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of her Imperial seat from the City to the polite World; as the action of the Æneid is the restoration of the empire of Troy, by the removal of the race from thence to Latium. But as Homer singing only the wrath of Achilles, yet includes in his poem' the whole history of the Trojan war; in like manner our Author hath drawn into this single action the whole history of Dulness and her children.
A person must next be fixed upon to support this action. This phantom, in the poet's mind, must have a name*: He finds it to be------; and he becomes of course the Hero of the Poem.
The fable being thus, according to the best example, one and entire, as contained in the proposition ; the machinery is a continued chain of allegories, setting forth the whole power, ministry, and empire of Dulness, extended through her subordinate instruments in all her various operations.
This is branched into episodes, each of which hath its moral apart, though all conducive to the main end: The crowd assembled in the Second Book demonstrates the design to be more extensive than to bad poets only, and that we may expect other episodes of the patrons, encouragers, or paymasters, of such authors, as occasion shall bring them forth. And the Third Book, if well considered, seemeth to embrace the whole world. Each of the Games relateth to some or other vile class of writers. The first * Bossu, chap. viii. Vide Aristot, Poetic. cap. ix.
concerneth the Plagiary, to whom he giveth the name of Moore; the second the libellous Novelist, whom he styleth Eliza; the third, the flattering Dedicator; the fourth, the bawling Critic, or noisy Poet; the fifth, the dark and dirty Party-writer; and so of the rest; assigning to each some proper name or other, such as he could find.
As for the Characters, the Public hath already acknowledged how justly they are drawn. The manners are so depicted, and the sentiments so peculiar to those to whom applied, that surely to transfer them to any other or wiser personages, would be exceeding difficult: and certain it is, that every person concerned, being consulted apart, hath readily owned the resemblance of every portrait, his own excepted. So Mr. Cibber calls them" a parcel of poor wretches,
so many silly flies *;" but adds, Our Author's " wit is remarkably more bare and barren whenever 4 it would fall fouļ on Cibber than upon any other
The Descriptions are singular, the Comparisons very quaint, the Narration various, yet of one colour; the purity and chastity of Diction is so preserved, that in the places most suspicious, not the Words, but only the Images have been censured; and yet are those Images no other than have been sanctified by ancient and classical authority, (though, as was the manner of those good times, not so curiously
* Cibber's Letter to Mr. P. p. 9, 12, 41.
wrapped up) yea, and commented upon by the most grave doctors and approved critics.
As it beareth the name of Epic, it is thereby subjected to such severe indispensable rules as are laid on all Neoterics, a strict imitation of the Ancients; insomuch that any deviation, accompanied with whatever poetic beauties, hath always been censured by the sound critic. How exact that imitation hath been in this piece, appeareth not only by its general structure, but by particular allusions infinite, many whereof have escaped both the Commentator and Poet himself; yea, divers, by his exceeding diligence, are to altered and interwoven with the rest, that several have already been, and more will be, by the ignorant abused, as altogether and originally his own
In a word, the whole Poem proveth itself to be the work of our Author, when his faculties were in full vigour and perfection; at that exact time when years have ripened the judgment without diminishing the imagination; which, by good critics, is held to be punctually at forty : for at that season it was that Virgil finished his Georgics; and Sir Ris chard Blackmore, at the like age, composing his Arthurs, declared the same to be the very acme and pitch of life for epic poesy; though, since, he hath altered it to sigly, the year in which he published his Alfred *, True it is that the talents for criticism, * See his Essays.
urs, declared the same to be the very come and
gil in the year in which he published his
, and commented upon by the most
the name of Epic, it is thereby sub-
strict imitation of the Ancients; inay deviation, accompanied with whateauties, hath always been censured by ic. How exact that imitation hath been
appeareth not only by its general strucby particular allusions infinite, many ve escaped both the Commentator and if; yea, divers, by his exceeding diligence, ered and interwoven with the rest, that ave already been, and more will be, by
ant abused, as altogether and originally word, the whole Poem proveth itself to be rk of our Author, when his faculties were in gour and perfection; at that exact time when have ripened the judgment without diminishthe imagination; which, by good critics, is to be punctually at forty: for at that season it
that Virgil finished his Georgies; and Sir Ris