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poetic world, whence every thing is to receive life and motion. For, this subject being found, he is immediately ordained, or rather acknowledged, a hero, and put upon such action as befitteth the dignity of his character.
But the muse ceaseth not here her eagle-flight. For sometimes, satiated with the contemplation of these suns of glory, she turneth downward on her wing, and darts with Jove's lightning on the goose and serpent kind. For we may apply to the muse in her various moods what an ancient master of wisdom affirmeth of the gods in general: Si Dü non irascuntur impiis et injustis, nec pios utique justosque diligunt. In rebus enim diversis, aut in utramque partem moveri necesse est, aut in neutram. Itaque qui bonos diligit, et malos odit; et qui malos non odit, nec bonos diligit. Quia et diligere bonos ex odio malorum venit; et malos odisse ex bonorum caritate descendit. Which in our vern cular idiom may be thus interpreted: 'If the gods be aot provoked at evil men, neither are they delighted with the good and just. For contrary objects must either excite contrary affections, or no affections at all. So that he who loveth good men, must, at the same time, hate the bad; and he who hateth not bad men, cannot love the good: because to love good 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 phlegmatic :) 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 accuracy of 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 observation, the unequal contest of an 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 honnete homme : but it never admitted of a doubt, but that the hero of the little epic should be just the contrary. 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 the great epic hero, are wisdom, bravery, and love, from whence springeth heroic virtue; followeth, that those of the lesser epic hero should
1 Si un heros poëtique doit être un honnète homme Bossu, du Poëme Epique, liv. v. ch. 5.
be vanity, assurance, and debauchery, from which happy assemblage resulteth heroic dulness, the neverdying 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 an 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 content 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 life very pleasantly with them."2 In short, there is no sort of vanity such a hero would scruple, but that which might go near to degrade him from his high station in this our Dunciad; namely, 'whether it would not be vanity in him, to take shame to himself, for not being a wise man ?"3
Bravery, the second attribute of the true hero, is courage manifesting itself in every limb; while its correspondent virtue, in the mock hero, is that same courage all collected into the face. And as power, when drawn together, must needs have more force and spirit than when dispersed, we generally find this kind of courage in so high and heroic a degree, that it insults not only men, but gods. Mezentius is,
1 Ded. to the Life of C. C. 2 Life, p. 2, 8vo. edit. 3 Ibid.
without doubt, the bravest character in all the Æneis: but how? His bravery, we know, was a high courage of blasphemy. And can we say less of this brave man's? who, having told us that he placed his summum bonum in those follies which he was not content barely to possess, but would likewise glory in,' adds, 'if I am misguided, 'tis nature's fault, and I follow her." Nor can we be mistaken in making this happy quality a species of courage, when we consider those illustrious marks of it, which made his face 'more known (as he justly boasteth) than most in the kingdom;' and his language to consist of what we must allow to be the most daring figure of speech, that which is taken from the name of God.
Gentle love, the next ingredient of the true hero's composition, is a mere bird of passage, or (as Shakspeare calls it) 'summer-teeming lust,' and evaporates in the heat of youth; doubtless by that refinement it suffers in passing through those certain strainers which our poet somewhere speaketh of. But when it is let alone to work upon the lees, it acquireth strength by old age; and becometh a lasting ornament to the little epic. It is true, indeed, there is one objection to its fitness for such a use: for not only the ignorant may think it common, but it is admitted to be so, even by him who best knoweth its value. 'Don't you think,' argueth he, 'to say only a man has his whore, 2 ought to go for little or nothing? because defendit numerus. Take the first ten thousand men you meet, and, I believe, you would be no loser if you betted ten to one that every single sinner of them, one with another, had been guilty of the same frailty.'3 But here he seemeth not to have
1 Life of C. C. p. 23. 2 Alluding to these lines in the pistle to Dr. Arbuthnot:
'And has not Colly still his lord and whore, His butchers Henley, his free-maso's Moore?" 3 Letter to Mr. P. p. 46.
done justice to himself: the man is sure enough a hero who hath his lady at fourscore. How doth his modesty herein lessen the merit of a whole wellspent life! not taking to himself the commendation (which Horace accounted the greatest in a theatrical character) of continuing to the very dregs the same he was from the beginning,
Servetur ad imum
Qualis ab incepto processerat
But here, in justice both to the poet and the hero, let us farther remark, that the calling her his whore, implied she was his own, and not his neighbour's. Truly a commendable continence! and such as Scipio himself must have applauded. For how much selfdenial was necessary not to covet his neighbour's whore! and what disorders must the coveting her have occasioned in that society, where (according to this political calculator) nine in ten of all ages have their concubines!
We have now, as briefly as we could devise, gone through the three constituent qualities of either hero. But it is not in any, or in all of these, that heroism properly or essentially resideth. It is a lucky result rather from the collision of these lively qualities against one another. Thus, as from wisdom, bravery, and love, ariseth magnanimity, the object of admiration, which is the aim of the greater epic; so from vanity, assurance, and debauchery, springeth buffoonery, the source of ridicule, that 'laughing ornament,' as he well termeth it,' of the little epic.
He is not ashamed (God forbid he ever should be ashamed!) of this character, who deemeth that not reason but risibility distinguisheth the human species from the brutal. 'As nature,' saith this profound philosopher, 'distinguished our species from the mute creation by our risibility, her design must have been
1 Letter to Mr. P. p. 31.