Imágenes de página

the Great and Charles XII. of Sweden, for the ex. cess and delicacy of his ambition ?? ; to Henry IV. of France, for hovest policy 18; to the first Brutus, for love of liberty ''; and to Sir Robert Walpole, for good government while in power 20 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 22: to two Lord Chancellors for law, from whom, when confederate against him at the bar, he carried away the prize of eloquence 23; and to say all in a word, to the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of London himself, in the art of writing pastoral letters 24.

Nor did his actions fall short of the sublimity of his conceit. In his early youth he met the revolu. tion as 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 26. But he shone ip courts as well as in camps : he was called up, when the nation fell in labour of this revolution 27, and was a gossip, at her christening, with the bishop and the ladies 28.

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 *.

17 c. Cibber's Life, p. 149. 48 lb. p. 424. 19 Ib. p. 366. 20 ib. p. 457.

21 lb. p. 18. 22 lb. p. 125. es ib. p. 463, 437.

24 lb. p. 52.

25 Ib. p. 47. 26 « Old Battle array in confusion is tied; Aud olive-rob'd Peace is come in his stead,' &c.

Cibber's Birth-day, or, New Year's Day Ode. 87 Cibber's Life, p. 37. 28 Ib. p. 58, 59.29 A Statuary.

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 be had it in his power to be thought no body's son at all 30 : and what is that, but coming into the world a hero?

But be it (the punctilious 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 instal 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 Pbæbus in a barmonious 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 carthly course. For, if Solon said well,

ultima semper
Expectanda dies hoinini: dicique beatus

Aute obitum nemo supremaque funera debet: “That no man could be called happy till his death, surely much less can any one, till then, be propounced a hero; this species of men being far more subject than others to the caprices of fortune and humour.' But to this also we have an

50 Cihber's Life, p. 6.

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 31.!. Our poet had charitably endeavoured to adıninister a cure to it; but he telleth us 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 52' 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 afford them frequent matter of 'mirth,' &c. &c. 13 Having then so publicly declared himself incorrigible, he is become dead in law, (I mean the law Epopæian) and devolveth upon the poet as his property; who may take him and deal with him like an old Egyptian hero, that is to say, embowel and embalm him for posterity.

Nothing therefore (we conceive) remaineth to binder his own prophecy of himself from taking

31 C. Cibber's Life, p. 491. 38 lh. p. 17.

99 lb. p. 19.

immediate effect. A rare felicity! and what few prophets have had the satisfaction to see alive! Nor can we conclude better than with that extraordinary one of his, which is conceived in these oraculous words, My dulness will find somebody to do it right 34,

. Tandem Phæbus adest, morsusque inferre parentem

Congelat, et patulos, ut erant, indurat hiatus 35. 34 c. Cibber's Life, p. 243. octavo edit. 35 Ovid, of the serpent biting at Orpheus's head.



Printed al Dublin and London, in octavo and

duodecimo, 1727. THE PUBLISHER' TO THE READER. It will be found a true observation, though somewhat surprising, that when any scandal is vented

1 Who he was is uncertain ; but Edward Ward tells us, in his Preface to Durgen, " That most judges are of opinion this Preface is not of English extraction, but Hibernian,' &c. He means it was written by Dr. Swift, who, whether the publisher or not, may be said, in a sort, to be author of the poem. For when he, together with Mr. Pope, (for reasons specitied in the Preface to their Miscellanies) determined to own the most trifting pieces in which they had any hand, and to destroy all that remained in their power, the first sketch of this poem was snatched from the fire by Dr. Swift, who persuaded his friend to proceed in it, and to hiin it was therefore inscribed. But the occasion of priuting it was as follows:

There was published in those Miscellanies a Treatise of the Bathos, or Art of Sinking in Poetry, in which was a

against a man of the highest distinction and character, either in'the state or literature, the public in general afford it a most quiet reception, and the larger part accept it as favourably at if it were some kindness done to themselves : whereas, if a known scoundrel or blockhead but chance to be touched upon, a whole legion is up in arms, and it becomes the common cause of all scribblers, book sellers, and printers whatsoever.

Not to search too deeply into the reason hereof, I will only observe as a fact, that every week, for these two months past, the town has been persecuted with pamphlets, advertisements ?, letters, and

chapter where the species of bad writers were ranged in classes, and initial letters of names prefixed, for the most part, at random. But such was the number of poets eminent in that art, that some one or other took every letter to himself. All fell into so violent a fury, that for half a year, or more, the common newspapers in most of which they had some property, as being hired writers) were filled with the most abusive falsehoods and scurrilities they could pos. sibly devise; a liberty no ways to be wondered at in those people, and in those papers, that for many years, during the nncontrolled licence of the press, had aspersed almost all the great characters of the age ; and this with impunity, their own persons and names being utterly secret and obscure. This gave Mr. Pope the thonght, that he had now some opportunity of doing good, by detecting and dragging into light these common enemies of mankind; since, to invalidate this universal slander, it sufficed to show wbat contemptible men were the anthors of it. He was not without hopes that, by manifesting the dulness of those who had only malice to recommend them, either the booksellers would not find their account in employing them, or the men theinselves, when discovered, want courage to proceed in so unlawful an occapation. This it was that gave birth to the Dunciad; and he thought it an happiness that by the late flood of slander on bimself, he had acquired such a peculiar right over their names as was necessary to his design. W.

? See the list of those anonymous papers, with their dates, and authors annexed, inserted before the poem.

« AnteriorContinuar »