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namely, smartness, quick censure, vivacity of remarks, certainty of asseveration, indeed all but acerbity, seem rather the gifts of youth than of riper age: but it is far otherwise in poetry; witness the works of Mr. Rymer and Mr. Dennis, who beginning with Criticism, became afterwards such poets as no age hath paralleled. With good reason, there. fore, did our Author choose to write his Essay on that subject at twenty, and reserve for his maturer years this great and wonderful work of THE DUNCIAD. P.
OF THE HERO OF THE POEM.
Of the nature of Dunciad in general, whence derived, and on what authority founded, as well as of the art and conduct of this our Pocm in particular, the learned and laborious Scriblerus hath, according to his manner, and with tolerable share of judgment, dissertated; but when he cometh to speak of the Person of the Hero fitted for such poem, in truth he miserably halts and hallucinates: for, misled by one Monsieur Bossu, a Gallic critic, he prateth of I cannot tell what phantom of a hero, only raised 12p to support the fable. A putid conceit! as if
Homer and Virgil, like modern undertakers, who first build their house, and then seek out for a tenant, had contrived the story of a War and a Waodering before they once thought either of Achilles or Æneas. We shall, therefore, set our good brother and the world also right in this particular, by assuring them that, in the Greater Epic, the prime intention of the Muse is to exalt heroic virtue, in order to propagate the love of it among the children of men; and, consequently, that the poet's first thought must needs be turned upon a real subject meet for laud and celebration; not one whom he is to make, but one whom he may find, truly illustrious. This is the primum mobile of his poetic world, whence every thing is to receive life and motion : for, this subject being found, he is immediately ordained, or rather acknowledged, an hero, and put upon such action as befiiteth the dignity of his character.
But the Muse ceaseth not here her eagle-fight: for sometimes, satiated with the contemplation of these suns of glory, she turneth downward on her wing, and darts with Jove's lightning on the goose and serpent kind. For we apply to the Muse, in her various moods, what an ancient master of wisdom affirmeth of the gods in general: 'Si Dii
non irascuntur impiis et injustis, nec pios utique justosque diligunt. In rebus enim diversis, ut in utramque partem moveri neccesse est, aut in neu
• tram. Itaque qui bonos diligit et malos odit; et ' qui malos non odit, nec bonos diligit. Quia et dili
gere bonos ex odio malorum venit; et malos odisse
ex benorum caritate descendit.' Which, in our vernacular idiom, may be thus, interpreted: If “ the gods be not provoked at evil men, neither are “ they delighted with the good and just: for con
trary ob'ects must either excite contrary affections or no affections at all. So that he who loveth good
men must at the same time hate the bad; and he “ who hateth not bad men cannot love the good; be
cause to love good men proceedeth from an aversion
to evil, and to hate evil men from a tenderness to "the good.” From this delicacy of the Muse arose the Little Epic, (more lively and choleric than her elder sister, whose bulk and complexion incline her to the flegmatic) and for this some notorious vehicle of vice and folly was sought out to make thereof an example ; an early instance of which (nor could it escape the accurate Scriblerus) the father of epic poem himself, affordeth us. From him the practice descended to. the Greek dramatic poets his offspring; who, in the composition of their tetralogy, or set of four pieces, were wont to make the last a satiric tragedy. Happily one of these ancient Dunciads (as we may well term it) is come down unto us, amongst the tragedies of the poet Euripides; and what doth the reader suppose may be the subject thereof? Why in truth, and it is worthy obtervation, the unequal contest cian
old, dull, debauched buffoon Cyclops, with the heaven-directed favourite of Minerva: who, after having quietly borne all the monster's obscene and impious ribaldry, endeth the farce, in punishing him with the mark of an indelible brand in his forehead.--May we not then be excused if, for the future, we consider the epics of Homer, Virgil, and Milton, together with this our Poem, as a complete tetralogy, in which the last worthily holdeth the place, or station, of the satiric piece ?
Proceed we, therefore, in our subject. It hath been long, and, alas for pity! still remaineth a question, whether the Hero of the Greater Epic should be an honest man; or, as the French critics express it, un bonnete bomme *; but it never admitted of any doubt but that the Hero of the Little Epic should be his very opposite. Hence, to the advantage of our Dunciad, we may observe how much juster the moral of that poem must needs be where so important a question is previously decided.
But then it is not every knave, nor (let me add) every fool, that is a fit subject for a Dunciad. There must still exist some analogy', if not resemblance, of qualities between the heroes of the two poems; and this, in order to admit what Neoteric critics call the Parody, one of the liveliest graces of the Little Epic. Thus it being agreed that the constituent qualities of
* Si un heros poetique doit etre un honnete homme, Bossu, Du Pueme Epique, liv. V. ch. s.
the Greater Epic Hero are wisdon, bravery, and love; from whence springerh heroic virtue; it followeth that those of the Lesser Epic Hero should be varily, assurance, and debauchery: from which happy assemblage resulteth Heroic Dulness, the never-dying subject of this our Poem
This being settled, come we now to particulars.--It is the character of true wisdom to seek its chief support and confidence within itself, and to place that support in the resources which proceed from a conscious rectitude of will.---And are the advantages of vanity, when arising to the heroic standard, at all, short of this self-complacence ? nay, are they not in the opinion of the enamoured owner, far beyond it? " Let the world (will such a one say). “ impute to me what folly, or weakness they please; “ but till wisdom can give me something that will " make me more heartily happy, I am contented
to be gazed at *.” This, we see, is vanity, according to the heroic gage or measure: not that low and ignoble species which pretendeth to virtues we have not; but the laudable ambition of being gazed at for glorying in those vices which every body knows we have. ". The world may ask (says he) “ why I make my follies public? Why not? I “ have passed my time very pleasantly with them f." In short, there is no sort of vanity such a Hero would scruple to exult in but that which might go
* Ded. to the life of C. Cibber. +-Life, p. 2, oct. edit. “