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that Achilles was brave enough to overturn one empire, or JEneas pious enough to raise another, had they not been goddess-born, and princes bred. What then did this anthor mean, by erecting a player instead of one of his patrons (a person, * never a hero even on the stage*'), to this dignity of colleague in the empire of dulness, and achiever of a work that neither old Omar, Attila, nor John of Leyden, could entirely bring to pass.'
To all this we have, as we conceive, a sufficient auswer from the Roman historian, fabrurn esse sua quemqtie fortuniz: ' that every man is the smith of his own fortune.' The politic Florentine, Nicholas Machiavel, goeth still further, and affirmeth that a man ueedeth but to believe himself a hero to be one of the worthiest. * Let him,' saith he, *but fancy himself capable of the highest things, and he will of course be able to achieve them.' From this principle it follows, that nothing can exceed our hero's prowess; as nothing ever equalled the greatness of his conceptions. Hear how he constantly paragons himself; at one time to Alexander the Great and Charles XIE. of Sweden, for the excess and delicacy of his ambitiont; to Henry IV. of France, for honest policyj; to the first Brutus, for love of liberty^; and to sir Robert Walpole, for good government while in power||: at another time, to the godlike Socrates for his diversions and amusements f; to Horace, Montaigne, and sir William Temple, for an elegant vanity that maketh them forever read and admired**: to two lord chancellors, for law, from whom, when confederate against him at the bar, he carried away the priae of eloquencett; and, to say all in a word, to the right reverend the lord bishop of Londoa himself, in the art of writing pastoral letters^.
Nor did-his actions fall short of the sublimity of
* See Life, p. 148. t P. 149. J P. 424.
$ P. 366. H P. 457. V P. 18.
•* P. 425. 1t P. 436,437- U P. 32.
his conceit. In his early youth he met the Revolution* face to face in Nottingham; at a time when his betters contented themselves with following her* It was here he got acquainted with Old Battle-array, of whom he hath made so honourable mention in one of his immortal odes. But he shone in courts -as well as in camps : he was called up when the nation fell in labour of this Revolutiont; and was a gossip at her christening, with the bishop and the ladies^.
As to his birth, it is true he pretendeth no relation either to heathen god or goddess; but, what is as good, he was descended from a maker of both§. And that he did not pass himself on the world for a hero, as well by birth as education, was his own fault: for his lineage he briogeth into his life as an anecdote, and is sensible he had it in his power to be thought nobody's son at all]): and what is that but coming into the world a hero?
But be it (the punctilious laws of epic poesy so requiring) that a hero of more than mortal birth must needs be had; even for this we have a remedy. We can easily derive our hero's pedigree from a goddess of no small power and authority amongst men; and legitimate and lasts! him after the right classical and authentic fashion: for, like as the ancient sages found a son of Mars in a mighty warrior; a son of Neptune in a skilful seaman; a son of Phoebus in a harmonious poet; so have we here, if need be, a son of Fortune in an artful gamester* And who fitter than the offspring of chance, to assist in restoring the empire of Night and Chaos?
There is, in truth, another objection of greater weight, namely, 'That this hero still existeth, and hath not yet finished his earthly course. For if Solon said well.
Expectanda dies homini: diciqae beat us
if no man can be called happy till his death, surely much less can any one, till then, be pronounced a hero: this species of men being far more subject than others to the caprices of fortune and humour.' But to this also we have an answer, that will (we hope) be deemed decisive. It cometh from himself; who, to cut this matter short, hath solemnly protested that he will never change or amend.
With regard to his vanity, he declareth that nothing shall ever part them. * Nature,' said he, 'hatft amply supplied me in vanity; a pleasure which neither the pertness of wit, nor the gravity of wisdom, will ever persuade me to part with*.* Our poet had charitably endeavoured to administer a cure to it: but he telleth us plainly, * My superiors perliap; may be mended by him; but for my part I own myself incorrigible. I look upon my follies as the best part of my fortunet.' And with good reason; we s« to what they have brought him!
Secondly, as to buffoonery, * Is it,' saith he, * a time of day for me to leave off these fooleries, and set up a new character? I can no more put on'my follies than my skin; I have often tried, but they stick too close to me: nor am 1 sure iny friends are displeased with them, for in this light I afford them frequent matter of mirth, &c. &c.j* Having then so publicly declared himself incorrigible, he is become dead in law (I mean the law EpopoeianJ, and devolveth upon the poet as his property; who may take him, and deal with him as if be had been dead as long as an old Egyptian hero; that is to say, cm* bowel and embalm him for posterity.
Nothing, therefore (we conceive), remaineth to
hinder his own prophecy of himself from taking immediate effect. A rare felicity! and what few prophets have had the satisfaction to see, alive! Nor can we conclude better than with that extraordinary one of his, which is conceived in these oraculous words, 'my dulness will find somebody to do it right*.'
Tandem Phoebus ad est, morsusque inferre parantem Congelat, et patulos, ut erant, induat hiatust.
By virtue of the authority in us vested by the act for subjecting poets to the power of a licenser, we -have revised this pieoe; where, finding the style and appellation of king to have been given to a certain pretender, psendo-poet, or phantom, of the name of Tibbald; and apprehending the same may he deemed in some sort a reflection on majesty, or at least an insult on that legal authority which has bestowed on another person the crown of poesy: We have ordered the said pretender, psendo-poct, or phantom, utterly to vanish and evaporate out of this work; and do declare the said throne of poesy from henceforth to be abdicated and vacant, unless duly and'lawfully supplied by the laurcat himself. And it is hereby enacted, that no other person do presume to fill the same.
• See Life, n. 343, octavo edit.
t Ovid, of the serpent biting at Orpliftus's head.
TO DR. JONATHAN SWIFT. BOOK THE FIRST.
The proposition, the invocation, and the inscrip. tion. Then the original of the great empire of Dulness, and cause of the continuance thereof. The college of the goddess in the city, with her private academy for poets in particular; the governors of it, and the four cardinal virtues. Then the poem hastes into the midst of things, presenting her, on the evening of a lord mayor's day, revolving the long succession of her sons, and the glories past and to come. She fixes her eyes Oq Bays to be the instrument of that great event which is the subject of the poem. He is described pensive among his books, giving up the cause, and apprehending the period of her empire. After ite . bating whether to betake himself to the church, or (o gaming, or to party-writing, he raises an altar of proper books, and (making first his solemn prayer and declaration) purposes thereon to sacrifice all his unsuccessful writings. As the pile is kindled, the goddess, beholding the flame from her seat, flies and puts it out by casting upon it the poem of Thule. She forthwith reveals hersrlf