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of themselves—copied originals-counterfeits of their own identity.
No more glimpses, therefore, no more furtive peeps, will I afford into the penetralia of my poetic temple. Suffice it to proclaim that I may cry, with Archimedes," Eureka! I have found it,"-not the problem he was solving, but the road to immortality; and that the "jamque opus exegi," and the "exegi monumentum," and the "one half of round eternity" with which the Classics flattered themselves at the termination of their labours, appear flat and insipid, as having received their accomplishment, when compared with my correspondent auguries which have yet to enjoy the gratification of their fulfilment. I have regularly booked myself as an inside passenger to future ages; but I hate travelling alone: there is room for one more; and as it is customary to advertise for partners in a trip to Paris, Switzerland, or Naples, so I take this public method of announcing that I can accommodate any nobleman or gentleman who is willing to become my Dedicatee, with a conveyance to posterity; and should he be married, I will endeavour to oblige his wife (upon a suitable remuneration) with a seat in the dickey. It may be satisfactory to both parties, before I expound the fare for which I stipulate, that I should say a word or two on the nature of the journey which we are about to undertake, and the advantages which I have to offer to my companion.
First and foremost, I beseech the parties to whom I address myself, to recall the assertion of Horace, that many heroes who lived before Agamemnon died un
celebrated, and have become utterly forgotten for want of a poet to record their achievements. To judge what they have lost, let us contemplate what has been gained by their more fortunate successors who have become immortalized in Homer's Iliad. That poem was written about twenty-eight centuries ago, within which period the Roman Empire was begun, and has utterly passed away! Conceive, for a moment, the innumerable generations of Greeks, Romans, and barbarians, that have disappeared in that time, and "left not a wreck behind;"-the mighty kingdoms that have successively obtained dominion over the earth, and passed away like shadows; the stupendous temples of marble and granite which have been built and gradually crumbled into dust, while the perishable paper and parchment, rendered buoyant and indestructible by the genius of Homer, has floated down the stream of time unaltered and uninjured. The art of printing has now placed his work beyond the reach of accident, and we may safely predict that it is only in the first infancy of its fame; that when the foot of Time shall have crushed the pyramids into sand, and the wild Arab shall gallop his camel over their site, the poem of Homer will be as popular as it is now; and that it will not finally perish until "the great globe itself and all which it inherit shall dissolve."
Well, my worthy readers, noble or gentle, is it nothing to be one of the company in this insubmergible passage-boat, pleasantly sailing down the stream of time till you are proudly launched upon
the ocean of eternity? Such is the nature of the little jaunt I propose to you, if you accept a place in my epic ark; but I will candidly avow that there is a peculiarity in its structure which may materially affect its durability. Alas! the fame of a modern poem is like the statue set up by Nebuchadnezzar-its feet are of clay. To write in a living language is like tracing figures upon the seashore: the tide of ages renders it soon indistinct, and at last illegible. Only four centuries have
elapsed since the death of Chaucer, and he is already obsolete: it is probable that the future changes of our language will not be so rapid, for Shakspeare did much to fix it, and we shall not willingly run away from a standard which he has rendered so delightful; but still it is mortifying to use such mouldering materials, and build upon a quicksand. A living language is as a painting-perpetually changing colour and soon perishing; dead one is as a marble statue-always the same. What has occasioned the Greek and Roman tongues to be preserved, but the beauties of their authors? and why should not the English of the nineteenth century live as a dead language, after it is dead as a living one, for the sole purpose of handing down my immortal epic? I see nothing improbable in the supposition.
But even a temporary preservation from oblivion is no trifling boon; and it is an instructive proof of the innate superiority of low-born pennyless talent over birth, rank, riches, power, and honour, however grand
and distinguished in their fleeting generation, to reflect what nameless nothings some of their once proud possessors would have now become, but that they threw their crumbs from their table to some poor devil of an author; and by having their names foisted into a Dedication, were preserved from oblivion, as straws and gilded flies are enshrined in amber, and beetles and crawling things occasionally eternised in petrifactions. Such is the difference between the aristocracy of nature and of courts ;-the nobility of genius, and that of stars and ribands. This becomes ludicrously striking, when the author, who holds no patent of nobility but that which God has signed, addresses his patron, some titled amateur scribbler, and requests the sanction of his celebrity that he may descend to posterity with his lordship or his grace, who in the course of a few years is only unearthed from his illustrious obscurity by the digging of commentators.
Take for instance, the following passage from Dryden's Dedication of the Rival Ladies, to the Right Honourable the Earl of Orrery :-" I have little rea-son to desire you for my judge, for who could so severely judge of faults as he who has given testimony he commits none? Your excellent poems have afforded that knowledge of it to the world, that your enemies are ready to upbraid you with it, as a crime for a man of business to write so well. ** *** There is no chance which you have not foreseen; all your heroes are more than your subjects—they are your creatures; and though they seem to move freely in all the sallies of their passions, yet you make destinies for them
which they cannot shun. They are moved (if I may dare to say so) like the rational creatures of the almighty poet, who walk at liberty in their own opinion because their fetters are invisible. *** I have dwelt, my Lord, thus long upon your writings, not because you deserve no greater and more noble commendations, but because I am not equally able to express them in other subjects," &c. &c. Who knows any thing nowa-days of his lordship's plays and poems, except from this passage?-Let us make another citation from the same author's Dedication of "An Evening's Love," to "His Grace William Duke of Newcastle, one of his Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, and of the most noble Order of the Garter," &c. &c.—" Methinks I behold in you another Caius Marius, who in the extremity of his age exercised himself almost every morning in the Campus Martius, amongst the youthful nobility of Rome. And afterwards in your retirement, when you do honour to poetry by employing part of your leisure in it, I regard you as another Silius Italicus, who, having past over his consulship with applause, dismissed himself from business and the gown, and employed his age amongst the shades in the reading and imitation of Virgil." His Grace's plays, like himself, have passed away, leaving nothing but their titles behind them; and his literary celebrity is destined to be solely upheld by his splendid folio on Horsemanship, still occasionally encountered in collections of scarce rubbish, where, after the roble author has been engraved in every possible attitude and dress, he is at length represented mounted on Pegasus, as a poet