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I hath he read, who seeth not, in every trace of this picture, that individual, ALL-ACCOMPLISHED 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 cannot 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 recognised 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 Jove, should never doze nor slumber. “Hah! (saith he) fast asleep it seems ! that is 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 will’ live at least, though not awake, and in no worse condition than many an enchanted Warrior before him. The famous Durandarte, for instance, was, like him, cast 1 Letter, p. 53.-P.
Ibid. p. 1.-P.
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.” 1
But now, as nothing in this world, no, not the most sacred and perfect things either of Religion or Government, can escape the stings of Envy, methinks I 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 Goddessborn, 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,” 2) 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 suc quemque fortunæ : “ 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 that ever lived. “Let him (saith be) but fancy himself capable of high things, and he will of course be able to achieve them.” From
? Don Quixote, Part ü. Book ii. ch. 22.-P.
this principle it followeth 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 ; ' to Henry IV. of France, for honest Policy;? to the first Brutus for love of Liberty; 3 and to Sir Robert Walpole, for good Government while in power. At another time to the godlike Socrates, for his Diversions and Amusements;' to Horace, Montaigne, and Sir William Temple, for an elegant vanity that 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;' and to say all in a word, to the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of London himself, in the art of writing Pastoral letters. 8
Nor did his Actions fall short of the sublimity of his Conceit. In his early youth he met the Revolution ' 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, and was a gossip at her christening, with the Bishop and the Ladies.
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 :* And what is that but coming into the world a hero ?
But be it (the panctilious 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 install 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 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, that no man could 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 1 Life, p. 57.
2 Pp. 58, 59.-P. 3 A Statuary.-P. 4 Life, p. 6.-P.
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.”? Our poet had charitably endeavoured to administer a cure to it; But he telleth as 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.”2 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 frequent matter of mirth,” &c. &c. Having then so publicly declared himself incorrigible, he is become dead in law, (I mean the law Epopoeian) and devolveth upon the Poet as his property; who may take him and deal with him as if he had been dead as long as 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 1 Life, p. 424.
2 P. 19. 3 P. 17.-P.