the Blessed
Virgin, Tho' the truth is, the Italian Poets seem more excusable, at least
to a Papist, in this Case, than any other Nation, who parted with as
little of their Idolatry as they could possibly, after they had kept it as
long as they were able, making the Change very easie, and turning their
Pantheon into an All Saints; much like the good Fathers in the Spanish
Conquests in America, who suffer the Natives to keep their Old Idols, so
they'll but pay for 'em, and get 'em christen'd; by this means making many
a good Saint out of a very indifferent Devil. So far, I say, Balzac is
undoubtedly in the right, that Christianity and Heathenism ought not to be
confounded, nor the Pagan Gods mention'd, but as such, in Christian Poems.
Of which Boileau also says, "They should not be Fill'd with the Fictions
of Idolatry;" tho' he tells us just before,

  In vain have our mistaken Authors try'd
  Those ancient Ornaments to lay aside.

As tho' he were afraid lest all Poets shou'd be forc'd to turn Christians,
and yet in the next Lines he thinks it full as bad,

  To fright the Reader in each Line with Hell,
  And talk of Satan, Ashtaroth and Bel.

As tho' he'd have no Christian to be a Poet. And much at the same rate is
Monsieur Balzac very angry with Buchanan, for the same reason; nor will he
by any means let us substitute Belzebub, Asmodeus, and Leviathan, in the
room of Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera, which is, in his Opinion, perfect
Pedantry and Affectation; and is extreamly afraid, lest any of those
Barbarous Hebrew Words should disfigure the purity of the Latin Tongue;
when surely he cou'd not but know, that this pure Latin Tongue it self,
for which he's so much concerned, is nothing but the gradual Corruption or
Barbarizing of the Greek; as that of the Phonician and Hebrew before; and
the Italian, and his own French too, from the Latin afterwards, by the
adulterous mixture of 'tis hard to say how many Languages: So that between
'em, they'd make it impossible for a Christian Poet to write a good Heroic
Poem, or even a Tragedy, on any, but profane Subjects; by taking away all
the Machines, and therein whatever is admirable. No, says Balzac, instead
of those hard Words and proper Names, Appellatives may be chosen, Words
common to all People: As for example, Ill luck instead of the Fates, and
the Foul Fiend for Lucifer; and whether this wou'd not sound extreamly
Heroical, I leave any Man to judge: It being besides certain, that 'tis
singulars and particulars which give an Air of Probability, and the main
Life and Beauty to a Poem, especially of this Nature; without which it
must of necessity sink and languish. However so much of Truth, I must
confess, there is in what he says, that I verily believe Magor-missabib,
or Mahershal-alhashbaz, wou'd scarce yoke decently in one of our
Pentameters, but be near as unquiet and troublesome there, as a Mount
Orgueil it self. Nor can partiality so far blind my Judgment as not to be
my self almost frighted at second hearing of such a thundering Verse, as
Belsamen Ashtaroth Baaltii Ba'al: Which seems as flat Conjuration, as
Zinguebar, Oran, &c. tho' 'tis now too late to amend it. But then there
are other Words or a more soft and treatable Cadence, even in the same
Hebrew Language, especially when mollified by a Latin or Greek form, or
Termination; and such as these one may make use of and let others alone:
though neither is our bolder rougher Tongue so much affrighted at them, as
the French and Latin.

But Boileau pushes the Objection further, and wou'd make it bear against
the Things as well as Words, persuading himself,

  Our God and Prophets that he sent,
  Can't act like those the Poets did invent.

Tho' he too, is short in History, how excellent soever in Poetry. For
first, the Heathen Poets did not invent the Names of their Gods and
Heroes, but had 'em from Eastern Tradition, and the Phenician and Jewish
Language, tho' deflected and disguis'd after the Greek and other Forms, as
Josephus tells us, which the learned Bochart has proved invincibly; and I
have made some Essay towards it, in my Sixth Book. Nay further, it seems
plain to me, that most, even of their best Fancies and Images, as well as
Names, were borrow'd from the Antient Hebrew Poetry and Divinity, as, were
there room for't, I cou'd, I think, render more than probable, in all the
most celebrated Strokes of Homer, moat of the Heathen Poetical Fables, and
even in Hesiod's blind Theogonia. Their Gods or Devils, which you please,
were not near as Antient as the Hebrews. The Word Satan is as ancient as
Job; nor can they shew us a Pluto within a long while of him. Ashtaroth,
and Astarte, are old enough to be Grandmothers to their Isis, or Venus,
and Bel, of the same standing with Idolatry. Lawful it must certainly be,
to use these very Heathen Gods in Christian, since they were us'd in
sacred Hebrew Poetry, in due place, and in a due manner; Bel boweth down,
Nebo stoopeth, says Isaiah. And what a noble Description has the same
Prophet of the Fall of Lucifer? Nor can I see why it may not be as
convenient and agreeable, as 'tis lawful to transplant 'em from Hebrew
Poetry to our own, if we use 'em as they did. And then for Angels,
Prophets, and Oracles, it wou'd be strange, if they shou'd not strike the
Mind as agreeably when real and true, as the Daemons, or Oracles, or
Prophets of the Heathens, form'd, as has been said, partly from mistaken
Fragments, or Traditions of sacred Story, partly indeed from the Juggles
of the Heathen Priests, and crafty Ambitious Daemons. On the whole, we
have all the Advantages they had, and yet more than they, for Heroic
Poetry in these matters. As for that Question of Boileau's, "What Pleasure
can it be to hear the howlings of repining Lucifer?" I think 'tis easier
to answer than to find out what shew of Reason he had for asking it, or
why Lucifer mayn't howl as pleasantly as either Cerberus, or Enceladus.
And let any one read but his Speech, in Milton's Paradise, almost equall'd
in Mr. Dryden's State of Innocence, and I'm mistaken if he's not of the
same Mind; or if he be not, and it gives him no pleasure, I dare affirm
'tis for want of a true taste of what's really admirable.

But Boileau comes to a stronger Objection, both against the Names and use
of these Daemons, by way of Machine, I mean, in Christian Poetry;

  The Mysteries we Christians must believe
  Disdain such shifting Pageants to receive.

Thus has his Translator turn'd him; and taking it in that Sence, the
meaning must be, that it disgraces Christianity, to mix its Mysteries with
Stories of Daemons, Angels, &c. But sure it can never be any disgrace, to
represent it really as it is, with the frequent Intervention of those
invisible and powerful Agents, both good and evil, in the Affairs of
Mankind, which our Saviour has both asserted and demonstrated in his
Gospel, both by Theory and Practice: Whence we learn, that there are
really vast numbers of these Spirits, some tempting, or tormenting, others
guarding and protecting Mortals: Nay, a subordination too among them, and
that they are always vigilant, some for our Destruction, others for our
Preservation, and that, as it seems, of every individual Man; and if this
be true in general, I'm sure 'tis probable In particular: Nor can it be
any disgrace to Christianity, to apply general Probabilities to particular
Cases, or to mention these Daemons in Poetry any more than in Divinity.

But indeed the Translator has here mended Boileau's Thought, or at least
made it more plausible and defensible, tho he has miss'd his Sence; for
these are his Lines:

  De la foi d'une Christien les Mysteres terribles
  D' Ornemens egayés ne sont point susceptibles.

The plain English of which, I think is, "That the terrible Mysteries of
the Christian Faith, are not at all susceptible of these gayer Ornaments."
I'll not be too Critical here, tho' methinks its but an odd sort of Gayety
that's to be found in Tales of Hell; agreeable, I own, the most dreadful
thing nay be, if well manag'd in Poetry, but he can hardly ever make 'em
gay without a yery strong Catachresis. But tho' we let that pass, so must
not what follows, wherein he further explains his Notion. L'Evangile,

  The Gospel offers nothing to our Thoughts
  But Penitence and Punishment for Faults.

To which it may be first said, that supposing this true, and the Gospel
did present nothing else, yet why mayn't Angels be us'd in it, to warn
Sinners to that Repentance which we know they so much rejoyce in; or
Devils, to punish and torment the Guilty and Impious; as in the Case of
Sceva's Son, and others. But yet further, as to the assertion it self,
I know not what their Gospel offers, nor I believe are they better
acquainted with what ours does; but we are sure 'tis far enough from being
such a dismal melancholy thing as they represent it, since Immortality and
Life are brought to light therein. We know that it gives us the noblest
Examples, the most divine Law, the strongest, yet justest Passions, the
most glorious Combats, and Friendships, and Sufferings, such as neither
History or Fable cou'd ever yet equal. It shews us a God really
Descending, disrob'd indeed of all his more dazling and insupportable
Glories, as our Divine Herbert; but yet clothed with what has more of true
Divinity, with Humility, and Charity, and Patience, and Meekness, and
Innocence. Here's War, here's Love indeed; such as never was besides, or
will be more. He lov'd our Dust and Clay, and even for us, single
encounter'd all the Powers of Darkness, and yet more, his Almighty
Father's anger. But I'll go no farther, lest the Reader should think I
forget where I am. I must return to Boileau, whose strongest Objection is
yet behind; Et de vos Fictions, &c.

  And mingling Falshood with those Mysteries
  Wou'd make our sacred Truths appear like Lies.

But I hope the Critic knew, that there is a fair difference between a mere
Fiction, or Falshood, and an Instructive Parable or Fable, on one side, or
a few more lively Poetical Colours on the other. To mingle Falshoods, or
dull Legendary Fictions, without either Life or Soul in 'em, with our
Saviour's Blessed Gospel, may make 'em, in some Sence, superiour to it:
This wou'd indeed incline an Italian to be of the same Faith with his
Countryman, that 'twas all Fabula Christi, in the worst Sence of the Word:
But certainly expressing the Truth in Parables, and mingling these with
the Mysteries of the Gospel, can't be thought to give it an Air of
Fiction: nor dare any affirm it does so, without Blasphemy, since our
Saviour has so often done it. Nor only these but deeper Allegories are
thought to be made use of in the Christian Religion; for Example, the
Throne and Temple of God in the Revelations, and the Description of the
New Jerusalem, with all its Gates and Foundations of Sapphires and
Emeralds, and that lovely Scheme of Trees and Rivers, worthy a Paradise:
All this, I say, will scarcely be granted literal, and consequently must
be all an Allegory; alluding partly to the Old Jewish Church and Temple,
partly to Ezekiel's Visionary Representation and Prophetical Paradise. Nor
can it, I think, be justly reckoned more criminal, where we have any great
instructive Example, which has been real matter of Fact, to expatiate
thereon; adding suitable and proper Circumstances and Colours to the
whole, especially when the History it self is but succinctly Related, and
the Heads of things only left us. And this some great Man have thought was
the Method of the Holy Pen-man himself, whoever he were, in that lovely
antient Poem of Job; which, that 't was at the bottom a real History, few
but Atheists deny; and yet 'tis thought some Circumstances might be
amplified in the account we have left us, particularly the long Speeches
between that Great Man and his Friends; tho' the main hinges of the
Relation, his Person, Character, and Losses, the malice of the Devil, the
behaviour of his Wife and Friends, nay even the Substance of their
Discourses, as well as of that between God and him, and the wonderful Turn
of his Affairs soon after: All this might, and did, truly happen. Or, if
any amplification should be here deny'd, does not the Divine however every
day, Paraphrase and Expatiate upon the Words of his Text, inverting their
Method as he sees occasion, and yet is still thought unblameable. All the
difference is, that he delivers what's probable, as only probable; whereas
the Nature of Poetry requires, that such probable Amplifications as these,
be wrought into the main Action, in such a manner, as if they had really
happen'd; and without this, a Man might Ryme long enough, but ne'er cou'd
make a Poem, any more than this would have been one, had I begun with,
Abraham begat Isaac, and so tagg'd on to the end of all the fourteen
Generations, much as Nonnus has done with St. John, and yet often miss'd
his Sence too, as Heinsius judges.

But enough of Fable, and of those who would either reduce all Heroic
Poetry unto it, or absolutely banish it thence.

Next the Fable of Epics, the Poem is to be considered; which, after Bossu,
is the other part of its general Nature, and shews the manner of handling
it, comprehending Thoughts, Expressions and Verses; of which there need
not much be said, since they are obvious to every Reader. The Thoughts
must be clear and just, and noble, and the Diction or Expression suited to
them. The chief Difficulty, as Rapin observes, is to keep up the Sublime,
which Virgil has done admirably, even in the meanest Subjects; and which
Aristotle thinks may be best done by the judicious use of Metaphors. There
ought to meet, according to him, Proportion in the Design, Justness in the
Thoughts, and Exactness in the Expression, to constitute an accomplish'd
Heroic Poem; and the great Art of Thought and Expression lies in this,
that they be natural and proper without Meanness, and sublime without a
vitious Swelling and Affectation.

The Matter is next in an Heroic Poem, which must be one important Action;
it must be important, Res gestæ Regumque Ducumque, with Horace. "It only
speaks of Kings and Princes," says Rapin, by which he must mean that it
chiefly and principally turns upon them: for both Virgil and Homer have
occasion for Traitors, and Cryers, and Beggars, nay even Swineherds (in
the Odysses), and yet still more, of whole Armies, which can't be all
compos'd of Kings and Princes. However, the more there is of these lower
Walks in the Plan of a Design, the less Heroic it must appear, even in the
Hands of the greatest Genius in Nature. Such a Genius, I think, was
Homer's, and yet the Truth of this Assertion will be plain to any who
compares his Odysses with his Iliads; where he'll find, if 'tis not for
want of Judgment, in the latter a very different Air from the former, in
many places much more dead and languishing, and this which I have given,
seems one probable Reason on't; not excluding that of Longinus, that Homer
was then grown old, and besides too much of the Work was spent in
Narration; to which may be added, that he here design'd a wise and prudent
rather than a brave and fighting Hero, having wrought off most of the Edg
and Fury of his Youthful Spirit and Fury in Achilles, as in Ulysses he
express'd more of Age and Judgment.

This Action must be one and uniform: the Painture of one Heroic Action,
says Rapin from Aristotle. It must be, as Bossu from Horace, simplex
duntaxat & unum, that is, the principal Action on which the whole Work
moves ought to be one, otherwise the whole will be confus'd; tho' there
may be many Episodic Actions without making what Aristotle calls an
Episodic Poem, which is, where the Actions are not necessarily or not
probably link'd to each other, and of such an irregular multiplication of
Actions and Incidents. Bossu instances very pleasantly in Statius's
Achilleid; but he tells us there's also a regular and just Multiplication,
without which 'twere impossible to find matter for so large a Poem, when
as before it's so ordered that the Unity of the whole is not broken, and
consequently divers Incidents it has bound together are not to be
accounted different Actions and Fables, but only different Parts not
finish'd, or entire of one Action or Fable entire or finished: and,
agreeable to this Doctrine, Rapin blames Lucan's Episodes as too
far-fetch'd, over-scholastic, and consisting purely of speculative
Disputes on natural Causes whenever they came in his way, not being link'd
with the main Action, nor flowing naturally from it, nor tending to its

And in this Action, the Poet ought, as Rapin tells us, to invert the
natural Order of things, not to begin with his Hero in the Cradle, and
write his Annals instead of an Epic Poem, as Statius in his Achilleid, the
Reason of which seems plain, because this would look more like History
than Poetry. It's more agreeable, more natural, in some Sence, to be here
unnatural; to bring in, by way of Recitation or Narration, what was first
in order of time, at some distance from that time when it really happened,
which makes the whole look unlike a dull formal Story, and gives more
scope for handsome Turns and the Art of the writer. Another Reason why a
whole Life is not ordinarily a proper Subject for Epics, is, because many
trivial Accidents must be therein recited; but if a Life can be found in
which is nothing but what's diverting and wonderful, tending besides to
the perfecting the main Action, and the Order of time revers'd in the
whole, the Case would be so much altered, that I think their Rules would
not hold.

For the Form of Epic, which comes next in view, 'tis agreed on all Hands
to be Recitation or Narration. Bossu says, The Persons are not at all to
be introduced before the Eyes of the Spectators, acting by themselves
without the Poet; not that he'd hereby exclude the Poet from introducing
the persons telling their own Story, or some one of them that of the
principal Hero: for great part of Epic is thus far Dramatic. And thus
Virgil manages his second and third Books by way of Recitation, and that
by his Hero himself, making him give Dido a long account of the Wars of
Troy, and his own Actions, tho' thereby he falls into the Impropriety of
commending himself, with a--sum pius Æneas. Vida takes the same way of
Recitation, wherein he employs two or three of his six Books; and Milton
follows them both, tho' less naturally than either; for he introduces our
Saviour, in his Paradise regain'd, repeating a great part of his own Life
in Soliloquy, which way of Discourse includes, in a Wise Man especially,
so much of Calmness and deep Reflection, that it seems improper for the
great and noble Turn required in such a Work, unless in describing a
Passion, where it may be more lively. All that they mean by not
introducing the Parties, is not doing it as in a Tragedy: they are not to
be brought in abruptly to tell their own Tale from the beginning, without
the appearing Help of the Poet, as Actors in a true and proper Drama. And
this Narration, says Rapin, should be simple and natural; but the greatest
difficulty is, not to let its Simplicity appear, lest it thence grow
disagreeable, and the chiefest Art in this, consists in its Transitions,
and all the delicate surprising Turns, which lead the Reader from one
thing to another without his thinking whither he's going, or perceiving
any Breach or so much as a passage between 'em; after all, the more Action
there is in Epic, still the more Life there will be. A Poet may, I find,
easily fall into Poorness of Thought by aiming too much at the Probability
and neglecting the Admirable; whereby he loses that agreeableness which is
a mixture of both. He ought then to take more care than some have done,
not to keep himself too long behind the Scenes, and trust the Narration
with another, which, without a great deal of Art and Pains, will take off
much of the Life of the Work, as Longinus has already formerly observed.

And here come in the Qualities of Narration, mentioned in our Definition,
that it ought to be done in a manner probable, agreeable, and admirable;
'tis rendered probable by its Simplicity and Singularity, and admirable by
the Grandeur of the Subject, the Figures and Machines, or [Greek: theoi
apo mêchanês], much more lawful here than in the Drama's; and lastly
agreeable, as has been said, by a mixture of both.

The last thing in our Definition, is, the End of Epic, indeed the first
and principal which ought to be intended, and that's Instruction, not
only, as Rapin thinks, of great Men, but of all, as in Virgil's Scheme,
which we have already described; and, this either by the principal Moral
aim'd at in the whole, or the Manners of particular Persons. Of Fable and
Moral, I've already discours'd, and whether be the more lively and
probable way to instruct, by that or History. But here it may be worth the
while to enquire, whether the principal Hero in Epic ought to be virtuous?
Bossu thinks not, the manners being formed as well by seeing Errors as
Beauties in the chief Actors; but yet methinks it seems too much to form a
Hero that's a perfect Almanzor, with not one spark of Vertue, and only
remarkable for his extraordinary Strength and little Brains; such was
certainly Homer's Achilles, of whom I think the Father was in the right
when he observes, the Poet makes him not do one brave or virtuous Action,
all the while he lies before the Town: whereas Virgil's Hero, is, to tell
truth, an indifferent good Heathen, and, bating one or two slips, comes up
pretty well to his own good word. The same however may be said for Homer,
which our present Dramatists plead for their Excuse; that he copied his
Hero from those who were esteemed such in the barbarous Age in which he

  Impiger, iracundus, inexorabllis, acer,
  Jura neget sibi nata, &c.

Made up of Lewdness, Love, and Fighting: who, had he liv'd in our Days,
would have made an excellent Town Bully, I wish there were not too much
reason to say a modish Gentleman. But tho' old Homer took this way,
Virgil, who writes with much more Judgment and Exactness, and follows him
in many things, here thought fit to leave him; making his Hero, as I've
said, not only brave and prudent, but for the most part virtuous. Which
would much better form the manners of his Reader, than if they were set to
spell out Instruction from contraries, as Homer has done. Whence it
follows, the more virtuous a Hero is, the better; since he more
effectually answers the true end of Epics. After all, Rapin says, the
chief Excellency of an Heroic Poem consists in the just proportion of the
Parts; that perfect Union, just Agreement, and admirable Relation, which
the Parts of this great Work bear one towards another; and blames Tasso
for mingling all the Sweetness and Delicacy of Eclogues and Lyricks, with
the Force of an Heroic Poem. But I should think him mistaken here, and
that this is not the meaning of Aristotles [Greek: analogon]. For if we
allow not such a pleasing Variety, how shall we excuse even Virgil
himself, who has his Dido, as well a Tasso his Armida and Erminia? nay,
how shall we manage Love? which is usually one great Episode of Heroic, if
not with something of Delicacy. I grant Love ought to have a different Air
in different sorts of Poems; but still if it be natural it must have
something of Softness; and for his Enchanted Forrest, which this severe
Critic also blames, I believe there's few who read that part of his Work,
who would willingly have it omitted, for the sake of a fancied Regularity,
any more than they would part with Mr. Dryden's Improvement on't in his
King Arthur. However, if it be a fault, 'tis strange so many who have been
Masters of the greatest Genius should unanimously fall into it; as Ovid in
his Palace of Circe, Ariosto in that of Alcina, and Spencer in his
Acasia's Bower of Bliss, and several others, who have taken the same
Method. I should therefore rather think that this beautiful and marvellous
Analogy which Aristotle requires as the best thing in Epic, relates rather
to the Harmony and Agreement of the Parts with the Whole; so that there
appears no Fracture or Contradiction, the different Parts, tho' much
unlike, yet all together making one beautiful Figure and uniform Variety.

And thus much of the Definition of Epic, containing the main Rules
thereof, by which the Reader may be able to form a Judgment of this, or
any other Heroic Poem: Especially if to these Rules be added some Examples
to render them more plain. In order to which, I desire to express my
Thoughts freely of other Poems, as I must expect every one will do of
mine, always observing that piece of Justice, never to find fault, without
taking notice of some Beauty to ballance it, and giving, where I can find
it, the better Judgment of other Persons as well as my own. Concluding all
with a brief Account of my own Work.

To begin then with Grandsire Homer, this may be added to the particular
Remarks that have been already made. I think none will deny but the
Disposition of his Iliads, is so truly admirable, so regular, and exact,
that one would be apt to think he wrote his Poem by Aristotle's Rules, and
not Aristotle his Rules by his Poem. I confess, I once thought that he had
been oblig'd to his Commentators for most of the Beauties they celebrated
in him; but I am now, on a nearer view, so well satisfied to the contrary,
that I can ne'er think his Poem writ by piece-meal, without any Connexion
or Dependance: wherein Dionysius the Halicarnassian very justly praises
the Order and Management of the Design, as well as the Grandeur and
Magnificence of the Expression, and the sweet and passionate Movements.
Nor is it without Reason that Horace, Longinus, and all Antiquity have
given him, as the Model of just and noble Sentiments and Expressions.
I must confess there's something in his Numbers that strikes me more than
even Virgil's, his Thoughts and Expressions appear stronger than his, tho'
it cannot be denied but that Virgil's Design is much more regular. Rapin
says a great deal of that Prince of the Latin Poets, tho' indeed he can
never say enough, "He had an admirable Taste, says he, of what's natural,
an excellent Judgment for the Order, and an incomparable Delicacy for the
Number and Harmony of his Versification." And adds, "That the Design of
the Poem is, if we consider it in all its Circumstances, the most
judicious and best-laid that ever was or ever will be." There is indeed a
prodigious Variety in Virgil, and yet the same Soul visible in every Line.
His own great Spirit informs his Poetical World, and like that he speaks

    ---- totos infusa per Artus
  Mens agitat Molem, & magno se corpora miscet.

He's soft with the height of Majesty, his Marcellus, his Dido, and, I
think, above all, his Elegy on Pallas is very noble and tender. The joints
so strong and exactly wrought, the Parts so proportionable, the Thoughts
and Expression so great, the Complements so fine and just, that I could
ne'er endure to read Statius, or any of the rest of the Antient Latins
after him; with whom therefore I shan't concern my self nor trouble my
Reader. Ariosto was the first of the Moderns who attempted any thing like
an Heroic Poem, and has many great and beautiful Thoughts; but at the same
time, 'tis true, as Balzac observes, that you can hardly tell whether he's
a Christian or an Heathen, making God swear by Styx, and using all the
Pagan Ornaments; his Fancy very often runs away with his Judgment, his
Action is neither one nor simple, nor can you imagine what he drives at;
he has an hundred Hero's but you can't tell which he designs should be
chief: Orlando indeed seems a wild Imitation of Homer's Achilles, but his
Character is not bright enough to make him the Principal; and besides he
orders it so, that he does more great Actions when he's mad then when
sober. Agreeable to this are Rapin's thoughts of him, which, in few words,
are "That he's elevated and admirable in his Expressions, his Descriptions
fine, but that he wants Judgment; and speaks well, but thinks ill, and
that tho' the Parts are handsome enough, yet the whole Work can by no
means pass for an Epic Poem, he having never seen the Rules of Aristotle;"
which he thinks Tasso had, and therefore wrote much better, whom he
commends as more correct in his Design, more regular in the ordering his
Fable, and more accomplish'd in all parts of his Poem than any other of
the Italians, whom yet he justly blames, because he has two Hero's
Godfredo and Rinaldo, of whom Godfredo seems the principal, and yet
Rinaldo performs the greatest part of the notable Actions. He seems to
imitate Agamemnon and Achilles, but then he raises his Agamemnon too high,
or keeps him too low, for he hardly lets him do one great Action through
the whole Work. He further criticises upon him as mingling too much
Gallantry with his Poem, which, he thinks, is unbecoming the Gravity of
his Subject. But whether this Censure be just, I know not, for Love and
Gallantry runs through all Virgil's Æneids, in the Instances of Helen,
Dido, and Lavinia, and indeed it gives so great a Life to Epic, that it
hardly can be agreeable without it, and I question whether ever it has
been so. Nor is he more just, I think, against Tasso's Episodes, which he
blames as not proper to circumstantiate his principal Action, not entring
into the Causes and Effects thereof, but seeking too much to please, tho'
I think this Charge is unjust, for 'tis in his Episodes, if any where,
that Tasso is admirable. I might here give several Instances, but shall,
at present, only refer my Reader to that of Tancred and Erminia, and I'm
mistaken if he does not dissent from Rapin in this particular. Sannazarius
and Vida were the next who did any thing remarkable in Epic; they both
writ in Latin on the same Subject, both Christian Heroics; Rapin says they
both had a good Genius for Latin, the Purity of their Style being
admirable, but that their ordering of the Fable has nothing in't of
Delicacy, nor is the manner of their Writing proportionable to the dignity
of the Subject. For Sannazarius he's indeed so faulty, that one can hardly
with Patience read him, the whole Structure of his imperfect Piece, de
partu, being built on Heathen Fable; yet he has great and vigorous
Thoughts and very Poetical Expressions, tho' therein Vida far excels him,
whose Thoughts are so noble, and the Air of his Stile so great, that the
Elogy Balzac gives his Countryman Tasso, wou'd as well or rather better
have fitted him; "That Virgil is the Cause, Vida is not the first; and
Vida, that Virgil is not alone." It is true, as Rapin observes, that his
Fable is very simple, and perhaps so much the better, considering the
Subject; tho' he forgets not Poetical Ornaments, where there's occasion,
if he does not lean a little to Sannazarius's Error; for he talks of the
Gorgons and Sphinxes, the Centaurs and Hydra's and Chimera's, though much
more sparingly and modestly than the other. He has the happiest beginning
that perhaps is to be found in any Poem, and by mingling his Proposition
and Invocation, has the advantage of placing one of the noblest Thoughts
in the World in the first Line, without danger of falling into the
absurdity of Horace's Author with his Fortunam Priami: For thus he sings,

  Qui mare, qui terras, qul coelum numine comples
  Spiritus alme, &c.

After the Invocation, in the very beginning of the Poem, he's preparing
the Incidents for his Hero's Death; he brings him to Jerusalem at the
Passover with Hosanna's; then raises his Machines, and falls to the
Description of Hell. He through the whole, uses his Figures very
gracefully; few have been more happy in Comparisons, more moving in
Passion, succinct, yet full in Narration: Yet is he not without Faults; or
in the second Book he brings him to his last Supper in the Garden, from
thence before Caiaphas and Pilate; which too much precipitates the main
Action: Besides, it seems harsh and improbable to bring in S. John, and
Joseph, our Saviour's reputed Father, as he does in the Third and Fourth
Book, giving Pilate an account of his Life; not to insist on the general
Opinion, that Joseph was not then alive. But notwithstanding these few
failures, it can't be deny'd, that his Description of our Saviour's
Passion in the Fourth Book, is incomparably fine; the disturbance among
the Angels on that occasion; his Character of Michael, and the Virgins
Lamentation under the Cross, and at the Sepulchre, are inimitable. And
thus much for Vida, on whom I've been more large because I've often made
use of his Thoughts in this following Work; his Poem being the most
complete on that Subject I've ever seen or expect to see. And here han't
the English more reason to complain of Rapin, that he takes no notice of
their Heroic Poems, than Lupez Viga of Tasso, for not mentioning the
Spaniards at the Siege of Jerusalem: but since he has been so partial, as
not to take any notice of our Writers, who sure as much deserve it as
their Dubartas and Ronsard; we may have liberty to speak of our own, and
to do 'em Justice: To begin with Spencer, who I think comes the nearest
Ariosto of any other; he's almost as Irregular, but much more Natural and
Lovely: But he's not only Irregular but Imperfect too, I mean, as to what
he intended; and therefore we can't well imagine what it wou'd have been,
had he liv'd to complete it. If Fable be the Essence of Epic, his Fairy
Queen had certainly enough of that to give it that Name. He seems, by the
account he gives of it to Sir Walter Rawleigh, to have design'd one
Principal Hero King Arthur, and one main important Action bringing him to
his Throne; but neither of these appear sufficiently distinct, or well
defin'd, being both lost in the vast Seas of Matter which compose those
Books which are finish'd. This however must be granted, the Design was
Noble, and required such a comprehensive Genius as his, but to draw the
first Sketch of it: And as the Design, so the Thoughts are also very
great, the Expressions flowing natural and easie, with such a prodigious
Poetical Copia as never any other must expect to enjoy. Gondibert methinks
wants Life; the Style is rather stiff than Heroic, and has more of Statius
than Virgil; one may see every where a great deal of Art, and Pains, and
Regularity, even to a fault; nor is a Genius wanting, but it's so
unnatural, that an ingenious Person may find much more pleasure in reading
a worse Poet. Besides, his Stanza's often cramp the Sence, and injure many
a noble Thought and Passion. But Mr. Cowley's Davideis is the Medium
between both; it has Gondibert's Majesty without his stiffness, and
something of Spencer's Sweetness and Variety, without his Irregularity:
Indeed all his Works are so admirable, that another Cowley might well be
employ'd in giving them their just Elogy. His Hero is according to the
ancient Model, truly Poetical, a mixture of some Faults and greater
Virtues. He had the advantage of both Love and Honour for his Episodes,
nay, and Friendship too, and that the noblest in History. He had all the
sacred History before him, and liberty to chuse where he pleased, either
by Narration or Prophecy; nor has he, as far as he has gone, neglected any
advantage the Subject gave him. Its a great Loss to the World that he left
the Work unfinish'd, since now he's dead, its always like to continue so.
As for Milton's Paradise Lost its an Original, and indeed he seems rather
above the common Rules of Epic than ignorant of them. Its I'm sure a very
lovely Poem, by what ever Name it's call'd, and in it he has many Thoughts
and Images, greater than perhaps any either in Virgil or Homer. The
Foundation is true History, but the turn is Fable: The Action is very
Important, but not uniform; for one can't tell which is the Principal in
the Poem, the Wars of the Angels or the Fall of Man, nor which is the
Chief Person Michael or Adam. Its true, the former comes in as an Episode
to the latter, but it takes up too great a part thereof, because its
link'd to it. His Discourse of Light is incomparable; and I think 'twas
worth the while to be blind to be its Author. His Description of Adam and
Eve, their Persons and Love, is almost too lively to bear reading: Not but
that he has his inequalities and repetitions, the latter pretty often, as
have, more or less, all other Poets but Virgil. For his antique Words I'm
not like to blame him whoever does: And for his blank Verse, I'm of a
different mind from most others, and think they rather excuse his
uncorrectness than the contraries; for I find its easier to run into it,
in that sort of Verse, than in Rhyming Works where the Thought is oftner
turned; whereas here the Fancy flows on, without check or controul. As for
his Paradise Regain'd, I nothing wonder that it has not near the Life of
his former Poem, any more than the Odysses fell short of the Iliads.
Milton, when he writ this, was grown Older, probably poorer: He had not
that scope for Fable, was confin'd to a lower Walk, and draws out that in
four Books which might have been well compriz'd in one: Notwithstanding
all this, there are many strokes which appear truly his; as the Mustring
of the Parthian Troops, the Description of Rome by the Devil to our
Saviour, and several other places.

And now I've done with all the rest, I may take liberty to say something
of my own.

For the Subject I dare stand by it, that 'tis fit for a better Heroic
Poem than any ever was, or will be made; and that if a good Poem cou'd not
be made on't, it must be either from the weakness of the Art itself, or
for want of a good Artist. I don't say the Subject with all its
Circumstances is the best for Epic, but considered in it self, or with a
prudent choice out of the vast Field of Matter which it affords.

The Action is Important, if ever any was, being no less than the
Redemption of the World, which was not accomplish'd till after our
Saviours Death and Resurrection. The Ascension I confess should be left
out, according to the common Rules of Heroick Poetry, but I had not the
same reason of omitting it, as others have for not coming to the End of
their History, a little short of which they generally stop, because after
the main Business is over, nothing great remains, or however not greater
than has already past. And if any thing mean followed, the Reader wou'd
leave off dissatisfied. But I've as great and remarkable an Action, as any
in the whole story, yet upon my Hands, and which if I had omitted, I had
lost many very moving Incidents that follow'd the Resurrection; and
besides, Vida before me, has carry'd it yet further, to the actual Descent
of the Holy Ghost on the Disciples, and the spreading the Christian Name
all the World over; which I have done only in Prophecy.

The Action is I think uniform, because all the Episodes are part of the
main Action, the Redemption of the World; to which his Incarnation, and
Divine Conception were absolutely necessary, and so were his Holy Life,
Doctrine, Miracles, and especially his Sufferings and Agonies. My
principal Hero was perfect, yet imitable, and that both in active and
contemplative Life. He leaves his own Kingdom to save and conquer another,
endures the greatest hardships, is reduc'd to the lowest ebb, nay is at
last forc'd to suffer Death it self. Yet after all, he emerges from his
Misfortunes, conquers all his Enemies, fixes Laws, establishes Religion,
Peace, and his own Empire, and is advanced higher than any Conquerer ever
was before him.

The other Persons are Heroical enough, Angels, Kings, High Priests,
Governours, Councellors, nay even the Apostles themselves were more than
Kings, for they were thought and call'd Gods by the People. The Moral I
find not make it, in a true Example, which others are forced to Form in
Fable; "That we ought to do Good, to suffer evil, submit to the Divine
Will; to venture or lose a Life for a Friend; to forgive our Enemies."

Yet further I desire to recommend the whole of the Christian Religion; all
the Articles of Faith; all that System of Divinity and Morality contain'd
in the Gospel of the Blessed Jesus, to the Study and Practice of Persons
of Ingenuity and Reason; to make his Divine Person, which is already
infinitely Amiable, if possible, actually more Ador'd and Lov'd; and to
Vindicate his Mission, his Satisfaction, and his Divinity, against all
Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Heretics; which sure are the most proper Ends
that can be propos'd in a Work of this Nature: Which may be agreeably and
admirably done, if 'tis not the Poets fault; for here's all the marvellous
that cou'd be wished for, already done to my Hand, and all sacredly True,
Angels and Demons, and Miracles, with Voices from Heaven.

Now the Subject being so fit for a good Heroic Poem, I shall have the less
excuse, if this be a bad one. And here I must ingenuously confess, I had
seen none of these Rules given by the Masters of Epic, when I laid the
Scheme of this Poem, tho I wish I had, for I might probably then have done
it better, or not at all. I knew not the hazard of the undertaking, but
greedily embrac'd it, when first propos'd by some Friends, who were
ignorant of what they put me upon. Being full of the Design wherein, the
earnest desire I had to see it accomplish'd, and either a lucky Chance, or
the Happiness of my Subject, may perhaps in some Instances, have supply'd
the want both of Rules and Genius. All I will say of my own performance
is, that I now know the Faults on't, tho I am not oblig'd to point 'em out
to my Reader, who will but too soon find 'em. That I wou'd have mended
much that's now amiss, had I lived in an Age where a man might afford to
be Nine or Ten Years about a Poem. And in the Mean time this satisfies me,
whatever is the success, that I've done all that cou'd be done by one in
my Circumstances towards the rendering it more compleat and free from
Faults, and only wish that my own Reputation may suffer, by the weakness
of the Work, and not the Dignity of the Subject.

I cou'd plead for my self what Longinus says on Works of this Nature,
wou'd it not look like Arrogance, "That even the greatest Genius may
sometimes sink into meanness, when the force of their Spirits is once
exhausted: That its very difficult for height of Thought to sustain it
self long in an equal Tenour; and that some Faults ought to be excused
when there are more Beauties." But if none of these will pass, I hope it
will not much mortifie me, since I think the World and I have no great
matter to do with one another. I'm sensible my Poem wou'd have had fewer
Enemies, had I left out some Passages in't. But as mean as the worst of
this are, I wou'd not buy their good Word at such a rate. I had almost
forgot to mention the Gravers Work, which is not without Faults,
particularly he has err'd in the Posture of the Disciples at the last
Supper, whom he has made Sitting, when they were really Declining, or
Discumbent. But its now more than time to conclude my long Preface, which
I shall do in few Words. Since the chief Design in this Work, is to
advance the Honour of my Hero, and next to that, the entertainment of
Pious and ingenious Minds; for the truth of which, I hope I may appeal to
the great [Greek: kritikos tês kardias]; I shall not be much concern'd for
the success it may meet with in the World.

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