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by that faculty as evidently to raise our happiness, as by our os sublime (our erected faces) to lift the dignity of our form above them." All this considered, how complete a hero must he be, as well as how happy a man, whose risibility lieth not barely in his muscles, as in the common sort, but (as himself informeth us) in his very spirits? and whose os sublime is not simply an erect face, but a brazen head; as should seem by his preferring it to one of iron, said to belong to the late king of Sweden ?2
But whatever personal qualities a hero may have, the examples of Achilles and Æneas show us, that all those are of small avail, without the constant assistance of the gods; for the subversion and erection of empires have never been adjudged the work of man. How greatly soever then we may esteem of his high talents, we can hardly conceive his personal prowess alone sufficient to restore the decayed empire of dul
So weighty an achievement must require the particular favour and protection of the great; who being the natural patrons and supporters of letters, as the ancient gods were of Troy, must first be drawn off and engaged in another interest, before the total subversion of them can be accomplished. To surmount, therefore, this last and greatest difficulty, we have, in this excellent man, a professed favourite and intimado of the great. And look, of what force ancient piety was to draw the gods into the party of Eneas, that, and much stronger, is modern incense, to engage the great in the party of dulness.
Thus have we essayed to portray or shadow out this noble imp of fame. But now the impatient reader will be apt to say, 'If so many and various graces go to the making up a hero, what mortal shall suffice to Dear his character?' Ill hath he read who seeth not, in every trace of this picture, that individual, all-ac
1 Life, p. 23, 24.
2 Letter to Mr. P. p 3.
complished person, in whom these rare virtues and lucky circumstances have agreed to meet and concentre with the strongest lustre and fullest harmony.
The good Scriblerus indeed, nay, the world itself, might be imposed on, in the late spurious editions, by I can't tell what sham-hero or phantom; but it was not so easy to impose on him whom this egregious error most of all concerned. For no sooner had the fourth book laid open the high and swelling scene, but he recognized his own heroic acts: and when he came to the words,
'Soft on her lap her laureat son reclines,'
(though laureat imply no more than one crowned with laurel, as befitteth any associate or consort in empire,) he loudly resented this indignity to violated Majesty. Indeed, not without cause, he being there represented as fast asleep; so misbeseeming the eye of empire, which, like that of Providence, should never doze nor slumber. 'Hah!' saith he,' fast asleep, it seems that's a little too strong. Pert and dull at least you might have allowed me, but as seldom asleep as any fool." However, the injured hero may comfort himself with this reflection, that though it be a sleep, yet it is not the sleep of death, but of immortality. Here he will2 live at least, though not awake; and in no worse condition than many an enchanted warrior before him. The famous Durandante, for in stance, was, like him, cast into a long slumber by Merlin the British bard and necromancer; and his example for submitting to it with a good grace, might be of use to our hero. For that disastrous knight being sorely pressed or driven to make his answer by several persons of quality, only replied with a sigh, Patience, and shuffle the cards.'3
But now, as nothing in this world, no not the most
! Letter to Mr. P. p 53.
2 Letter, p. 1.
3 Don Quixote, part ii. book ii. ch. 22.
sacred and perfect things, either of religion or government, can escape the sting of envy, methinks ] already hear these carpers objecting to the clearness of our hero's title.
'It would never,' say they, 'have been esteemed sufficient to make a hero for the Iliad or Æneis; that Achilles was brave enough to overturn one empire, or Æneas pious enough to raise another, had they not been goddess born, and princes bred. What then did this author mean, by erecting a player instead of one of his patrons (a person, "never a hero even on the stage,"1) 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 answer from the Roman historian, fabrum esse suæ quemque fortuna: 'that every man is the smith of his own fortune.' The politic Florentine, Nicholas Machiavel, goeth still further, and affirmeth that a man needeth 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 XII. of Sweden, for the excess and delicacy of his ambition;2 to Henry IV. of France, for honest policy; to the first Brutus, for love of liberty;4 and to sir Robert Walpole, for good government while in power:5 at another time, to the godlike Socrates, for his diversions and amusements;6 to Horace, Montaigne, and sir William Temple, for an elegant vanity that
1 Sec Life, p. 148. 2 p. 149.
3 p. 424.
maketh them for ever read and admired: to two lord chancellors, for law, from whom, when confederate against him, at the bar, he carried away the prize of eloquence;2 and, to say all in a word, to the right reverend the lord bishop of London himself, in the art of writing pastoral letters.3
Nor did his actions fall short of the sublimity of his conceit. In his early youth he met the Revolution1 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 Revolution;5 and was a gossip at her christening, with the bishop and the ladies.6
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.7 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 bringeth into his life as an anecdote, and is sensible he had it in his power to be thought nobody's son at all:8 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 instal 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
1 See Life, p. 425. 2 p. 436, 437. 3 p. 52. 4 p. 47. 5 p. 57. 6 p. 58, 59. 7 A statuary. 8 Life, p. 6.
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: dicique beatus
Ante obitum nemo supremaque funera debet!"
f no man 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, 'hath 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 perhaps may be mended by him; but for my part I own myself incorrigible. I took upon my follies as the best part of my fortune." And with good reason; we see 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 off my follies than my skin; I have often tried, but they stick too close to me: nor am I sure my friends are displeased with them, for in this light I afford them fre. quent matter of mirth, &c. &c."3 Having then sc
1 See Life, p. 424.
2 p. 19.
3 p. 17.