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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 fortunæ: that every man is the carver of his own fortune.' The politic Florentine, Nieholas 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 high things, and he will of course be able to achieve them. 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 17; to Henry IV. of France, for honest policy 18; to the first Brutus, for love of liberty'; and to Sir Robert Walpole, for good government while in power 2o. At another time to the godlike Socrates, for his diversions and amusements 21; to Horace, Montaigne, and Sir William Temple, for an elegant vanity that maketh them for ever read and admired 22: to two Lord Chancellors for law, from whom, when confederate against him at the bar, he carried away the prize of eloquence 23; and to say all in a word, to the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of London himself, in the art of writing pastoral letters".
Nor did his actions fall short of the sublimity of his conceit. In his early youth he met the revolu
tion" 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 27, and was a gossip, at her christening, with the bishop and the ladies 28.
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 bringeth into his life as an anecdote, and is sensible he had it in his power to be thought no body's son at all 30: 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 Phœbus in a harmonious poet; so
25 C. Cibber's Life, p. 47.
26 Old Battle array in confusion is fled;
And olive-robed Peace is come in his stead,' &c.
Cibber's Birth-day, or, New Year's Day Ode.
27 Cibber's Life, p. 57. 28 Ib. p. 58, 59. 29 A Statuary.
30 Cibber's Life, p. 6.
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. Solon said well,
Expectanda dies homini: dicique beatus
Ante obitum nemo supremaque funera debet:'
'That no man could be callled 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 (saith 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 31? 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 look upon my follies as the best part of my fortune 32.? And with good reason: we see to what they have brought him!
Secondly, as to buffoonery,
31 C. Cibber's Life, p. 424.
Is it (saith he) a
32 Ib. p. 19.
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 frequent matter of mirth, &c. &c3.' Having then so publicly declared himself incorrigible, he is become dead in law, (I mean the law Epopaian) and devolveth upon the poet as his property; who may take him and deal with him like an old Egyptian hero, that is to say, embowel 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 34"
'Tandem Phoebus adest, morsusque inferre parentem Congelat, et patulos, ut erant, indurat hiatus 35
33 C. Cibber's Life, p. 17.
34 Ib. p. 243, octavo edit.
35 Ovid, of the serpent biting at Orpheus's head.
TO THE FIVE FIRST IMPERFECT EDITIONS
In Three Books.
PRINTED AT DUBLIN AND LONDON, IN OCTAVO AND
THE PUBLISHER' TO THE READER.
It will be found a true observation, though somewhat surprising, that when any scandal is vented against a man of the highest distinction and character, either in the state or literature, the public
1 Who he was is uncertain; but Edward Ward tells us, in his Preface to Durgen, That most judges are of opinion this Preface is not of English extraction, but Hibernian,' &c. He means it was written by Dr. Swift, who, whether the publisher or not, may be said, in a sort, to be author of the poem. For when he, together with Mr. Pope, (for reasons specified in the Preface to their Miscellanies) determined to own the most trifling pieces in which they had any hand, and to destroy all that remained in their power, the first sketch of this poem was snatched from the fire by Dr. Swift, who persuaded his friend to proceed in it, and to him it was therefore inscribed. But the occasion of printing it was as follows:
There was published in those Miscellanies a Treatise of the Bathos, or Art of Sinking in Poetry, in which was a chapter, where the species of bad writers were ranged in classes, and initial letters of names prefixed, for the most part, at random. But such was the number of poets emi nent in that art, that some one or other took every letter to himself. All fell into so violent a fury, that for half a year,