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private Mert. The Virtues of great Men, like those of Plants, are inherent in them whether they are exerted or not; and the more strongly inherent, the less they are exerted ; as a Man is the more rich, the less he spends. All great Ministers, without either private or oeconomical Virtue, are virtuous by their Posts ; liberal and generous upon the Publick Money, provident upon Publick Supplies, just by paying Publick Interest, couragious and magnanimous by the Fleets and Armies, magnificent upon the Publick Expences, and prudent by Publick Success. They have by their Of. fice, a right to a share of the Publick Stock of Virtues; besides they are by Prescription immemorial invested in all the celebrated virtues of their Predeceffors in the same stations, especially those of their own Ancestors.
As to what are commonly called the Colours of Honourable and Dishonourable, they are various in different Countries : In this they are Blue, Green, and Red.
But forasmuch as the duty we owe to the Publick doth often require that we should put some things in a strong light, and throw a shade over others, I shall explain the method of turning a vicious Man into a Hero.
The first and chief rule is the Golden Rule of Transformation, which consists in converting Vices into their bordering Virtues. A Man who is a Spendthrift, and will not pay a juft Debt, may have his Injustice transformed into Liberality; Cowardice may be metamorphorsed into Prudence; Intemperance into good Nature and good Fellowfhip; Corruption into Patriotism ; and Lewdness into Tenderness and Facility.
The second is the Rule of Contraries : It is certain, the less a Man is endued with any Virtue, the more need he has to have it plentifully bestowed,
especially those good qualities of which the world generally believes he hath none at all : For who will thank a Man for giving him that which he has.?
The Reverse of these Precepts will serve for Satire, wherein we are ever to remark, that whoso loseth his place, or becomes out of favour with the Government, hath forfeited his share in publick Praise and Honour. Therefore the truly publick fpirited writer ought in duty to strip him whom
government hath stripped; which is the real poetical Justice of this age. For a full collection of Topicks and Epithets to be used in the Praise and Dispraise of Ministerial and Unministerial Perfons, I refer to our Rhetorical Cabinet ; concluding with an earnest exhortation to all my brethren, to observe the Precepts here laid down, the neglect of which hath cost some of them their Ears in a Pillory.
CH A P. XV.
A Receipt to make an Epic Poem.
N Epic Poem, the Critics agree, is the
greatest work human nature is capable of. They have already laid down many mechanical rules for compositions of this fort, but at the same time they cut off almost all undertakers from the possibility of ever performing them ; for the first qualification they unanimously require in a Poet, is a Genius. I shall here endeavour (for the benefit of my Countrymen) to make it manisest, that Epic Poems may be made without a Genius, nay without Learning or much Reading. This must necessarily be of great use to all those who confess IP 4
they never Read, and of whom the world is convinced they never Learn. Moliere observes of making a dinner, that any man can do it with Money, and if a professed Cook cannot do it without, he has his Art for nothing; the same may be said of making a Poem, 'tis easily brought about by him that has a Genius, but the skill lies in doing it without one. In pursuance of this end, I shall present the reader with a plain and certain Recipe, by which any author in the Bathos may be qualified for this grand performance.
For the Fable. Take out of any old Poem, History-book, Romance, or Legend (for instance, Geoffry of Monmouth, or Don Belianis of Greece) those parts of story which afford most scope for long Descriptions : Put these pieces together, and throw all the adventures you fancy into one Tale. Then take a Hero, whom you may
chuse for the sound of his name, and put him into the midst of these adventures : There let him work for twelve books; at the end of which you may take him out, ready prepared to conquer or to marry; it being necessary that the conclusion of an Epic Poem be fortunate.
To make an EPISODE. Take any remaining adventure of your former collection, in which you could no way involve your Hero; or any unfortunate accident that was too good to be thrown away, and it will be of use, applied to any other person, who may be loft and evap:rate in the course of the work, without the least damage to the composition.
For the MORAL and ALLEGORY. These
you may extract out of the Fable afterwards, at your leisure : Be sure you strain them sufficiently,
For the MANNERS. For those of the Hero, take all the best qualities you can find in the most celebrated Heroes of antiquity ; if they will not be reduced to a Confif. tency, lay them all on a heap upon him. But le sure they are qualities which your Parron would be thought to have; and to prevent any mistake which the world may be subject to, select from the alphabet those capital letters that compose his name, and set them at the head of a Dedication before
your Poem. However, do not absolutely observe the exact quantity of these Virtues, it not being determined whether or no it be necessary for the Hero of a Poem to be an honest Man. For the UnderCharacters, gather them from Homer and Virgil, and change the names as occasion serves.
For the MACHINES. Take of Deities, male and female, as many as you can use : Separate them into two equal parts, and keep Jupiter in the middle ; Let Juno put him in a ferment, and Venus mollify him. Remember on all occasions to make use of volatile Mer. cury, If you have need of Devils, draw them out of Milton's Paradise, and extract your Spirits from Taslo. The use of these Machines is evident; fince no Epic Poem can possibly fubfilt without them, the wiseft way is to reserve them for your greatest necessities: When you cannot extricate your Hero by any human means, or yourself by your own wit, seek 'relief from Heaven, and the Gods will do your business very readily. This is according to the direct Prescription of Horace in his Art of Poetry.
Nec Deus interfit, nisi d'gnus vi.dice Nodus.
That is to say, A Poet should never call upon the Gods for their Afiftance, but when he is in great Perplexity.
For the DESCRIPTIONS.
For a Tempest. Take Eurus, Zephyr, Aufter, and Boreas, and cast them together in one verse : add to these of Rain, Lightning and Thunder (the loudest you can) quantum fufficit : mix your Clouds and Billows weil together 'till they foam, and thicken your Description here and there with a Quicksand. Brew your Tempest well in your head, before you set it a blowing.
For a Battle. Pick a large quantity of Images and Descriptions from Homer's Iliads, with a spice or two of Virgil, and if there remain any over. plus, you may lay them by for a Skirmish. Season it well with Similes, and it will make an excellent Battle.
For a Burning Town. If such a Description be neceffary (because it is certain there is one in Virgil) old Troy is ready burnt to your hands. But if you fear that would be thought borrowed, a Chapter or two of the Theory of the Confagration, well circumstanced aud done into verle, will be a good Succedaneum.
As for. Similes and Metaphors, they may be found all over the Creation ; the most ignorant may gather them, but the difficulty is in applying them. For this advise with your Bookseller,
c H A P.