« PreviousContinue »
Houses"; from whence it is to hoped much Profit and Gain will also accrue to our Society.
CH A P. XIV.
How to make Dedications, Panegyricks, or Satires, and
of the Colours of Honourable and Dishonourable,
NOW of what necessity the foregoing Project may
prove, will appear from this single consideration, that nothing is of equal consequence to the success of our Works, as Speed and Dispatch. Great pity it is, that solid brains are not, like other solid bodies, constantly endowed with a velocity in finking, proportioned to their heaviness: For it is with the flowers of the Bathos as with those of Nature, which, if the careful gardener brings not hastily to market in the Morning, muft unprofitably perish and wither before Night. And of all, our Productions none is so short lived as the Dedication and Panegyric, which are often but the Praise of a Day, and become by the next utterly useless, improper, indecent, and false. This is the more to be lamented, inasmuch as these two are the forts whereon in a manner depends that Profit, which muft ftill be remembered to be the main end of our Writers and Speakers.
We shall therefore employ this chapter in shewing the quickest method of composing them; after which we will teach a short way to Epic Poetry. And these being confeffedly the works of most Importance and Difficulty, it is prefumed we may leave the rest to each author's own learning or practice.
First of Panegyric. Every man is honourable, who is so by Law, Cuftom, or Title. The Public are better judges of what is honourable than private Men. The Virtues of great Men, like thofe 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 economical Virtue, are virtuous by their Ports, liberal and generous upon the Publick Money, provident upon Publick Supplies, juft by paying Public Intereft, couragious and magnanimous by the Fleets and Armies, magnificent upon the Public Expences, and prudent by Public Success. They have by their Office a right to a share of the Publick Stock of Virtues; besides they are hy Prescription immemorial invested in all the celebrated virtues of their Predecessors in the same stations, especially those of their own Ancestors.
As to what are commonly called the Colours of Honouraa ble 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 Transfor. mation, which confifts in converting Vices into their bor, dering Virtues. A Man who is a Spendthrift, and will not pay a just Debt, may have his Injustice transformed into Liberality ; Cowardice may be metamorphosed into Prudence; Intemperance into Good nature and Good. fellowship; Corruption into Patriotifm; 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 public Praife and Honour.
Therefore the truly public-spirited writer ought in duty to strip him whom the government hath stripped; which is the real poetical Justice of thisage. For a full collection of 'Topicks and Epithets to be used in the Praise and Difpraise of Ministerial and Unministerial Persons, I refer to our Rhetorical Cabinet ; concluding with an earnest exhortation to all my brethren, to observe the Precepts here laid down, the nèglect of which hath cost some of them their Ears in a Piliory.
CHA P. XV...
A Receipt to make an Epic Poem.
AN Epic Poem, the Critics agree, is the greatest
work human nature is capable of. They have already laid down many mechanical rules for compofitions 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 manifeft, that Epic Poems may be made without a Genius, nay without Learning or much Reading. This must frecessarily be of great use to all those who confess 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 au. thor in the Bathos may be qualified for this grand performance,
For the FABLE. Take out of any old Poem, Hiftory book, Romance, or Legend (for instance, Geoffry of Monniouth, or Don Bea lianis 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 evaporate 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 Consistency, lay them all on a heap upon him. But be sure they are qualities which your Patron 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 Under-Characters, gather them from Homer and Virgil, and change the names as occafion 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 Mercury. If you have need of Devils, draw them out of Milton's Paradise, and extract your Spirits from Taffo. The use of these Machines is evident; since nio Epic Poem can possibly subsist without them, the wisest way is to reserve them for your greatest neceffities: 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 dignus vindice Nodus
Inciderit, That is to say, A Poet should never call upon the Gods for their Asistance, but when he is in great perplexity.
For the DESCRIPTIONS, For a Tempeft. 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 well together till they foam, and thicken your Description here and there with a Quicksand. Brew your Tempeft well in your head, before you set it a blowing.
For a Battle. Pick a large quantity of Images and Defcriptions from Homer's lliad, with a spice or two of Virgil, and if there remain any overplus, you may lay them by for a Skirmish. Season it well with Similes, and it will make an excellent Batiit. VOL. III,