REMARKS On a Book entituled, Prince Arthur, an heroick Poem. With some General Critical Observations, And several New Remarks upon Virgil.


Abrotonum aegro
Non audet, nisi qui didicit, dare: quod Medicorumest,
Promittunt Medici.—
Scribimus indocti docti (que) poemata passim.

Horace ad Augustum.

LONDON: Printed for S. Heyrick and R. Sare at Grays-Inn-Gate in Holborne, 1696.

To the Right Honourable Charles, Earl of Dorset and Middlesex, Lord Lieutenant of Sussex, Lord Chamberlain of the Houshold, Knight of the most Noble Order of the Garter, one of his Maje­sties most Honourable Privy Council, and one of the Lords Justices for the Administration of the GOVERNMENT.


THe Poem upon which I have made the following Re­marks has met with very different success in the World. Some have admir'd it as a Master-piece of Art and Nature. Others have explo­ded it with extream Contempt. And a third sort, amongst whom are some extraordinary Men, have been willing to encourage something that is Generous in the Design, and [Page] something that is Happy at least in fome parts of the Execution. I need not acquaint Your Lordship that for my own part, I believe Prince Arthur to be neither Admirable nor Con­temptible. Forif I had the one or the other Opinion, I should certainly ne­ver have Written against him. I have given my Reasons in the following Treatise why I cannot admire him, which I hope will have the Apro­bation of Your Lordship's Judgment.

It would be an intolerable pre­sumption in me, if I should endea­vour to give Your Lordship any long diversion from that sublime Em­ployment, which the King to show the Judgment of his first Choice, has a second time conferr'd on You. While England with Joy beholds You Exalted to Rule the State, which from the first moment of Your Ri­sing in it, You have always En­lightened, [Page] Adorn'd and Animated.

Your Lordship with a certain Pre­sage of Soul has all along taken care by improving and encouraging Arts to soften and humanize that stubborn People, whom You were one day design'd to Govern. Yet You have always, with a Just tho' an Absolute Sway, Rul'd the most Capricious part of that People, and by much the most difficult part to be Govern'd. I speak, MY LORD of the Men of Wit, a Turbulent and a Tumultuous Nation, ex­ceeding sufficient in their own con­ceits, impatient of reproof, and gree­dy of glory. And he who has the Skill to command these, with a great deal of ease can Govern the rest. Your Lordship has always di­stributed Justice to them with un­disputed Authority, but always with an inclination to Mercy, when Mer­cy [Page] was not Cruelty: and by Your admirable goodness of Nature join'd with Your rare Qualities, have gain'd to that degree upon them that the vainest of Men have been publickly seen to subject their very Sense to You; and have been found to make it their vanity, (for vanity will be sure to gain in one place what it has lost in another) to sub­mit their own to Your Lordship's Judgment. To imitate them in this I presume to lay the following Re­marks at Your Feet; and to assure Your Lordship that I am with all respect imaginable,

Your Lordships most Humble, most Faithful, and most Obedient Servant. JOHN DENNIS.


Part I.
  • Chap. I. OF an Epick Poem in general. p. 1.
  • Chap. II. Of the Action of an Epick Poem; which with the Moral, makes the Fable. p. 4.
  • Chap. III. That Mr. Blackmore ought not to have copied Virgil in his Fable, nor in his Action. p. 13.
  • Chap. IV. Of the Unity of the Action. p. 17.
  • Chap. V. Of an Episode in Prince Arthur that corrupts the Unity of the Action. p. 20.
  • Chap. VI. Of another Episode that corrupts the Unity of the Action. p. 28.
  • Chap. VII. Of the Integri [...]y of the Action. p. 32.
  • Chap. VIII. Of the Moral. p. 34.
Part II.
  • Chap. I. OF a good and a bad Taste. p. 39.
  • Chap. II. That the Characters ought to have Manners. p. 44.
  • Chap. III. Of a Scene in the Hypolitus of Eu­ripides. p. 58.
  • Chap. IV. Of the Manners in Prince Arthur. p. 69.
  • Chap. V. That the Incidents in Prince Arthur are not of a delightful Nature. p. 121.
  • [Page] Chap. VI. Of the Number, Variety, and Dis­position of the Incidents. p. 145.
  • Chap. VII. That the Incidents in Prince Ar­thur are not surprizing. p. 177.
  • Chap. VIII. That the Episodes are not pathe­tick. p. 186.
  • Annotations. p. 206.


THE Author's Absence from the Town has occasi­on'd the following Errors, which the Reader is desir'd to mend with his Pen.


PAge a. for All [...]gories, read All [...]gory. p. 53. r. Achilles is rage. p. 64. f. whilst r. while, and so thro the whole Scene. Ibid. f. concern'd, r. conceiv'd. p. 74. r. that is a Monarchs. p. 76. f. Dubi [...]i de mente, r. D [...]biti Di nien­ente. p. 80. f. Torrent, r. Terrent. p. 86. f. p [...]ti, r. p [...]te. ib. f. Palas, r. Palus. ib. f. [...]. r, refuso. p. 92. f. bil [...], r. belli. ib. r. he had imitated. p. 105. f. mann [...]r, r. man [...]ers. p. 114. f. torrent, r. terrent. p. 115. r. before the Desc [...]t of one of the Dirae. p. 119. r. that he has been so far from preserving. ib. r. and thro' his Poem. ib. f. them, r. him. p. 145. f. every large Incident, r, every artful Incident. p. 146. f. segraris, r. segrais. ib. in the French, r. qui ont cru marcher sur ses pas. p. 146. f. semble, r. semblent. p. 151. r. insidat. ib. f. Criticks, r. Critick. p. 153 r. venu [...], p. 155. f. tibi viri, r. tibi vis. p, 155. f. advers [...], r. adversos. ib. f. tumidam, r. tumidum. ib. f. procubuisti, r. procubuisse. ib. f. then a daring Enterpize then a nocturnal Combat, r. then a daring nocturnal Enterprize then a Combat. p. 159. f. in Name, r. his Name. p. 160. f. oculos, r. ventos. ib. f. Bale­tum, r. Balatum. p. 164. f. tells that, r. tells him that. p. 171. f. meritis vacat, r. meritis: vacat. p. 173. f. [...], r. [...]. p. 174. f. has Barbarity, r. has a Barbarity. p. 183. f. etiam, r. & jam. ib. f. he cited, r. we cited. p. 184. f. Tolle fuge, r. Tolle fuga. ib. f. at O, r. ut O. p. 182. f. [...], r. [...].


I Think my self obliged to give the Reader an account of the Method which I propounded to use in the following Remarks. In the first Part I intended to shew that Mr. Blackmore's Action has neither uni­ty, nor integrity, nor morality, nor universality, and consequently that he can have no Fable and no Heroick Poem. In the second Part I design'd to come to the Narration; and to shew that it is neither proba­ble, delightful, nor wonderful. I propounded to show that there are three things that make a Narration delightful; The Persons introduc'd, the Things related, and the Manner [Page] of relating them. I resolv'd to con­sider the first of these, and to prove that the Poetical Persons ought to have manners, and that those man­ners ought to have the following qua­lifications: That they ought to be good, convenient, resembling, and equal, and that besides there ought to be an unity of Character in the prin­cipal person; and that that unity of Character like an universal Soul was to run thro' the whole Poem. Next, I determin'd to make it ap­pear that Mr. Blackmor's Chara­cters have none of the foremention'd qualifications. Then, I pretended to convince the Reader that the things contain'd in Mr. Black­mor's Narration are neither in their own natures delightful, nor numerous enough, nor various enough, nor rightly disposed, nor surprizing, nor pathetick. And thus far I have already gone.

[Page] My intention was next to enquire into the third particular; that makes a Narration delightful. And that is the manner of relating the things contain'd in it, which compre­hends the Thoughts, the Discourse, the Expressions; and here I design'd to have inserted a Discourse concern­ing Poetical genius, of which no one that I know of has hitherto treated. I design'd to show that this extraor­dinary thing in Poetry which has been hitherto taken for something Supernatural and Divine, is nothing but a very common Passion, or a complication of common Passions. That felicity in writing has the same effect upon us that happiness in com­mon Life has: That in Life when any thing lucky arrives to us, upon the first surprize we have a transport of Joy, which is immediately follow'd by an exaltation of mind: Ut res [Page] nostrae sint ita nos magni atque humiles sumus; and that both these, if the thing that happens be beyond expectation fortunate, are accompa­nied with astonishment: we are a­mazed at our own happiness: That the very same thing befalls us upon the conception of an extraordinary hint. The Soul is transported upon it, by the consciousness of its own excellence, and it is exalted, there being nothing so proper to work on its vanity; because it looks upon such a hint as a thing peculiar to it self, whereas what happens in Life to one Man, might as well have happen'd to another; and lastly, if the hint be very extraordinary, the Soul is amazed by the unexpected view of its own surpassing power. Now it is very certain that a Man in trans­port, and one that is lifted up with pride and astonish'd, expresses him­self [Page] quite with another air, than one who is calm and serene. Joy in ex­cess as well as rage is furious. And the pride of Soul is seen in the ex­pression as well as in the mien and actions, and is the cause of that E­levation, which Longinus so much extolls, and which, he says, is the image of the greatness of the mind. Now it is certain that great­ness of mind is nothing but pride well regulated. Now as Joy causes Fury, and pride elevation, so asto­nishment gives vehemence to the ex­pression.

This was the Doctrine which I de­sign'd to deliver, of which I had the first hint from the following verses,

Rapture and Fury carried me thus far
Transported and Amaz'd.

Which are in an admirable Poem Written by a very great Man, who [Page] with all that wonderful fire which is so conspicuous in him, has all the discernment and the fine penetration, which is necessary for the reflecting upon the most secret motions of his own mind, and upon those of others.

After that I had done this, I de­sign'd to lay down this definition of genius, that it was the expression of a F [...]ious Joy, or Pride, or Astonish­ment, or all of them caused by the conception of an extraordinary hint. Then I intended to show, that a great many Men have extraordinary hints, without the foremention'd motions, because they want a degree of Fire sufficient to give their animal spi­rits a sudden and swift agitation. And these are call'd Cold-writers. On the other side, if Men have a great deal of Fire and have not ex­cellent Organs, they feel the foremen­tion'd motions in thinking without [Page] extraordinary hints. And these we call Fustian-Writers. When I had done this I intended to show that Mr. Blackmore had very seldom either the hints or the motions. In order to which I design'd to consider the several sorts of hints that might justly transport the Soul by a con­scious view of its own excellency. And to divide them into hints of Thought and hints of Images. That the Thought which might justly cause these motions of Spirits were of three sorts, such as discover a great­ness of Mind, or a reach of Soul, or an extent of Capacity. That Images were either of Sounds or of Things, that Images of Things were either Mighty or Vast ones. I design'd to give examples of all these from Homer and Virgil, and from Mil­ton and Tasso; and to have com­pared them with several passages [Page] in Mr. Blackmore's Poem. I de­sign'd particularly to have treated of the clearness, and justness, and of the energy of Images.

After this I resolv'd to descend to consider the expression, and to show that it ought to have the following qualifications. That it ought to be pure, clear, easie, strong, noble, poetick, harmonious. I design'd particularly to have examin'd the difference between a Poetick and a Prosaick Diction, and to have said as much as the little observation which I have made, would give me leave of our English numbers, and of our Rhymes and Cadences; and then to have come to Application, and to have shown that Mr. Blackmore has been very faulty in all the fore­mention'd particulars.

But having just gone thro' the one half of my Method it will be [Page] convenient, before I proceed, to see how the Reader relishes this. I de­sire him to excuse the Style; which is neither exact nor equal, the Book being written with too much dispatch for that. I think it is but just that the Reader should pardon this, if the matter will make any amends for it.

But that he may come with the less prejudice to the Reading the following Criticism, I desire to pre­pare him, by Answering some Obje­tions which have been made against Criticism.

Three Objections have been made against Criticism in General: The First, That it is an invidious ill-na­tur'd thing. The Second, That it is a vain and successless Attempt. And the Third, That it tends to the cer­tain diminution of the happiness of the Reader. First it is Objected, That Criticism is a very ill-natur'd thing.

[Page] In the following Treatise I have had an occasion to speak concerning Goodness of Nature, and if the ac­count which I have given of it there be reasonable, I make no doubt but that the Reader will be convinc'd, that a man at the same time that he Criticizes may have a great deal of Goodness of Nature. At present I will only say this, That I know not what Good Nature may be in a Beast, but that in a Man I cannot think it to be contrary to Justice, that is to Reason; and therefore I cannot think there can be any ill­nature in Detecting the faults of an ill or indifferent, tho' a successful Writer. For if it be just and rea­sonable in every Man to contribute what he can to the publick happi­ness, because upon that depends his own, and if the advancing of Arts and Sciences conduces to the good of [Page] the State; and lastly if Men of Me­rit are more capable of advancing Science than those who want it; I cannot but think it the most reason­ble thing in the World to distinguish good Writers by discouraging bad. For it is impossible in this case to encourage a Coxcomb, but you must at the same time mortifie a man of Wit, tho he happens to find the same encouragement: Since the last Writing, by an impulse of vanity ra­ther than interest, quarels with for­tune to make his Court to Fame, and seeks distinction rather than riches.

Nor is Criticism an ill-natur'd thing in relation even to the very Persons upon whom the Critick makes his Reflections. It is true it may deprive them a little the sooner of a short profit and of a transitory re­putation. But then it may have a [Page] good effect upon them and oblige them before it be too late to decline that for which they are so very un­fit, and to have recourse to some­thing in which they may be more successful, whereas if they are suf­fer'd still to impose upon the People, Time, which is a slow but a certain Friend to truth, will at last unde­ceive them, and oblige them to a­bandon the unhappy Authors after they have exhausted their Youth and their Vigour in fond endea­vours to please them.

From what has been said, I think it is plain, that a Critick cannot be justly accus'd of ill-nature, if it ap­pears that he Writes with a Design to contribute that little which lies in his power to advance the Art upon which he makes his Reflections. And charity will oblige us to believe that, if his Objections are [Page] found to be Solid. But he who cavils at an Author is mov'd by en­vy and not by a publick Spirit; by envy the basest of all the Passions, and to which none but the basest of men are liable. Yet I believe a Critick oblig'd to these two things, tho' the Objections which he has to make are never so Solid. The first is, not to be severe upon faults where the beauties are more and greater. The second, is not to treat a young Author with Rigour, if it appears that genius shines thro' his incorrectness. For the doing of either of these, by the discouraging even of good Artists, would tend to the destroying the Art. And tho' we are now speaking of general Cri­ticism, yet I think fit to give the Reader a hint that neither of these will reach Mr. Blackmore's case.

The second Objection against Cri­ticism [Page] is, that it is sure to prove a vain and successless Attempt. Men will not be writ out of what they like, nor can they endure that any Man should alter their tasts but them­selves. We find (say the Objectors) that it is exceeding difficult to reform the manners, and Philoso­phers have attempted it for some thousands of years in vain. So diffi­cult a thing it is to perswade Men to leave their pleasures. What hope can remain then for those who en­deavour to reform their tasts; since to do that would be to deprive them of the very greatest of pleasures? For it is upon his tast that a Man chiefly builds the dear opinion which he has conceiv'd of himself, and therefore he cannot be reason'd out of that without an unsupportable mortification. And it is for this Reason that the Duke De la Roche­foucaut [Page] assures us, that on re­nonce plus aisement a son inte­rest qu'a son goust, A Man will more easily resolve to give up his interest than to part with his tast.

This is an Objection against Cri­ticism in General. But a Gentle­man of a great deal of Wit and Judgment has applied it to the fol­lowing Treatise; But I desire leave to tell him with all the submission that is due to his extraordinary merit, that the validity of this Ob­jection in relation to the following Remarks, depends upon a supposi­tion which is more to the disadvan­tage of Mr. Blackmore than all the reflections which can be made on his Poem. The supposition is this, That no Man will ever read Mr. Blackmore but who has already perus'd him. For tho' I should grant that a man is not to be argued into [Page] a dislike of that, by the approbation of which he has for some time flat­ter'd himself into an Opinion of his own Judgment, yet there are, or at least there may be Readers, who may know as soon of the following Criti­cisms, as they may hear of Prince Arthur, and who consequently may take in the Antidote before or im­mediately after the Poem. I say there may be such Readers as these, and a Man who Writes with a pub­lick Spirit, certainly Writes for posterity. But then on the other side, I cannot believe it so exceeding dif­ficult to argue People out of their tasts. Between the years sixty and seventy, the taste of England was for Rhyming Heroick Fustian. Now the Rehearsal almost alone reform'd the taste of the Age. So great an in­fluence had the Ridiculum in that Play joyn'd with good Sense, upon [Page] the minds of the People, and con­sequently upon the practice of those who Writ. Now whatever has been done once that may certainly be done again. And nothing is more vain than to argue against experience. But this is certain; That some will hardly be persuaded by any Argu­ments to come off from their tasts immediately; but Reason will lie brooding on their Minds till it has hatch'd Conviction, and then they will be seen gladly to part with their tasts, when they have staid so long after they have been inform'd that they may easily persuade them­selves that they owe their conversion only to their own sufficiency.

But to come to the third Objecti­on, Suppose, say they, the People were to be reason'd into a dislike of the Things which they now approve; Yet to reform their tasts would be to do [Page] them a disservice. For Happiness is the Universal aim, say they. 'Tis a Man's business and interest to make himself Happy: and Happi­ness and Pleasure are Terms Synony­mous. Now in regard to the delights of the Mind, this is self Evident, that the more Delicate we grow the more we retrench our Pleasure. There are two whimsical sorts of People (say they) who fansie they doe a great deal of good in the World, and those are Stoicks and Criticks. The Stoick sets up a vain Tranquillity, a Fantastick Fe­licity which is not to be found in Nature. And the Critick makes it the business of his Life to instruct People, how they may be disconten­ted by Art. The Sage of the Stoick is a Chimerical Person, who has ex­tirpated all his passions, and rais'd himself by Precept and Practice [Page] to a perfect state of Tranqui­lity, from which Happy State he looks down with scorn upon the dis­orders of Men below him. The Cri­tick seems to be the real reverse of this Philosophical Fantom. He is of the number of those grumbling People, who value themselves upon their being dissatisied. He pla­ces his perfection in his discontent, and if you observe him at a Play or at a Recital, he industriously seeks out occasions to vex himself, and looks with contempt upon all who are Happy about him.

For their Parts (they say) when they are at a Play or at a Recital, they are for Pleasure, because Plea­sure is Happiness, and they are for a greater degree of Pleasure rather than for a less, because they find something in their Natures that tells them, they ought to be as Happy as [Page] they can; and they cannot for their lives (they say) conceive, but that he for example, who laughs at a Comedy must have by much a more sensible Pleasure than he who makes his Objections there. And there­fore any thing which makes them laugh there, shall be to them a beau­ty. That Man (they say) is a Fan­tastick Creature, who chooses to be wretched that he may be thought Wise, when that very choice must make him pass for a Coxcomb with all Men who think rightly.

This is the summ of what has been said to enforce this second Ge­neral Objection, which has been made by some Gentlemen against Criticism. But here methinks are too many words to have substance in them. For Truth (like the Innocence of our first Parents) loves to appear naked, and Solid Sense like perfect [Page] Beauty, is but hid by Ornament.

For I would ask these Gentlemen, If they could resolve to possess a Wo­man only for the sake of the Plea­sure, tho' they were very certain to pay for it by a severe Distemper? If they Answer that they could not, then it is plain that a lasting trou­ble can more than balance a momen­tary satisfaction. I would ask one of them yet further, Whether if it lay in his Power he would corrupt the Wife of his Friend, tho' she appear'd the most delicious Creature of all her Sex to him? A Man of Honour would certainly Answer no. But why? For Pleasure is Happiness and Happiness is the business and interest of Mankind. ' [...]is certain. But he will not purchase a short Pleasure by a tedious Mortifica­tion. For Mortification is trouble. Besides vanity is the Original of [Page] every Delicate Pleasure, and no­thing could please him to a height, that would destroy the good opinion which he had conceiv'd of himself, as so persidious an Action would not fail to do. Very good! But then me thinks the doing a foolish thing should mortify a Man as much at least as the doing an ill thing. Since the doing an ill thing helps only to degrade him from the rank of those that are good, but the doing a foolish thing helps to degrade him even from the rank of Men. I know indeed that there is this considerable difference, that a Man always knows when he does an ill thing, and is seldom conscious to his doing a foolish thing. But tho' he is igno­rant of it at the time of his acting, yet others prompted by Charity or by Malice, may one day make him a Mortifying Remonstrance. And [Page] therefore a Man who would keep in good humour with himself ought to decline the doing a foolish thing, as much at least as the doing an ill thing, and ought consequently to avoid the passing a foolish Judg­ment, and the being tickled with what an indifferent Author Writes, the which to prevent is the main Design of Criticism.

Yet Criticism does not only pre­vent trouble, by restraining the Reader from passing a foolish Judg­ment, but it also makes him capa­ble of being pleas'd to a height. For Delicacy augments the Pleasure which it retrenches. A man indeed who is able to Judge is not pleas'd with so many things. But when he finds he has Reason to be pleas'd, his Pleasure is infinitely greater than that of others. For the refle­ction that so few are capable of it ex­ceedingly [Page] sooths his vanity. Now as Criticism prepares a Reader to re­ceive this Pleasure, so by advancing the Art upon which the Critick makes his Reflections, it capacitates a Writer to give it.

Thus we have endeavour'd to An­swer the Objections which are made against Criticism in General. But there are two particular Objections which are made against the follow­ing Treatise.

The First is, That it is Written against a Book which has been very agreeable to a great many Readers.

The Second that it is intended to expose a Poem which was design'd for the service of the Government. The first Objection has been already Answer'd in the First Chapter of the Second Part of the Remarks, and thither I refer the Reader.

[Page] The Second Objection was urg'd with all the force, that it was capa­ble of receiving. That the Govern­ment comprehended the Church and State, for both which I had in a peculiar manner declar'd and therefore to endeavour to invalidate that which was designd for the Ser­vice of both, would show alteration of Mind or a want of Thought; and that as the last of these was a Scandalous Weakness, the first was both an Odious Crime and a Con­temptible Indiscretion.

But that my Transgression in this affair, if there be any Transgression, proceeds from no alteration of Prin­ciples, I think may be easily de­monstrated. For since it is plain that to the considerable detriment of my little affairs, I declar'd for the Government at a time when I had no Encouragement, nor any [Page] Prospect of receiving the least re­turn; I think, I should prove as well the most foolish as the most un­grateful of Men, if I could fall from my English Principles at a time when I have receiv'd repeated En­couragements from an Extraordina­ry Man, whose Favour is sufficient to give Force and Fire to the most Spiritless, and Pride to the Least pretending.

So that if I have been Guilty of any Offence in Writing the following Remarks, it can proceed from no­thing but want of Thought, and such an Offence must be allow'd to be at least in some measure pardon­able; it being Evident that no man would have any Weakness if he could help his Infirmity.

But let me assure all those into whose hands this Book may happen to fall, that before ever I set Pen to [Page] Paper, I endeavour'd to hearken to the voice within me with all the at­tention of which I was capable: And let my Friends bear Witness for me that I Consulted them with all the sincerity of a Man who is willing to be inform'd, and yet that neither they nor I were able to think of this affair so seriously, but that we were inclin'd to treat those Men as ridi­culous, who look'd upon the Writing against Prince Arthur as the com­mitting a Crime of State, and the incurring a premunire.

Boileau in his Epistles to the French King, laughs very freely at all the Dull Authors who had Written in that Monarch's praise, and if he who is a Slave could disco­ver by the force of his Reason that he might make so free with his Master, I am confident that no man can take it amiss, that an Englishman [Page] who Writes to his Fellow Subjects should take the old honest English Liberty of publickly reprehending what he disapproves.

I never design'd to make an En­quiry into any of Mr. Blackmor's Principles, which may regard either Church or State. A Man had need have a great deal of time upon his hands, who has leisure enough to Examine a Poet's Politicks, or a Physician's Religion. My intention was only to consider this Gentleman in his poetical capacity, and to make some Remarks upon the reaso­nableness of his Design and upon the felicity of his execution. And therefore the College of Physicians, to whom he in a peculiar manner belongs, have juster cause to be a­larm'd at the following Treatise, than either the Church or the State, who are no further concern'd in him [Page] than they are in any other English­man.

My little penetration could ne­ver discover what motive can pre­vail upon any of the Clergy of the Church of England to espouse a very faulty Poem, in the which they cannot be in the least concern'd,

For First I have demonstrated in the first part of the following Trea­tise as clearly as any thing in Hu­manity can be demonstrated, that the action of Mr. Blackmor's Poem is an empty Fiction, without any manner of instruction; and I cannot for my Soul comprehend how Le­gends in Rhyme should become Sa­cred at the same time that Prosaick Legends are contemn'd and ex­ploded.

Secondly, Boileau tells us with a great deal of Reason in the Third [Page] Canto of his Art of Poetry, tho it is spoken in Rhyme,

That the Terrible Mysteries of the Christian Faith are not capable of delightful Ornaments. That the Gospel offers nothing to us but Repentance on the one side, or Eternal Torments on the other, and that the Criminal mixture of Poetical Fictions gives a Fa­bulous Air, even to its most Sa­cred Truths.

De la Foy d'un Chrestien les Mysteres Terribles;

D'ornemens egayez ne sont point susceptibles.

L'Evangile a l'Esprit n'offre de touscôtez

Que Penetence a faire ou tourmens meritez.

[Page] Et de vos fictions le melange coupable

Meme a ses veritez donne l'air de la Fable.

Now if this be reasonable in the Ro­man Church, I cannot but think that it must have as much force in a much purer Religion.

Thirdly. All Mr. Blackmor's Celestial Machines, as they cannot be defended so much as by common receiv'd opinion, so they are direct­ly contrary to the Doctrine of the Church of England. For the visi­ble descent of an Angel must be a Miracle. Now it is the Doctrine of the Church of England, if I am not mistaken, that Miracles had ceas'd a long time before Prince Arthur came into the World. Now if the Doctrine of the Church of England be true, as we are oblig'd to believe, [Page] then are allthe Celestial Machines in Prince Arthur unsufferable, as wanting not only Humane but Di­vine probability. But if the Celestial Machines in that Poem are suffer­able, that is, if they have so much as Divine probability, as all the Ma­chines in every Poem certainly ought to have, it follows of necessity that the Doctrine of the Church must be false. So that I leave it to any impartial Clergyman to consider, if it can con­sist with the credit or interest of our Religion so violently to espouse a Book, whose errours he cannot possibly defend, but by contradicting the Do­ctrine which he is bound to Teach.

But to come to the Second Part of the Objection. I cannot with all the application of Mind that I am able to use, Discover, that the State is concern'd in Prince Arthur any more than the Church. If the State is [Page] concern'd in this Poem, it follows by Manifest consequence that there must be a Parallel between the late Revolution and the Expedition of Arthur. Now if there is such a Parallel it must necessarily reach to the Characters, and especially the principal Characters. For to make two actions like the Causes of them must be resembling, and the Cau­ses af actions are the manners of the Agents, as has been more than once declar'd in the following Treatise. From what has been said it follows that to constitute a Paral­lel between the Revolution and the Expedition of Arthur, King Wil­liam and Prince Arthur must have resembling Characters. Now I would fain ask the Friends of Prince Ar­thur one Question, Whether the re­semblance between Prince Arthur and the present King was design'd [Page] to be total or partial? If they An­swer that the resemblance was de­sign'd but partial, then I would ask them in what Qualities these Princes consent and in what they dif­fer, and whether a partial resem­blance sussises to make the Parallel. For I cannot possibly apprehend how any actions can be very like, whose causes are not very like. But if those Gentlemen reply that the Author in­tended a total resemblance, between the present King and Prince Ar­thur, then I must freely tell them, that whatever they may pretend they cannot be Mr. Blackmore's Friends, who either tax him of so prodigious a want of discernment, as even his honest enemies would blush to accuse him of, or affirm that he intended to expose the King in a very disshonourable Character, which I am sure he has a great deal more [Page] Honour and Justice, than to design. Prince Arthur when he is upon the Coasts of Armorica, seems very much concern'd for the Cause of Re­ligion, and for the welfare of Great Britain. But after he has beaten King Oct's Navy, anp made a League with that Saxon Monarch at Land, he throws of the Mask, and appears concern'd nei­ther for Religion nor for his Subjects, and gives them cause to believe, that his zeal and his care were only pretences, which now it was time to disclaim since in all appearance he had compass'd his Sole Design. Now can any of the Kings most in­veterate Enemies urge any thing against him that is more Mali­ciously false? Is not this the very thing which their miserable Libels have so often in vain repeated? That R [...]ligion and the State were [Page] only pretences and that he valued himself alone? Have they not stu­pidly objected this to a Heroe, who has been seen by assembled Nations to value himself and human great­ness so little, that if I could be pre­sumptuous enough to find fault with a Prince who shall always be Sacred to me, it should certainly be upon this account because he is the only Person of all the Confederates, who has not a due regard for that impor­tant Life, upon which the safety of the Christian World depends. Yet of all the things that his Enemies have basely objected to him, not one of them has had courage enough to accuse him of fear. But Mr. Black­more has made his Prince Arthur afraid upon every occasion as has been manifestly prov'd against him in the following Treatise. And therefore these Gentlemen ought to [Page] consider that by affirming Prince Arthur was designed to resemble the King, they affirm that Mr. Black­more has drawn a more unjust and a more unreasonable Character of him than his most Malicious and most Profligate Enemies have been known to invent: I say, to invent. For his Enemies tn the midst of their lou­dest Clamours have inwardly the opinion of him which we have. For why the late damnable [...]esign, if they had not conceiv'd an Opinion of him that is infinitely greater than that which Prince Arthur could give them? Why should they divest themselves of humanity, by resolving even while they were un­der his Protection, to take away his Sacred Life deliberately, if they did not regard him as the unsur­mountable Obstacle to their Designs, the Guardian of Law, the Defender [Page] of Faith, and the Invincible Cham­pion of Liberty? Have not his E­nemies declar'd by this very Con­spiracy that they think him above a thousand Prince Arthurs? And at a time when his mortal Enemies make even the excess of their Malice his Panegyrick, shall the Friends of Mr. Blackmore by the fondness of a mistaken zeal derogate from the greatness of his Glory? Mr. Blackmore has discernment enough to perceive that the King incompa­rably transcends Prince Arthur: And has too much Judgment to at­tempt the drawing a Picture, which whoever presumes to Design should tremble, unless he can place it in so true, so glorious a light, that the consenting World may admire it.

THere is lately Publish'd the Reports of Sir Tho. Raymond Knt. late one of the Judges of the Kings Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer, of Divers Special Cases in all the said Courts, many of them taken whilst he was a Judge: And all Printed from the Original, written with his own hand, and sold by Samuel Heyrick, at Grays-Inn-gate in Holborn, and Dorothy Hargrave, in Fleetstreet.

Books Printed for R. Sare at Grays-Inn-Gate in Holborn.

THe Genuine Epistles of the Apostoli­cal Fathers, Translated by Dr. Wake.

A Practical Discourse concerning Swearing, by Dr. Wake.

Erasmus Colloquies.

Quevedo's Visions both by Sir Roger L'Estrange.

Epictetus's Morals, with Simplicius's Comment, by Mr. Stanhop.

The Turkish Spy, in Eight Volumes.


The Art of Writing and Judging of History, by Father Le Moyne.

Moral Maxims by the Duke of Roche­foucaut.

An Essay on Reason by Sr. G. Mac­kenzie.

REMARKS UPON Prince Arthur.

CHAP. I. Of an Epick Poem in general.

REsolving to Publish some Remarks which I have made on Prince Arthur, I think it convenient to say some­thing beforehand of an Epick Poem in general, and to begin with a Definition of it.

An Epick Poem is a Discourse invented with Art, to form the Manners by Instructions dis­guis'd under the Allegory of Action, which is important, and which is related in Verse in a delightfull, probable and wonderfull manner.

This Definition is Bossu's. It will not be amiss to explain it.

[Page 2] An Epick Poem is a Discourse invented with Art to form the Manners by Instructions dis­guis'd under the Allegories of an Action. That is, an Epick Poem is a Fable, which consists of two Parts First, of Truth, which is its foun­dation, and upon which it is built: Secondly, of Fiction, which allegorically disguises that Truth, and gives it the Form of a Fable. The Truth is the Moral, and the Fiction the Action which is built upon it. But the Action, must be Important, and that distinguishes an Epick Poem from Comedy.

It must be an Important Action related; and that makes a distinction between an Epick Po­em and Tragedy.

It is a Discourse in Verse relating an Action, and this makes it a Poem.

The second part of the Definition ordains, that the Relation be probable, delightfull and wonderfull.

Thus have we explain'd the Definition of Bossu, which is grounded upon the Doctrine of Aristotle: and tho' we are under no necessity of saying any more, because Mr. Blackmore having own'd the Jurisdiction of Aristotle, is obliged to be tried by him; yet lest some of his Friends should decline that Jurisdiction, and fly to Rea­son for Refuge, we shall take care to shew, That Aristotle prescrib'd nothing concerning this mat­ter, but what Reason suggested to him, and what she repeats to us. In the next Chapter, we shall consider that part of the Definition which relates to the Fable and Action. And because the Distinction between them is very small, we [Page 3] shall treat of them both together. We shall endeavour to show, that Right Reason, as well as Aristotle, will have a Fable to be the Form of an Epick Poem, and an Action the subject matter of it. This we shall endeavour to prove, by shewing the design which every Man has who writes an Heroick Poem, and then by disco­vering what means are proper for the compas­sing that design.

CHAP. II. Of the Action of an Epick Poem; which, with the Moral, makes the Fable.

THE Design of every Man who Writes an Epick Poem, is to give Moral Instructi­ons to Mankind, and particularly to his own Country-men. Now there are but two Ways of giving Moral Instructions: The one is by Precept, which is call'd Philosophy; the other by Example, which, in other words, is History; and ever since there have been Societies of Men in the World, there has been both History and Moral Philosophy, either Written or Oral. But Homer, who had a Discernment altogether extraordinary, and a Genius capable of Reform­ing the World, saw that Common Precepts were ineffectual, and Common Examples impotent. That Precepts were too shocking to be Persua­sive: Because they shew us our faults too di­rectly. For Men, for the most part, are more greedy of Happiness, than they are provident of Future. We are impatient of Delay, and would be Happy now. Happiness and Pleasure are terms Synonymous: Therefore he who would make us Happy, must please us; where­as Precepts only mortifie us. Besides, when Precepts grow irksome to us, we believe, to ex­cuse our selves, that what they persuade is im­possible. Therefore Examples are found more prevalent: Because they prove the Possibility [Page 5] of what they persuade. But Historical Exam­ples are not Philosophical enough to instruct, because they are too Particular. Upon which account it very seldom happens, that they are proportion'd to those who read them; and there is hardly one amongst a thousand Readers with whom they agree exactly. Nay, those very Persons with whom they square, scarce in all their Lives meet with two Occasi­ons to make advantage of them. Besides, we are not so much instructed by what Men doe, as by the Causes and Springs of their Actions; which an Historian seldom transmits to us, be­cause he seldom knows them: And when he ventures to give those Causes, they are, for the most part, Conjectures, and very seldom Cer­tainties. Homer and Virgil, without doubt, knew this very well; and therefore, tho' they saw that Action was more proper for Instructi­on, than bare Precept; yet they found that it must be General Action; something in which all might be equally concern'd; and something of which the Writers might be perfectly Ma­sters, so as to render a Reason exactly of every part of it, and to discover the Causes, and to make known the Effects of every little incident. This they saw very well, and saw at the same time that this General Action must be their own Creation; that is, that it must be a feign'd one; or, in other Words, a Fable: That the feigning; that is, the imitating an Action, was the likeliest way both to instruct and please: That Imitation is natural to Man; and that nothing delights us more; and that Imitation [Page 6] alone makes a Writer of Verses a Poet. To give all this still further Light by Example; The Design that Virgil had in Writing the Aeneis, was to reconcile all the World, and more particularly the Romans, to the New E­stablishment, and the Person of Augustus Caesar. To compass this design of his, he frames this General Maxim, That those good and great Men, of whom Heaven made choice for the In­struments of its great Designs, were highly fa­vour'd and protected by Heaven; and that their Opposers were impious in vain, and should be severely punish'd for their Impiety. After he had done this, he found that the best way to teach this Precept, would be to convey it by Example; that is, by Action. But he knew very well, that from a Particular Action, a Ge­neral Precept could not be deduced: Upon which he forms this Universal and Allegorical Action. A great State is destroy'd by its Ene­mies, and by the Permission of Heaven, for the Injustice of those who govern'd it. But one Man, who was greatly Good, and who was not an Accomplice in that Injustice, is preserv'd by Heaven; and is chosen King by the Remnant of his wretched Country-men, with whom, and with his Gods, he sails to a foreign Land; to which he is commanded by those very Gods, and there lays the foundation of a Mighty Em­pire to his own Glory, and the utter Destructi­on of all who dar'd to expose him. Thus Vir­gil form'd a General Action upon an Universal Maxim; and thus we see what the Fable is, which is the Soul of an Epick Poem. But he [Page 7] who first writ an Epick Poem, saw, that it was not only necessary to instruct by Action, and by General Action, which alone is capable of giving General Instruction; but he saw that That Action, to attain the End which he propounded to reach by it, must, besides its Universality, have likewise Unity: And that for the following Reasons. To avoid tediousness; because nothing that over burdens the Memory, can instruct the Mind as it should doe; and therefore Horace gives this General Rule for Precepts, Quicquid praecipies, esto brevis; And to avoid confusion; for nothing that troubles the Memory, can instruct the Soul. And Thirdly, because he had but one General Moral Maxim to convey by it; for he knew very well, that one main Doctrine well inculcated, would be sufficient at one time for the infirmity of Hu­mane-kind; and that there was an Occasion but for one Action to convey and inculcate one important Doctrine.

But 'tis time to look back, and summ up what we have said; which is, That the Design of him who writes an Epick Poem, is to give Moral Instructions to Mankind. That there are but two Ways of giving Moral instruction, Precept and Example, or, in other words, Acti­on; that Historical Actions were too particu­lar to give general Instructions, and conse­quently, that the Action, which is the Subject of an Epick Poem, must be general; that is, feign'd, or, in other words, a Fable; a Fable compounded of Truth and Fiction; the Truth disguis'd and convey'd by the Fiction. Then [Page 8] we proceeded to prove, that the Action, besides its Universality, must have Unity: And thus we consider'd it as far as we can doe, till we come to make that general Action singular by the imposition of Names. But here it will not be amiss to observe what has been all along hinted. That the Action is only fram'd for the Instruction; and that it is design'd for a proof of the Moral; that every part of that Action ought to be a gradual Progress in the proof; and that consequently all the Parts of it ought to be as dependant one of another, as the Pro­positions are of a Syllogism; and that to insert any thing between the Parts, which is foreign from the Action, that is, from the Argument, is to destroy, or at least to weaken that Argu­ment; and is as absurdly impertinent, as a Pa­renthesis would be between the Propositions of a Categorical Syllogism. That an Epick Poet is to drive on his Action, which is but urging his Argument; and that he is still to have an eye to the end of his Action, and to make hast to that which is the conclusion of his Argu­ment. That Homer, one of the greatest of Po­ets apparently took this Method, and accord­ingly receiv'd Commendations for it, from one of the greatest of Criticks. Semper ad eventum festinat. The reason of the Commendation is plain: For only the last Event can be an abso­lute proof of what the Poet design'd to prove; which is either that Success attends a design which is conceiv'd by Vertue, and carried on by [...]rudence; or that Actions deriv'd from ill Principles, have often unhappy and fatal Con­sequence [...]

[Page 9] Thus far we have consider'd the Action in general: But there is no Action which can be perform'd without Agents; every thing that is done, must be done by some-body. The Poet, after he has invented his Action, is oblig'd to impose Names. And here he ought to observe two Things. First, To take those Names from History, to give the Action an Air of Truth. Secondly, To take the Names of Kings and Rulers of the Earth to make this Action im­portant. For the Divinity is to appear con­cern'd in it, in order to inforce the Moral; it being certain, that Religion is the only solid Foundation even of Moral Vertue. And for that reason the Subject must be important, to make it in some measure deserving of the Care of so August a Super-intendant. Well then, illustrious Names are to be impos'd on the Persons, to heighten the Subject, and to di­stinguish the Actors. Which imposition of Names, does in some measure make that Acti­on Singular, which was before General. But as that Action which is thus made Singular, is still at the bottom General; so those Poetical Per­sons, to which Particular Names are assign'd, remain at the bottom Universal and Allegori­cal. As soon as the Poet has impos'd his Names, he is to frame his Episodes; which are nothing but the necessary Parts of the Action extended by probable Circumstances. This is not to be done till after the Names are impos'd. Because if the Poet should find that any thing would ac­commodate him, which was really done by the Persons to whom those Names belong, he is to [Page 10] make his advantage of it; that thus he may make his Action credible, by making it enter in­to the Truth of History. But here he is to take care, that the Episodes doe not corrupt the Unity of the Action, for Reasons which we have mention'd above. And that they may be sure not to doe that, they are to have three Quali­ties. First, They are to be deriv'd from the first Plan of the Action. Secondly, They are to have a necessary or probable Dependance one upon another. Thirdly, Not one of them is to be an Action it self, but onely a necessary Part of an Action extended by probable Circumstan­ces. Thus we have endeavour'd to show, that Reason, as well as the Doctrine of Aristotle, de­mands, that a Fable should be the form of an Epick Poem; and that the Action, which is the subject-matter of it, should be Allegorical and Universal; that it should be one, and that it should be important. It remains that we prove, that it must be likewise entire: That is, that it must have a Beginning, a Middle, and an End. First, it must have a Beginning: For since an Action instructs chiefly by its Causes; and the first Motive to any Action is the Foun­dation of the Merit or Demerit of the Agent; to be satisfied, that That Agent is either made happy, because he does well; or else miserable, because he does ill; I must be satisfied that such or such a Principle was his first Motive to, or his first Cause of, that Action, which makes him happy or miserable. Thus Aeneas, upon the Destruction of Troy, is chosen by the Gods to re-establish the Trojan Empire in Italy. But [Page 11] what is the Motive to his putting to Sea? His Piety. The Gods command him, and he obeys; and he prospers accordingly. Thus Achilles quarrels with Agamemnon, and separates him­self from the Common Cause, and loses his dearest Friend by it. But why did he quarrel? Because he was haughty, violent, unjust and in­exorable. But, Secondly, the Action must have an End; and that End must be such, that I may either read the very last Event, or have a certain prospect of it. For if the Poet leaves me in any reasonable Doubt of that; how can I deduce any certain Moral from the Action? Thirdly, The Action must have a Middle: For every thing that has a Beginning, and an End, must consequently have a Middle, and that Middle must have a necessary dependance both upon the one and the other. I will only speak one word more concerning the Duration of the Action. The time of it ought certainly to be much longer than that of a Tragedy: Because the last is design'd to move the Passions in order to the correcting them, and the Violence of the Passions is not durable; and the first is intended to alter the Habits, which are not quickly ei­ther rooted out or imprinted. Now an Epick Action having longer Duration than a Tragi­cal Action; for that very reason it ought to have greater compass, and to be extended with Episodes.

Thus have I endeavour'd to prove, that Right Reason requires, as well as Aristotle, that a Fable should be the form of an Epick Poem, and an Action the Subject-matter of it: That [Page 12] that Action should be one, and at first should be Allegorical and Universal, and should in a man­ner become afterwards Singular by the imposi­tion of Names; and by the same imposition of Names should likewise become important; and then too, that it should be extended with Epi­sodes, but Episodes which would not corrupt its Unity; in the next place, that it should be entire; that is, that it should have a Begin­ning, a Middle, and an End; and lastly, that its Duration ought to be longer than that of a Tragical Action. Thus have we treated of the Action. It remains now that we should treat of the Manner of relating it, and of the Per­sons employed in it. But first let us consider Mr. Blackmore's Fable, and the Action of his Poem.


THE design of Mr. Blackmore is the very same with that of Virgil, for which he can never be too much commended. But not only his Design, his Moral is the same too, if he has any Moral. And here it may be con­venient to repeat the Moral of Virgil, which is this, That those great and good Men, whom Heaven makes the Instruments of its high De­signs are highly favour'd and protected by Heaven; and that all who dare to oppose them are impious in vain, and shall be severely pu­nish'd for their Impiety.

The Fable which Mr. Blackmore builds upon the Moral, if there be any, is this, A State is overthrown, and the King destroy'd, and his Son forc'd into Banishment: That Son, at the end of about ten Years, in Obedience to the call of Heaven, returns to his Mother-Country, and there establishes himself and the true Religion to his own Glory and the ruin of those who oppose him. The difference between this and the Fable of Virgil are so very inconsiderable, that they may be call'd the same. Mr. Black­more is so far from denying this, that he tri­umphs upon it. He says, he form'd himself upon Virgil's Model. Nay, he has copied him not only in his Fable, but in his Acti­on episodiz'd. He has done more, he has, for a long time, servilely follow'd him in the very order of his Episodes, for which he [Page 14] does not think himself oblig'd to make any ex­cuse. For the same great Master copied Ho­mer as closely, and yet has been condemn'd, no not by one of his Criticks. 'Tis true in­deed, Virgil has imitated Homer, but never in his Fable, nor in the ranging his Episodes. He had infinitely more Judgment than to do that; he knew very well, that a Poet was oblig'd to be the Author of his own Fable. Aristotle had given him a reason for it in the ninth Chapter of his Treatise of Poetry: For, says Aristotle, no Man is a Poet any further than he imitates; and the Poet, who imitates, imitates an Acti­on, that is, invents a Fable. But to copy ano­ther not only in his Fable, but to follow him servilely in his Action episodiz'd, is rather to imitate an Author than an Action, and rather to copy a singular Action, than to frame a gene­ral one. But to make the unskilfulness of such an Imitation apparent, I would feign put the following Questions to Mr. Blackmore's Friends; First, Whether the copying Virgil, not only in his Fable, but in his Action episodiz'd, must, not of necessity, to all his Readers, who are ac­quainted with Virgil, that is, to all the best of them, make his Incidents not surprizing, and consequently, not agreeable. Secondly, Whether this servile Imitation, must not with all, who have convers'd with Virgil, destroy the Proba­bility of the Poem, and give the Action an Air of Fiction, which ought to have an Air of Truth. Thirdly, I desire to know whether, when the Incidents appear neither surprizing nor probable, they can appear admirable, since [Page 15] Aristotle tells us in the same Chapter which I cited above, that the most admirable Incidents are those which surprize us, (which Experi­ence confirms,) and since Reason tells us, that no Man of Sense will admire what he does not believe. Fourthly, I desire to be inform'd, whether some Episodes, which do not in the least offend against Probability or Reason in Vir­gil, may not be reasonably suppos'd to be high­ly improbable, when they are copied in a modern Poem, by a Poet of our Age, by rea­son of the vastly different Circumstances of Times, Places, Persons, Customs, Religions, and common received Opinions. Fifthly, I should be glad to be certified, whether since the Episodes, as has been said above, are but the necessary parts of an Action extended by proba­ble Circumstances, Parts which have a necessa­ry dependance one upon another, and which may be said to produce one another, as Causes do their Effects; so that the very first Incident in a Poem of skilfull Structure virtually influ­ences the very last Event: I say, since this is so, I should be glad to be certified whether the Improbability even of one Episode must not ruine the Probability of the Poem, and destroy the Moral. Since that which is probable can never have any dependance upon what is absurd. But it will then be time to speak of what is probable, or admirable, or agreeable in the Poem, when we come to the Narration. At present I desire leave to prove three Things. First, That the Action of Prince Arthur is not one. Secondly, That it is not entire. And [Page 16] Lastly, that there are Things in the Action, as it stands in the Poem, with its Names and its Episodes; which, without referring them to any thing else, or without offending Proba­bility, are singly and directly utterly destructive of the Moral; which being destroy'd, the Fa­ble falls, of which it is the Foundation, with which the Universality of the Action falls; so that the Action is nothing but an empty Fiction, of no manner of concern to us, with­out any kind of Instruction, and without any reasonable Meaning.

CHAP. IV. Of the Unity of the Action.

THE Action of the Poem ought to be one not only in the Plan of the Fable and in the first Project, but likewise after the Imposition of Names, and after the framing the Episodes. Now that the Action may be one, after it has its Episodes, care is to be taken, that the Epi­sodes may be proper to it; for it is the Propri­ety or Impropriety of the Episodes that pre­serves or corrupts the Unity of the Action. Now that the Episodes may be proper to the Action, they ought to be necessary parts of it, as we hinted above; but then those necessary parts of it, ought to be extended by probable circumstances; as for example, The necessary parts of Virgil's Action, are first, The Destru­ction of a State, and the Death of a Monarch. Secondly, His Successors setting sail with his Gods and the remnant of his Country-men, in order to establish himself and his Religion in a foreign Country. Thirdly, The Obstacles that he meets in his way. Fourthly, His surmoun­ting those Obstacles. Fifthly, His Arrival in that foreign Country. Sixthly, The Obstacles to his Establishment which he meets with there. And Lastly, His surmounting those Obstacles. These are the necessary parts of the Action: ne­cessary, because if you remove but one of them, the Action is destroy'd or is render'd imperfect; [Page 18] and these necessary parts extended by probable Circumstances, make the Episodes: But then an Episode is not only to be part of the Action, and a necessary part of it; it is not only to be drawn from the very bottom of the Fable and of the Subject; but it is to have as strict a Con­nexion with the rest of the Parts, as the Mem­bers of one Body ought to have with each other; which Members have a necessary mutual De­pendance, and are each of them serviceable to the whole, and each of them to every one of the rest. Now it is plain, that this strict Con­nexion cannot be made by words; but that it must proceed from the necessity of the Action, or from the Probability of its Circumstances. The Episodes are not only to be contiguous but continuous, they are not only to follow one a­nother, but to be consequences of one another, and to produce one another, as Causes do their Effects; so that the Precedent be the necessary or probable cause of the Subsequent Il ye bien dela dif­ference (says B [...]ssu) entre lier le recit de l'Action a quelque chose, & y lier l' Acti­on même.. Well then it is plain, from what has been said, that the Epi­sodes are to have these two Qualifications. First, That they are to be drawn from the very bottom of the Fable and of the Subject. And secondly, that they are to be well joyned with one another. And as the first of these Qualifications provides, That no Episode can be true and proper, if the Action is perfect without it. So it is provided by the second, that the Episodes ought to be such, as that not [Page 19] one of them be perfect without the rest of the Action. An Episode is not an Action, but a part of one, and is still to be shown in its own nature, that is, in the Nature of a Member of a Body, and of a part, which being disjoyn'd from the rest, remains still a part, and can ne­ver become a whole. If an Episode were an en­tire Action, it could never have so strict a De­pendence upon the rest of the Episodes, as to give it the second requisite Qualification.

Thus we have spoken succinctly of the Na­ture of Episodes, according to the Doctrine of Aristotle, and his Interpreter Bossu, and have shewn in as little compass as we could what Qualifications they ought to have; when they have those Qualifications, then they may be said to be proper and regular: when they want one or both of those Qualifications, then they may be said to be vicious and irregular, and to make the Poem episodique, and the Action double. We shall now endeavour to prove, that there are some of these irregular Episodes in Mr. Black­more's Poem.


THE first Episode that I design to exa­mine, is the Death of King Uter, rela­ted by Lucius one of Arthur's Attendants to Hoel King of Armorica, in the fourth Book of the Poem. And here I would fain ask Mr. Blackmore one question. If the Death of King Uter be or be not a part of the Action of the Poem: If it be not a part of the Action, I have already gain'd my point; for it makes the Poem episodick and the Action double. I know indeed, very well, that an Incident, which is neither a part of the Fable nor of the Action, may be inserted into the Action, provided it be necessary to give a reasonable account of some­thing which is a part of it, such is the relation in the Odysses of the wound which Ulysses re­ceived upon Mount Parnassus, which is abso­lutely necessary to prepare the Discovery; and such is the Story of Dido, which Venus relates to Aeneas in the first of the Aeneis, which is necessary to prepare the Reception of Aeneas, and the Passion of Dido; but then such foreign Incidents are to be dispatch'd in a few Lines, as Homer and Virgil have well observ'd; where­as the relation of the Death of King Uter is stretch'd to the extent of a just Episode. Since therefore, it has the length of one, it is an E­pisode, and if it be not a part of the Action, it is an irregular Episode, and makes the Action double. But that is not all, it makes it like­wise [Page 21] imperfect. Since if the Death of Uter be not part of the Action, it must want a beginning: For what other beginning can Mr. Blackmore assign to his Action? Prince Arthur's setting sail from Neustria, is indeed the beginning of the Narration, but not the beginning of the Acti­on: For that alone, according to Aristotle, is the beginning of an Action, which necessarily sup­poses nothing to go before it. Now Prince Arthur's setting sail from Normandy, in order to go for England, necessarily supposes, that something went before. For it supposes, that Prince Arthur had made Preparatives for this Expedition, and that he had done it by some means, and for some extraordinary reason, of all which the Reader ought to be inform'd, since all this comes into the Action, and is ab­solutely necessary for a clear understanding of the whole. Thus Virgil begins his Narration with Aeneas's setting sail from Sicily; but then in the second and third Books of his Poem, he makes his Hero relate to Dido, from whence, and how he came into Sicily, and whither he was going, for what End, and upon what Mo­tives. But now, if Mr. Blackmore shall tell me, that the Death of King Uter, and the Escape of Prince Arthur his Son, related by Lucius in the fourth Book, to Hoel King of Brita [...]ny, in­forms the Reader of the Action, and is there­fore a necessary part, and a just beginning of that Action; if Mr. Blackmore, I say, urges this, I can make no reasonable reply to it: But in that case, I must desire him to satisfie me in another thing, and that is, whether that which [Page 22] follows King Uter's Death and Prince Arthur's Escape in the relation of Lucius; as Prince Ar­thur's Journey to Odar's Camp, his Wars with the Goths, &c. whethe [...] this be not wholly fo­reign from the Subject? Whether it does not constitute an irregular Episode, and make a monstrous Gap in the main Action? For to what purpose is this recited? What relation has the Journey to Odar's Camp, or Arthur's declamatory Speech by the way, or his serving against the Goths? What, I say, what necessary or probable relation can all this have to the A­ction of the Poem? Is there so much as the least shew of likelihood, that Lucius, who came with Arthur from Normandy, should relate these things to Hoel, whose Dominions were contiguous to Normandy, and who, consequent­ly, could not but know all this as well as Lu­cius himself? All of it, I mean, but the Speech, for that being long and sententious, and crowd­ed with speculative Notions, in all likelihood, had not come to his Ears; and this Lucius must have had an admirable Memory, who could repeat it ten years after it was spoken. I had made no mention of this at present, if it had not been to put the Reader in mind, that there is such a thing as this Speech, because I shall be oblig'd to come back to it anon. Thus we have endeavoured to show, that Arthur's Journey to Odar's Camp, his Speech by the way, and his Service in the Gothick Wars, as they are delivered in his relation of Lucius, make the Poem episodick, and corrupt the Unity of the Action. Let us now consider that which [Page 23] precedes the Death of King Uter, in the same relation of Lucius. In the first part of which we have a long account of the Roman Invasion, the Decay of the Empire, the Saxon Usurpati­on, the Battle of Salusbury, the Treachery of Carvil, and the Death of Uter. Now I would sain ask any one, Whether to begin the relati­on of Arthur's Expedition, with an account of the Roman Invasion, be not to do like the Poet, who begun the War of Troy, with an account of the Birth of Helen. What necessary, nay, what probable relation has the Roman Invasion, or the beginning of the Saxon Usurpation to the immediate Action of the Poem? Is it so much as likely, that Lucius should make a tedi­ous recital of these things to Hoel, who was near enough to great Britain, to be long in­form'd of them before. As for the Romans, the French were acquainted with them long be­fore the English knew them; and therefore Hoel might have reason to wonder to hear one born in England instruct him in the asfairs of Rome. Thus we see, that this relation of the Roman Invasion and of the Saxon Usurpation, is neither necessary nor probable; and that they make an Episode or Episodes, which precede the Action of the Poem, and which consequent­ly corrupt its Unity. The first part of the A­ction, as we have said in the third Chapter, is the change of a State, as was likewise the first part of Virgil's Action. The Gods save a Prince from the ruin of a powerfull State, which Prince is elected King by the remains of his Country­men. This is the first part of Virgil's general [Page 24] Action; which when he had singulariz'd, by making use of Aeneas's Name, he was then o­blig'd to set the Destruction of this State before us, that is of Troy, and to begin with an Inci­dent that suppos'd nothing preceeding it. Now if Virgil had made the siege of Troy the cause of its ruin, he would have been oblig'd to have re­lated the beginning of the Siege and the whole ten years War, or else he must have begun with an incident, that suppos'd something be­fore it, and consequently that beginning had not been just: This he had Judgment enough to see, and therefore had recourse to the Treache­ry of Sinon, and the Invention of the Trojan Horse; which is an incident that supposes no­thing before it. For the Town might have been taken by this Stratagem at the beginning of the Siege, as well as at the ten years end. And Virgil is so far from deriving the Destru­ction of Troy from the Siege, that at ten years end, he shows you the Town in a flourishing condition, and the Graecians broken and con­quer'd. ‘—Fracti bello, fatisque repulsi Ductores Danaum, tot jam labentibus annis Instar montis equum divina Palladis arte Aedisicant.’ And consequently he makes the setting up of the Troj [...]n Horse, the very first cause of the De­struction of Troy. Thus Virgil by his Address and his admirable Judgment, had a recourse to a just beginning. Almost the very same expe­dient, [Page 25] which Virgil made use of, lay before Mr. Blackmore; but he, not having an equal degree of Judgment, did not see it, but us'd it without its advantage: For Mr. Blackmore's Action truly and naturally begins with the Trea­chery of Carvil. The Battle before it ought not to have been describ'd at length: for that Battle being so far from contributing to Uter's ruin, that it rather secur'd him and weaken'd the Saxons, could not be a part of the Action. Carvil's Treachery might as easily have destroy'd him before there was any Battle. The Success of the Battle and Uter's attempt to rescue the Island from the Usurpation of Octa, ought to have been describ'd in the compass of ten lines. Mr. Blackmore ought immediately to have come to Carvil: Then all those Preliminaries had been omitted, which are necessary neither upon the account of the Action, whose Unity they plainly corrupt, nor of the person to whom they are related, who is suppos'd to have known them before: And the circumstances of Carvil's Treason had been retain'd, which are necessa­ry both upon the account of the Action, and of the person to whom they are related, who might have been reasonably imagin'd to have been unac­quainted with them. And thus we had had a just beginning of an Action, a beginning which had left nothing to be suppos'd, as necessary before it. We [...]ad se [...]n Uter dying, Arthur escaping and receiv'd by Cdar; and then this just begin­ning of the Action had given us but a very rea­sonable account of the beginning of the Narra­tion, and had shown us how Arthur came to [Page 26] equip a Fleet in Normandy, and what was the motive that oblig'd him to sail for England. But still there would have remain'd one diffi­culty, and that is the interval of Time betwixt the Arrival of Arthur in Normandy, and his sail­ing for England. For what must have been done with that? This has been already demonstrated, that Arthur ought not to have been shewn em­ploy'd about any thing foreign from the Action; and it is certain, that the Action ought not to stand still. Mr. Blackmore has given the rea­son for this in his own Preface. The Action must be but one, says he; when it ceases, the Poem is ended; and if it be reviv'd and taken up again, 'tis a new Poem begins. Action is Motion, and if it ceases cannot be reviv'd so as to be numerically the same. Well then, what remedy could have been found for this: why, if I had been to advise Mr. Blackmore, I would have wish'd him to have plac'd the Death of Uter but six Months before the Expedition of Arthur, which would have just given him time for his Arrival in Normandy, and for the preparatives for his return. And then Lucius had omitted in his relation, those foreign Inci­dents of Arthur's Journey and of his serving against the Goths, which visibly corrupt the U­nity of the Action and the Probability of the Narration. This indeed might have contradi­cted the History: But at the same time, that it would have been less true, it would have been more probable; and it is Probability not Truth that a Poet is to follow. For a thing that is true m [...]y be very incredible, whereas Probabi­lity [Page 27] always persuades. Besides the History of Arthur is so remote and so little known, that not one Reader in a hundred would have disco­ver'd it, and they who had discern'd it, would have been so far from being offended with Mr. Blackmore for the boldness of so skilfull a Para­chronism, that they would infallibly have ex­toll'd his Judgment.


LET us now consider another part of the Poem, which makes the whole Episodique and the Action double: and that is the relati­on which Arthur makes to Hoel, which takes up a fifth part of the Poem, and brings into the Action a foreign Episode or a medly of Episodes. We have said above, that an Episode to be just and regular, ought to be a necessary part of the Action; that is, that it ought to be taken from the very bottom of the Fable and of the Subject; and then that it ought to have a necessary or a probable Connexion with the rest of the parts, which necessary or probable Connexion can never be made by words, but either by the necessity of the Action or the Pro­bability of Circumstances: for says Bossu, Il y a bien de la difference, entre lier le recit d'une Action a quelque chose, & y lier l'Action meme. There is a great deal of difference between con­necting the recital of an Action to something, and connecting the Action it self. An Episode that is just and regular, will be imperfect, when disjoyn'd from the body of the Action, and the separation will render the body of the Acti­on imperfect. But now to come to the relation of Arthur, what has that to do with the business of the Poem? Can any thing be more foreign from the British Expedition, than those tedi­ous accounts of Chaos and the Creation? May [Page 29] not the relation in the second Book be disjoyn'd from the rest of the Poem, and yet be perfect alone? Certainly. For if the relation had been printed alone, beginning at the third Verse, and continuing to the fourth Verse of the 63d. Page; I say, if all this which consists of about eight hundred Verses, had been print­ed alone, and published before the rest of the Poem, no man would have discovered that it had been a relation taken from the Body of a larger Poem. Because in all that compass of Verses, it does not appear, that any one but the Poet speaks, or, that it is address'd to any one but the Reader. So vastly different is Mr. Blackmore's Conduct from that which Virgil observ'd in the relation that Aeneas made to Dido, as we shall have occasion to observe more at large in another place: For the reason that I have mention'd, if this part of the Poem had been publish'd before the rest, it would never have been thought to have been a relation, or in­deed a part of any thing else, but it might have pass'd upon the world very well with the Title of a religious Poem upon the Creation of the World and the Redemption of Man: which had made me almost inclin'd to think, that all, or the greatest part of this relation, was by no means design'd for what it is employ'd now; but that it was writ long before Mr. Blackmore had any intention to write an Heroick Poem; and that upon forming the design of writing Prince Arthur, he contriv'd to tack it to the Work. I shall give my reasons for this Con­jecture, [Page 30] when I come to treat of the Probabi­lity of the particular Episodes: But at present I intend to show, that as part of this relation, if it were disjoyn'd from the body of the Acti­on, would be perfect and entire by it self, which has been already prov'd; so if the whole were retrench'd, the Action would not be al­ter'd by it; which I demonstrate thus. Let the Reader end the first Book with this Verse in the 32d. Page.

What worship to him, what belief I owe?

And begin the fourth Book with these words, Then in, instead of In such, and the Action will remain as whole and entire, as it is at pre­sent, and the Structure of it will be more regu­lar. Nay the very Connexion will be just, and the Poets business will be done in two Lines, better than he did it in two Books: For the Reader will conclude from the first two Verses, that Arthur finish'd what the Machine began and confirm'd Hoel a Christian. Well then, Since we have clearly shewn, that part of this relation may become a whole, and that if the whole relation were retrench'd, it would not in the least maim the Action, we ought to con­clude, that this relation is an irregular Episode, or rather a Medley of irregular Episodes which corrupt the Unity of the Action. For a just Episode must be a part of the Action, but an Episode, says Aristotle, which can be transpos'd or remov'd, without maiming or altering thé [Page 31] Action, that is by no means a part of the Acti­on. Thus we have endeavour'd to show, that the Action of Prince Arthur has Episodes in it, which are vicious and irregular, and which cor­rupt its Unity. Two things are yet to be prov'd, that this Action is not entire, and that there are things in the disposition of it, which destroy the Moral.

CHAP. VII. Of the Integrity of the Action.

WE have said already, that an Action to be entire, must have a Beginning, a Middle and an End: And that as that was a just beginning of an Action, which began it so, as that the Reader should require nothing preceeding it to understand what he reads, so that was a just end, which requir'd nothing to follow it, and left the Reader in no expectati­on, or at least, no doubt of what was to come; We are now to show, that Mr. Blackmore's Po­em has not this just end. For after the Com­bat between Prince Arthur and Tollo, the Po­et should have shewn us the former in the quiet possession of his Dominions, and restor'd to the Throne of his Father. Perhaps Mr. Blackmore may say, that Virgil has ended his Action with the single Combat between Aeneas and Turnus. 'Tis true, he did so; but Mr. Blackmore may be pleas'd to consider, that Turnus had been the main Obstacle to the Trojans Establishment. Yet Virgil was not contented with removing him, he had before taken care to remove the less, as Amata, Mezentius, Camilla. But Octa is all along the main Obstacle to the Re­storation of Arthur, and therefore he continu­ing in power and place at the end of the Poem, the main Obstruction is yet in the way, and the end of the Action cannot be just. 'Tis true, [Page 33] Latinus remain'd in Power after the single Com­bat; but first he had never oppos'd Aeneas, quite contrary he had at Aeneas his very first Arrival desir'd him for the Heir of his Em­pire, and for his Son-in-Law.

—Hunc illum poscere fata
Et reor, & siquid veri mens augurat opto.

And Secondly, he had taken a solemn Oath, to deliver up his Daughter to Aeneas upon his success. Octa, it will be urg'd, had taken the like Oath. But what signifies an Oath, to a Man of Octa's perfidious Principles? Latinus was just and honourable, and was inclin'd to the Trojan; Oct'a was base and treacherous, and and mortally hated the Briton. 'Tis true in­deed, he had made a solemn Covenant; but then he had made one before too, which yet upon the first advantage he broke. What se­curity then can the Reader have, that he in­tended to keep this inviolable? And consequent­ly, how can we have any Moral assurance from the Action, that Arthur, upon the success of the single Combat, was restor'd to his Father's Kingdom. Thus it appears, that the main Obstruction continuing, the Action cannot be justly ended, and Octa lies as a scandal in our way to the Moral: Of which we design to say more in the following Chapter.

CHAP. VIII. Of the Moral.

SInce Mr. Blackmore's Poem wants a just End, it manifestly wants a Moral; which must always be deduc'd from the very last Event. If Prince Arthur has any Moral, it must be the same with Virgil's. Which is this: That those great and good Men, who are chosen by Heav'n to be the Instruments of its great De­signs, are highly favour'd and protected by Heav'n; and that all who oppose them are im­pious, in vain, and shall be severely punish'd for their Impiety. This Moral has Two Parts: The first is, that the great and good Men, whom Heav'n chooses to be the Instruments of its great Designs, are under the divine Protection; and consequently shall infallibly succeed in their Undertakings. We have said once already, that the Action is to prove the Moral; and if any one shall urge against this, that to conclude from Particulars to Generals, is not a Logical proceeding: To this we answer, That the Acti­on, at the bottom, is Universal and Allegorical, even after the Imposition of Names; and that the Persons likewise, after they are made Singular by the Imposition of Names, remain at the bot­tom Universal and Allegorical. To illustrate this by Example, Aeneas succeeds in his Under­taking, and is establish'd. Aeneas, at the bot­tom, is an Universal Character; and is put for [Page 35] any or every good and great Man that is chosen by Heav'n to be instrumental in the carrying on its great Designs. And therefore the showing that Aeneas succeeds, shows that every such good and great Man, succeeds in such Enterpri­zes, and is establish'd: To show which, is to demonstrate the Moral; but then it must be shown, or the Moral remains unprov'd. Now I would fain ask how Mr. Blackmore's Poem shews Prince Arthur's Establishment; when we neither see it, nor have any Moral assurance of it; but, on the Contrary, have very just Reasons to doubt of it. But there is yet another Place in the Story which is destructive of this first Part of the pretended Moral. King Uter is a very good King, (at least Mr. Blackmore tells us so, tho' the Character which he gives of him does not inform us so: but of that we shall speak in its place;) and yet this very good King, who begins a very just War for the recovering Li­berty, and the securing Religion, loses at once his Life and his Kingdom by the Villainy of a treacherous Pagan. But now let us come to the second Part of the Moral: which is, That all who oppose these great and these good Men, are impious, in vain, and shall be severely pu­nish'd for their Impiety. Now Octá first oppo­ses King Uter, and that by a base and a treache­rous Way, and not in an open and honourable Manner, as Mezentius and Turnus resisted Ae­neas; yet Treachery prevails, and Right and Innocence fall. But that is not all: The same Octa opposes the Restoration of Arthur; makes a League upon his ill Success, and then perfidi­ously [Page 36] breaks it; yet at last is left in Power and Place; and we find, to our Sorrow, that the very worst thing that can happen to him, is, that he is like to Marry his Daughter to the Hero, whose Father he Murder'd. Thus we have shown, that there are two things in Mr. Blackmore's Poem which destroy his Moral: which being destroy'd, the Fable falls of course. For, says Bossu, the most essential Part of a Fa­ble, and that which indispensably ought to be the Foundation of it, is the Truth that is sig­nified by it. Now the Fable being faln, the Action is gone: For the Fable, says Aristotle, Chap. 6. is the Imitation of an Action; that is, it is an Universal and Allegorical Action. And thus we see, that there is no Universal and Allegorical Action in Mr. Blackmore's Poem; and consequently, that Prince Arthur is not an Epick Poem; for an Epick Poem, as we have laid down in the Definition of it, is a Discourse invented with Art, to form the Manners by In­structions, disguis'd under the Allegory of an Action; That is, that it is a Fable, or the Imi­tation of an Action, or an Universal and Alle­gorical Action. But the Subject of Mr. Black­more's Poem, as we have prov'd, is not an Uni­versal and Allegorical Action, but the particu­lar Adventures of Arthur; which Adventures, to make use of the Words of Bossu, if they are feign'd, make the Poem an empty Fiction and a meer Amusement. And tho' they are true, the Poem is at the best but an historical and faith­full Narration. It is by no means one of those Epick Poems, of which Aristotle and Horace [Page 37] have left us such admirable Rules, and Homer and Virgil such just Examples. And thus we have done with the First Part of the Definition of Bossu: which is, That an Epick Poem is a Discourse invented with Art, to form the Man­ners by Instructions, disguis'd under the Alle­gory of an Action; That is, that it is a Fable, or an Universal and Allegorical Action. We have endeavour'd to give the Reasons why a Fa­ble must be the form of it, and a General Acti­on the subject matter; we have shewn why that Action must be one, and why it must be made important, by the imposition of Illustrious Names. Then we proceeded to show, that af­ter the Action is render'd in a manner Singular by the Imposition of Names, it remains still at the bottom Universal and Allegorical; that it must be one, and that it must be entire. Then we came to examine Mr. Blackmore's Poem, and endeavour'd to prove, that his Action is not one, and that it is not Entire, nor Univer­sal, nor Allegorical; and consequently, that his Poem is no Fable, and no Heroick Poem.



WE are now come to the second Part of the Definition of an Epick Po­em, which is, That it is a Dis­course related in Verse, in a delightfull, pro­bable and wonderfull Manner. It is an Action related and not represented, which distinguishes an Epick Poem from Tragedy. An Epick Poem is then a Narration, and that Narration must be delightfull. For as Tragedy and Epick Poetry are more grave and more philosophical than History, because they are more general, so they are more persuasive than Philosophy, [Page 40] because they are more delightfull; for Pleasure is the first mover of the Soul. It has not the least Motion, Inclination or Tendency, but in order to the being pleas'd: The Men who are most abandon'd to interest, always propound Delight, and the Miser himself, at the very time that he endtres Hunger, and Thirst, and Cold, and Care, and Anxiety, is a wonderfull Martyr to Pleasure: But before we come to examine, whether Mr. Blackmore's Narration be or be not delightfull, it will be convenient to answer an Objection: For, says one, to make short of the matter, the Narration of Prince Arthur pleases me, and pleases ten thousand more, and therefore it is delightfull. I can bring a Gentleman who will use the same Ar­gument in the behalf of Quarles, that he plea­ses him and ten thousand more, and therefore he is delightfull. I do not say this, to make any comparison between Mr. Blackmore and Quarles. I know very well there is none. I only say this, to put the Reader in mind, that there is a good tast, and that there is a bad, and that the latter very often prevails. I am per­fectly persuaded that Bavius and Maevius had a formidable Party in ancient Rome, a Party, who thought them by much superiour both to Horace and Virgil. For I cannot believe, that those two great Men would have made it their business, to fix an eternal brand upon them, if they had not been Coxcombs in more than or­dinary credit. But some will tell me, that Men of good sence are pleas'd with Mr. Black­more's Poem: 'Tis granted. But that which [Page 41] is commonly called good sence, is not sufficient to form a good tast in Poetry, tho' the good sence should be joyn'd with an inclination for Poetry, and with a tolerable share of experience in it: For if this were sufficient, it would un­deniably follow, that all who have this Experi­ence, this Inclination, and this good Sence, would have the same tast: whereas it is manifest, that they who are not without these qualities, differ very considerably in their opinions and in their tasts of Verses and Poems. Nay men differ ve­ry much from themselves. A Man of Sence is a Man of Sence at five and twenty; and yet at that Age he has often a quite different tast from what he has at five and thirty. I think, I need not be troubled to prove that in each of the Nations of Western Europe, there are a great many Men of good Sence, who have an inclination for Poetry, and who are not with­out some experience in it. This will be easily granted, nor can that which follows be easily denied: That there are some of our Neighbou­ring Nations, in which a good tast is very rare­ly or not at all to be found: from whence I con­clude, that good Sence and Experience joyned with an inclination for Poetry, are all insuffici­ent to the forming a good Tast. I will ven­ture to affirm yet further, that there are seve­ral persons who are not without a Tast for the little Poetry, and who can judge exactly of E­legies, and Songs, and Amorous, and Baccha­nalian Odes; who can tell whether they have a Poetical Spirit in them, and whether Nature be not too much beholden to Art; I say, there [Page 42] are several of these, who besides that their Judgments are often perverted by Affection or Interest, which frequently debauch the very un­derstanding, as well as they corrupt the Will, have not the least Knowledge of the rules or the least Notion of that which the French and we call Genius; and consequently cannot be right­ly qualified to judge of the greater Poetry. But here it will be convenient to obviate an Obje­ction. For, says one, if a true tast for Epick Poetry were confin'd to so small a number, and consequently, so few were capable of receiving the true delight from it, it would follow from hence, that its Instruction, which it conveys to the Reader by pleasure, would not only be restrain'd to a very few, but to those who want it least; whereas a general Instruction being de­sign'd by it, the Pleasure must be general too. To this I answer, First, That by pleasing the best Judges, it will infallibly please the rest, and please them more than it could have done, if the others had not been satisfied. Secondly, That if the best Judges, and those who have a true tast are disgusted, the rest will quickly be cloy'd. For time will be sure to propagate Truth, when it is once discover'd. Pebbles may, by their false glittering, be impos'd on the igno­rant for Diamonds, but they cannot be long in an Error. The first Artist that sees the Stones will soon discover their want of Solidity, and others then will find out their want of Beauty. 'Tis in Poems as it is in Stones, Time will ea­sily make the Discovery, whether they are solid or no, and the more solid they are found, the [Page 43] more and the longer will they be seen to shine, for their full and their lasting Lustre depends on their perfect Solidity. But now if any one shall tell me, that Persons every way qualified for Judges, commend Mr. Blackmore's Poem; to that I answer, that there are several things in it, which may stand before the strictest Judges. But that the greater part of the Nar­ration, neither is nor can be delightfull to Men of the best tast, is what I shall now endeavour to prove.


THere are three things which render a Nar­ration delightfull: First, The Persons that are introduc'd in it. Secondly, The Things related in it. And Thirdly, The Man­ner of relating them. I shall begin with the Persons that are introduc'd. In speaking of which, I shall be the more succinct, because Bossu has so fully, and so admirably treated of them, that scarce any thing can be added to what he has said, and the Reader may very well be referr'd to him. The Persons then intro­duc'd in an Epick Poem, ought to have Man­ners: that is, their Discourse and their Acti­ons ought to discover their Inclinations and their Affections, and what Resolutions they are certain to take. The Manners then are to appear of the Persons that are introduc'd, and they are to have four Qualities. First, They are to be Good. Secondly, They are to be Like. Thirdly, They are to be Convenient. And Fourthly, they are to be Equal. First, They are to be Good: By Goodness, I do not mean a Moral Goodness; for the Manners may be Poeti­cally Good, tho' they are Morally Vicious. The Manners then are Poetically Good, when they are well mark'd; that is, when the Discourse and the Actions of the Persons which are introduc'd, make us clearly and distinctly see their Inclina­tions and their Affections, such as they are, and make us judge by the Goodness or the Pravity [Page 45] of those Inclinations, what good or what evil Resolutions they are certain to take. The Manners of the Persons then ought to be good, that is, they [...]ought to be well mark'd: and this Goodness is the first and fundamental Qua­lity of the Manners, without which, they can have none of the other three; for if they are not well mark'd, it is impossible they should be Like, or Convenient, or Equal. And they are to be Good, not only upon the Account of Instruction; (for an Action instructing by its Causes, which Causes are the Manners, un­less I can be certain, what the Principles of the Agents are, I can never deduce any certain Moral from the Action) but they are likewise to be good, that the Narration may be delight­full. The Man who seeks to entertain him­self in an Epick Poem, where the Manners of the Persons are not distinctly mark'd, is like one who goes for Conversation into a strange Company, where they are all reserv'd; upon which reservedness he grows uneasie, and stretches and gapes, and takes the first op­portunity to be gone, whereas, if that com­pany had discours'd and had acted so freely, as to have discover'd their real Sentiments, and so to have made themselves known; they would not only by that means have secur'd his Attention, but such of them, whose Inclina­tions and Humours he had lik'd, would have in­sinuated themselves into his Affection, and by lit­tle and little engaged him to wish them well. The proper delight which Poetry gives us, it gives us by Imitation. Now the Persons that it introdu­ces [Page 46] are design'd for Imitations of Men; but they cannot be Imitations of Men, unless the Manners are clearly mark'd: For as I can dis­cern in every Man, with whom I converse for any time, and attentively, how he stands inclin'd and affected, if he is not reserv'd; So if I do not make this discovery in the principal Per­sons, which are introduced in an Epick Poem, I strait conclude, that those Poetical Persons are not Imitations of Men, but only Fantoms and meer Chimera's.

And so much for the first and fundamental Quality of the Manners, which is their Good­ness. The second is their Likeness. But this has relation only to known Characters: That is, to such as have been made famous by Hi­story or Common receiv'd Opinion. When a Poet introduces any such notorious Person, he is to paint him with the very same Qualities, which he is known to have had, or to have. And a Poet, who would please, must be sure to keep this Resemblance: For otherwise, he does like a Man who pretends to give me a Chara­cter of an old Acquaintance; and gives him such Qualities as I am certain he never had. Which makes me conclude, that this Giver of Characters is either incapable of knowing Man­kind, or else he raises my Indignation by en­deavouring so grosly to impose upon me. Mon­sieur Dacier has observ'd, that Monsieur Racine has offended against this second Quality of the Manners in his Hippolytus; for he has made him a Lover. Mr. Dryden made the same Ob­servation before him in his Preface to All for [Page 47] Love. If I would reckon up all our Tragedies, whose Characters are not resembling, it would be a very tedious Catalogue. We need not wonder at it, since we have so few of our Tra­gedies that have the first fundamental Quality of the Manners, and have any Characters at all. The third Quality of the Manners, is their Convenience: They ought to be agreeable to the Age, the Sex, the Climate, the Rank, the Condition of the Person that has them. And the Manners ought to have this convenience particularly in the principal Persons of a Tra­gedy, and of an Epick Poem, for the following Reasons. For, first, those principal Persons be­ing Illustrious, and by their high Station ren­dring the Action important, if a Poet gives them any base Qualities, unworthy of their Rank, and unbecoming of their Power and Place, he manifestly corrupts the Dignity of his Characters, and the Majesty of his Poem: And consequently makes an absurd and unna­tural mixture, which will be sure to disgust all who are able to judge. Secondly, He offends against that Precept of Aristotle for drawing the best Likeness. He is to do like a good Painter, he is to draw his Character like; but he is to conceal its Blemishes, if it has any, and is to give it all the Imbellishments, which will not corrupt its Resemblance: For it is a Poet's business to please, and it is self-evident that a best Likeness will please more than a worst. In order to the giving this best Likeness, a Poet is not so much to consult Nature in any parti­cular Person, which is but a Copy, and an im­perfect [Page 48] Copy of Universal Nature; he is to ex­amine that Universal Nature, which is always perfect, and to consult the Original Idea's of things, which in a Sovereign manner are beau­tifull. This is the Precept of Aristotle, and his Interpreter Horace.

Respicere exemplar Vitae, morumque jubebo
Doctum Imitatorem & veras hinc ducere voces.

Thus if a Poet is to draw a King or a great Captain, which are famous in History, he is to draw his Characters like, that his Manners may have the second Quality, which Aristotle and Nature with him requires. But that they may have the third Qualification likewise, if History has given that King or that Captain, any shame­full Frailty, or low Vice, which are unworthy of the Majesty of the one, and of the high Command of the other; the Poet is oblig'd to conceal that Frailty, and to dissemble that Vice. He is not indeed to give them the Excellence which is oppos'd to the Frailty, or the Virtue which is contrary to the Vice, with which they are attainted by History: Because that would be manifestly to destroy the Resemblance. But he is to give them all the Imbellishments which may be becoming of the Dignity, and not de­structive of the Likeness. And therefore in drawing a King, or a great Captain, he is to consider what Inclinations, what Sentiments, and what Designs may be probably inspir'd by those high Offices; and then to choose such as may neither destroy the Resemblance of his [Page 49] Characters, nor oppose the Design of his Acti­on. Aristotle has taken notice that Earipides has offended against this convenience of the Manners, in the Ulysses of his Icylla, and in his Menalippe, whom, tho' a Woman, and young, he has introduc'd as perfectly instructed in the Physical Doctrine of Anaxagoras. The same Euripides has offended against this third Qua­lity of the Manners in his Hippolytus. For Phae­dra, in the Scene in which she discovers her Love for her Son, speaks too Philosophically ei­ther for her Sex or for her present Condition. For a Speculative or a Sententious Discourse; besides, that it puts a stop to the Action of the Poem, is by no means the Language of a very violent Passion. I the rather mention this, be­cause Mr. Rymer, who has Translated this Scene of Euripides, in his Observations upon the Tragedies of the last Age, has been so far from finding this fault, that he rather seems to mistake it for an Excellence. I had once some thoughts of bringing Hippolytus upon the English Stage. In order to which, I had imi­tated the foremention'd Scene of Euripides; in imitating which, I took care to avoid his De­fects, as Raciné had judiciously shewn me the way; who has copied all the Beauties of the Grecian, and has prudently declin'd his faults. I have caus'd it to be printed at the end of this Chapter, that the Reader, by comparing it with Mr. Rymer's Translation of Euripides, may see his fault against the convenience of the Manners more clearly, and may meet with a little diver­ [...]on amidst the barrenness of these dry Specula­tions. [Page 50] One reason, amongst others, why I did not finish that Tragedy, was, because I saw there was a necessity either for destroying the Likeness of the Manners in the Person of Hippolytus, or for introducing a Character, that would by no means be proper for the English Stage. But it is time to proceed to the fourth Condition of the Manners, and that is their Equality. The Manners are to be constant and consistent. E­very Person is so clearly to be shown at his first appearance, that he may afterwards assume no resolution, which may deceive the Expectation which he gave of himself at first. This Equa­lity of the Manners must be maintain'd for the following Reasons. First, because it is so in Nature; which every Poet imitates; and by the imitation of which alone he can pretend to delight. For Nature, for the most part, is uni­form and regular, and maintains a constant course. Indeed sometimes, for the sake of va­riety, she appears unequal and irregular; and therefore when a Poet copies such an Original, Aristotle allows him to copy him like; but in order to the doing that, he is to draw him every-where equally unequal and irregular. But secondly, this Equality of the Manners must be maintain'd on the account of the Moral. For since every Action instructs by its Causes, which Causes are the Manners; how can I deduce a certain Moral, from the Event of that Action, whose Causes are contradictory. But thirdly, the Manners must be maintain'd; because un­less they have Equality, they have neither the requisite Goodness, nor the Conveniency. This [Page 51] is Monsieur Dacier's Reason, and it is very solid. As I shall show by Example. Euripides has of­fended against this Equality of the Manners in his Iphigenia in Aulis. For the timorous and suppliant Iphigenia that appears at first, is by no means the same with that generous Princess, who so nobly contemns Death for her Father's Glory and the Confederate Cause. The Man­ners then in Iphigenia are not well mark'd, and consequently are not good. For how can I be­lieve, by what she appears at first, that she will at last assume that heroick Resolution of joy­fully resigning her Life for the good of her Country? Nor are the Manners in her conve­nient. For if the Excess of Fear, which she shows at first is becoming of her; the Excess of Courage, which she shows at last, must by con­sequence be very undecent in her. But I think we may safely affirm, That neither is that Ex­cess of Fear becoming of her Rank, nor that Excess of Courage of her Sex. And so there appears in one Character a double inconveni­ency of Manners. And thus we have gone through the four Conditions of the Manners, and have given the Reasons why they ought to be good; that is, why they ought to be well mark'd; why they ought to be convenient; why they ought to be like, and why they ought to be equal. But in speaking of the first Condition of the Manners, I omitted a very important thing. I show'd, that by their Goodness, I meant a Poetical and not a Moral Goodness: that the manners may be Poetically Good, tho' they are Morally Vicious. But this I forgot to add, [Page 52] That they are never to be Morally Vicious, un­less it appears to be necessary, and that there is to be no vice in any, especially, in the principal Characters; unless the Action and the Fable require it. And thus we have laid down the Doctrine of the two great Criticks, Aristotle and Horace in relation to the Manners. Let us now take notice of two or three very im­portant Precepts, which Bossu has grounded upon that Doctrine, and which he has drawn from his piercing Observations of the Conduct of Homer and Virgil. The first Precept is grounded upon the first Condition that Ari­stotle prescribes for the Manners. And there is the same reason for it: For the Manners are to be good, that is, they are to be well mark'd; because Poetry is an Imitation of Nature, and the Persons in a Poem are Imitations of Men. Now it is plain, that any Man who talks with­out any reserve, will, in some measure, show how he is inclin'd and affected. And therefore a Poet is to mark the Manners of his Person, so as to show how they are inclin'd and affected. But that is not all, says Bossu, he is to mark the Manners of his principal Persons so clearly and so fully, as to distinguish them from the rest of Men. Because to do that, is to imitate Nature exactly; without an exact Imitation of whom, a Poet cannot give perfect delight, Now this is certain, that Nature has as much distinguish'd every individual Man by the turn of his Mind, as by the form of his Counte­nance. Bossu has observ'd, that there are Qua­lities of three sorts which go to the composing [Page 53] the Character of the Hero of an Epick Poem. The first sort are such as are absolutely necessary for the Fable, and for the Action. And those are always not only to appear, but to appear predominant over the rest, so as that the Hero is to be known and distinguish'd by them. The Qualities of the second sort are such as are to embellish the first. And the third are such as are to sustain them both. The first of these Qualities in the Hero of Virgil, is the transcen­dent Goodness of his Nature. The second Qua­lity, which beautifies and exalts the first, is his solid Piety, and the entire Resignation of his Will to the Gods. The third Quality, and that which sustains the two first, is an Heroick Fortitude, which is absolutely necessary for the carrying on a great Design; and such is the De­sign of the Hero of an Epick Poem. And thus, in the Character of Ulysses, we find Dissimula­tion set off by Prudence, and sustain'd by Va­lour. And the first of these Qualities which distinguishes the Hero, is always to appear, as we said above, and is always to predominate over the rest: Nay, it is to reign in those very Episodes, which appear to be contrary to the predominant Quality of the Hero. Thus the Character of Achilles's Rage is set off by a noble Vehemence, and sustain'd by a wonderfull Va­lour. But Rage is the principal Quality, and therefore that always appears. Achilles is an­gry, whether present or absent; and he is as furious in the Council where he seditiously threatens his General, and in the Funeral Rites [...]f Patroclus, where he drags about the Body of [Page 54] Hector, as he is in the Combat. The funda­mental Quality of Aeneas his Character, is the transcendent Goodness of his Nature; which was easie to be maintain'd in the first six Books of the Aenei's, because they seem to require a sweetness of Nature. But the six last are full of the Horrours and Distractions of War, where it was no easie matter to make this fun­damental Quality of the Hero's Character shine. The fourth Condition which Aristotle prescribes for the Manners, which is their Equality re­quir'd, that Aeneas, who in the former part of the Poem had shown so much Goodness of Na­ture, should show no Cruelty in the latter; but it requir'd no more. If Aeneas, in the lat­ter part of the Poem, had shown Heroick For­titude without Compassion or Cruelty, the Equality of the Manners had been maintain'd; because there had been nothing in one part of them, which could be thought contrary to the other. But now see the Precept that Bossu has grounded upon this fourth Precept of Aristotle. It is not sufficient, says he, that the Manners be equal; there must besides be an Unity of Cha­racter, and the Hero must every-where appear to be animated with the same Spirit which in­spir'd him at first. That Quality which makes the fundamental Part of his Character, is to predominate always, and upon all Occasions. For it is that which distinguishes him from all other Persons, and makes him such an indivi­dual Hero; and therefore as soon as he loses that, he certainly loses his Character. And therefore Aeneas shows the same sweetness of [Page 55] Temper in killing Lausus, that he did in the di­stribution of the Rewards at the Funeral Rites of his Father. Thus has Bossu, from observing the Conduct of Homer and Virgil, judiciously ground­ed two Precepts upon the first and fourth Condi­tion, which Aristotle prescribes for the Manners. The Poet is not only to mark the Inclinations and Affections of his Hero; but he is to mark them in such a Manner, as clearly to distinguish him from all other Persons, and to constitute him that individual Hero. In the next place, the Poet is to take care, not only that his Hero appears to have no contrary Sentiments, which the fourth Condition of the Manners requires; but that the Quality, which is the Foundation of his Character, and which constitutes him that individual Hero, should always shine, and always predominate, either on like or on contrary Occasions. Bossu has gone yet fur­ther, and by observing the Conduct of the two Princes of Poets, has clearly shown us, that this Quality, which is the Foundation of the Hero's Character, and which must always pre­dominate in him, must also shine throughout the rest of the Poem, and be seen to prevail in the rest of the Persons, even in the opposite Characters, whose very Natures are to be sub­jected to the Hero's Nature as he subdues their Persons; that all the parts of the Poem, as parts of one and the same Body, may appear to have the same Nature, and to be animated all with the same commanding Spirit: From a consideration of which exact Uniformity as from an exact Imitation of Nature, a Sovereign [Page 56] Delight must result to discerning Readers: I should be too tedious, if I should show how Virgil has brought about this by the Passions and the Dependencies, which he has given to the Characters which he has oppos'd to his He­ro. Besides, I shall have occasion to say some­thing of this, when I come to examine Mr. Blackmore's Characters. But I desire leave to go back a little, and to take notice of an observa­tion, which Bossu has made upon the first condi­tion of the Manners. The Manners, says he, are to be good; that is, they are to be well mark'd, but they are not to be shown so fully in some Per­sons as they are to be shown in others; for eve­ry Man's Character is to appear no further than he is concern'd in the Action. This observati­on of Bossu is a plain consequence of the Doctrine of Aristotle; for says he, [...]. Then the Manners are good, when a Person shews by his discourse or by Actions, what choice or what resolution he will take: That is, when a Person by his present Senti­ments, and by his present Actions makes us foresee the Future, then are the Manners of that Poetical Person good. Now it is plain, that a Man, by what he says, or what he does, can never show what he will do, unless, what he says, or what he does, is efficient of what he will do; which can never appear till the thing is done. From whence it clearly follows, that the Manners can never be well mark'd; and that they are Poetically bad, when they do not in­fluence the Action. Aristotle has formally de­clar'd [Page 57] it a little lower, [...]. The Manners when they are not necessary, are Poetically bad. Now they can never be necessary, but as they are Causes of Action. And indeed, since the Action of a Poem is only for Instruction, and it instructs by its Causes, which Causes are the Manners; I cannot find out a Reason why any Manners should be shown, which are not Causes of the Action. Thus we have consider'd the Man­ners according to the Doctrine of Aristotle and Horace, and the Observations of Bossu. We have shown that they are to be well mark'd; that they are to be convenient; that they are to be like; and that they are to be equal; and that besides this, a Unity of Character is to be pre­serv'd in the Hero, and to be maintain'd through the Poem. I shall now give the Reader the fore-mention'd Scene, and then proceed to con­sider the Characters which are to be found in Prince Arthur.


FOR the better understanding of the fol­lowing Scene, it will be necessary to pre­mise some things which are out of the Action, and some which are deliver'd in the foregoing Scene.

Phaedra was the Daughter of Minos and Pasi­phae, and the Sister of Ariadne. Pasiphae was the Daughter of the Sun, who had discover'd the Intrigue between Mars and Venus, which Goddess had resolv'd to revenge the Discovery upon all his unhappy Off-spring. The incestu­ous Passion of Pasiphae is very well known, and so is the Love of her Daughter Ariadne, who was abandon'd by Theseus on the Shore of Na­xos, one of the Aegaean Isles. Theseus after­wards married her Sister Phaedra; who, upon her first Arrival at Athens, fell desperately in Love with Hippolitus the Son of Theseus by an Amazonian Lady. But Phaedra being a Lady of a great deal of Virtue, look'd upon so cri­minal a Passion with Horror, and resisted its vi­olence with the last Reluctancy. She kept what she felt conceal'd from all the World, even from Euphrasia her Friend and her Confident, who came from Crete with her. She pretended a Mo­ther-in-Law's Aversion for Hippolytus, and caus'd him to be banish'd her Presence, and commanded that no one on pain of Death, should presume to pronounce his Name in her hearing; and at last prevailed upon Theseus, by [Page 59] her importunity to send his Son to Tretzene, a Town that belong'd to him, and situated upon the Aeaean Sea on the Coast of Peloponnesus. Time, at length, had palliated her Passion, which it was not in its power to cure, when at three years end, she was carried by her Hus­band to Tretzene, which he look'd upon to be a proper place for her Residence, while he took a Journey with Pirithous into Epirus. Phaedra saw Hippolytus in her Husband's Absence, at the sight of whom her Passion broke out with so much redoubled Fury, that this unfortunate Lady saw very well, that nothing less than dy­ing could preserve her Honour and Innocence: she resolv'd to die then, and for three days and nights had neither slept nor receiv'd any Suste­nance; at the end of which time, the Action of the Play begins, which is open'd by Hippolytus and his Friend Alcander, who prepare the Au­dience for the following Scene. Phaedra re­solves once more to behold the light, in order to which, she sends Euphrasia before, to clear the outward Court of the Palace. Hippolytus, who delighted in Hunting and Horse-races, and who was by nature averse from Love, did not in the least guess at the Passion of Phaedra. And Euphrasia resolv'd to take this opportunity for the making a last Effort to oblige her di­stress to discover the cause of so violent and so strange a disorder. Three things dissuaded me from the going on with this Play: The first was, That its Subject appears to depend too much on the fabulous History. The second was, That I could not be reconcil'd to the fatal [Page 60] necessity which lay upon Phaedra, and which was the original cause of her ruin. The third was, The necessity that there was for the fra­ming the Character of Hippolytus not resem­bling, or the forming it improper for the Eng­lish Stage, which will never endure, that the principal Person of the Drama should be averse from Love.

Hippolytus, Alcander, Euphrasia.
LOok down relentless Heav'n, look down: ah Prince!
Could ever trouble be compar'd to mine?
Amain the dreadfull hour comes hurrying on,
When the unhappy Queen must be no more:
Ev'n in my Arms, she languishing expires,
But stubbornly conceals the fatal Cause.
Some secret Charm eclipses all her brightness,
Which struggles with eternal Night in vain.
Now Passion plays the Tyrant in her Soul,
And raging, tears her from the arms of Fate
To see the Sun once more. Her awfull grief
Commands that all respect it and retire.
But see, she comes.
Enough, I'll instantly withdraw,
And not inhance it by my hatefull Presence.
Exeunt Hipp. Alc.
Enter Phaedra.
Stop, stop Euphrasia, for I faint, I die;
My trembling Knees betray their lifeless burden;
Alas I die, support the wretched Phaedra.
[Page 61] My Eyes are dazled at th' unwonted light,
And ev'ry Object seems to dance around them:
The World appears to move in hast before me,
And in the hurry leaves me.
Ye Pow'rs, ye cruel Pow'rs, can you see this?
And can you persevere?
Gods! how these ornamental Trifle [...] plague me.
What vain officious hand, has with such care,
Compos'd my Dress, and rank'd my plaited Hair;
O fond Attempt to beautifie Despair!
How ev'ry thing torments me? ev'ry thing conspire [...]
T'undo me more? hast, hast, let me be gone,
And hide my Face for ever.
How all her wishes contradicting clash?
'Tis scarce an hour, since you your self condemn'd
Your barbarous Design upon your self:
Since you provok'd your Woman's artfull Hand,
T'adorn you like the charming Queen of Athens,
The beauteous Partner of a Hero's Bed.
'Tis but a moment since you wish'd once more,
To see the chearfull, lovely Face of day,
And can it be thus hatefull grown already?
Bright, glorious Founder of a mournfull Race:
O thou of whom my lofty Mother dar'd
To boast her self aloud, the high born Daughter!
Refulgent God, who now perhaps mayst blush
At the distraction of abandon'd Phaedra:
Of thee, O Sun, I come to take my leave,
To take my leave for ever.
What? still thus obstinately be [...]t on Fate?
[Page 62] What? still preparing thus to meet that Death,
Which but too fast advances?
Gods! how I hate these Walls, this loathsome Court.
O for the Chase, the Woods enchanting Sport!
Hark! the s [...]ril Cornet thro' the Groves resounds!
Hark! the young Hunter chears his fainting Hounds!
How to the charming cry my ravish'd Heart re­bounds!
Madam, what means!—
Quickly let some transport me to the Barriers,
Whence with immortal Raptures, I may see,
The Hero in his glorious Flight to Conquest,
Whilst his exulting Chariot smoaks
Along the dusty Plain.
Madam, this wild Discourse.—
Ah, Wretch! Ah, curst of Heav'n! what have I said?
And whither have my fatal Wishes hurry'd me?
O whither is my wandring reason stray'd?
Alas'tis gone, 'tis flown, for ever lost;
For so the Gods the cruel Gods determine.
Hide me, Eup [...]asia, or I blush to Death:
Confusion! ev [...]ry way my Blood rebels:
Too much I h [...]ve expos'd my shamefull Grief,
Yet still in spight of me the streaming Tears
Flow on.
If you must blush, blush rather at your Silence,
Whose stubbornness exasperates your Grief,
And makes it sting the fiercer.
Why are you deaf to entreaties and Advice?
Why pertinaciously resolv'd on Ruin?
[Page 63] What Fury drives you to provoke the Fates,
While all your wondrous Beauty's in the Bloom,
And greedy Death respects your Form divine.
What deadly draught has tainted your pure Blood?
Or Magick Charm has over-turn'd your Mind?
Thrice have the rowling Heav'ns obscur'd the World,
Since sleep has been a Stranger to your Eyes.
Thrice has the glittering God of Day dispers'd
The Shades, and thrice illustrated all Nature,
Since you receiv'd the frail Support of Life.
How durst you thus attempt your own Destruction?
Think, you offend the Gods who gave you Being:
Think, that your Husband you betray, to whom
Your solemn Faith was plighted.
Ah miserable me!
Nay, you betray your poor unhappy Chil­dren,
And bring them under a hard Yoke, for know,
That the black hour which sees their Mother die,
Will animate the strangers haughty Son;
That Son which a Barbarian bore to Theseus,
That mortal Enemy to you, to yours,
Hippolytus! Hippolytus!
Ah Gods!
Ha! this touches to the Quick, this stings you.
What hast thou done? what fatal Name escap'd thee?
Ah, now indeed your rage breaks out with Reason;
At that dire Name I love to see you tremble:
Live then, let Love and Duty joyn'd prevail:
Oh live, and let not a Barbarian's Son,
Oppressing yours with his detested Sway,
[Page 64] Insult the richest Blood of Greece,
The Progeny of Gods.
But quickly live, the least delay proves mortal;
With utmost speed your broken Strength repair,
Whilst yet life's wasted lamp burns glimmering on,
And yet may be recruited.
Too long it has already burnt,
And with too guilty Fires.
Ha! can it be remorse that tears you thus?
What horrid crime creates this dire disturbance?
Your hands were ne'er embrued in guiltless Blood.
My hands, I thank the Gods, were never stain'd:
Oh! had those Gods but kept my Heart as spotless.
What horrible design has that concern'd;
The very thought of which thus shakes your Nature.
Hold there, upon thy life no more, for know,
I die t' avoid that terrible Confession.
Then die, persisting in your barbarous silence;
But think not, I shall close your Eyes in Death,
Or fondly your untimely Fate deplore.
No, while you fainting, linger o'er the Precipice;
I'll run, and down I'll take a desperate leap
To the Infernal World before you.
Why have I met with this inhumane usage?
Have I in all my life-time once deceiv'd you?
For this has my firm Faith severely stood
A thousand Trials? Have I left for this,
My Children, Parents, Kindred, Countrey, all,
To follow you to proud insulting Athens?
Have I left all, and am I thus rewarded?
[Page 65]
Why wilt thou offer such ungrateful vi­olence?
If this infernal Secret once escapes me;
Think, that 'twill bring Confusion to thy quiet;
Tremblings will seize thy feeble Limbs,
And Horrors shake thy Soul.
Your Death would shake it with excess of Horror,
And all that damn'd despair could e'er inflict,
To plague the wretch by Gods and Men for saken.
Tho'thou shouldst know the Crime, whose Weight o'erwhelms me,
And sinks me down to Hell, I yet must down;
But blacker fall, a guiltier Ghost descend.
By all my Tears, my Bitterness of woe;
And by my faithfull Heart, which now weeps Blood for you;
By your dear trembling Knees which thus I grasp,
Speak out, and clear the Doubt which now distracts me.
Rise, thou wilt have it so, thou shalt be satisfied.
Speak, I'm all Ear, I have no Sense but Hearing.
Lightning this moment blast me! What can I say?
Or where can I begin?
By all the Gods, I here conjure you speak,
And with vain Terrors pi [...]rce my Soul no more.
O dreadful Hatred of revengeful Venus!
O Fury fatal to our mournful Line!
To what prodigìous things did Love compel,
And goad my raving Mother?
Let them be buried in eternal silence.
[Page 66] And rot the Tongue, and rot th' audacious Hand,
That dares transmit them to the Times to come.
Poor Ariadne! lost, abandon'd Sister!
How most deplorably the love sick Maid
Dy'd on the Shore, where my false Hero left her?
Against your whole unhappy Line.
What mortal rage provokes you?
Yes, since the cruel Goddess has decreed it;
I fall the last of our unhappy Race;
The last and most deplorable.
Are you disturb'd by Love's unruly Fires?
His Fires? His Flames which rage with utmost Fury,
While my Heart feels what never Tongue can utter.
For whom?
Ay, there's the dire demand, which when ' [...]is answer'd,
Will freeze thy Blood with Horror, shake thy Frame,
And overturn thy Nature. Know I love—
But 'twill not out, my guilty Soul starts back,
And wants the pow'r t' inform its vocal Organs.
I love—
His Name?
Gods! how I shudder at that fatal Name?
I love—
I grow impatient, Whom?
Dost thou not know that Son of the Barbarian?
That Prince, whom I my self so long opprest?
Hippolytus! Confusion! Hippolytus!
I said it not, 'tis thou thy self hast nam'd him.
[Page 67]
O Heav'ns! O Earth! and ye infernal Pow'rs:
By what I have heard, we're sunk and lost for ever.
O Horror! Height of Horror! O Despair!
O strange unutterable Guilt!
O miserable Race!
Black fatal Voyage! execrable Soil!
Why have I liv'd t'approach thy balefull Shore?
Thou seest no new, no transitory Grief,
But long it has been raging.
Scarce was my solemn Faith to Theseus plighted,
And I the Partner of a Hero's Bed:
By all the world, and by my self thought happy.
When Athens show'd me first my haughty Enemy;
I saw him, and I trembled at the sight;
Trembled and blush'd, turn'd pale, and burnt, and shiver'd,
Whilst strange disorder seiz'd my astonish'd Soul,
Confounded by a stroke unseen.
My Eyes, my Ears, my Voice, with all my Pow'rs,
But that of feeling in a moment fail'd;
I felt so much, that I could only feel:
Then I th' inexorable Goddess knew,
And her devouring Flames, th'avoidless Plagues
Of our unhappy Race, which her fierce Anger
To Extirpation urges.
But yet I thought my fervent Supplications,
And low Submissions might avert her Wrath,
And vainly hop'd t'asswage immortal Fury.
I built th'incens'd divility a Temple,
Where I whole Hecatombs of Victims slew,
And in their panting Hearts, I sought my absent Reason.
Weak Remedies! and mortal the Distemper.
[Page 68] For whilst my costly Gums perfum'd the Shrine,
And my fond Tongue implor'd th' avenging God­dess;
My Soul ador'd Hippolytus alone,
Hippolytus alone was always present to me,
Ev'n at the smoaking Altar where I sacrific'd;
I offer'd all to him, the God,
Whose Name I durst not utter.
But yet my conscious Vertue strugled still;
I shun'd him, as I would have shun'd Destruction:
But O extremity of mortal Wo!
Shunning, I meet him in his Fathers Features.


LET us now consider the Manners that are to be found in Prince Arthur. We will begin with those which are in the Hero himself. We have said above, that Bossu has observ'd, that the qualities, which compose the Chara­cter of the Hero, ought to be mainly three. The First of which is such as is necessary for the Fable and for the Action, which in Aeneas is the transcendent Goodness of his Nature, which is the cause of the Subjection and Resig­nation of his Will to the Gods. The Second, is the Embellishment of the First, which in Aeneas is his Piety. The Third, is that which sustains them both, which in Aeneas, is Hero­ick For [...]itude, and which ought to be insepa­rable from the Hero of ev'ry Poem, because Valour is necessary for the carrying on a great design. The first of these Qualities is the Cha­racteristical Mark of the Hero, it is that which distinguishes him from all other Men, and there­fore it is that which ought always to appear; because when the Hero loses that, he certainly loses his Character. Let us now proceed to ex­amine the Qualities that compose the Character of Arthur. In order to which, let us survey him at his first appearance, while he is tossed by the Fury of that Storm, which Mr. Blackmore en­deavours to describe so terribly.

When the just Arthur fils'd with Grief and Dread,
And pale confusion, deeply sigh'd and said,
O righteous Heav'n, why hast thou rang'd this day
Against me all thy Terrors in Array?
Arm'd in thy Cause thy Temples to restore,
And give that Aid thy sacred Priests implore.
If thou such fierce destruction dost dispence,
To punish some unpardon'd old Offence;
On me let all thy fiery Darts be spent;
Let not my crime involve the Innocent.
Whelm o'er my guilty Head these raging Seas,
And let this Sacrifice thy Wrath appease,
But let the British Youth return in Peace.

Here are two Qualities which are apparent in Arthur: The one is his Piety, and the other his Concern for his People. But the Reader will be apt to say, That the Hero appears to be afraid here. We know it very well, and we are very willing to excuse it; because Mr. Blackmore may very justly defend it: He is a­fraid indeed, but not for himself, it is for those for whom his Duty oblig'd him to appear con­cern'd. The pious Prince is afraid for his People.

Let us now consider him after the Storm. As soon as that was allay'd, by the Vertue of Uriel, Prince Arthur, whose Ship had struck on a Quicksand upon the Coasts of Armorica, leaves it, and makes to shore in his Boat, where as soon as he arrives, hereturns thanks to Hea­ven for his own Preservation, and prays for that of his absent Friends. Then he climbs the Rock, to see what Ships he can descry, but not [Page 71] so much as one sail appears in view. Return'd; he makes a Speech of forty Lines to his Men, crowded with Sentences and with speculative Notions, of which the latter end is only to the Purpose, and that I beg leave to recite.

We arm'd thus to restore in Hell's Despight,
To Heav'n its Worship, and to Men their Right:
Resume your Courage then, it can't be true,
That Heav'ns Revenge, should Heav'ns own cause pursue.
These Evils are not in Displeasure meant;
Heav'n is too just, and you too innocent.
Success and Triumph will our Arms attend,
And these rough ways lead to a glorious End.

This is what they call oratio morata. For here Arthur once more makes a Discovery of his Pi­ety and his Concern for his People. And here too he shows another Quality, which did not appear before, and that is his Courage. Here then are three Qualities, which are conspicuous in Arthur, his Piety, his Concern for his Peo­ple, and his Courage. But where all this while is the Characteristical Mark of the He­ro? Where is the Quality that distinguishes him from all other Heroes? Aeneas was pious and Valiant, and was concern'd for his People; and so was Godfrey of Bolloign. How is Arthur different from the Hero of Virgil or Tasso? where is that Quality, that ought always to be seen in him to preserve the Unity of his Cha­racter, and which like an universal Soul, ought to run thro' the Poem, and to animate every [Page 72] part of it? It was observ'd in the former part of this Treatise, that the principal Person of the Poem remains at the bottom, universal and allegorical; from whence it follows, that the principal Qualities which compose that Chara­cter, ought likewise to be universal and allego­rical. Now I think it would be needless to go about to prove, that the Concern which Prince Arthur shews for his Subjects, is not an universal Quality. Thus it is plain, that Prince Arthur wants something to constitute him Mr. Blackmore's individual Hero. The Poet ought to have set his Mark upon him before he had turn'd him out upon the Common, that he might have been known to have been his pro­per Goods, and might have been distinguish'd from the numerous Herd of Heroes. But as we have prov'd, that there is something want­ing to Mr. Blackmore's Hero: let us now take notice of a Quality, which he has, which he ought by no means to have, and by giving him which, the Poet offends against the Convenien­cy of the Manners. And that is that Academi­cal Temper of Mind, which obliges him to de­claim upon every turn, and to crowd his Ha­rangues with Sententious and Speculative No­tions. For Arthur is a King, and a King is to be shown grave, majestick, jealous of his Authority; with all which, methinks the de­clamatory Stile is not so very consistent: But above all, a King is to be shown active: for the Kingly Office consists in Action, which Sen­tentious and Speculative Discourses are always sure to obstruct. But Mr. Blackmore will say, [Page 73] perhaps, That Sententious Discourses instruct, and that Instruction is the end of Heroick Poe­try. But as Aristotle says of Tragedy, That it is not to give all sorts of Delight, but only the Delight which is proper to it, which it gives by moving Compassion and Terror: so we might perhaps affirm of Heroick Poetry, that it is not to give all sorts of Instruction, but only that which is proper to it, which it imparts by Action, and not by Precept. But this is indu­bitable, that the Author of an Epick Poem, ought not to delay or to discontinue his Action, by which, as by a proper Instrument, he con­veys his Instruction to us, to give us the same Instruction by an improper Method. Now this is Mr. Blackmore's particular Case. For by the Sententious Harangue which we cited above, he both delays and discontinues his Action to give a tedious Account of the very Moral of that Action, if it can pretend to a Moral. But perhaps Mr. Blackmore may say, that to instruct by Fable, is not so Christian, as to instruct by Precept. To this, I answer, First, That if he was of that Opinion, he ought not to have begun to write an Epick Poem. And secondly, That the Author and Founder of our Religi­on, as appears by his Parables, is of another Mind. Now, as it is plain, that Epick Poe­try properly instructs by Action; so it is mani­fest, that the true Philosophy, and the true Religion can be only shown by Action. If a Poet has a mind to make his Hero perfectly vertuous, he has free Liberty to do so. Let him make him as much a Philosopher, and as [Page 74] much a Christian as he pleases. But let his Philosophy, and let his Religion both appear by his Action. It is the King's Example that influences the People, and not the Words which he speaks. Let him take care to make his Peo­ple prosper out of a sense of his Duty, and that in a Monarch's Religion. Aeneas never is dis­cover'd Preaching, but he is always found to be the same; Always good-natur'd, always pious, always carefull and anxious for his People. Now let us examine Mr. Blackmore's Specula­tive Hero, and see how constant he is to him­self.

We find Prince Arthur appearing at first with three very commendable Qualities; which were, Piety, Valour, and a Care and Concern for his People. So that the Poet is now ob­lig'd to maintain these Qualities in his Hero, and to make him behave himself throughout the whole Poem, like a Man that has Piety and undaunted Courage, and the tender'st Con­cern for his People. What will any one say now to see this very Hero, who in the first Book of the Poem is so concern'd for the Souls of his Subjects; that tho' they were but just escap'd from a Storm, in which they had been terribly Tempest-beaten, and were wet, and cold, and weary, and hungry, and spiritless, yet does not suffer them so much as to refresh them­selves before he instructs them: What will any one say to see this Prince neglect this Peo­ple after the strangest manner? What will any one say to see this Valiant and this Pi­ous King, become as fearfull as the meanest, [Page 75] and as impious as the most profligate of all his Subjects?

In the Sixth Book, while the Plague was ra­ging in the British Army, Arthur, by Devo­tion, brings down the Angel Raphael, who tells him the Cause of his Affliction in the fol­lowing Verses.

Th' Angelick Guards return'd to Heav'n complain'd,
That your flagitious Troops you ne'er restrain'd.
Your Captains boldly Whoredoms, Riots, Rapes,
Commit, and yet each Criminal escapes.
Thus you avow the Ills by others done,
And their unpunish'd Guilt becomes your own.

And thus, if we will believe the Poet's own Angel, the Hero is neglectfull of his People, and impious. But this is at the latter end of the Sixth Book. Let us now return to the First. Upon the return of the Message which the Em­bassadours of Arthur brought back from Hoel, Mr. Blackmore says, That when

Arthur heard the Message first,
His wavering Mind with fears, and wise distrust,
And rising Tides of sudden Joy was tost,
Uncertain which strong Passion prest him most.
But when he saw the Presents Hoel sent,
His Doubts suppress'd, he grew more confident;
And his calm Mind, eas'd of his anxious Cares,
T' embrace his new and generous Friend, prepares.

Here for six lines together the Author takes care to set before us the extraordinary Fear of [Page 76] Arthur. Indeed he seems to repent at last, that he call'd it by its proper Name. And so that which was plain Fear in the second Verse, is call'd Doubt in the sixth, and Care in the seventh. Which puts me in mind of a Custom of the Modern Italians: They are very sensible how scandalous a Passion Fear is; and therefore when they have a mind to encourage any one whom they respect; they never cry, Don't be afraid, Sir; but, Quae Vossignoria non si dubiti de mente; Don't let your Worship doubt. Thus we have seen Prince Arthur fearfull, neglectfull, and im­pious. The Manners then of the Hero are ill express'd, because they are not maintain'd. And they are unequal, which is self-evident. And they are inconvenient. For neither is Fear be­coming of a Captain, nor Impiety of one who takes up Arms to re-establish Religion; nor is Neglect of his Subjects becoming of a good King.

But the Impiety of the Hero is not shown only in the Sixth Book. It is apparent from his very Fear in the First: For before he left England, the Arch-Angel, Gabriel, had assur'd him that he should Triumph over Octa at ten Years end. These are his Words in the Fourth Book, and the 115th Page.

Now Albion sinks beneath the Saxon Weight;
So Heav'n decrees; 'tis so ordain'd by Fate:
But after ten times the revolving Sun,
His crooked Race has through the Zodiack run,
The Clouds dispell'd, propitious Heav'n shall smile
On Uter's House, and this reviving Isle.
[Page 77] Octa shall feel just Heav'ns avenging Stroke,
And Albion's Youth shall break the Saxon Yoke.

This we find in the Relation which Lucius made to Hoel. Now the ten Years that the An­gel mention'd, were elaps'd before Arthur set Sail from Normandy, as Lucius assures us in the same Relation, and the 122d Page of the same Book.

Ten times the Sun had pass'd his Oblique way,
By turns contracting and increasing way,
Darting to either Pole a warmer Ray:
And now the British Lords, &c.

Thus was Arthur assur'd by Gabriel in Eng­land. And he was afterwards re-assur'd by Ra­phael on the Coasts of Britany: Who says to him, Pag. 16. Book the First,

No Force or Arts shall your Design prevent,
Propitious Heav'n decrees your wish'd Event;
You on these Coasts for happy Ends are thrown,
And after this expect the British Crown.

And immediately afterwards he bids him particularly not be afraid of Hoel.

But fear not Hoel's Pow'r, tho' now your Foe,
By Hell incens'd, he will not long be so.

This, I must confess, is strange Language for an Angel. However, we are to suppose that Prince Arthur understood it. And yet by [Page 78] and by, as we have observ'd above, he appears exceedingly afraid of this very Hoel. Now that person, methinks, must show an extraordinary inclination to Fear, whom an Angel from Heav'n, nay whom two Angels cannot ensure; Besides, that he must appear to be impious and unbelieving. But Hoel is not the only Person of whom Prince Arthur appears afraid. For afterwards, in the Seventh Book, when upon the Ravage that the Plague had made amongst the Britons, Octa prepar'd to Attack them: Mr. Blackmore tells us, That

The Tidings soon through all the Army ran,
VVhen in their Minds tormenting Fears began.

First, the Army was afraid, and afterwards the Hero, as appears by the Prayer which he makes immediately upon it.

Shine forth, and with thy Beams dispell this Night,
Whose horrid Shades my lab'ring Soul affright.

And thus we have shown the Hero of the Poem neglectfull, impious and fearfull. And consequently we have in one Character, seen Mr. Blackmore offending, not only against the Unity of Character in the Hero, and in the Poem, and against three of the four Conditions of the Manners; but against the Necessity of the Fable, and of the Action. For if the things which we observ'd in the First Part of this Trea­tise had not ruin'd the Moral, it is manifest that these base unnecessary Vices which Mr. Black­more [Page 79] has given to his Hero, would have weak­en'd it considerably if they had not destroy'd it. But it will be objected by the Friends of this Author, that the Hero of the Prince of Poets, appears to be afraid at the Rising of the Storm in the first of the Aeneis.

Ex templo Aeneae solvuntur frigore membra,
Ingemit, &c.

To this I answer. First, that we excus'd Prince Arthur's Fear upon the like occasion: Tho' his Fear is directly express'd by the Poet.

When the Just Arthur, fill'd with Grief and Dread.

Whereas the Fear of Aeneas is not directly express'd. Secondly, That supposing Aeneas was afraid, we can yet make a better Defence for him than can be made for Arthur, tho' a good one may be made for him too. For Ae­neas had not only the same Cause of Fear which Arthur had, which was his Love for his Peo­ple; but he was afraid of missing the Rites of Funeral, which they who miss'd were denied the passage of Styx: And besides all this, he was afraid of the Anger of Juno, who peculi­arly commanded the Air, and from whose Fury he knew the present Storm proceeded. These are the Excuses which are made for Aeneas, by those who allow that he was afraid. He was afraid indeed, say they; but he was afraid of the Anger of the Gods, and that comes into [Page 80] the Character of Piety. But in case of any hu­mane Danger, he always appears intrepid. Nay, Turnus, who is a Hero of a much inferiour Rank to Aeneas, as Bossu has plainly demonstra­ted, scorns to be afraid of less than a God: For he says to Aeneas, in the Twelfth Book, when his Life was in utmost danger from him. V. 894.

——Non me tua turbida torrent
Dicta ferox, Dii me terrent & Jupiter Hostis.

Think not that your Threats can terrifie me insulting Man. None but the Gods and adverse Jove can terrifie Turnus. To be afraid neither of God nor Man, was only becoming of that Contemner of the Gods Mezentius.

Nec mortem horremus, nec divum parcimus ulli,
Desine, jam venio moriturus.

All the Second-rate Characters in the Aene­is, Nisus, Eurialus, Pallas and Lausus shine with undaunted Courage. But the Hero distinguishes himself from them all; and is, in the midst of a Battel, like Thunder in a Storm: He appears Superlatively brave upon every Action, and upon every approach of Danger, in a Sovereign Degree, magnanimous.

These are the Excuses that are made for Aeneas, by those who allow him to have been afraid in the Storm.

But I would fain ask those Gentlemen one question: And that is, Why they should al­low Aeneas to have been afraid, when Virgil [Page 81] has never said so? For the Words, Aeneae sol­vuntur frigore membra, express no Fear. And why should they be thought to imply any, when that which immediately follows implies that Aeneas was not afraid, and when the very Words which we have cited have a much better and a much more reasonable signification? The Words which Aeneas utters, imply that he was not a­fraid For it is plain, that a Man, like Aeneas, who wishes himself dead, is not afraid of Death. Indeed, why should he be afraid? He knew ve­ry well, that he should survive this Storm. He had divine Assurance for it, and he was per­fectly Pious. The Ghost of Hector had told him he should be establish'd in a Foreign Coun­try. The Soul of Creusa had averr'd it. His Houshold-Gods had assur'd it, and Delian and Buthrotian Apollo had given it the last Confir­mation. Well then, I think it is pretty plain; that the Man who wishes that he were dead, and who knew that he should not die, could not be afraid of the present Danger. Nor do Vir­gil's Words, Aeneae solvuntur frigore membra, express any Fear. Why then should they be thought to impl [...] any? Why should the Man, who in all other places writes with perfect Lo­gick and perfect good Sence, be believ'd in this, to contradict himself so absurdly? Especially when these very Words may be interpreted a much better way, and so become more consistent with the Character of Aeneas, and with the Sence of the Lines which follow. For this Cold and this Trembling, which relax'd the Nerves of Aeneas, may very well be thought to [Page 82] be the Shuddring of a Religious Horrour, con­ceiv'd at the Presence of the Revengefull Queen of the Gods, who immediately commanded the Air, and by whom the Hero knew, that the present Storm was occasion'd. For the Sense of the Anger of so great a Divinity, must needs be an intolerable Burden upon the Soul of so Pious a Man as Aeneas. Now Aristotle has observ'd in the Thirteenth Chapter of his Treatise of Poetry, that Horrour is a very dif­ferent thing from Fear, which Reason and Ex­perience every day confirm. Since therefore these Words, Aeneae solvuntur frigore membra, may as well be interpreted of Horrour as Fear; since if they are meant of the first, they make the Poet consistent with himself; whereas they make him contradict himself; if they are meant of the last; since this incident of the Storm may be very well thought to have occasion'd Horrour in Aeneas; and lastly, since it appears by the Words of the Hero, that he was not a­fraid; and it is very plain by his Circumstances, that there was no occasion for Fear; we have all the reason in the World to conclude, that by Aeneae solvuntur frigore membra, the Poet meant that his Hero felt Horrour, and not Fear.

Thus have I done my endeavour to clear Aeneas from the Imputation of Fear; and to show that the Trembling which seiz'd him from the Rising of the Storm, might very well be suppos'd to proceed from another Cause. And I have the rather done this, because I could ne­ver be reconcil'd to the Excuses which are com­monly [Page 83] made for him; which are, that he was afraid for his People, or that he was afraid of the Anger of the Queen of the Gods. For it is hard to imagine in this case, that he could be afraid for his People, without [...]ing afraid for himself; or that he could in this co [...]n­cture, tremble with Fear at the Anger of Jano, without trembling at the Thoughts of ap­proaching Death. As for two or three other Passages, in which the Poet mentions his Fear, it is manifest that in those places he fears for others, and not for himself. But let us now consider the two other Qualities that compose the Character of Aeneas; that by thus oppo­sing the Conduct of Virgil to Mr. Blackmore's management, the judgment of the one, and the unskilfulness of the other, may the more plainly appear. As it was necessary that Aeneas should be Valiant, because he was to be the Founder of the Roman State; so it was requisite that he should be Pious, because he was to establish Re­ligion as well as Empire And the Poet was oblig'd to make the Hero show his Religion by Action, and not by Words, as Mr. Black­more has done; because, as we hinted above, Epick Poetry properly instructs by Action, and Religion can only appear by Action; and last­ly, because it is the Prince's Example by which his Subjects are fram'd. And Virgil was oblig'd to make the Acts by which Aeneas discover'd his Piety, parts of the Action of his Poem; and not to do as Mr. Blackmore has done, to crowd the greatest part of his Religion together, and make it constitute a Medley of irregular Episodes; [Page 84] which would have discontinued his Action, and would have corrupted its Unity. Besides, as one and the same Design of the Hero compre­hended the establishing the Trojan Religion and Empire in Italy, it was but just that they should go hand in hand in the Poem; and as the esta­blishing the Trojan Power was to be a means for the setting up their Religion, so it was but just that the Religious Acts of the Hero, should contribute to the Foundation of Empire. Let us now examine the particular Acts by which Aeneas discovers his Piety; which are, First, the actual Obedience which he pays to the Command of the Gods. Secondly, The ma­king those very Gods the Guardians of his Na­vy, and the Companions of his Voyage. Third­ly, His Religious Duties, which are Prayer and Sacrifices. And Fourthly, the Proofs which he gives of his filial Affection; and those are principally two. First, the Funeral Games ce­lebrated in the Honour of Anchises his Memory. And Secondly, the Descent of Aeneas to Hell. In the next place, let us consider how these Re­ligious Acts apparently influence the Action of the Poem, and evidently advance the Design of the Hero.

The First is the actual Obedience that he pays to the Commands of the Gods: From which it is manifest, that the Action had its beginning.

—Vix prima inceperat aestas,
Et Pater Anchises dare fatis vela jubebat. Lib. 3.

[Page 85] Another Act by which Aeneas discover'd his Piety, is Sacrifice. Upon his Arrival in Thrace, and his laying the Foundation of the City, which he design'd to build there, he Sa­crifices to his Mother, and to the King of the Gods; and wanting Boughs to adorn the Altar, that want conducts him to Polydorus his Tomb, whose Spirit inform'd him of his unfortunate Tragedy; and assur'd him, that Thrace was by no means the Country that the Gods and Fate had design'd for him. Upon which they re­mov'd from that unfortunate Climate, and set Sail for Delos. There Aeneas prays to Apollo to instruct him where he shall settle. Apollo directs them to their Original Mother. Upon which, by a mistake of Anchises, they set Sail for Crete; from which Country Teucer deriv'd his Descent. But nevertheless, by that very mistake, they were considerably advanc'd in their Way to Italy. As soon as they began to settle in Crete, they found by the Plague that rag'd amongst them, that Crete was not the Place that was destin'd for their Establishment, and took a Resolution to go back to the Oracle at Delos; when Apollo sav'd them the Trouble, and deli­ver'd his Mind to Aeneas in the Night by the Mouths of the Houshold-Gods, who had been the Companions of his Voyage. Thus it is plain that Aeneas his Obedience to the Com­mands of the Gods, his Sacrifice, his Prayer, and his carrying his Gods along with him in­fluenc'd his Action, and advanc'd his Design. Let us next consider his filial Affection: of which he gave two signal Proofs. The first was [Page 86] the Institution of the Funeral Games; and the second his Descent to Hell; whether he de­scended in Obedience to the Command that he receiv'd from his Father's Spirit.

—Gens dura atque aspera cultu,
Debellanda tibi [...]atio est. Ditis tamen ante
Infernas accede domos, & Averna per alta,
Congressus peti, Nate, meos. Lib. 5.

And Aeneas says afterwards to the Sybil in the Sixth Book.

Unum oro, quando hic inserni janua Regis
Dicitur, & tenebrosa Palas Acheronie refusa;
Ire ad conspectum chari genitoris, & ora
Contingat: doceas iter, & sacra ostia pandas.
Illum ego per flammas & mille sequentia tela
Eripui his humeris, medioque ex hoste recepi:
Ille meum comitatus iter, Maria omnia mecum,
Atque omnes Pelagique minas coelique ferebat
Invalidus, vires ultra sortemque Senect ae.
Quin ut te supplex peterem, & tua lumina adirem.
Idem orans mandata dabat. Natique patrisque
Alma precor miserere.

Now the Celebration of the Funeral Games, by drawing all the Men together, was the oc­casion of the Women's burning part of the Fleet, and consequently of the Trojans sailing for Italy without their Wives, which left them free to mix with the Blood of the Italians, and so pr [...]pared their Establishment. And the De­scent of Aeneas to Hell, upon his Arrival in [Page 87] Italy, animated and exalted the Hero by the view of a glorious Posterity.

And thus we have shown as succinctly as we could, that the Piety of Aeneas discovers it self by Action, and that it advances the Hero's de­sign. I should be too tedious if I should show that this Piety of the Hero, is apparent through­out the whole Course of the Poem; and that it every where influences the Action, not only by the insensible Operation of the Powers, whom the Greatness of his Piety engages to favour him, but very often by manifest visible Conse­quence. It would be an easie matter to prove this, and to demonstrate further; That as the Religious Acts of Aeneas, are efficient of some­thing which follows them, so they are necessary or probable Consequences of something which went before them; and that therefore they are just and regular Parts of the Action.

Let us now come to the third Quality, which goes to the Composition of Aeneas his Chara­cter: And that is the transcendent Goodness of his Nature; which the Poet gave him as the very Ground and Original of his Religion. For an excellent Goodness of Nature was very rea­sonably believ'd by the Heathens, to be the Principle and Foundation of Piety. And there­fore Mezentius, a Man of an ill and of a cruel Nature, is represented as a Contemner of the Gods, at the same time that he is a Destroyer of Men. I think it would be superfluous to show that this surpassing Goodness of Nature, is a predominant Quality of Aeneas his Cha­racter; since the sweetness and tenderness of [Page 88] his Nature has been objected as a fault to him, and as lessening of his Merit, and destructive of his Courage, by those who have condemn'd him something too rashly, without considering the Design of Virgil, or the Necessity of his Fable, or the Nature of True Valour. We ought now to show that this Excellence of Na­ture shines in the Character, throughout the whole Course of the Poem; and that it appears even in the Characters that are oppos'd to the Hero's. But that the Reader may not languish by dwelling too long up [...]n one thing, we shall first examine some other persons who are con­cern'd in Mr. Blackmore's Poem.

The next who presents himself is Hoel King of Armorica. Now I desie any Man in the World to give me this Hoel's Character. Hoel is as obs [...]re, and as much conceal'd, as if he were a Politician: Tho' it is manifest that he is none. For notwithstanding he is every-where mention'd throughout a Third Part of the Nar­rative, yet he has very little hand in the Plot. Monsieur Hoel indeed is a meer Machine, a Monarch of Brioches's making. He seems to have neither Life nor Soul of his own, but is actuated by invisible Springs at first from below, and by and by from above. The first news we hear of him, is, when that Devil Persecution, appears to him in the reverend Shape of Alman. She gives him an account of Arthur's being thrown upon his Coast; and tells him, that the most obliging way of receiving him, will be to cut his Throat; that it was the most signal Fa­vour, [Page 89] that could be conferr'd either upon him or his Company; that they would look upon him as their Friend in it, and their Benefactor; who did them the greatest Honour they could expect, and to which they had hitherto pretended in vain. This, she assures him, in a long Speech of above forty Lines. It seems, Mr. Blackmore judiciously saw, that this Fury ought to make a long Speech, or else she would go out of her Character, and that her very words ought to appear to persecute the passive Ears of Hoel. He hears all this with a great deal of Patience, and without the least Interruption, and what is still more wonderfull, without the least Re­ply. So that hitherto we have found in Hoel neither Thought, nor Voice, nor Motion. Persecution withdraws, but before she takes leave of him, the Poet tells us, that,

She breath'd her Soul into his Breast.

Well then, since Hoel has now got a Soul in him, we may certainly expect to hear him speak. No, hold a little; in the mean while we are assur'd, that he is in a very great Rage, nay, in a more than mortal Fury.

Infern al Flames rage in his poison'd Blood,
And his swoln Soul boils with the impetuous Flood.

Now as soon as ever we find that Hoel is thus outragious, we are immediately assur'd, that he thinks, and revolves, and is pleas'd.

—Hoel surpriz'd, revolves
The welcome Message in his Mind.

Because these you know are the common and natural Effects of Fury. But not a Syllable has he said all this while; at last indeed we are told, that he speaks to those who are about him. But the words we are unworthy to hear, yet as far as we can guess, they must be the very same that Sir Fopling uses to his Equipage. Hey, Champain, Norman, La Rose, La Fleur, La Tour, La Verdur follow me all. Thus attend­ed with these, and a crew besides of Anony­mous Ruffians; this Monarch of Little Bri­tain sets out to murder a Hero: Which with­out Raillery, would be a most execrable thing, if it were a voluntary Act. But Hoel has a Proverb on his side; he does not go but is dri­ven. But by the way he meets with a Miracle which changes his mind, and makes him a Christian; and has besides, another no less a­mazing effect upon him: for immediately upon the sight of it, Hoel is heard to speak. Thus we find, that Hoel, before the Soul of Persecu­tion was breath'd into him, appears to have had neither Voice, nor Motion, nor Thought. As soon as he is possest, he continues silent, but is said to be in a terrible Rage. And indeed Silence and Rage are affirm'd to be usual Signs of Possession. This Rage continues till the Sight of the Miracle, which makes the great­est alteration that can be imagin'd in him. For o [...] a gloomy but an outrageous wight, he grows [Page 91] on a sudden to be, of all Mortals, the most gen­tle and the most talkative.

But before we come to discover that, let us examine the Conduct of Virgil upon a like oc­casion. The principal Quality in the Character of Turnus, is Anger. Now the Poet takes care to make this Quality appear in him upon the first introducing him. The first time that Tur­nus is introduc'd, is in the seventh Book, when Alecto appears to him in the Shape of Calibe, the Priestess of Juno. Now Virgil, with a great deal of Judgment, takes care to make Turnus appear what he was by his natural Tem­per, before Alecto had lash'd him into the last Fury, and before she had fixed her flaming Brand in his Breast: For he appears to be angry with Calibe, for the very News which she seem'd to have brought out of Kindness, and by the Command of Juno. For says he,

—Classes invectas Thybredis alveo
Non, ut rere, meas effugit nuncius aures:
Ne tantos mihi singe metus, nec Regia Juno
Immemor est nostri
Sed te vict a situ, veri (que) effoeta senectus,
O mater curis nequicquam exercet; & arma
Regum inter, falsa vatem formidine ludit.
Cura tibi Divum effigies & templatueri:
Bella viri, pacem (que) ger ant que is bella gerenda.

Nay afterwards, when Alecto confest the Fury, lash'd the Rutilian into Rage, and fix'd her burning Brand in his Breast; Virgil distinguishes with admirable Judgment, the Operation of his natural Anger, from the influence of infernal Fury.

Arma amens fremit, arma toro tectis (que) requirit,
Savit amor ferri & scelerata insania bilis,
Ira super.

Where in the two first Verses, the Poet marks the influence that Alecto had upon Turnus his Soul, and by the beginning of the third, the Violence of his natural Temper, which obser­vation must be allow'd to be well grounded, or Virgil must be acknowledged to have made a very scandalous Anticlimax here, of which the most judicious of Poets could never be guilty.

From what has been said, it plainly appears, that the Conduct of Virgil, upon this occasion, is directly contrary to Mr. Blackmore's, who had done very well, if here he imitated the Prudence of that admirable Poet, since it is founded so much upon reason, and upon the very design of the Art: For since Poetry in ge­neral is an Imitation of Nature, it follows by undeniable Consequence, that the human Per­sons, which are introduc'd in an Epick Poem, should be shown, as they are, according to their natural Tempers, and not only as they are, when they are either inspir'd or possess'd.

But now let us see how Hoel behaves himself after the sight of the Apparition. Before, as we have observ'd, he was as mute as a Monk, whose order obliges him never to be imperti­nent, that is, never to speak. The Devil him­ [...] [...]ld not draw so much as a word from him. [...] Devil a word can any Man speak in his co [...]y. Arthur sends his Ambassadors to [Page 93] him extraordinary; and Hoel receives them in an extraordinary Manner. Gentlemen, says he, as soon as they came within Ear-shot, I know what you come about, and you may e'en fairly go back again, for your business is done to your Hands; and pray let your Master know so. Tell him, that this Morning, I had some Thoughts of slitling his Windpipe. But as­sure him now, that I am his heartily do' see; and that I long to hug him with both my Hands.

Now Arthur's Ambassadors, being Men of a deep Reach, and so soon finding Hoel out, and being convinc'd, that he lov'd to talk all him­self, and that the Fury Persecution, tho' the Miracle had driven her from his Breast, yet still kept the possession of his Tongue, like an Ene­my, that being chas'd from the Heart of a Coun­try, hovers still upon the Borders; what do these men of Sagacity do, but depart without speaking a word? Arthur encourag'd by what they told him, resolves to go to Hoel himself; who has now another opportunity of making a Speech. For all the business that Hoel has in this Poem, is the making a Speech: a fine Speech, as Mr. Petulant says, a long Speech, such a Speech, as I think, as Mr. Bays says, you'll say is a Nonpareilo.

As a faint Traveller in Arabian Sands,
Scorcht with the burning Sun-beams, panting stands,
Views the dry Desart with desparing Eyes,
And for the Springs and distant Rivers sighs:
[Page 94] As Sailors long for Land, Heav'ns Aid implore,
And with their greedy Wishes grasp the Shore;
When beaten from the hospitable Coast,
And in loud Storms upon the Ocean tost,
Where ruin in so many Shapes appears,
They scarcely can attend to all their Fears;
I've wish'd to see you with the like Desire.
And so he goes sweetly on.

Now let us consider the time when this Ha­range was spoke; Mr. Blackmore marks the time to us, immediately before it begins.

Scarce had the Sun his glittering Chariot driven
Up the steep brow and sharp ascent of Heav'n;
When the glad Princes did each other meet,
And Hoel first did thus the Stranger greet.

So that we may observe, that these two Princes having longed to see one another, and be­ing glad to meet one another: Hoel to express his share of the Joy, greets Arthur with a Speech of about forty Lines, which he begins with a couple of Similies; because you know Similies are proper for Passion, and a Man that is transported always makes a long Speech.

I have indeed heard of a King, that has been entertain'd at this rate, in an University Qua­drangle: But can any one believe, that ever any one King greeted another so? Is there any thing like this in Nature, and in the world? If not, I think I may venture to affirm, that there ought to be no such thing in an Epick Poem. For tho' true Sublimity, like Grace, may exalt Nature, it can never invert it.

[Page 95] Not but, I know, that very fine excuses may be made for this. For perhaps the Friends of the Author may say, That as there is a vulgar Error in the World, that a Man may be indi­cted for having two Wives, but that by marry­ing five, or six, or seven, he gets out of the power of the Law, because, say they, by ta­king such a number, he commences Turk, and so stands exempted from Christian Chastise­ment: even so an Author, that makes one of his Poetical Persons express his Joy for the meeting another, by greeting him with a Speech that begins with a Simile, is certainly liable to be arraign'd for it, because he offends at once, a­gainst the light of Nature and Poetical Statute; but that he who makes a Person begin such a Speech, with two, or three, or more Similes, is secure from Law, by the enormity of his of­fence, for who should call him to an account for it?

Perhaps, after all, the Poet may have shown his Address by this. Perhaps he did it in this time of War, to render our Enemies contem­ptible, and to show what an impertinent Gene­ration the French are.

But to resume the Didactique Stile, which I have so long laid aside for the Reader's Diver­sion, I desire to return to an observation which I have cited from Aristotle, which is, that the Manners ought to be necessary, and that no vicious or base Inclination should be given to any of the Poetick Persons, unless they appear to be absolutely requisite for the car­rying on of the Action. Now this black inten­tion [Page 96] of Hoel, cannot be said to be necessary: First, Because Hoel might have been made a Christian, without this hatred and malice. For he might have appear'd to be the Friend of Ar­thur, and then good Nature and Friendship had prepar'd his Conversion. Secondly, Be­cause this murderous Intention is not productive of Action. To have manag'd the Suggestion of Persecution to purpose, Mr. Blackmore should have shown Hoel ipso facto, surprizing and attacking Arthur; who should have resisted with incomparable Valour, both the Force and Rage of unequal Numbers, to the Terror and Amazement of Hoel, and the Destruction of those around him, till at last, being like to be opprest by multitudes, yet remaining still unter­rify'd, and [...]ch moment performing of new Wonders, he should have cast up his sparkling Eyes to Heaven, and by a sublime Apostrophe, have oblig'd the descending Machine to inter­pose for him. Thus the intention of Hoel would have been productive of Action, and have form'd an Obstacle to the Hero's Design, which he had surmounted by the force of two of the Qualities, which go to the composing his Character, and those are his Valour and Piety.

I am sensible, that I have insisted too long upon this Character. I now proceed to Octa's; for we shall have occasion to enquire into Uter in another place, and Lu [...]ius is so very a nothing, that he is not worth the mentioning. The first News that we hear of Octa, is in the relati­on of Lucius, Lib. 4. Pag. 106.

Octa the famous Hengist's Son, a bold
And warlike Prince, did then the Scepter hold.

And now we may reasonably, thro' the whole Action, expect to see Octa bold and warlike. But before we enquire into that, let us see if Mr. Blackmore has given him any other Quali­ties. Ibid. p. 113.

Octa, whose Arts and purchas'd Treasons won
More Towns and Battels than his Sword had done.

Here we find him treacherous and undermi­ning, which by the way, is not so very consistent with the foremention'd Quality of his Boldness: For Boldness comes, for the most part, either from the hope or assurance of Success, and Treachery from the Fear or from the Despon­dency of succeeding by open Force. Let us ob­serve him a little further. Lib. 5. p. 131.

All rest enjoy, but Octa anxious lay,
Watchfull and longing for returning Day.
His dreadfull crimes affright his start led Soul;
And in his Breast black Tydes of Horror roll.
Dire Shapes of staring Ghosts pass threatning by,
And streaks of Fire across the apartment fly.
He hears the Shrieks of those his bloody Hand
Had murther'd, or that dy'd by his Command:
He hears the Widows Sighs and Orphans moans
Himself had made, and tortur'd Prisoners Groans.

[Page 98] I am oblig'd to take no notice of the Verses yet a-while, let them be never so obnoxious, for that would make too great a Confusion. But here we find this Prince an abominable Oppres­sor, and a most bloody Tyrant. Let us see him yet a little further, Lib. 6. p. 171.

Octa forthwith commands his Lords to meet
In Council, where they long in order sate,
T'advise what best might save the threatned State.

This methinks does not agree so very well with the Character of his Boldness, which was given above. For if this Octa is bold, what should he think of, for the saving his State but a Battle; since there had not been a stroke struck at Land yet. But Lucifer tells us anon, in the same Book; nay, and in downright Terms, that Octa was afraid. Pag. 171.

Octa defeated, dreads Prince Arthur's Arms,
And sues for Peace by Ethelina's Charms.

And in the seventh Book, the Poet tells us, no less than twice, that he is afraid, p. 193.

Mean time, ill-boding Prodigies affright
King Octa, and dissuade his Men from fight.

And page 201.

Octa, that view'd th'important Prodigy,
Trembled to see the Eastern Army fly.
He wisely hid his Fears within his Breast.

[Page 99] But now 'tis high time to summ up the Evi­dence. The Criminal that is arraign'd, has at his first appearance, seem'd to be bold and war­like. But since that, he has been found to be treacherous and undermining, and an Oppres­sor of his own People, a cruel Tyrant, and a black and barbarous Murtherer. Then he comes to lie under a Suspicion of Cowardice, tho' his cruelty might have given us that Suspi­cion before. Then he is twice declar'd to be a­fraid by the Poet, which is attested and fully confirm'd by the Devil his own dear Friend, and his most faithfull Servant. So that we know not what to make of this Octa, because the Manners are ill express'd in him; and as they are ill express'd, they are inconvenient. For Fear is unbecoming of him, either as a King or General. Nor are they constant or consistent. For Boldness and Treachery are rarely joyn'd, if they are not incompatible: and tho' there may be found such a Prodigy, as a bold perfidi­ous Person; yet a Poet, who is to imitate Nature, and to give the best resemblance, when­ever he pretends to draw a Man, ought not to paint a Monster. Nor are the Crimes and the Baseness of Octa necessary: I mean, that all his Crimes are not necessary. His Perfidious­ness will be found to be of that number: For the making of the League upon Arthur's Land­ing, manifestly retards the Action, and causes its Motion to cease, and the breaking that League upon the Plague which follow'd, cor­rupts the Action's Integrity. For it has been clearly prov'd in the former part of this Trea­tise, [Page 100] that therefore the Action is not entire, be­cause at the end of it, Octa, upon whose Oath we cannot rely, remains in power and place. Nor does the fear of Octa serve to advance the Action. For why should he appear before­hand to be afraid of fighting, who afterwards, in Battle, behaves himself like a Lion. Nor was it necessary to make him a Murderer: For why should Mr. Blackmore provide for his He­ro a Father-in-Law, that deserv'd to be empal'd alive? It is evident, that the Murders, which Octa is said to commit, are so far from being necessary to the carrying on of the Action, that they appear to be entirely out of it. And it is as certain, that the leaving such a Villain, as this Saxon alive, is contrary, not only to com­mon Poetical Justice, but to the Moral of the Poem, and to the Fable, and to the Universality of the Action. But they who favour Mr. Blackmore, will tell me, that Mezentius too was a Murderer. 'Tis easily granted, but the case is vastly different. For the Crimes of Me­zentius are necessary, as Causes of Action. It was decreed by Fate, and ordain'd by Jove, that Aeneas should be established in Italy, and lay the Foundation of the Roman Empire, which Turnus and Mezentius very well knew. For all their Priests and Oracles had asserted it. Now Turnus worshipp'd the same Jupiter, and Mezentius had no other God. From whence then should it proceed, that these very Persons should be the grand Opposers, of what they knew had been pre-ordain'd by him? Why should Mezentius and Turnus do this? the cause [Page 101] is plain; because Turnus had a Passion upon him heighten'd and inflam'd by a turbulent Tem­per; and because Mezentius was a bloody un­natural Tyrant, a Contemner of the Gods, and a Foe to Men. So that here we have an admirable Moral, which is, that none can be capable of opposing the reveal'd designs of Hea­ven; but either they, who are carried away head-long by Passions made untractable, by the violence of their natural Tempers, which, by neglect are become incorrigible; or else they, who have stifled the Dictates of Reason and Con­science to such a degree, as quite to have dive­sted themselves of Humanity. For this is cer­tain, that as long as we have any tenderness for others, we must have some for our selves. Be­cause the very Foundation of our Compassion for others, is a concern for our selves. I have already shewn this in a former critical Treatise. Now he can have little tenderness for himself, who is impious enough to oppose, in so bold a way, the known Designs of Heaven. And he who has thrown off all concern for himself, is not likely to have much Compassion for others. The Truth of this Moral is manifested every day; for no men appear with so much impious bold­ness against the cause of Heaven, as either they, who have lost their Reasons, or they, who have thrown them away.

Thus we have already shown one considera­ble difference betwixt Mezentius and Octa. For the Saxon never so much as dreamt of opposing the Designs of Heaven. He worshipp'd his I­dols, whom he thought he serv'd by opposing [Page 102] Arthur's Establishment. And this, and his In­terest, to which his Ambition might have been added, would have been sufficient causes for what he did; so that there was not the least oc­casion for making him a bloody perfidious Villain.

But there is another considerable difference between Mezentius and Octa. For as from the Characters and the Designs of Mezentius and Turnus, a very good Moral may be deduc'd, which, is, that they who oppose the known Designs of Heav'n, are either such as are hur­ried on by the Fury of a violent Temper, grown incorrigible by neglect; or such as are instigated by an inveterate, inbred Malice; so from their Catastrophes an admirable Moral may likewise be drawn; which is, that the grand and Impoious Opposers of the known Designs of Heav'n, are sooner or later severely punish'd for their Impi­ety, and not only so, but that the hand of Heav'n is immediately in their Punishment, and that it makes use of the very Furies of their Passion, and the Venom of their Malice, which caus'd their Crimes to bring on likewise their Ruin. Thus Jupiter in the Tenth of the Aeneis, pre­vails upon Mezentius his thirst of Blood, and his lust of Revenge, to enter that fight, in which his Son and himself were slain.

At Jovis interea monitis Mezentius ardens
Succedit pugnae. Aen. 10. V. 689.

And as for Turnus, that very excess of Rage which made him begin the War, made him lose two signal Occasions of ending it to his ad­vantage, [Page 103] and the losing these, occasion'd his fi­nal Ruin.

The first of these happen'd at the Siege of Aeneas his Camp, Lib. 9. For Pandarus and Bitias, in a Bravado, having set open the Gates, the Rutilians rush'd in upon them, and Turnus among the rest; and made such a Slaughter of the Trojans, and terrify'd them to that degree, that if he had but thought of opening the Gates which the Trojans had shut again, and letting in his Rutilians, the very Ruins of Troy had perish'd. Lib. 9. V. 757.

Et si continuò victorem ea cura subîsset
Rumpere claustra manu, socios (que) immittere portis;
Ultimus ille dies bello genti (que) fuisset.

But instead of that, his Fury engag'd him in the Pursuit of those who were flying. Lib 9. V. 760.

Sed furor ardentem, caedis (que) insana cupido,
Egit in adversos.

The second occasion happen'd, when Aeneas sent his Horse to beat the Field, while he led the Foot o'er the Mountain to Laurentum. Tur­nus, who heard of it from his Spies, oppos'd the Laurentian and Rutilian Horse to the Trojan, and at the same time led the Foot by a nearer way to the Mountains, and laid an Ambuscade for Aeneas; which Ambuscade had infallibly succeeded, had Turnus had Patience but a mo­ment longer. But upon the News that Comilla [Page 104] was slain, and that his Horses were routed, he rises in Fury, and departs but a Moment be­fore Aeneas arrived. And the Poet takes care to tell us, that this very Fury, which occasi­on'd his Miscarriage, and consequently his ru­in, was appointed by Jupiter. Lib. 11. V. 901.

I [...]e furens (& saeva Jovis sic numina poscunt)
Deserit obsessos colles, nemora aspera linquit.
Vix è conspectu exierat, campum (que) tenebat:
Cum pater Aeneas, saltus ingressus apertos,
Exuperat (que) jugum, sylvâ (que) evadit opacâ.

And thus I have endeavour'd to prove, that the murders which Mezentius committed, be­ing requisite to show the extraordinary Malice which caus'd them, are necessary, both on account of the Action and on account of the Fable. First, On account of the Acti­on; because Mezentius could not be one of the grand Opposers of Aeneas, without either excessive Passion or extraordinary Malice; and the Poet could not make him act by the former only, because in doing that, he would have con­founded his Character with that of Turnus. Nor could he give him both violence of Tem­per and excess of Malice, as his principles of Action; because tho' by doing that, he would have distinguish'd him very fairly from Turnus, yet he would have given him a Defect more than was necessary for the Action. The Poet then was oblig'd to give him extraordinary Ma­lice only. But secondly, these Murders of Me­ [...]ius are necessary upon the account of the [Page 105] Moral: For by showing the extraordinary Ma­lice of the Man, they convey two important Instructions to us. The First is, That a Man can never considerately be the grand Opposer of Heav'n, without such a degree of Malice, which is a subordinate Moral. The Second, Which is part of the main Instruction of the Poem, is that, when Malice perverts a Man's Nature to such a degree, as to make him wilfully and deliberately oppose Heaven, that Malice occasions the final Ruin of the Agent.

But now the Murders which Octa commits, are of no manner of Necessity, either upon account of the Action, because Octa's being of another Religion, as we have said above, is a sufficient reason for his opposing Arthur, nor on account of the Moral, because Octa comes off unpunish'd.

But it is time to return to the Hero of Vir­gil, and to show, as we propounded, that the pre­dominant quality of his mind, appears not on­ly in those very Episodes that seem to require a quite contrary Character, such extraordinary care has the Poet taken to distinguish him every­where, and to maintain in him, not only a Con­stancy of Manner, but an Unity of Character; but this reigning Quality is made to shine too even in the Characters which are oppos'd to the Heroes. So divinely has this Maker provided, that the same universal and quickning Soul, should, tho' not in an equal degree be diffus'd thro' his whole Creation. We shall have occasi­on to prove the former of these at large in ano­ther place. Let us now demonstrate the latter, which is that, the predominant Quality of the [Page 106] Hero appears even in the Characters which are oppos'd to him.

Thus the Malicious, the Cruel and Revenge­full Mezentius, speaks in the Tenth of the Ae­neis, in the most moving and tender Manner; And in the Twelfth Turnus, the Violent, the Wrathfull, the Fiery Turnus, appears to be gentle, and soft, and supplicating. And this the Poet, by his admirable Address, has brought about, without the least Violation of Decency, or of the Fourth Condition of the Manners.

The Manners indeed are to be constant, not because Aristotle has said it; for to affirm that would be absurd, but because Nature will have it so. For the Rules of Aristotle, as we have said above, are but Directions for the Observa­tion of Nature, as the best of the written Laws, are but the pure Dictates of Reason and Repe­titions of the Laws of Nature. For either this must be granted, or Aristotle must be confess'd to have contradicted the Design which he had in prescribing those Rules: Which Design was to teach Men to please, more than they could do without these Rules. It being undeniable that the Writer, who follows Nature closest, is certain to please most. For Poetry is nothing but an Imitation of Nature, which Aristotle, who knew her well, has very well taught us to imitate. And he who keeps up strictly to his Rules, is as certain to succeed, as he who lives up exactly to Reason is certain of being happy. But it is as impossible for any Man who has not a great Genius, strictly to observe the Rules; as it is for any one who has not super-natural As­sistance [Page 107] to live up to the Dictates of Reason. For People may talk as long as they please, I defie any one to show me a regular Epick Poem, or Tragedy which was not writ by a very ex­traordinary Man. But to return to the busi­ness from which we may seem to have in some measure digress'd.

The Manners are to be well maintain'd, be­cause Nature is uniform: For Poetry being an Imitation of Nature, it follows, that the hu­mane Poetical persons are to be Imitations of Men. Now if Nature in Man is always uni­form, it is certain that the Manners in the hu­mane Poetical persons ought never to vary. But if Nature in one and the same Man may sometimes appear irregular, it is evident that the Manners of the humane Poetical persons may in some Cases differ very much from them­selves.

Thus the Humours in Children alter every Hour, and in the Bloom of Youth they are very rarely consistent. And therefore Aristotle in those Cases allows of unequal Manners, pro­vided the inequality of Humour be throughout maintain'd. I had almost forgot another sort of Persons in which the Manners are variable, and those are such as come indeed to years of Maturity; but by reason of the inconsistency of their Brains, never come to years of Dis­cretion.

But besides these inborn Causes of the Incon­stancy of the Manners, which are want of Ma­turity, and defect of Temper, there are acci­dental Ones; the which are chiefly two; a ve­ry [Page 108] great Calamity, and a very violent Passion; which have both been seen to inspire Men with Sentiments and with Resolutions that have been unexpected from them. Nay, so Powerfull have their Effects been, that as the last has made People act and talk with Transports that have been contrary to the Bent of their Natural Tempers, so the first has been often known to asswage the Fury of the most turbulent Passions.

But to come closer to the Matter in hand: The principal Characters of an Epick Poem, which are those of which we chiefly Treat, are not to vary their Manners at every turn, either from an immatureness in Years, or from a defect in Temper; because such a Frailty is inconsistent with those extraordinary Qualities, which they must have who are fit to oppose or to carry on great Designs. And tho' even such Persons as these are suppos'd to be alter'd, by the Violence of an extraordinary Passion, or the Distress of some strange Calamity; yet, considering the intrepidity of their Natures, and the firmness of their Resolutions, they must be exceeding mournfull or terrible Incidents, which can ei­ther subdue their Souls by the Force of a Passi­on, which is contrary to the Bent of their Na­tural Tempers, or asswage the impetuous Mo­tions of Rage, which is grounded on their in­born Vehemence. And therefore it must be the most dismal of all Misfortunes, which can make Mezentius bewail his Misery, and bewail it with so moving an Air, that our very Souls are pierced by the Sufferings of one whom we abh [...]r'd but just before. And it must be the [Page 109] most amazing of all Catastrophies, which could [...]tonish and break the wrathfull Mind of Turnus, and bring it to a sense of its wretched State, and force it to sue for Forgiveness to one whom it had with so much Fury, and with so much Disdain oppos'd. Let us now consider that which happen'd both to the one and the other. Mezentius, as we have said above, was a Con­temner of the Gods, and a Hater of Men. Yet this inhumane Tyrant could not so perfectly di­vest himself of Humanity, but that he excepted his Son from the Number of those whom he hated; a Son, who indeed deserv'd the Affecti­on of a much better Father. And this Vio­lence of Love was by so much the stronger in the Soul of this Barbarian, because all its Soft­ness was center'd in Lausus; whereas the Ten­derness of other Men is in different Degrees diffus'd through the whole Species.

Judge then what Impression the cruel Death of this lovely Son; and a Son, who died for his Father, must make even upon a Barbarians Soul? Can any one be surpriz'd upon this occasion, to behold even the bloody inhumane Mezentius, strowing Dust on his Head, and clinging round round the Body in all the Convulsions of Sor­row; then stretching out his Hands to Heaven, and crying out with so pathetick an Air.

Tantane me tenuit vivendi, Nate, voluptas,
Ut pro me hostili paterer succedere dextrae
Quem genui? tua ne h [...]c genitor per vulnera servor?
Morte tuâ vivens? heu nunc misero mihi demum,
Exilium infoelix! nunc alte vulnus adactum!

[Page 110] And thus we have seen the predominant Qua­lity of the Hero's Character appearing in Me­zentius, without the least Violation of the fourth Condition of the Manners. For Mezentius does nothing upon this occasion, but what Nature and Reason tell us he would do upon such an astonishing Incident; and therefore he does no­thing but what is extreamly regular. But let us now behold the Catastrophie of Turnus. And as we have seen a very tender Passion exci­ted, even in the Savage Mind of Mezentius, by the admirable Address of a most deplorable In­cident, and that without any Offence against exact Regularity: Let us now see the lofty tur­bulent Spirit of Turnus, humbled by the Plagues that the Terrours of Jove inflict upon him. Let us see this wrathfull outragious Prince de­jected, and soft and supplicating: Let us see this intrepid and hitherto invincible Warriour, stretching out his Hand for Mercy, and not for Conquest.

Ille bumilis supplexque, oculos dextram (que) precantem
Protendens, Equidem merui, nec deprecor, inquit,
Utere sorte tua, miseri te siqua Parentis
Tangere cura potest; oro (fuit & tibi talis
Anchises genitor) Dauni miserere senectae:
Et me seu corpus spoliatum lumine mavis
Redde meis, vicisti, & victum tendere palmas
Ausonii videre: tua est Lavinia conjux:
Ulterius ne tende odiis.

[Page 111] Here we may take notice of the following Particulars. First, he acknowledges the Wrong which he had done to Aeneas, by unjustly con­straining Latinus to declare War against him; and by Attacking his Men in his Absence, af­ter he was Wounded upon the breaking the League. Secondly, he confesses Aeneas the Conquerour. Thirdly, he resigns his Mistress. And lastly, he begs his Life. This seems to be quite contrary to the Character of the Violent, the Unjust and Inexorable Turnus. So that here is an appearing Violation of the fourth Condition of the Manners. But upon enquiry we shall find, that all this is extremely Just; and that Nature and Reaso [...] being observ'd, the Rules remain unviolated. To show which, we are not only to consider, that now the fatal Blow has been struck, which has brought Tur­nus to the very brink of Destruction, and laid him at his Enemy's Mercy, but we are to take a short View of what happen'd before. As Aeneas Sail'd by the Gods Commands for Italy, so his Arrival was foretold there by Portents and Prodigies, and by the Oracle of Faunus. The last of which, as well as the other two, had not only deterr'd Latinus from Marrying his Daughter to Turnus, but had just before the Arrival of Aeneas, assur'd him that a Foreign Hero was coming, who was to lay the Founda­tion of a glorious Empire there, and for whom his Daughter and Dominions were both pre­destin'd, Lib. 7. v. 98.

[Page 112]
Externi veniunt generi qui sanguine nostrum,
Nomen in astra ferant, quorumque ab stirpe nepotes
Omnia sub pedibus qua sol utrumque recurrens
Aspicit Oceanum, vertique regique videbunt.

And Virgil takes care to show, that what this Oracle deliver'd was no Secret; but that Fame had taken care to divulge it just upon the Ar­rival of Aeneas.

Haec responsa patris Fauni, monitusque silenti
Nocte datos, non ipse suo premit ore Latinus:
Sed circum late volitans jam Fama per urbes
Ausonias tuler at: cum Laomedontia pubes
Gramineo rip [...] religav [...] ab aggere classem.

Ibid. v. 105.

Yet Turnus, tho' he was acquainted with this, urg'd by Alecto and his inborn Fury heighten'd and inflam'd by Love; not only persists in his Pretensions, but causes his Sub­jects to Arm, and Alarms his Neighbours, and constrains Latinus to begin a War against his own Inclinations, and the Commands of the Gods: Upon which Latinus threatens him with the certain Consequences of so impious an Undertaking.

Frangimur heu fatis, inquit, ferimurque procellâ?
Ipsi has sacrilego pendetis sanguine poenas:
O miseri: te Turne nefas, te triste manebit
Supplicium; votisque Deos venerabere seris.

Ibid. 594.

[Page 113] In consequence of which, Turnus is twice beaten, his Friends destroy'd, and his Party broken; and Latinus, in the beginning of the Twelfth Book, takes care to put him in mind, that this was all an Effect of Divine Vengeance. And Turnus seems to be sensible of this, when he approaches the Altar in order to the single Combat. For the sight of the Altar, upon this occasion putting him in mind that he had grie­viously offended the Gods, may with a great deal of Reason be believ'd to cause that Pale­ness and Dejection which appears in his Coun­tenance.

—Incessu tacito progressus & aram
Suppliciter venerans demisso lumine Turnus',
Tabenresque genae & juvenali in corpore pallor.

Which some Gentlemen, who are avow'd Abhorrers of Thinking, have taken to pro­ceed from his Fear of the single Combat. Immediately afterwards Turnus appears to be perfectly convinc'd of the Truth of what Lati­nus predicted in the Seventh Book.

—Te, Turne, nefas, te triste manebit
Supplicium, votisque Deos venerabere seri.

And that now it was too late to invoke the Gods; and that he had nothing to expect, but the very last dreadfull Effect of the Divine Dis­pleasure. And therefore he invokes the infer­nal Powers.

[Page 114]
—Vos O mihi manes
Este boni: quoniam superis aversa voluntas.

Lib. 12. v. 546.

Here was enough already to bring a Man to Relent, even a Man of the most undaunted Temper, if he had any thing of Belief or Fear of the Gods in him. But immediately upon this the Terrours of Jove were upon him, who sent down one of his Furies on purpose to astonish and to confound him.

—turni se pestis ad ora,
Fertque refertque sonans, clipeumque everberat alis.
Illi membra novus solvit formidine torpor:
Arrectaeque horrore comae & vox faucibus baesit.

Lib. 12. v. 865.

But then as soon as ever he comes to him­self, he discovers in one Expression to Aenea [...] both the Fear and the Greatness of his Mind.

—Non me tua turbida torrent
Dicta, ferox, Dei me torrent, & Jupiter hostis.

So that here we find a Man who is brought by a long Train of Calamities to a sense of his Crime, by which he had grievously offended the Gods; yet of a Crime which proceeded from no irreligious Principle, but from the Violence of a Rage which transported and clouded his Mind, and hurried him on to his Ruin. But [Page 115] tho' Turnus discovers Considerateness, he yet a-while shows no Fear: He was by Nature in­trepid and furious, and incapable of Fear. But here see the admirable Address of the Poet. For whom cannot Jupiter terrifie? Jupiter takes care to plague him with a Passion, whose Motions are quite contrary to those of his na­tural Fury. For Fear and Rage are inconsistent Affections. See then the Terrours of Jove up­on him, which dispell the Remains of his Rage, and bring him perfectly to a sence of the great­ness of his Crime, which flashes full in his Con­science. He feels the amazing Effects of the Gods displeasure for going against their Com­mands, for audaciously endeavouring to oppose their Supreme Decrees, and for wageing an un­just and an impious War against the Man who was under their immediate Protection. Now can any thing in the World be more reasonable, than for a Man even of his Character, when he lies under such circumstances, and is not without a sense of Religion, and his miserable Condition; Can any thing be more reasonable, than for such a Man to confess his Crime, and the Wrong that he has done, to disclaim his Pretension, which was the cause of his Crime, and to be apprehensive of going out of the World, before he had by Prayer and Sacrifice aton'd the Powers, which he had so grievously offended? Can any thing be more according to Reason and Nature than this? And consequent­ly, can any thing be more regular? We see every Day that People, who by the Violence [Page 116] of their Passions have been transported to great Offences; when those Passions are dispell'd by the approach of Death, become sensible of their Faults, and confess their Injustice.

I have now one word to say of the different Behaviour of Mezentius at his Death. But first I desire the Reader's leave, to show how the Supplication of Turnus, which is so very reasonable, and so very natural, and consequent­ly so very regular; I desire leave, I say, to show how admirably it serves the design of the Poet. For tho' I know very well, that this is not ex­actly to my purpose, yet it will serve at least to Illustrate the Divine Conduct of Virgil. This Supplication then is perfectly necessary for the Integrity of the Action. For if Turnus had died without speaking a word, and the Poem had ended so, we might have been in a reasonable Doubt of the Event; and might have cause to believe, that the Latins and Ru­tilians, who broke the League once before to avoid the exposing of Turnus, would break it yet once more to revenge him. But by this Supplication we are perfectly satisfied, that upon the Death of Turnus all things were calm and sedate, who acknowledg'd in the Presence both of the Latins and his Rutilians, that by his Proceedings he had wrong'd Aeneas, and that he had deserv'd his Fate.

Equidem merui, nec deprecor inquit.

[Page 117] For it is impossible that any of the Captains, who were Spectators of the single Combat, could be so very unjust and so very unreason­able, as to endeavour to revenge a Man who confess'd he deserv'd his Fate. But now let us come to Mezentius. He behaves himself quite at a different rate. He neither begs his Life, nor confesses that he had done any Wrong. He is so far from fearing Death, that he re­solves to die; yet he too descends to Entrea­ties. But those Entreaties are only, that he may be buried in the same Grave with his much lamented Lausus. All which is extreamly na­tural. For Mezentius was intrepid by Nature, and a confirm'd Atheist. And that lovely Son was for ever snatch'd from him, who was the only Person, and the only Thing of all the World in which he could take delight.

Now a Man must of necessity despise Death, who is fierce and valiant by Nature, and who has lost the only Object that made him in love with Life; and who, besides all this, con­temn'd the Gods, and laugh'd at Futurity. We have said above, that Men who are trans­ported by Passions to great Offences; when those Passions come to be calm'd by the ap­proach of Death, acknowledge their Faults, and repent of the Wrongs they have done. But nothing is more common than for one who has liv'd an Atheist, to go out of the World remorseless and insensible. Mezentius then speaks as one of his Character, and in his [Page 118] Circumstances would probably speak, when he cries out,

Nec mortem horremus, nec divum parcimus ulli,
Desine jam venio moriturus. Lib. 10. v. 879.

And a little afterwards, when Aeneas had him at his Mercy,

Host is amare, quid increpitas, mortemque miner is?
Nullum in caede nefas, nec sic ad praelia veni,
Nec tecum meus haec pepigit mihi foedera Lausus.

Yet in the midst of this obstinate Intrepi­dity, Virgil finds a way, to make him descend to Entreaty. For he desires that his Body may be preserv'd from the Rage of his Subjects, and be buried by that of his dear Lausus.

Unum hoc, per siqua est victis venia hostibus oro,
Corpus humo patiare tegi; scio acerba meorum,
Circumst are odia, hunc, oro, defende furorem,
Et me consortem nati concede sepulchro.

Lib. 10. v. 903.

Where we may observe by the way, that he takes notice of the Wrongs which he has done his Subjects without the least Remorse. Now the Concern that he shows for his Funeral, and his Request to be buried with his Lausus, seems to be extreamly natural, even in one of his un­daunted and unrelenting Temper. And there is something seen every day in the World that is [Page 119] very like it. For nothing is more common than to find an expiring Person, who, because he knows himself very stupid, believes he has no Soul, seem very sollicitous for his Carkass. For it is impossible for any Man so far to stifle Eternal Truths, and the Dictates of Common Nature, but that there will be always some Remains of them; and the departing Soul of the most ob­stinate and invincible Atheist, by a glimmering Consciousness of its Immortality, will provide for something at least to come.

And thus we have plainly prov'd, that Virgil has made the principal Quality of his Hero's Character shine even in the opposite Chara­cters, and that without the least Violation of the fourth Condition of the Manners. Now since Virgil has done nothing, even by varying the Manners in these opposite Characters, but what the strictest Reason requires; I think it will be needless to prove that one of his admi­rable Judgment has maintain'd the Manners in the rest of the Characters, with the severest Constancy.

I have shown that Mr. Blackmore has been so very far from maintaining this scrupulous Unity, or from observing this exact Regu­larity, or from preserving a Unity of Character in his Hero, through his Poem, that he has neither mark'd any predomi­nant or distinguishing Quality in his Hero, nor preserv'd the Qualities in them which he has mark'd; which being ill maintain'd, are consequently ill express'd: Upon which ac­count [Page 120] they can neither be resembling nor con­venient.

Thus much we have said of the Characters; in which, if we appear to have been tedious, I hope the Reader will excuse it: Since we have already demonstrated of what importance they are to the Moral; and since we shall show by the Sequel of this Discourse, in what an extraordinary Manner they influence, not only the Passions, but all the Incidents.

CHAP. V. That the Incidents in Prince Arthur, are not of a delightfull Nature.

WE now come to the [...]econd thing, which makes the Narration delightfull, and that is the things included in it. In the former part of this Treatise, we spoke of the Episodes, as they are necessary parts of the Action. We shall now speak of the Incidents which com­pose those Episodes; or of those probable Cir­cumstances which extend each part of the Acti­on to the length of a just Episode. We shall now show, that these Incidents in Mr. Black­more are not delightfull: I mean, that they are not very delightfull to Readers of the best Tast, and that they who are acquainted with Virgil, cannot be pleas'd to a height with them. The Incidents in Prince Arthur are not delight­full, for the following Reasons. First, Be­cause they are not in their Natures agreeable. Secondly, Because there is not a sufficient num­ber of them. Thirdly, Because they want Variety. Fourthly, Because they have not [...] true Disposition. Fifthly, Because they are not surprizing. And Sixthly, Because they are not Pathetick. We shall speak to all these as succinctly as possibly we can. First, The In­cidents are not in their Natures agreeable. The things included in Mr. Blackmore's Narration are chiefly four: Voyages, Wars, Councils, Machines. Now there are three things that [Page 122] make a Voyage delightfull to the Reader. 1. The interest that he has in the Person that takes it, and the concern he lies under for him. 2. The Adventures that happen to that Person; And, 3. the Countries thro' which he passes. A Man who has a Friend in a foreign Country, receives ten times the Pleasure from the account which he has of his Travels, that he would from a re­lation of the same Journeys or Voyages taken and made by an indifferent Person; unless there should be a very great disproportion in the manner of making it: This experience con­firms. From whence it follows, that if a Po­et would very much please us by a relation of the Voyages of his Hero, he must take care to give him such Qualities, as may oblige us to wish him well. And the Qualities which oblige us to wish any one well, are such as we either have our selves, or believe we have, or such as we desire, and consequently, in some measure endeavour to have. For the concern which we have for others, is grounded upon the love of our selves. And the same likeness of Humours and Qualities, which obliges us to make a Friend, causes us to affect a Poetical Person. Now, as I cannot possibly be a Friend to any one, with whose Humours and Qualities I am unacquain­ed; so I cannot affect any Poetical Person, whose Character I do not know. But I have prov'd very plainly above, that we are not acquainted with Prince Arthur's Character. For the Man­ners being ill-maintain'd in him, are conse­quently ill-express'd. At one time he appears brave and religious, at another time, impious [Page 123] and fearfull: so that the Reader knows not what to make of him. For they are not parti­cular Acts, but confirm'd Habits and perma­nent Qualities, which denominate Men good or bad. Since then the Reader cannot be as­sur'd of any resemblance between this Hero and himself, he cannot appear concern'd for him, and consequently, sees him between Normandy and England with a great deal the less delight: Nor are the Adventures which happen to Ar­thur, compar'd to those which Aeneas meets with either delightfull or wonderfull. The two most considerable, are his meeting with Hoel, and his conversing with Uter in a Dream. Now I am pretty confident, that there is no Man so fond of Prince Arthur, as to make the least Comparison between those and what hap­pen'd to Aeneas in the Court of Dido, and in his descent to Hell. Nor are the Travels of Artuhr to be compar'd in the least, to those of the Virgilian Hero. To sail from Normandy to Wales is a very Trifle, in comparison of the immense Voyages of Ulysses and of Aeneas. Thrace and the fabulous Aegaean Isles, the most delicious Countries on Earth, and famous for the Births of their Gods and Heroes, and re­nowned for so many wonders that were done be­fore and since in them: Crete, Epirus, Calabria, Sicily, where there was Aetna, Polyphemus, Scil­la, Charibdis, all amazing Wonders of Nature, are quite other Countries to give delight, than the Valleys of England, or than the Moun­tains of Wales. For that which is wonderfull, is at the same time delightfull, says Aristotle, [Page 124] which experience confirms, for we are very in­tent upon any thing at which we wonder, tho' it does not concern us, which we could never be, if it did not delight us. For which rea­son, in speaking of the delightfull, we shall like­wise speak of the admirable, before we come to treat peculiarly of the latter.

The Wars in Prince Arthur are to be consi­der'd next by us, which are not in themselves delightfull; because I am not acquainted with any one person engag'd in them. For no Man has any Character, as we shall prove anon, and consequently, I am concern'd for no-body. Be­sides, they are very little important, in compa­rison of Virgil's, upon the event of which, the Empire of the World depended, and from which the Poet's immediate Readers, deriv'd their greatness, and deduc'd their Glory. But I cannot see how we, who derive our selves from the Normans and Saxons, can be concern'd in Prince Arthur's Success, unless it be on the ac­count of Religion, and we are the less concern'd upon that account, because Ethelina being a Christian, would, in all likelihood, upon the Death of her Father, have propagated her own Religion, tho' Arthur had remain'd contented in Normandy.

But Thirdly, The Councils in Prince Arthur are not in their Nature delightfull, because they are heavy and phlegmatick. Whereas every thing in Poetry ought to be animated. Now nothing can be more spiritless, than the de­bate in the sixth Book, between Passentius and Cissa. Indeed, Mr. Blackmore tells us, that [Page 125] Crida, in the Council of the ninth, is very an­gry: But if it be so, he is politic [...]ly angry. For by what he says, he by no means appears to be angry: Whereas all the Concils in Vir­gil are warm and pathetick. That in the ninth is animated, by the enterprize of the two Friends, that of the tenth by the Anger of Ju­no, and that of the eleventh by the violence of Turnus. Besides, that the very Persons in these Councils, Ascanius, Nisus, Eurialus, the King and Queen of the Gods, and the Queen of Love and Turnus are quite other sort of Persons to to give delight, than five dull dogmatizing Po­liticians.

Fourthly, The Machines in Prince Arthur are not delightfull. By Machines, I mean the divine and infernal Persons, for we have treat­ed of the humane above. I have often, indeed, wonder'd why I could never be pleas'd with the Machines in a Christian Poem. At length, I believe I have found out the reason. Poetry pleases by an imitation of Nature. Now the Christian Machines are quite out of Nature, and consequently cannot delight. The Hea­then Machines are enough out of Nature to be admirable, and enough in Nature to delight. That which brings them nearer to Nature than the Christian Machines, is the distinction of Sexes, human Passions, and human Inclinati­ons: But however they are so far out of Na­ture, that Virgil has seldom ventur'd to de­scribe any of his Machines, and when he has done it, it has been in order to move Terror and not to move Delight. For he knew very [Page 126] well, that a thing may the rather move Terror for being out of the ordinary course of Nature, but that any Imitation which excites Joy, must be an Imitation of something in Nature. For Imitation, says Aristotle, is therefore pleasing, because we are instructed by it without Pain. Now to be instructed by Imitation, I must be a Judge of that Imitation, which I can never be, if I have not a clear and distinct Idea of its Ob­ject; now Virgil knowing very well, that he had no clear and distinct Idea of his Gods and Goddesses saw very well, that for that reason he must not venture to paint them. And there­fore in the first Book of the Aeneis, neither Juno nor Eolus, nor the Winds, nor Neptune, nor Jupiter, nor Cupid, nor Venus, are any of them personally describ'd. Indeed the Queen of Love seems to come by her Office nearer to Nature than the rest of the Divinities, and therefore Virgil in the first Book has said some­thing of her. But he has describ'd her chiefly by Action and the Effect of Action. For when he describes her Habit, he describes her in the disguise of a Mortal, and so far he is safe with­in the Compass of Nature. But when he speaks of her as confessing the Goddess; he only says, that she discover'd her self at the taking leave of her Son by her Celestial Hue, by the Ambro­sial Fragrancy that was diffus'd from her Hair, and by the Divinity of her Mien.

Dixit & avertens Rosea cervice refulsit
Ambrosiae (que) comae divinum vertice odorem

[Page 127] Where I desire the Reader's leave to observe, tho' it be not directly to my purpose, that Virgil, when he speaks of her Person, mentions only her Hair, and the hinder part of her Neck. A Poet, without Judgment, would certainly have describ'd her Face. But Virgil had discern­ment enough to see, that what he had said of her Hair, and of her Neck, and her Mien, would set her Face before the Reader in a more ra­vishing Form, than all the most beautifull Co­lours in Poetry, and the most delicate exquisite Strokes of the greatest of Masters could paint it.

But to return from whence we digress'd. Virgil has seldom describ'd any of his Machines; and in those which he has describ'd, he has been very short; and even in those short Descripti­ons, he has describ'd Actions, and not Persons. For which he is to be commended upon three Accounts. First, Because by describing his Ma­chines by their Actions, he seems not so much to have gone out of Nature, for Motion in Mat­ter is Nature. Secondly, Because all Poetry is Imitation, and nothing represents or imitates like Action; which is Aristotle's Reason, in the Third Book of his Rhetorick, Chapter the Se­venth. And Thirdly, Because all Poetry ought to animate, and the describing of Action ani­mates. It being impossible for a Reader to con­ceive vigorous Motion without Agitation of Mind. Whereas the description of Persons is, for the most part, languishing, even when it is in Nature. Nay, I think I may venture to affirm, that Descriptions of Persons are always lan­guishing, [Page 128] unless they touch a Passion. When, I say, the Virgil describes his Machines suc­cinctly, if he describes them at all; and rather chooses to say what they do, than what they are: I think my self oblig'd to put the Reader in mind, that in the Fourth Aeneid there is a very Signal Exception; And that is the Description of Fame, who is drawn in fifteen Lines at length; three of which Number describe her Person. But then we are to consider the importance of that Machine; which causes the Departure of Aeneas, and the Death of Dido; which are two of the most considerable Events of the Poem. Now this Description of Fame, which is one of the longest of the Aeneis, is absolutely necessary, as the Reader will find by having re­course to it, for the making us understand how she brought these Events about.

Now since Virgil rarely describ'd his Ma­chines, tho' they are more in Nature than ours; and since he was very short when he did describe them, rather Painting their Actions than Draw­ing their Persons: I think we may venture to affirm, that they do not appear to be the most Judicious of Writers, who are seen to be luxu­riant in their Descriptions of Angels or Devils, in a Christian Poem: Since the first of these are Beings, of which no Man can have clear and di­stinct Idea's, because they have nothing which is common to us, neither distinction of Sexes, nor variety of Passions, nor diversity of Inclina­tions; and since the last, tho' Passions and Incli­nations are ascrib'd to them; yet by reason that they have no good Qualities, do not come so [Page 129] near to humane Nature as the infernal Gods of the Heathens; and since by reason that they have all of them infernal Rage and diabolical Malice, and bear an immortal Hatred to Man, the good as well as the bad, which the infernal Powers of the Heathens, no, not even the Furies do not; they rather appear to be horrible and odious, than they seem to be terrible.

'Tis true indeed, I am not ignorant that the most delightfull and most admirable Part of the sublimest of all our Poets, is that which relates the Rebellion and Fall of these Evil Angels, and their dismal Condition upon their Fall, and their Consult for the recovery of their native Mansi­ons, and their Original Glory. But then we are to consider, that these Angels, according to the System of Milton; which an English Poet, who treats of those Matters after him, is certain­ly oblig'd to follow, were very different just upon their Fall, from what they are believ'd to be at present, or to have been in Prince Arthur's time. That this was Milton's Hypothesis, is apparent from several Passages. For God the Father, in the Sixth Book of Paradise Lost, speaking of the good and bad Angels, says to his Son:

Equal in their Creation they were form'd,
Save what Sin hath impair'd, which yet hath wrought
Insensibly, for I suspend their doom.

And Milton, in the First Book, describes Lu­cifer, as one whose Glory was not quite extin­guish'd. The Verses deserve to be read every­where.

—He above the rest
In shape; and gesture, proudly eminent,
[Page 130] Stood like a Tow'r, his Form had yet not lost
All her original brightness, nor appear'd
Less than Arch-angel ruin'd, and th' excess
Of Glory obscur'd: As when the Sun new ris'n
Looks through the Horizontal misty Air
Shorn of his Beams, or from behind the Moon
In dim Eclipse disastrous Twilight sheds
On half the Nations, and with fear of change
Perplexes Monarchs: Darkned so, yet shone
Above them all th' Arch-Angel: but his Face
Deep Scars of Thunder had intrench'd, and Care
Sate on his faded Cheek, but under Brows
Of dauntless Courage and considerate Pride
Waiting revenge: cruel his Eye, but cast
Signs of Remorse and Passion to behold
The fellows of his Crime, the followers rather
(Far other once beheld in bliss) condemn'd
For ever now to have their Lot in pain,
Millions of spirits for his fault amerc'd
Of Heav'n, and from eternal Splendours flung
For his revolt, yet faithfull how they stood
Their Glory wither'd. As when Heav'ns fire
Hath seath'd the Forest-Oaks, or Mountain-Pines,
With singed top their stately growth, tho' bare,
Stands on the blasted Heath. He now prepar'd
To speak, whereat their doubled Ranks they bend
From wing to wing, and half enclose him round
With all his Peers. Attention held them mute:
Thrice he assay'd, and thrice in spight of scorn
Tears such as Angels weep burst forth. At last
Words interwove with Sighs found out their way.

Here we may behold in Lucifer some Remains of Glory, and some Resemblance of Goodness; and consequently the Devils, according to Mil­ton, [Page 131] were different then, from what they are be­liev'd to be now. Nor had they yet a while ruin'd Mankind, nor conceiv'd that unrelenting Hate against the whole Species, which now they are believ'd to have.

They had not resolv'd upon their design a­gainst Man till about the middle of the Second Book. And even afterwards, when Lucifer took his flight to the new-made World, in order to the executing what they had contriv'd; he shows Remorse upon the top of Niphates, in the Speech which is found in the Third Book, and which begins with that wonderfull Apostrophe to the Sun.

O Thou who with surpassing Glory crown'd,
Look'st from thy sole Dominion like the God
Of this new World, at whose sight all the Stars
Hide their diminish'd Heads; to thee I call,
But with no friendly Voice, and add thy Name,
O Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy Beams
That bring to my remembrance from what State
I sell; how glorious once above thy sphere,
Till Pride and worse Ambition threw me down,
Warring in Heav'n against Heav'ns Matchless King.
Ah wherefore! he deserv'd no such return
From me, whom he created what I was
In that bright Eminence, and with his good
Upbraided none; nor was his service hard, &c.

And in the Eighth Book the Devil is made to relent, nay to be pleas'd upon the sight of Eve.

Such pleasure took the Serpent to behold
This flowry Spot, the sweet Recess of Eve
Thus early, thus alone; her heav'nly Form
Angelick, but more soft and feminine,
[Page 132] Her gracefull Innocence, her ev'ry Air
Of Gesture or least Action over-a'd
His Malice, and with Rapine sweet bereav'd
His sierceness of the fierce intent it brought.
That space the evil one abstracted stood
From his own evil, and for the time remain'd
Stupidly good, of Enmity disarm'd
Of Guile, of Hate, of Envy, of Revenge.

By all which we may see, that Milton, to in­troduce his Devils with success, saw that it was necessary to give them something that was allied to Goodness. Upon which he very dextrously feign'd, that the Change which was caus'd by their Fall, was not wrought in them all at once; and that there was not an entire Alteration work'd in them, till they had a second time pro­vok'd their Creatour by succeeding in their at­tempt upon Man. From whence it seems very apparent to me, that a Pcet, who introduces Devils into a Poem writ on any more Modern Subject, cannot use them with the same success that Milton did, and ought certainly never to describe them, as Mr. Blackmore has done. For which reason I laid the Scene of the Court of Death between the Surface of the Earth and Hell, which is commonly believ'd to be at the Center, and endeavour'd to make what diffe­rence I could between those who compos'd it, and meer infernal Spirits.

Thus we have endeavour'd to show, that the things included in Mr. Blackmore's Narration, are not in themselves delightfull. In the next Chapter I propound to treat of their Number, of their Variety, and of their Disposition.

CHAP. VI. Of the Number, Variety and Disposition of the Incidents.

THE more numerous the Incidents are in any Narration, the more that Narra­tion delights, provided they neither cor­rupt the Unity of the Action, nor the Perspi­cuity, the Brevity and Simplicity of the Narration. For the Mind does not care for dwelling too long upon an Object, but loves to pass from one thing to another; because such a Transition keeps it from languishing, and gives it more Agitation. Now Agitati­on only can give it Delight. For Agitation not only keeps it from mortifying Reflecti­ons, which it naturally has when it is not shaken, but gives it a Force which it had not before, and the Consciousness of its own Force delights it. Besides, that every large Incident gives a fresh Surprize.

The Number of Incidents in Mr. Black­more's Poem is very small, considering the Length of the Narration: For there are no Incidents at all in the second and third Books of the Poem, unless a Man could be so extravagant as to call the Creation, and Redemption, and last Judgment Incidents. Now the second and third Books make a fifth Part of the Poem; and we have Reason to believe, that above a third of the other [Page 146] eight Books consists of needless and trisling Descriptions, dogmatical Reflections, su­persluous Characters and Harangues that are foreign from the Purpose. Monsieur Segr [...] ­ris has observed, in the Beginning of his Re­marks upon his Virgil, that the Poets Pro­position and Invocation, the Causes of the Anger, and the ha [...]red of Juno; the [...] ­pressions of her Resentment, her Com­pla [...]nt, and her [...]ndignation; her Conversa­tion with [...] the Q [...]lities and Answer of that God, the wonde [...]ful Tempest, the [...] of [...], the Wrath of Nep­tune, his rebuking the Winds, their Flight, and the succeeding Ca [...]m, are all in the Com­pass of an [...] and fifty Verses. If a Man considers this, says [...], rien n'est plu [...] capable de fair voir la richesse et la Gran­deur de [...] de Virg [...]le, et les qualites les plus souvent contraire, de queques uns qui on crun [...] sur sas pas. Nothing is more capable, says he, of shewing the Richness of Virgil's Invention, and the Sublimity of his Wit, and the contrary Qualities of some who have thought they have follow'd his Model.

In the Beginning of Mr. Blackmore's Poem, we have the Proposition, the Invocation, the Causes of Lucifer's persecuting Arthur; the Expressions of his R [...]ge and Malice, his Flight to Thor, and his Reqnest to him. Thor's Qualities and his Answer, the outra­gious Storm, the Descent of Uriel, and the Calm that succeeds it, in the Compass of be­tween thre [...] and four hundred Verses. From [Page 147] whence it appears, that either Virgil has not said so much as he ought to have done, o [...] that Mr. Blackmore has said almost as much again as in Reason he ought to have said. Which I hope is a very fair Calculation up­on the making a just Abatement for the Suc­cinctness of the Latin Tongue. Now a Poet that has such a Number of Words, does not [...]nly cause us to languish, by making [...] dwell too long upon an Object, but he [...] and retards his Action, and very often raises the Indignation of his Reader. For though Instruction be the chief End of a Poet, yet Diversion is the principal Aim of the Rea­der; and the Generality of Readers have Recourse to Poems, as they have to Compa­ny, more for their Pleasure than for their Benefit. Now the Pleasure that we pro­pound to our selves by conversing, is not only the hearing what others can say; but the speaking our selves in our Turns, and the springing of new Ideas, and the starting of new Notions, upon the Hints which we have from others: Upon which Account no­thing is found to be more troublesome to Company, than a Fellow who talks all: For he not only deprives us of the foremen­tion'd Pleasure of starting and delivering our own Notions, but mortifies our Vanity another Way too, and that is by telling us, that he values himself upon his own Suffici­ency, and mistrusts our Capacities.

The same thing happens to us when we are engaged in the reading a Poet who ex­hausts [Page 148] his Subject; he deprives us of the Pleasure of thinking our selves, which is the greatest in the World, and treats us like People who are not able to think.

But now, as to pass from one thing to an­other agitates; so the more those Objects are different one from another, the more their Variety shakes and surprizes us: Which Reflection dictated the following Verses to Boileau.

Voulez vous du public meriter les amo [...]rs?
Sans cesse en ecrivant variez vos discours.
Un stile trop egal et toujours uniforme,
En vain brille a nos yeux, il faut qu' il nous endorme
On lit peu ces auteurs nes pour nous ennuyer
Qui toujours sur un ton semble psalmodier
Heureux qui dans ses vers sca [...]t d'une voix le­gere
Passer du graueau doux, du plaisant au se [...]ere,
Son Liure aimé du ciel, et cheri des lecteurs
Est souvent chez Barbin entouré d'achepteurs.

Which in English is thus; Would you deserve the Approbation of the Publick? In writing di­versifie your Stile incessantly: Too equal and too uniform a manner, shines to no purpose, and inclines us to sleep. Rarely are those Authors. read who are born to plague us, and who appear always whineing in the same ungrateful Tone. Happy the Man who can so command his Voice, as to pass, without any Constraint, from that which is grave, to that which is moving, and from that [Page 149] which is pleasant, to tha [...] which is severe and solemn.

Thus has Boileau prescribed Variety; both for the Stile and Subject. I must con­fess, the Question here is not concerning Stile. But it will not be amiss to give the Reader a Hint, that if it appears that Mr. Blackmore has not Variety of Matter; and that the Stile perpetually ought to be suited to the Subject; it must of necessity follow, that either Mr. Blackmore has not suited his Manner of writing to his Subject, or that his Stile is not enough diversified. But to shew that Mr. Blackmore has not Variety of things, which is our Business here, we need only put the Reader in mind, that since we have shewn, that this Author has no Plenty, it evidently follows, that he has no Variety. For, though there may be Plenty without Variety, yet I cannot see how the latter can be without the former; but we will still go a little further, and shew that Mr. Blackmore has not Variety even in Proportion to his lit­tle Substance.

As Virgil has, with an admirable Simplici­ty, diversified his Stile incessantly and inimi­tably, whereas Mr. Blackmore, with a forbid­ding Affectation, has a wearisome Uniformi­ty, so it is extr [...]mly remarkable, that Vir­gil, with exact Regularity, and a perfect Unity, has Variety, as well as Plenty of Matter; whereas Mr. Blackmore, in the irre­gular Constitution of a double Action does not only want a sufficient Variety of Inci­dents, [Page 150] but a Variety proportioned even to his little Number.

Virgil, aft [...]r he has terrified his Reader with the Description of that wonderful Tem­pest which we find in the Beginning of his Poem, takes care to refresh him, by the pleasing Landskip of the Place where Aene­as landed. Mr. Blackmore, who in the Begin­ning of his Poem, has servilely follow'd Vir­gil, has made a like Description. But this is in an extraordinary manner remarkable, that Virgil's Description is not only necessa­ry, but exceedingly beautiful; nay, the very Beauty of it makes the Necessity, whereas Mr. Blackmore's is without Necessity, as it is absolutely without Beauty.

After this Description, we have an Ac­count of the future Greatness of Rome from the Mouth of the King of the Gods; we have in the same first Aeneid, Venus disguis'd in an enchanting manner, and appearing in the hunting Dress of a Tyrian Virgin; which Machine is absolutely necessary to prepare the Passion of Dido; and then we have the Metamorphosis of the God of Love to As­canius, and see him in the Lap of a beautiful Queen, and not only see, but feel her Ca­resses, which is certainly one of the most charming Images that ever was shewn in Poetry.

Ille ubi complexu Ae [...]eae collo (que) pependit
Et magnum falsi implevit genitoris amorem;
Reginam petit; haec oculis, haec pectore toto
[Page 151] Haeret, & interdum g [...]emio fovet, inscia Dido
Insidet, quantus miserae Deus—

Thus Virgil is apparently entitled to the Benediction of the French Criticks. For he passes from than which is pleasant, and from that which is terrible, to that which is soft and moving.

But Mr. Blackmore, after he has wearied us with the Description of a Tempest, which is mortally tedious, gives us the solemn En­tertainment of a sententious Harangue, and anon proceeds to des [...]ribe Persecution, af­ter such a Manner, that as Longi [...] says of the Goddess Discord of Hesiod, he has ren­der'd the Image nauseous which he designed terrible. Indeed, he continues to be so grave and so solemn for the whole fi [...]st four Books, excepting in Places where he is tri­ [...]ing and childish, that I appeal to any im­partial Reader, whether Boileau's Expression [...]ay not be applied to him, and whether he does not all that while appear Toujours sur un [...] psalmodier, to be continually setting a Psalm.

But to make this Want of Variety in Mr. Blackmore still more manifest, the Reader is desired to consider, that Virgil, though he has scarce one thing in his whole Poem which is absolutely foreign from his Action, yet his Narration is every where moving, and he always speaks to the Heart; where­as the Pathetick in Mr. Blackmo [...]e's Narrati­on is scarce any where to be found; though [Page 152] in that Narration there are several things which are wholly foreign from the Subject: So that in the one we have only Action, and yet that Action very often stands still; in the other we have always both Action and Passi­on, and yet the Action by the Passion is ne­ver obstructed, any further than is requisite for the forming one of those just Difficulties, without which the Intrigue would be altoge­ther insipid.

Let us now examin, with as much Suc­cinctness as we can, the Travels, the Ma­chins, the Councils, the Battels in Mr. Blackmore and Virgil, and consider the Varie­ty of one and the other in Relation to these.

For the first, Virgil, in his first Book, shews his Hero in Europe and Africa. The Scene of the second Book lies in Asia, and Aeneas in the third is seen in all the three Parts of the then known World. He sets Sail from the lesser Asia, he lands both in the Isles and Continent of Europe, and is thrown upon the African Coasts. Whereas, Mr. Blackmore's Hero sails only from little to great Britain.

In Virgil the Machins are as well distin­guish'd as the Men; Jupiter, Juno, Mercury, Venus, Minerva, Diana, Apollo, are not on­ly more generally distinguish'd by Sexes, but each by a singular Complication of their several Passions and Inclinations. Nay, the in [...]ernal Persons, Charo [...], Pluto, Rhadaman­thus, Alecto, Atropos, are as fairly distin­guish'd as the celestial Persons. Whereas, in [Page 153] Mr. Blackmore, the Angels are distinguish'd on­ly by their Ranks and their Offices, which cannot characteristically mark the Persons. Their Inclinations are the same: For Love and Zeal are found to predominate in all; so that their Characters are all a-like, and Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel, are as it were but one Person. The Devils have likewise the same Qualities, Rage and Envy, Hatred and Malice tyrannizing in all.

Virgil has a great deal of Variety in his Councils, not only because there is Passion in all of them, which we have said above; but because the Characters in them are ad­mirably well distinguish'd. In the Council of the Gods in the tenth Book, Venus ap­pears zealous for her Offspring, and suppli­cating. Juno shews Wrath, and Severity, and Enmity, and Hate to the Trojans. Jupi­ter shews a Majesty and Impartiality becom­ing the King of the Gods. In the Council in the eleventh Book, Venalus discovers the Opinion and Resolution of Diomedes, which appear to be his own, not only by his Affir­mation, but by his way of Delivering them. The Speech which he makes is grave and sensible, and by a moving Relation of the Misfortunes of the Grecians, excites a gentle Compassion; which shews a Tenderness of Nature in him who raises it, and an Incli­nation to Peace.

The next who declares his Opinion is Dran­ces who discovers a great deal of Malice and Rancour, and disguises his Envy, and the [Page 154] Hate which he bears to Turnu [...], under a pr [...] ­tended Concern for the State. The fir [...] delivers himself with Tenderness and Con­cern for the State. The Harangue of the second is a bitter Invective; an undaunted Courage, and a generous Rage appears in the Answer of Turnus.

In Mr. Blackmore's Poem are two Coun­cils, the first in the sixth, and the second in the ninth Book. The Speakers in the first are Pascentius and Cissa, and those in the second are Osroed, Pascentius, and Crida. I suppose Mr. Blackmore does not pretend to distinguish Pascentius and Cissa. I am sure, by what they say, they do not distinguish them­selves. For I defie any Man to determine what sort of Persons they are. Pascentius and Osroed are as little distinguishable: In­deed Crida appears to be different from the other two; but he does by no means appear to have the Distinction which Mr. Blackmore designed for him. Before he begins his Speech we are told that he burns withCholer.

Pascentius ceas'd, Crida with Choler burn'd,
And with an Air disturb'd, these Words return'd.

Let us a little examine the Person, and see if we can justly conclude from his Expres­sions, that the Man is in Passion, or speaks with an Air disturb'd.

We all well know, Pascentius's Tongue was made
Smooth, soft, and fluent, fitted to perswade.
[Page 155] For C [...]rtly Arts, and fine Intrigues of State
No Saxon Genius can Pascentius mate:
All to his Eloquence at home must yield
As he to all for Courage in the Field.
Men of the Cabinet take no Delight
In bloody War, they are too wise to fight.
The Britons Strength, and Arthur's Arms I find,
Stri [...]e fiercely on a prudent timerous Mind.
A brave Heroick Spirit can't despair
Who minds the Turns, and doubtful Chance of War.

Is this the Language of a Man in Fury? Can these Expressions agree with an Air di­sturb'd? I appeal to any sensible Reader, whether, if any one should talk at this rate upon the Stage, with an angry Voice and Air, he should not conclude it to be excel­lent Comedy? There does indeed appear to be Malice in the foremention'd Speech. But Cold does not di [...]er more from Heat, than Malice does from Fury.

Let us next inquire whether Turnus, in the Council of the eleventh Aeneid, does not deliver himself at a very different rate. Drances had provok'd him by the following Expressions.

Nulla salus bello, pacem te poscimus omnes
Turne; simul Pacis solum inviolabile pignus.—
Pone animos, & pulsus abi—Et jam tu si qua tibi viri
Si Patrii quid Martis ha [...]es, illum aspice co [...]tra
Qui vocet.

[Page 156] The Reader may easily discover, that what Turnus answers, Nature would di­ctate upon the like Occasion to one of his violent Temper.

Imus in adversas? Quid cessas? An tibi Mavors
Ventosa in lingu [...] pedibus (que) fug acibus istis
Semper [...]rit?
Pulsus ego? Aut quisquam merito, faedissime, pulsum
Arguet, Iliaco tumidam qui crescere Thybrim
Sanguine, & Evandri totam cum stirpe videbit
Procubuisti domum, at (que) ex [...]tos Arcadas armis?
Nulla salus bello? Capiti cane talia demens
Dardanio, rebus (que) tuis.

I would fain ask the Reader if any thing but Nature could dictate this; and if the Moti­ons of a Mind that is truly enrag'd are not discernible in every Line of it?

But 'tis time to shew, that there is not that Variety in the Wars of Mr. Blackmore, that a Reader may reasonably expect. There is neither Variety of Action, nor Va­riety of Agents in them. In Virgil one while we behold the sacking of a Town, by and by a Skirmish, and anon a Siege; then a da­ring Enterprize, then a nocturnal Combat of Horse, after which a Battel, and to crown all, an Assault, and a terrible and admirable single Combat. Whereas, all the Variety that we have in Mr. Blackmore, is a Sea-fight, a Land-Fight, and a single Combat. And as for the last, I hope no Reader can be so partial to Mr. Blackmore as to affirm, that there is [Page 157] one Quarter of the Variety in the Combat between Arthur and Tollo, that there is in that between Turnus and the Trojan Hero.

But then the Agents in Mr. Blackmore's Wars appear to be all of a Piece. Every Man is a Turnus; every one acts with Fury; so that all their Characters are alike, or ra­ther, none of them can be said to have any Character: For a Character is that which distinguishes one Man from another. In the fourth Book, Page 109. the Author says of King Uter,

Observing his disorder'd Troops retir'd
His boiling Soul distracting Passion fir'd.

By the way, what can Mr. Blackmore mean by a boyling Soul? A Metaphor is a Compari­son in little, and things that are compared ought to be ejusdem generis: Now boiling implies Extension, and a Soul supposes thinking, and thinking and Extension have nothing at all in common.

Let us now take a View of Octa, and we shall find that his Valour is not at all diffe­rent from Uter's, lib. 4. p. 111.

As when a Lyon that with Fury ra [...]
To seize by Night some weary Caravan,
That lay encamp'd on an Arabian Wild,
Repuls'd by Fires, and of his Prey beguil'd.
With hideous Roar he raves at his Defeat.
Oft stands, looks back, and makes a sowre Retreat
[Page 158] King Octa's Soul li [...] Indignation fir'd
Who raving [...]ith his vanquish'd Men retir'd.

'Tis a hard case that I must be obliged to transoribe such Lines as these; which I can­not for my Life reconcile either to Sense or Grammar. For what is the Verb that an­swers to Lyon? 'Tis plain there is none, and consequently the Sense is imperfect: For a Man who mentions any thing, affirms something of the thing which is mention'd, or else he says nothing. Now nothing can affirm but a Verb. However, these Verses shew us that Octa is as outragious as Uter, and I am willing to believe, for Mr. Blackmore's sake, that he, when he indited them, was not altogether serene.

In the Beginning of the Battel of the eighth Book, we find the same Octa in the very same Condition, lib. 8. p. 221.

Octa enrag'd to see the numerous Spoils
Round Cadwall spread, sprung thro the throng­ing Files.
Rushing with Fury on, and threatning high.

Let us now see if the Hero has a Valour that is different from that of the other two. In the same Beginning of the forementioned Battel Mr. Blackmore tells us, that,

The Prince enrag'd, caught up his Spear in hast,
Which he at Ciss [...] with such Fury cast.

[Page 159] By which we may see, that the Valour of Arthur is not at all distinguish'd from th [...] Valour of Uter, or from the Courage of Octa.

In the very third Line of the tenth Book we find, that,

Boyling with Martial Rage King Tollo stands.

And in the 272d. Page of the same Book.

First furious Tollo springs out from the Lines.

And at the very Bottom of the same Page.

Thus Tollo boasts, thus did his Fury rise.
And Streaks of Fire flash'd from his raging Eyes.

In the 281st. Page of the same Book 'tis said of Arthur,

He made his Way like an impetuous Flood
Or furious burning raging thro the Wood.

And in the 293d. Page of the same Book.

So Arthur boiling with Heroick Rage,
Springs with a full Career, &c.

Thus have I shewn, that the Character of Mr. Blackmore's Warriers are all confounded; and that Uter has nothing in Fight, but in Name to distinguish him from Arthur, or Arthur from [Page 160] Octa, or Octa from Tollo; whereas Virgil has made the Valour of Turnus quite different from that of his Hero, and has distinguish­ed that of Mezentius from both.

The first time that Turnus appears in the Field, is in the Beginning of the ninth Book, bringing up his Men to the Siege of Aeneas his Camp. Now in that Place the Poet takes a particular care to shew a Valour in him that is joyn'd with Fury. For he wants Pa­tience to attend the heavy Motions of his Men, and with twenty Horse-men, rides upon a Stretch up to the very Trenches of the Camp. When he comes there, he is for beginning the Assault before his Body comes up to him. He excites his Men by asking them who dares second him. And the very Question shews, that Fury had made him im­potent.

Ecquis erit, mecum, Juvenes, qui primus in [...]ostem?
En ait, & jaculum adtorquens emittit in auras
Principium pugnae.

And immediately upon it.

Huc turbidus at (que) huc
Lustrat equo muros, aditum (que) per avia quaerit.
Ac veluti pleno iupus insidiat us ovili,
Cum fremit ad caulas, [...]culos perpessus & imbres
Nocte super media, tuti sub matribus agni
Baletum exercent: Ille asper & improbus ir â
Saevit in absentes: Collecta fatig at cdendi
Ex longo rabies, & siccaesanguine fauces
[Page 161] Haud aliter Rutulo muros & castra tuenti
Ignescunt irae, duris dolor ossibus ardet.

Where we find, that, in the Compass of ten Verses, the Poet uses no less than seven different Expressions to mark the extraordi­nary Fury of Turnus. Virgil had prepar'd the Reader for this in the sixth Book by the Mouth of the Sybill.

Alius Latio jam partus Achilles
Natus & ipse Deâ.

And likewise, in the seventh Book, as we have observ'd in another Place. And he constantly and admirably maintains so out­ragious a Courage in him, till Reason obli­ges him to keep it up no longer.

But now let us shew, that this furious Va­lour of Turnus, is directly opposite to that of the Trojan Hero.

The first time that Aeneas appears in the Field, is in the tenth Book, v. 310. where, for a long time, he shews a sedate and a temperate Valour, becoming of that Excel­lence of Nature which is the fundamental Quality of his Character. And here it will be necessary to shew what we promis'd above, that Virgil has admirably preserv'd the Unity of Character in his Hero, and that the fundamental Quality of this Chara­cter shines even in those Episodes that are of a contrary Nature.

[Page 162] It may be ojected indeed to the Poet, that the Hero in this very tenth Book does seve­ral things, which are, in Appearance, de­structive of this fundamental Quality. He designs to sacrifice eight noble Italians, v. 520. He refuses to give Magus his Life when he begs it of him; and afterwards treats Liger with the same Severity; and lastly, he is seen to destroy, with a Fury, surpassing even that of Turnus. lib. 10. v. 602.

Talia per campos edebat funera Ductor
Dardaneus, torrentis aquae vel turbinis atri
More furens:

For the clearer answering of these Ob­jections, it will be necessary to shew what thisExcellence of Nature is, by which the Rea­der will see, first, that it is very consistent with Anger. Secondly, that the Anger of a good natur'd Man, when it is once rais'd, is greater than that of another. Thirdly, that a Man of an excellent Nature can com­mand his Anger when it is at the Height. And lastly, that as he takes it up, he lays it down with Reason. And the Reader being convinced of these four things, will easily confess, that Aeneas, by his Proceedings in this tenth Book, has rather maintain'd than forseited the Character of a Man of an ad­mirable Goodness of Nature.

I know that there are several People in the World, who mistake a soft easie Crea­ture, a Wretch that is never to be provok'd, [Page 163] for one who has Goodness of Nature. But since a Man, who has Goodness of Nature, is much more perfect, and more what he should be, than one who is not good natur'd, as he certainly is, or he could never engage the Affections of a Man of Sense, which yet he never fails to do, and since Anger being a natural Quality, necessary for Action, and assistent to Virtue, the Want of it must be a Defect, I cannot possibly comprehend how any one who is not capable of Anger, can have Goodness of Nature.

By Goodness of Nature I never could com­prehend any thing but a Force and Rectitude of Reason (which is partly the Result of the Happiness of the Constitution) which, like an excellent Prince, commands the Passions that it rules without oppressing them; and wisely governs them by the same Laws by which it is guided it self. A Man therefore who has Goodness of Nature never shews himself peevish or morose, because Peevish­ness is a Weakness, and Moroseness a Vice; nor does he ever appear to be angry without a very just Occasion, because a groundless Anger shews the Infirmity of Reason rather than proves the Force of it. But when An­ger comes to be necessary, as it frequently does, either for the exciting a Man to his Duty, or for the avoiding a vicious Com­passion, then it being a Weakness not to be angry; a Man who has any Goodness of Nature will let loose the Reins to Rage: And that Rage being rais'd by a great Occa­sion, [Page 164] and rais'd to a suitable Height, is of­ten, for that reason, found to be more ve­hement in a good natured Man than it ap­pears in another. Yet in the very midst of its greatest Fury, by Virtue of his extraordi­nary Force of Mind, a good natur'd Man can, by an Effort, restrain it. But nothing but Reason can oblige him to make that Effort, as nothing but Reason could raise his Passion at first.

Excellence of Nature is the Force and Rightness of Reason, and a Love of the like in others. For Self-love, which prevails in all, obliges us to be fond of our own Resem­blance. Therefore a Man of an excellent Nature has a Concern and a Tenderness for Mankind. For no Man, who can justly be call'd a Man, can be said to have h [...] Reason entirely perverted. But the foresaid Con­cern is greater or less in Proportion to the greater or less Corruption of its Object. A Man of an excellent Nature of himself is calm and sedate, not because his Mind is de­termin'd by a contingent regular Motion of Spirits, but because that Motion is regula­ted by the commanding Force of his Reason, which tells that this Sedateness of Temper is due to those with whom he converses, whose Peace he is obliged to maintain, and whose Happiness he is engag'd to promote, not only as they partake of the same com­mon Nature with him, but as they are Members of that Community, on whose well-doing depends his own.

[Page 165] Reason tells him yet further, that this Serenity is due to himself, and to the Pre­servation of his own Happiness, which to maintain is as much his Duty as it is his In­terest. But the same Reason assures him, that sometimes a short Disturbance is neces­sary for the securing a long Serenity, and that Rage may grow necessary for repelling the Violence of those who would injuriously destroy his Happiness.

Aeneas, at his first coming into the Field, appears in a perfect Tranquility; and the Poet, for the space of two hundred Lines, uses not so much as a Word that can shew the least Commotion in his Hero. So loath was Aeneas to be enrag'd at his Enemies, be­cause they were shortly to become his Sub­jects. But when Turnus had slain his Friend, and insulted upon that Action, then his Re­flection upon the Obligation which he had to Evander, and upon the Worth of Pallas, and the Consideration of his own Security, and of the Malice and Rage of his Enemies, who had not only broken their League with him contrary to the Command of their Gods and their King, but appear'd obstinately bent to his Ruin, and had struck at his Life through that of his dearest Friend: These Considerations obliged him at last to let loose the Reins to Fury. And he saw no­thing extaordinary enough in Magus, or in Lucagus, or in Liger, to oblige him to check that Fury. But when Lausus lay extended at his Feet, a Son who died for his Father, the [Page 166] Consideration of his Merit and Vertue, a Vertue so like his own, prevail'd upon Aene­as to descend to Compassion, by bringing to his Mind the sad Remembrance of his own filial Affection.

And thus I hope it has been clearly shewn, that the Valour of Aeneas is in its Nature a debonair and a temperate Valour, and that there is nothing done by him in the tenth Aeneid, that may be said to be contradictory of this, but that every thing there is very consistent with that transcendent Goodness of Nature which is the fundamental Quality of his Character, and that this Quality at the Death of Lausus shines out in all its Lustre.

I had almost forgot the Sacrifice of the Cap­tives, but that being a customary religious Duty, is very consonant to the Piety of the Hero; and is by no means contrary to his Goodness of Nature; which, as we have shewn above, is nothing but a Habit of right Reason, which can never be contrary to a Religious Duty.

In the twelfth Book, though Horrour and Distraction reign almost throughout it, Aeneas does nothing that is inconsistent with his natural Sedateness of Valour, and with his excellent Goodness of Nature. When Virgil speaks of the Preparatives for the single Combat, he tells you of Turnus, that he is meerly possest by Fury. His agitur fu­riis. But when he speaks of Aeneas, he tells you that he rowzes the Sedateness of his na­tural [Page 167] Valour by Anger, se suscitat ird; but it is an Anger that is perfectly obedient to Reason. He is angry with Turnus alone: For after the Latins had broke the second League with him, he does what he can to restrain his Trojans, and endeavours to spare his Enemies whom he regarded now as his Subjects. Lib. 12. v. 311.

At pius Aeneas dextram tendebat inermem,
Nudato capite, atque suos clamore vocabat.
Quo ruit is? quaeve ista repens discordia surgit?
O cohibete iras! ictum jam foedus, & omnes
Compositae leges: mihi jus concurrere soli.
Me sinite, atque auferte metus, ego foedora faxo
Firma manu: Turnum jam debent haec mihi sacra.

And upon his Return to the Field after the Cure of the dangerous Wound he had re­ceiv'd, he is not yet provok'd, either to at­tack the fighting Italians, or to pursue the flying. ibid. v. 464.

Ipse neque adversos dignatur sternere morti:
Nec pede congressos, nec equo, nec tela ferentes
Insequitur: solum densa in caligine Turnum
Vestigat lustrans, solum in certamina poscit.

But when he saw that Turnus avoided him, and that the rest assaulted him, some by Treachery, and some by Violence, and that he had like to have been wounded a second time by Messapus, after he had call'd the Gods to witness that he was compell'd to [Page 168] this, he thought it fitting to give up the Reins to Fury, and made havock of the La­tins, and the Rutilians with undistinguishing Slaughter. Ibid. v. 494.

Tum vero' assurgunt ir ae, insidiisque subactus
Diversos ubi sensit equos, currumque referri,
Multa Jovem, & laesitestatus foederis aras
Jam tandem invadit medios, & Marte secundo
Terribilis, saevam nullo discrimine caedem
Suscitat, irarumque omnes effundit habenas.

So that it is plain, that in all this there is nothing contrary, either to his natural Se­dateness of Valour, or to his admirable Goodness of Nature.

But it is objected to him, that he kills Tur­nus after he had submitted himself to him, and beg'd his Life. 'Tis true, indeed, say the Criticks, the Death of Turnus was abso­lutely necessary for the Integrity of the Acti­on. But the Poet should have brought it about by a Way, that would not have cor­rupted the Unity of Aeneas his Character, nor have destroyed his Goodness of Na­ture.

This, say the Criticks; but yet upon En­quiry, I hope to find that the Poet has done what they with Reason exact of him. For if it appears that Aeneas had Reason to kill the Rutilian, not withstanding his Submission, then he shew'd no ill Nature in doing it. For Goodness of Nature is nothing but Rightness of Reason. Turnus indeed, with [Page 169] all his ill Qualities, had a great deal of Me­rit. And therefore it was but reasonable that Aeneas should be seen to relent upon his Submission. He does relent, but kills him notwithstanding.

Stetir acer in armis
Aeneas, volvens oculos, dextram (que) repressit,
Et jam jam (que) magis cunctantem flectere sermo

Aeneas kills him for his own Security, be­cause he could not confide in him. For he had broken two Leagues already. This has been urg'd in the Defence of Virgil, but this can never defend him. For Turnus never gave his Consent, either to the making the first League, which was never perfected, or to the breaking the second. And further, if Aeneas had given Turnus his Life, the Ruti­lian would have had an Obligation upon him which he had not before. But supposing Aeneas could not confide in him: That Considera­tion had not been altogether becoming of the Magnanimity of a Hero. Virgil saw this very well, and therefore he makes his Hero kill him to revenge the Death of Pal­las. But here lay two Difficulties in the Way. For first, the Hero at such a Conjun­cture might be reasonably thought to be too much concern'd to think of the Death of Pal­las. Secondly, the Question might be very well ask'd, Where the indispensable Obligation lay [Page 170] to revenge the Death of Pallas by the Death of Turnus? Virgil has remov'd both these Difficulties with incomparable Address. He has provided for the putting his Hero in mind in the Middle of his tenth Book, by making Turnus wear the Spoils of Pallas. Lib. 10. v. 495.

—Et laevo pressit pede, talia fatus,
Exanimem; rapiens immani [...] ponder a baltei,
Quo nunc Turnus ovat spolio, gaudet (que) potitus

And the Poet gives you a Hint of his De­sign, even in that very Place, and gives us Cause to reflect that he does not make Turnus wear the Belt of Pallas for nothing. For the Time, says he, is coming, when Turnus shall curse both the Day and the Spoyls, and the Action. Ibid. v. 503.

Turno tempus erit, magno cum optaver at emptum.
Intactum Pallanta, & cum spolia ista, diem (que)

And accordingly we see, at the latter End of the twelfth Book, that the wearing of this very Belt is the Cause of the Death of Turnus. lib. 12. v. 940.

Et jam jam (que) magis cunctantem flectere sermo
Coeperat, inselix humero cum apparuit alto,
Balteus, & notis fulserunt cingula bullis
[...]llantis pueri, victum quem vulnere Turnus
[Page 171] Straverat, atque humeris inimicum insigne gere­bat
Ille occulis postquam saevi monumenta doloris
Exuviasque hausit, furiis accensus, & ira
Terribilis: Tune hinc spoliis indute meorum
Eripiare mihi? Pallas te hoc vulnere, Pallas
Immolat, & poenam scelerato ex sanguine sumit.

But let us come to the second Difficulty, where lay the indispensable Obligation of re­venging the Death of Pallas, by the Death of Turnus? And here, in Excuse of Virgil, I could urge his own Expression, Immolat. By which he seems to hint, that his Hero look'd upon the killing Turnus as a religious Duty, and thought himself obliged to sacrifice him to the Manes of Pallas. But there is still a more just and unexceptionable Answer. And here see the admirable Address of Virgil, who, as we have observ'd in so many Places always, makes his Religion contribute to the work­ing up of his Design. For the funeral Pomp of Pallas, in the Beginning of the eleventh Book, by reason of the Message which Evan­der sends back by the Mourners, not only prepares, but justifies the Death of Turnus. lib. 11. v. 175.

Vadite, & haec memores regi mandate referte:
Quod vitam moror, invisam, Pallante perempto,
Dextera causa tua est, Turnum gnato (que) patri (que)
Quam debere vides: meritis vacat hic tibisolus
Fortunaeque locus:

[Page 172] The Sight of the Belt which put Aeneas in mind of the Death of Pallas, could not but remind him of the Message too of Evander. And consequently, he had Reason to think, that if after the Receit of such a Message, he suffer'd Turnus to live after he had him in his Power, he should not only save a Man, of whom he could not be secure, but disoblige Evander, to whom he had great Obliga­tions, and make the Arcadians his Enemies, and give sufficient Cause to the Etrurians to look upon him as an ungrateful Person. So that Duty and Interest both conspired in Aeneas, to animate and determine him to the Death of Turnus.

And thus I have endeavour'd to shew that the Valour of Aeneas is of it self sedate, and always consistent with right Reason, that is, with good Nature: And consequent­ly, that it very much differs from that of Turnus, which is always outragious and un­governable. We are now to shew that the Valour of Mezentius is clearly distinguish'd from the Valour of the Rutilian, and from that of the Trojan Hero.

Aeneas had a Valour, that of it self was sedate and temperate, and was always at­tended with good Nature. The Courage of Turnus was joyn'd with Fury, yet accompa­nied with Generosity and with Greatness of Mind. Mezentius has a savage and a cruel Courage. He has no Fury, but then he has Fierceness which is a Habit and not a Passion, and nothing but the Effect of Fury [Page 173] cool'd into a very keen Hatred, and an in­veterate Malice. Turnus seems to fight to appease his Anger, Mezentius to satisfie his Revenge, and his Malice, and his barbarous Thirst of Blood. Mezentius is mentioned once in the Seventh, and twice in the ninth Book, without so much as a Word that may serve to express Anger in him. It is true, when Evander mentions him in the eighth; he does use the Word furens. lib. 8. v. 489.

At fessi tandem cives infanda furentem
Armati circumsistunt.

But there it is plainly us'd in a metaphori­cal Sense. Turnus goes into the Field with Grief.

—Duris dolor ossibus ardet.

Which, as Aristotle says in his Rhetorick, always accompanies Anger, [...], whereas Mezentius destroys with a barbarous Joy. lib. 10. v. 721.

Impastus stabula alta leo ceu saepe peragrans
(Suadet enim vesana fames) si fortefugacem
Conspexit capream, aut surgentem in cornua cer­vum,
Gaudet hians immane, comas (que) arrexit, & haere [...]
Visceribus super incumbens: lavit improba teter
Ora cruor.
Sic ruit in densos alacer Mezentius hostes.

[Page 174] He is so far from being subject to Fury, that he is hardly to be provok'd to a com­mon Anger.

He calmly kills Orodes, who, when he threatens him with a like Fate, from a more powerful Hand, makes him but half an­gry. Ibid. v. 742.

Ad quem subridens mista Mezentius ir â.

Thus it is plain, that he has not the Fury of Turnus; and the Poet takes care, in the Be­ginning of this Episode, to tell you, that he has Barbarity, which is peculiar to himself. For he gives us an Image of him, than which, no­thing could more discover a Savage Fierce­ness. lib. 10. v. 707.

Ac velut ille canum morsu de montibus altis
Actus aper (multos Vesulus quem pinifer annos
Defendit, multos (que) palus Laurentia) sylva
Pastus arundine [...], post quam inter retia ventum est,
Substitit, infremuit (que) ferox, & inhorruit armos:
Nec cuiquam irasci, propiusve accedere virtus,
Sed jaculis, tutis (que) procul clamoribus instant:
Ille autem impavidus partes cunctatur in omnes,
Dentibus infrendens, & tergo, decutit hastas.
Haud aliter, &c.

From all which it is plain, that the Va­lour of this Tuscan, is as different from that of the Trojan, as from that of the Rutilian He­ro, which is the thing we propounded to prove.

[Page 175] And thus we have endeavoured to shew, that Virgil has infinitely a greater Variety than Mr. Blackmore, both in his Travels, and Ma­chines, and Councils, and Battels. It re­mains, that we prove that his Incidents are better dispos'd. But because we have been already tedious, we shall speak but a Word of this.

There is certainly something very tender in the meeting of Aeneas and Andromache, in the third Book, but if that had come im­mediately after the Passion of Dido, where the Pity is beyond Comparison stronger, it would have appear'd to be down-right insi­pid, whereas in the Place where it is, it ad­mirably prepares us for that Passion. For the very same Reason, if the funeral Games had imediately succeeded the Destruction of Troy, they would have been very flat. For those Games being Contentions for Victory, and consequently, meer Imitations of War, would have made but a very faint Impression upon us, if they had immediately succeeded the more forcible Images of the thing which they imitate. Whereas, succeeding the Passion of Dido, they prove both diverting and admi­mirable. From what I have said, I hope the Reader will be convinced that Mr. Black­more's Horse-race, in the ninth Book, comes something indiscreetly after the Battel of the eighth. But if any one shall urge, that it immediately succeeds the pathetick Lamentation of Cador for the Death of Ma­cor; to that I answer, that neither Macor nor [Page 176] Cador having any Characters, the Lamenta­tion of the latter can excite but a weak Compassion, as shall be shewn anon. Where­as the funeral Games of Virgil coming im­mediately after our Minds have been for a long time shaken by the wonderful Passion of Dido, are absolutely necessary to recreate and to divert us. But now let us shew that the Incidents contain'd in Mr. Blackmore's Narration to discerning Readers are not at all surprizing.

CHAP. VII. That the Incidents in Prince Arthur are not surprizing.

IT is impossible that any Pleasure can be very great that is not at the same time surprizing. I speak of the Pleasures of the Mind: Though what is said of them may be truly affirm'd of the rest too. If any one doubts of this, let him but have Patience till the next time that he is very much pleas'd, and upon Reflection he will be oblig'd to confess it. And therefore, if we could prove that Mr. Black-more's Narration is not at all surprizing, it would follow, by manifest Consequence, that it is not at all delightful. We shall here endeavour to shew, that the Incidents are not surprizing, but whether the Thoughts and Expressions are so, must be determined in another Place. Now, that the Incidents are not surprizing, may be easily demonstrated. First, that they are not surprizing to those who are acquain­ted with Virgil, I take to be self-evident, because they are acquainted with the most considerable of them before-hand. But se­condly, they cannot be surprizing to any other Reader of good Sense, because no Man is left in Suspense, either as to the Certain­ty, or as to the time of the very last Event. For we find, in the Relation which Lucius [Page 178] makes to Hoel in the fourth Book of the Po­em, that the Arch-Angel Gabriel speaks these Words to Prince Arthur, which we have cited in another Place. lib. 4. p. 115.

After ten times the revolving Sun
His crooked Race has thro' the Zodiack run,
The Clouds dispell'd, propitious Heav'n shall smile
On Uter s House, and this reviving Isle.
Octa shall feel just Heav'n's avenging Stroke,
And Albion's Youth shall break the Saxon Yoke.

And not long after we are inform'd by the same Lucius, that this Term of Time was expir'd.

And Raphael, in the very first Book of the Poem tells Arthur, that as soon as he goes from Armorica, he shall be exalted to the Bri­tish Throne.

Since therefore two Angels have said it, it must be done. For each of them brings it in a Message from God, who cannot de­ceive us, and whose Decrees are irreversible. Now, since we are left in no manner of Sus­pense, either as to the Certainty of the last Event, or as to the Time of its hapning, I cannot see how the Incidents which preceed it, can be very surprizing. For since the In­cidents ought naturally to produce one ano­ther, and the preceeding ought to be the ne­cessary, or at least the probable Cause of the subsequent, I cannot imagine how any thing can be very surprizing to us, which has a necessary or probable Tendency to some­thing [Page 179] which we are sure, must very sudden­ly happen. But now, if any one shall say, that Mr. Blackmore's Episodes do not naturally produce one another, and that therefore they may be surprizing, though we are ac­quainted with the last Event: If any one shall urge this in his Behalf, which is a plea­sant Way of excusing him, I must needs confess, that this Champion is in the right. And I think my self oblig'd to declare that I was extremly surpriz'd to find, that, in the second and third Books there was not a Line to the purpose. But the Result of the Mat­ter is this. The Episodes in Prince Arthur, which have a necessary or probable Tenden­cy to the final Event, cannot be surprizing, for the Reason which we have mention'd above. And they which are foreign from the Business, cannot give a Surprize which is Proper to Epick Poetry. Now, that Sur­prize alone which is admirable, may be said to be proper to Epick Poetry. And Aristo­tle has formally declared, in the ninth Chapter of his Treatise of Poetry, that that Surprize is the most admirable, which flows from Incidents that spring from one another contrary to our Expectations.

But it is objected, that this Accusation lies against Virgil, as well as against Mr. Blackmore. For neither has he left the Rea­der in any Suspense as to the Certainty of the very last Event. For Jupiter says thus to Venus in the very first of the Aeneids. lib. 1. v. 261.

[Page 180]
Parce metu, Cytherea; manent immota tuorum
Fata tibi; cernes urbem, & promissa Lavini
Moenia, sublimem (que) feres ad sider a coeli
Magnanimum Aenean: ne (que) me sententia vertit.

After which he descends to give her an Account of the Hero's Posterity. In the se­cond Book, the Ghosts of Hector and Creusa give him Assurance of his succeeding in Ita­ly, which Assurance is repeated by Helenus in the third Book, and by Anchises in the sixth.

To this I answer, that though they assure the thing, they do not assure the Time. Nay, Helenus, who gives him Instructions about the Place of his Settlement, seems plainly to hint to him, that he cannot in­form him of the Time. lib. 3. v. 380.

Prohibent nam caetera Parcae
Scire Helenum, fari (que) vetat Saturnia Juno.

And a little below he says to the same purpose. ibid. v. 461.

H [...]c sunt, quae nostr â liceat te voce moneri.

Now the time being undetermined, there is a great deal of Room left for Surprize. But to make this Address of Virgil yet more conspicuous, let us consider the Difference between the Systems of Stoical and Poetical Predestination.

The Stoical is the same with the Calvini­cal Predestination which comprehends the [Page 181] following Points. First, That every thing which befals us is preordained. Secondly, That every thing which is preordained, is preordained by God alone. Thirdly, That every thing which is preordain'd, is pre­ordained, not only as to the Event, but as to the Point of Time. That every thing which is preordain'd, is eternally irreversi­ble.

Now we shall shew that the poetical Sy­stem is different from this in every Point of it: Which, when we have shewn, it must needs be granted to the Advantage of Virgil; not only, that the Time of Aeneas his Set­tlement being unlimited, there is a great deal of Room for Surprize, but that the pre­ordaining Aeneas his Settlement, cannot give us a full, Certainty of it, and conse­quently, that Virgil had as free Scope to make his Incidents very suprizing as if the Establishment of his Hero had not been at all predestin'd.

The first Point of the Poetical System is, that whatever befals us, is not preordain'd. For the Poets allow Fortune to have the sole Administration of some Affairs. And Dido says in her dying Speech, that she had liv'd as long as Fortune had suffer'd her, and had finish'd the Course which she had allotted her. lib. 4. v. 653:

Vixi, & quem dederat cursum Fortuna, peregi;

[Page 182] And Virgil seems to attribute her Death to Fortune. lib. 4. v. 696.

Nam quia nec fato, meritâ nec morte peribat,
Sed misera ante diem, subito (que) accensa furore, &c.

Fortune and Fate in the eighth Aeneid, are made to act in Consort. For Evander says to Aeneas: lib. 8. v. 333.

Mepulsum patria, pelagi (que) extrema sequentem,
Fortuna omnipotens, & ineluctabile fatum
His posuere locis:

The second Point of the poetical System is, that whatever is preordain'd, is done by Jove and the Fates in Consort. lib. 4. v. 438.

Sed nullis ille movetur
Fletibus, ant voces ullas tractabilis audit.
Fata obstant, placidas (que) viri deus obstruit aures.

And Dido says in her Execration

Si tangere portus
Infandum caput ac terris adnare ne [...]esse est
Et sic fata Jovis poscunt, hic terminus haeret.

That if Jove and the Fates had ordain'd, that Aeneas should land in Italy, she could not ex­pect to alter their supreme Decrees.

The third Point of the poetical System is, that whatever is preordain'd by Jupiter, and by the Fates, is unlimited as to the Time.

[Page 183] For Juno says in the seventh Book, v. 313.

Non dabitur regnis (esto) prohibere Latinis,
Atque immota manet fatis Lavinia conjux:
At trahere, atque moras tantis licet addere rebus.

And Vulcan tells Venus in the eighth Book, v. 398.

Nec pater omnipotens Trojam, nec Fata vetabant
Stare, decem (que) alios Priamum superesse per annos.

Turnus his Death seems to be at hand, by what Jupiter says to Hercules in the tenth v. 471.

Etiam sua Turnum
Fata vocant, metas (que) dati pervenit ad aevi.

And yet his Life afterwards is prolong'd at the Instance of Juno. To whom Jupiter,

Si mora praesentis leti, tempus (que) caduco
Oratur Juveni, me (que) hoc it a ponere sentis,
Tolle fuga Turnum, at (que) instantibus eripe fatis.

The fourth and last Point is, that if Jupi­ter has not sworn by Styx; what he and the Fates have decreed, is not irreversible. Which may be gather'd from what Jupiter says to Venus in the Verses which he cited above.

[Page 184]
Parce metu Cytherea: manent immota tuorum
Fata tibi: cernes urbem & promissa Lavini
Menia, sublimem (que) fere, ad sidera coeli
Magnanimum Aenean, ne (que) me sententia vertit.

And from what Juno says to Jupiter in the tenth Book, v. 632.

Et in melius tua qui potes orsa reflectas.

And from the Sequel of the Words of Ju­piter which we have cited above.

Tolle fuge Turnum, at (que) instantibus eripe Fatis
Hactenus indulsisse vacat: sin altior istis
Sub precibus venia ulla latet, totum (que) moveri
Mutarive putas bellum, spes pascis inanes.

Which certainly implies, that the De­crees of Jupiter were sometimes reversible. For what he says to Venus in the firstBook, and what he says here, would both be Impertinen­cies, if it were otherwise. Nay, notwithstand­ing what Jupiter has said to her, Juno seems yet to be in Suspense, and not wholly to de­spair of preserving Turnus. For thus she re­plies to Jupiter,

Quid si quod voce gravaris
Mente dares? at (que) h [...]c Turno rata vita maneret?
Nunc manet insontem gravis exitus, aut ego veri
Vana feror, quod at O potius formidine falsa
Ludar, & in melius tua qui potes orsa reflect [...]!

[Page 185] Nay, in the twelfth Book, she appears to be still in Suspense, when she exhorts Ju­turna to assist her Brother. lib. 12. v. 152.

Tu, pro germano si quid praesentius audes,
Perge, decet; forsan miseros meliora sequentur.

And a little lower.

Non lachrymis hoc tempus, ait Saturnia Juno
Accelara, & fratrem, si quis modus, eripe morti.

And as long as the Queen of the Gods is in Suspense, the Reader may very well be so too.

And thus we have shewn, that Virgil, by his System of Fate, has left all imaginable Room for Surprize in his Incidents, which Mr. Blackmore has not done.

CHAP. VIII. That the Episodes are not Pathetick.

AS no Pleasure can be very great, if it is not surprizing, so no Surprize can be very great if it is not pathetick; from whence it follows by manifest Consequence, that if Mr. Blackmore's Narration is not pa­thetick, it cannot be very delightful. In­deed, a Poet ought always to speak to the Heart. And the greatest Wit in the World, when he ceases to do that, is a Rhimer and not a Poet. For a Poet, that he may be sure to instruct, is oblig'd to give all the Delight that he can, as we have prov'd above. Now nothing that is not pathetick in Poetry, can very much delight: For he who is very much pleas'd, is at the same time very much mov'd; and Poetical Geni­us, as we shall prove in another Place, is it self a Passion. A Poet then is oblig'd al­ways to speak to the Heart. And it is for this reason, that Point and Conceit, and all that they call Wit, is to be for ever banish'd from true Poetry; because he who uses it, speaks to the Head alone. For nothing but what is simple and natural, can go to the Heart; and Nature (humanly speaking) can be touch'd by it self alone.

A Poet is so indispensably oblig'd to speak to the Heart, that the epick Poets have for [Page 187] that very reason, made Admiration their predominant Passion; because it is not so vi­olent but that it may be lasting, and may be consequently diffus'd through the whole Poem. But as that Passion is not violent, it is not alone sufficient to give full Delight: For Admiration can only move and raise the Reader, whereas to give him the last Pleasure, he must have the last Transport.

We shall take another Time to enquire whether the Narration of Prince Arthur is admirable. Let us at present examine whe­ther it is tender and terrible: For Compas­sion charms us, and Terrour shakes us, and both of them very much please us: And we the rather enquire after those two Affections; because one of them ought, next to Admi­ration, to be the principal Passion in a Po­em that is form'd after the Model of the Aeneis; and both of them being Tragical Passions, to treat of them may prove of some little Advantage to the Stage.

The terrible and tender are every where in the Aeneis; but the last of them is never to be seen in Prince Arthur, and the first but very rarely, though it is exceeding proper for epick Poetry, as being in its own Na­ture sublime, and grave, and majestick.

To prove this, we shall examine what Characters, what Incidents, what Senti­ments, and what Expressions are proper for the exciting those two Affections.

The Characters which may be proper for the raising those two Passions, must above all [Page 188] things be very fairly distinguished: For, if the Manners are ill expressed in them, we can never become acquainted with them, and consequently, can never be terrified by foreseeing their Dangers, and never be mel­ted by feeling their Sufferings.

When we hear of any grievous Calamity which has happen'd to a Stranger, we are no further concern'd for it, than we are oblig'd by Humanity. But if any thing disastrous happens to a Man whom we know, we are sure to be afflicted at it if we have a Kind­ness for the Man.

For it is not a bare Knowledge that can create this Concern in us: Since the Know­ledge of the Man may make his Affliction delightful to us, if it proves one whom we either despise or hate. The Concern which we speak of, can only be produc'd by a Re­semblance of Humours and Qualities in the Person who suffers, or who is like to suffer; and in him who is terrified, or who commi­serates.

For, no Man commiserates what another Man suffers, unless he is apprehensive of en­during the like. Now no Reason can be gi­ven why one Man should be apprehensive of enduring what another Man suffers, but a Resemblance in Circumstances, and the greater the Resemblance is, the greater will the Apprehension certainly be. This ex­actly agrees with the Doctrin of Aristole in the tenth Chapter of the second Book of his Rhetorick. [...] [Page 189] [...]. Let Compassion then be defin'd to be a Trou­ble of Mind, which is caus'd by an Opinion of something grievous, which has happen'd to ano­ther, which he who commiserates, expects that [...]e, or some of his should suffer. And he tells us afterwards in the same Chapter. [...]. Men have Compassion of those who are their Equals in Age, in Humour, in Man­ner, in Birth, in Dignity: For what they be­ [...]old these suffer, they the rather fear may befal themselves. And it is taken for granted, that whatever we are apprehensive of suffering our selves, that we are certain to pity in others.

But, as we said before, the great­er the Resemblance is between him who suffers, and him who commiserates, the stronger will the Apprehension, and conse­quently, the Compassion be. And there­fore a Poet, who forms a Character, by whose Calamities he designs to melt or ter­rifie his Audience or his Readers, ought to make that poetical Person resemble them as much as he can. Now the way to give him a general Likeness, is neither to make him guilty of great Crimes, nor to make him so­vereignly virtuous, but to compound him of Virtues and Faults; for so the Generality of Mankind is compos'd, and consequently [Page 190] the Generality of the Readers of an epick Poem, or the major Part of Audience. But a Poet ought not only to give this general Likeness, he ought further to make his po­etical Person unhappy for the very thing or things by which he resembles those who are design'd to commiserate him. And there­fore he ought to give him either such De­fects as are to be found in most Men, or such to which the major Part are obnoxious. Nay, further, these Defects are to be of such a Nature, as that not only they may be found in the Generality of Men, or to which the Generality may at least be liable; but that also the Generality may believe that they have them, or that they are at least ob­noxious to them. And therefore a Poet is not to make any Person, whom he would have commiserated, unhappy, either for great Crimes, because, as we have said above, the Generality of Men are exempt from those, or for scandalous Weaknesses: Because this latter is not only unjust, since no Man can help his Weakness, but de­structive of the Poet's Design. For though scandalous Weaknesses are to be found in most Men, or most men at least are liable to them, yet no Man believes that he is so: And therefore a Poet is by no means to give any scandalous VVeakness to any of his Persons, by which he designs to excite Com­passion or [...]errour, though he makes those Persons unhappy for something else. Be­cause that VVeakness, as soon as ever the [Page 191] Readers or Audience discern it, will not fail to make the Person who has it, contempti­ble, and so restrain them from making any Comparison.

Now those Defects, which either are to be found in most Men, and which they be­lieve that they have, or to which most Men at least are liable, and believe themselves li­able, are violent Passions. And of these Passions, to make the Pity and Terrour surer and stronger, such in my Mind ought to be chosen, as are the most universal, and such as though they are not the least guilty, are the most creditable in the Eyes of the World.

Now, of all the Passions, the most uni­versal is Love, as Nature has wisely con­triv'd it for the Propagation of Mankind; and Love, of all the Passions, is that, whose Excess we most willingly own: And there­fore, Mr. Rymer, who would have ba­nish'd it from the English Stage, would have depriv'd our Poets of the surest Means of go­ing to the Hearts of an Audience. For upon Reflection, we shall certainly find, that the Characters in our Tragedies, which melt us most, are those whose Misfortunes are brought about by the extraordinary Force of Love.

Thus far we have spoken of the Cha­racters. Let us now say something succinct­ly of the Incidents, and more succinctly of the Thoughts and Expressions, because the Consideration of these last belongs to another Place.

[Page 192] Whatever happens, says Aristotle, in the fif­teenth Chapter of his Treatise of Poetry, happens either amongst Friends, or amongst Ene­mies, or amongst indifferent Persons. An Ene­my who kills, or is about to kill his Enemy, ex­cites no other Compassion than that which springs from the Evil it self. That is, than that which Humanity obliges us to take. The Case is the same, when any thing like it happens amongst indifferent Persons. But when the like Calamities happen amongst Friends; when a Bro­ther kills, or is about to kill his Brother, a Son his Fa­ther, a Mother her Son, or a Son his Mother, that is what a Poet ought to lay hold of. The most terrible, and the most melting Calamities are those which are caus'd by a Friend. Ari­stotle has given the Reason for this in his Rhetorick, as we have cited the Passage above. For what we most fear should hap­pen to our selves, that we most commiserate in others. Now, the Thought of being in­jur'd or ruin'd by a Friend, is a great deal more terrible than the Apprehension of a like Calamity, from a Stranger or Enemy. For there is something of Baseness in fearing this last, whereas the bravest Man for his Friends Sake, may be allow'd to fear the first.

There are three Ways, says Aristotle, by which a Friend may oppress or destroy a Friend. The first is when,

Actions are represented which are done by Persons who act with a perfect Knowledge, and that was the Practice of the ancient Poets. Eu­ripides [Page 193] follow'd it when he represented Medea killing her Children. The second Way is when,

Persons are made to act, who do not know the Blackness of the Fact they commit; but who, af­ter the committing it, come to know the Relation and the Friendship which was between themselves and the Persons whom they, through Revenge, destroy, as the Sophoclean Oedipus. It is true in Sophocles, that Action of Oedipus is out of the Tragedy. Behold one that is in the Action of the Tragedy, and that is the Death of Eriphyle kill'd by Alcmeon in the Poet Astyda­mas; and another is the wounding of Ulysses by his Son Telegonus.

A third Way is, when,

A Person is about to commit a black Action by Ignorance, and comes to discover it before the committing it. Of these, says Aristotle, the first is the worst.

The second, says he, is good: Because the Action has nothing that is villanous in it, and the Discovery is very pathetick.

But the last is incomparably the best of the three, which Euripides has follow'd in his Cres­phontes, where Merope discovers her Son in the very Moment that she was about to kill him; and in Iphigenia, where that Princess comes to know her Brother in the very Instant that she was about to sacrifice him: And so in Helle, Phyx­us comes to know his Mother, just as he was about to deliver her to his Enemies.

These are the Precepts which Aristotle has given for the moving Compassion and Ter­rour [Page 194] by Incidents. But these are directed to tragick Poets; and do not exactly square with heroick Poetry. For in all the epick Poems that ever we knew, there being two different numerous Parties which pro­ceed against one another by open Force, and Friends in them acting most commonly on the same Side, they cannot be easily igno­rant one of another; or if they were, the at­tempting one upon another would in all Probability, make the Fable Episodick, and the Action double. To do otherwise it must certainly be manag'd with an extreme Ad­dress. Tasso indeed provides Tancredi an Amazonian Mistress, who was of the contra­ry side, and whom he kills in her VVarrior's Accoutrements, and immediately after it, upon lifting up her Helmet, knows her. This is according to the second Precept of Aristotle which we have cited above, and the Discovery is very pathetick. Gier. Cant. 12. St. 67.

La vide, e la connobbe, & restó senza
E voce, e moto, ahi vista, ahi conoscenza!

He saw her, and he knew her, and was struck speechless and motionless: What a Sight was there! And what a Discovery!

This Tasso has done, but the Character of Clorinda being liable to Censure, because it has not all the Probability which might be requir'd, for that very Reason the Incident cannot be justified. From what has been [Page 195] said, we may very well conclude, that it is very difficult, if not impossible to contrive the Incidents in an epick Poem as they are fram'd in a Tragedy.

This Virgil saw very well; and therefore, since it was not in his Power to make his In­cidents tragical, he did his Endeavour to bring them as near as he possibly could to the Nature of tragical Incidents. And since he could not bring it about that a Friend should be the Cause of the Death of his Friend; which, with a little Address, may be compass'd in Tragedy; he at least con­triv'd, that a Friend should occasion the Death of a Friend, which too is very pathe­tick. Now, in the Term Friend, Aristotle includes Relations, as Dacier has observ'd in his Remarks upon that Place: In Virgil then, to mention no more, we have three very pathetick Episodes. In the tenth Book, we see a Son dying for his Father; in the ninth we have a Friend who dies for his Friend. And in the fourth, we find a Mi­stress who kills her self for her Lover: So that in that admirable Poet we have three Calamities occasion'd by three of the dearest Tyes, that ever were known to Man. And we shall find the Characters in those Places admirably contriv'd for the exciting Ter­rour and Pity.

Lausus, in the tenth Book, is a young Prince of extraordinary Hopes; conspicu­ous for his Courage, and for his filial Affecti­on. But his Faults were Presumption and Ob­stinacy

[Page 196] He attacks Aeneas to save his Father, and so far he is pardonable. But after his Fa­ther had, by his Assistance, escap'd; he ought to have desisted, and to have taken the Warning which the Trojan, with so much Generosity gave him, lib. 10. v. 811.

Quo moriture ruis? majora (que) viribus audes?
Fallit te incautum pietas tua, nec minus ille
Exultat demens.

But instead of that, he perseveres to his Ruin.

In the eighth Book Nisus shews Courage, Friendship, and Loyalty, and Concern for his Prince, and a great deal of Zeal for the common Cause, lib. 9. v. 176.

Nisus erat portae custos, acerrimus armis,

Lib. 9. v. 192.

Aenean acciri omnes populus (que) patresque
Exposcunt, mitti (que) viros qui certa reportent.
Si tibi quae posco, promittunt, (nam mihi facti
Fama sat est.)

Euryalus appears to have the same Qua­lities.

Mene igitur socium summis adjungere rebus,
Nise, fugis? solum te, in tanta pericula mittam?
Non it a me genitor bellis assuetus Opheltes
[Page 197] Argolicum terrorem inter, Trojae (que) labores
Sublatum erudiit: nec tecum talia gessi,
Magnanimum Aenean, & fata extrema secutus.

For though Virgil has every where else ad­mirably distinguish'd his Characters, he has with a great deal of Judgment, in this Epi­sode, made his two Friends resembling: And as their Virtues are the same, their Fault is the same, which is a head-strong Ambition. lib. 9. v. 184.

Nisus ait: Diine hunc ardorem mentibus addunt
Euryale? an sua cuique deus fit dira cupido?
Aut pugnam, aut aliquid jamdudum invadere magnum
Mens agitat mihi, nec placid â contenta quiete est.

Euryalus says in his Answer to him.

Est hic, est animus lucis contemptor, & istum
Qui vit â bene credet emi, quo tendis, honorem.

From all which we may observe, that though they were concerned for their Prince and their fellow-countrymen, yet Ambition was the first Motive to their Action, and it accordingly prov'd unfortunate; and this vicious Passion that was the Motive to the Action, caus'd it to miscarry. For that en­gag'd them in the Slaughter of their Ene­mies, till the Arrival of Volscens, though they knew that the Fate of their Country depended on the Success of their Voyage, as [Page 198] that depended upon the Expedition of their Passage. Nisus seems to be sensible of this, as Virgil who loves to instruct by Action, and who hates to moralize, has artfully con­triv'd it to hint his Instruction to the Rea­der. Lib. 9. v. 353.

Brevitcr cum talia Nisus,
(Sensit enim nimi â caede at (que) cupidine ferri)
Absistamus, ait.

In the fourth Book we see the Separation of Aeneas and Dido, which alone is produ­ctive of Compassion; as Aristotle has obser­ved in the tenth Chapter of his Rhetorick.

[...], To be torn from ones Friends, and those with whom we have a long time convers'd, excites Compassion.

But that is not all, the Vehemence of her Passion constrains her to lay violent Hands upon her self: And such a Catastrophe from such a Cause, must of necessity be very de­plorable, as we have shewn above.

Let us now consider the Character of Di­do, as we shall find it in Bossu; and we shall easily see that it is not only compound­ed of Virtues and Faults, which Compositi­on is proper for the exciting Terrour and Pity; but that, by the Opposition it has to that of Aeneas, it is contriv'd to give the last Satisfaction to all who are acquainted with the Carthaginian and Roman States.

[Page 199] Dido (says Bossu) is the first Person whom the Poet presents to us, and is (after the Hero) the most considerable one of the first Part of the Aeneis. She is the Foundress of the Carthagi­nian State, as Aeneas is the Founder of the Roman Empire; and she represents the Obstacle which that Common-wealth oppos'd to the victori­ous Progress which at last exalted Rome to the World's Empire. As then the Poet has stamp'd the Character of the Roman State on his Hero, she ought to have that of Carthage imprinted on her. Behold her then passionate, violent, bold, undertaking, ambitious and false to her Word: And all these Qualities are set in Motion by Trick, which is the Character and the Soul of them all. 'Tis by Trick that she makes all her great Undertakings succeed, that she revenges her Husband, chastises her Brother, deceives Jarbas. 'Tis by the same Quality that she re­solves to stop Aeneas, and not being able to bring it about, she deceives her Sister who was her only Confident.

As ill and as odious as this Character ap­pears to the Reader, Virgil was forced upon it by the first Plan of his Fable. But, as far as the Necessity of that Fable permitted him, he has taken care, according to the Maxim of Aristo­tle, to bestow on this Character, all the softning which would consist with his Subject, and to ex­alt it by all the Beauties of which he found it ca­pable. Dido, in the Action of the Poem at least, does not make an ill use of her Wit, unless with Intention to stop Aeneas at Carthage. And she is compelled to it by the Violence of a Passion, [Page 200] which takes from the Odium of the Action, and leaves a Place for the Readers Tears, and for his Compassion of the Pains which she suffers, and of the Death to which she condemns her self. Be­sides, he makes her exercise her Cunning on legi­timate, illustrious, and glorious Occasions. He bestows on her, Qualities that are truly imperi­al. She discovers, with Bounty, and with Magnificence, an uncommon Esteem for Virtue. All this is shewn in the obliging manner, with which she receives the Trojans, even before she had seen Aeneas.

From all which it appears, that this Cha­racter is taken by Bossu, to be very capable of raising Compassion; as containing a Mixture of good and bad in it. And we have shewn above, that the Cause of her Cala­mity, which is the extraordinary Force of Love, is above all things, proper for the exciting of that Affection. And the Pre­sumption which we have found in Lausus, and the Ambition which we have discovered in Nisus are neither great Crimes, nor shameful Infirmities, but are rather credita­ble, tho' ungovernable Passions.

But to come to Mr. Blackmore, there are but three Passages in all his Poem, by which he can pretend to excite Compassion. The first is the Death of Macor in the eighth Book. The second is the Supplication of Elda for her Husband's Life, in the same Book. The third is the Death of Uter re­lated by Lucius to Hoel King of Armorica. First, for Macor, his Character does not seem [Page 201] to be rightly compos'd, nor to have the re­quisite Mixture of good and bad in it; nor does it appear, that his Death was occasion­ed by his Fault; nor was it occasion'd by a Friend, but caus'd by an Enemy, which makes the Compassion so much the weaker. And then for Elda, the Passion which Mr. Blackmore designs to raise by her, is not in the least prepared. First, we never so much as heard of her before her Supplicati­on begins; and we ought to have been ac­quainted with her Character before, that it might have made the deeper Impression on us. But secondly, she has no Character. For no Quality appears in her but the Love of her Husband, and no one Quality can form a Character. Thirdly, she is never in any Danger of what she pretends to fear. For the Reader knows upon the very Begin­ning of her Petition, that Arthur will spare her Husband, and consequently, cannot be in the least concerned for her. And fourth­ly, this Petition rather shews a foolish Fondness than a very violent Passion. For though nothing is more proper for the ex­citing Compassion than a disastrous Love, yet I think I may venture to affirm, that to compass the End design'd by it, it ought al­ways to be joyn'd, not only with good Sense, but likewise with Greatness of Mind.

But to come to Uter, his Calamity is caus'd by an Enemy, and not occasion'd by a Friend. Nor is his Character fram'd for the [Page 202] exciting Compassion. Let us consider what Lucius says of him in his Relation to Hoel in the fourth Book.

Won by the potent Charms of Saxon Gold
Carvil his Prince and Native Country sold.
He in indulgent Uter's Bosom lay
And did the Secrets of his Breast betray.
He on his Conduct and his Faith rely'd,
In Peace and War alike his treacherous Guide.
He held the most important Trusts of State,
Nor could his Treasons Uter's Love abate.
Unhappy Prince that still his Foes believ'd
Only by Ruin to be undeceiv'd.
To Friends ingrate his Foes he entertain'd,
Thus lost the one, but not the other gain'd.
Wisely undone he knew his Friends too late,
By his own Prudence manag'd to his Fate
Our Prayers and Warnings tir'd his Ears inVain,
Perfidious Councils only could obtain:
Rough Truth and loyal Bluntness gall'd his Ear,
That only soft melodious Sounds could bear.
His firm and loyal Friends, tho hardly us'd,
Look'd on enrag'd, to see their Prince abus'd.
Tho some grown cold ceas'd to lament his Fate,
For Will and choice Compassion still abate.

Thus is this Uter sottishly easie and credu­lous. But that is a small Matter, compared to his other Fault. For Uter is ungrateful likewise, and he who says that, has said all. This wretch of a Monarch, even by Mr. Blackmore's Confession, lost his Crown and Life unpitied by those who saw it.

[Page 203] And thus I have endeavour'd to shew, that the Characters and Incidents in Mr. Black­more's Poem, are not rightly fram'd for the exciting Compassion. For the same Reasons they are very improper for the exciting Terrour. I want Time to speak of the rest of the Affections, as Anger, Indignation, and the like, which are seldom truly mov'd through the whole Poem. I will now speak but one Word concerning the two other Sources of the Pathetick, which are the Sentiments and the Expressions, because the Consideration of those belongs to another Place.

The Sentiments ought to be disorder'd in the violent Passions, and the Language ought to be bold and figurative; and the more vi­olent the Passions are, the bolder may the Language be. First, because the Nature of violent Passion requires this, which trou­bles the Functions of the Soul, so that it can­not suit Thoughts to things, nor Words to Thoughts. Secondly, because the Hearers, who partake of the Transport, are too much shaken to find out Faults. This is the Do­ctrine of Aristotle in the seventh Chapter of the third Book of his Rhetorick. And there­fore, says Aristotle, a bold and a figurative Expression is exceeding proper for Poetry, because all Poety is extreamly pathetick. [...]. The Interpre­ters have translated these Words thus. Be­cause there is something divine in Poetry. But I am pretty confident that [...] is us'd me­taphorically [Page 204] here, and signifies something extreamly pathetick. For otherwise no­thing can be made of Aristotle's Argument, notwithstanding that he is one of the justest of Thinkers, whereas, if that Word is us'd metaphorically, and signifies something pa­thetick, the Philosophers arguing is certain­ly just. A bold and a figurative Expression is proper for Passion, and therefore it is proper for Poetry, because Poetry is pathetick. Which arguing is consistent with the p [...]ripatetick Philosophy, and with the Nature of Poetry. For, I am pretty confident that I can make it appear that Genius is nothing but Passion.

If I had proceeded to the third thing, which makes a Narration delightful, I had then examined Mr. Blackmore's Thoughts and Expressions, and had afterwards pro­ceeded to consider what is probable and ad­mirable in his Narration. But I have now just gone through half my Method, and I am so throughly tir'd my self, that it would be unreasonable to believe that I have not wea­ried my Reader.



But one Man who was great­ly good, and was not, &c.’Page the 6th.

THE immediate moral Cause of the Destruction of Troy was the unjust Detension of Helen. To which all the noble Trojans consented, unless Antenor and Aeneas, who consequent­ly were the only two who were not involv'd in the Destruction of their Country. All the rest were either slain or carried away Captives. Now, though Virgil had nothing directly to do with Antenor, yet he thought fit, for the enforcing the Excellence of the Moral to insinuate that he had escaped; which he has told us, with a great deal of Address, by the Mouth of Venus in the first Ae [...]eid. But as for his Hero, he thought it necessary to shew us that the Cause of his not [Page 207] being involv'd in the general Ruin, was his refusing to consent to the foresaid Detensi­on of Helen. Which he has shewn us by Action, by which alone an epick Poet ought chiefly to instruct. For the Hero is shewn in the second Book, relating how he had ex­postulated with himself, whether he should kill Helen: Which implies that he had been all along averse from the Detension of her, or else the Expostulation wou'd be r [...]dicu­lous, as well as it wou'd be unjust. But here it will be convenient to vindicate Vir­gil, from an Imputation that is laid to his Charge. And that is, that by this Passage he has very much derogated from that Va­lour which ought to be in a sovereign degree in his Hero. But a Man like Virgil, is ne­ver to be accused rashly. For here I doubt not but I shall manifestly shew, first, that this Passage does not derogate from the Va­lour of the Hero, and secondly, that the very same Passage was absolutely necessary to shew that this Valour was perfect. For the proving of the first, I shall not urge the ex­traordinary Disturbance, into which Aene­as at that time, had been thrown by the Sight of so deplorable a Calamity, and the Loss of so many Friends that were dear to him, with which Commotion he makes Dido acquainted, when he relates the Passage to her.

Talia jactabam, & furiatâ mente ferebar.

[Page 208] This I say, I will not urge (though it would certainly be some Excuse for Aeneas) since something may be said that will carry a great [...]r Weight with it, which is this. That the Courage of the Hero was designed a subordinate Quality to his Piety, and so was always to consent with that. Now Aeneas look'd upon the killing of Helen, as a religious Duty, and a sort of infernal Sacrifice, due to, and expected by the Manes of his Friends.

Sumsisse merentes
Laudabor poenas, animum (que) explesse juvabit
Ultricis slammae, & cineres satiasse meorum.

And here we may take notice of an admi­rable Observation of Bossu, which is, That Aeneas was not only become King by the Death of Priam, but that he was likewise become high Priest by the Death of Panthus: And conse­quently, it was very clear to him, that if such a Sacrifice would be acceptable, it could be offer'd by none but himself. And thus the Resolution of Aeneas to kill Helen, is prov'd to derogate no more from his Va­lour, than the Sacrisice of Iphigenia, or of Polixena, derogated from the Courage of the Grecian Chiefs.

But secondly, this Resolution of the Hero to kill Helen, was absolutely necessary to carry on the Action, and shew that the Va­lour of Aeneas was without Blemish.

[Page 209] Aeneas, when he assum'd this Resoluti­on, was on the Battlements of the Palace of Priam employed in its Defence, from whence he had seen, not only the King, but the rest of the Royal Family, either slain or made Captives. Nevertheless, he could not tell, but that the Trojans might have rallied in some other Place, and might have been more successful.

Now, it is the Duty of every one to pre­fer his Country to his own Family, and to defend it to the very last. At the same time there was a Necessity for the Hero's return­ing to his own House; without which, the preserving Ascanius from the Grecian Power any longer, would have offended Probabili­ty, and he not being preserv'd, the Design of the Hero had been destroy'd, which was the re-establishing the Family of Priam in a foreign Countrey. What then had the Po­et to do in this Case? Why, he was oblig'd to find out some Method, to satisfie Aeneas, and to convince his Readers, that the form­er had done his Duty. And this he has ex­treamly well brought about by the Resolu­tion of Aeneas to kill Helen. For that gives an Occasion for the Introduction of Venus, who had Helen under her Protection, and who satisfies her Son, tha [...] [...]t was not so much Paris, or the invidious Beauty of Helen, as it was the Inclemency of the Gods that de­stroy'd Ilium.

Non tibi Tyndaridis facies invisa Lacaenae,
Culpatusve Paris, Divom inclementia Divom
Has evertit opes, sternit (que) à culmine Trojam.

And it was not only a Faction of Divini­ties, which was the Case during the Siege, but the most considerable of them all, and even the King of the Gods himself; who, till then, had always been neutral.

Ipse Pater Danais animos viresque secundas
Sufficit, ipse Deos in Dardana suscitat arma.

And she does not only tell him this, she makes him behold it. He sees the majestick Figures of the Gods imployed in the raising the City, and knows that it would be impi­ous to fight against those. Thus the Poet makes the rest of the Trojans yield to the Grecians, but his Hero submits to the Gods alone.

'Tis true indeed, after all Venus might have been made to descend, without the Resolution of the Hero to kill Helen; but how very little artful that would have been, the judicious Reader will easily discern.


Fracti Bello fatis (que) repulsi;
Ductores Danaum, &c.
Page 24.

THAT this is the very Beginning of the Action, is apparent from the Request that Dido makes to Aeneas in the latter End of the first Book.

Imo age, & à prima dic hospes origine notis
Insidias inquit Danaum casus (que) tuorum.

And here we may see another End, to which the Hero's Design upon Helen, con­duces. For it serves to make the Beginning of the Action probable. For notwithstanding the artful Speech of Sinon, and the extream Address of the Poet, we should have been very much shock'd at the Credulity of the Trojans who were no Strangers to the Craft of Ulysses, if they had receiv'd the wooden Horse into their City only upon Sinon's Word. This the Poet saw very well, and therefore made use of the Prodigy which follows, of the two Serpents that swum from Tenedos, and kill'd Laocoon and his two Sons, and afterwards went and lay under the Image of Pallas, to whom Sinon had pre­tended that the Horse was consecrated, [Page 212] which Laocoon had violated by the Cast of his Spear. Now the Resolution of Aene­as to kill Helen, by bringing down Venus, makes this Prodigy probable; for Venus shews her Son the Figures of the Gods em­ployed in rasing the City, and Pallas among the rest of them.

Jam summas arces, Tritonia (respice) Pallas
Insedit, nimbo effulgens & Gorgone saeva.

Since therefore it is plain, that this God­dess was concern'd in the Destruction of the City, we may very well believe that she was likewise concern'd in the carrying on the Design of it, and directed the Serpents: and it is the more reasonable to believe this, because the Grecians, after their Stratagem had taken effect, could have destroyed the City without her, whereas her Assistance ap­pears to have been absolutely necessary for the carrying on the Design.


‘Which has made me almost inclin'd to think.’Page 24.

NOT having Time to go through my in­tended Method, I design to give my Reasons in this Place, why I believe Mr. Blackmore writ the second and third Books of his Poem, before he had any Thoughts of writing the whole Poem; the Verses in these two Books are of a different Character from those of the rest of the Poem. For there are more good Verses in these two than in any four of the rest; and there is more of the Pathetick in them, than there is in all the rest of the Poem. For in some Places of them, there appears to be something terrible, whereas that Passion is but very faintly mov'd, throughout the rest of the Poem.

Secondly, these two Books have nothing to do with the rest of the Poem. They are entire without that, as that is without them, as intire as it is with them.

Thirdly, there are several things in this pretended Relation of Prince Arthur to Hoel, of which Prince Arthur could have no Know­ledge, as the Cartesian System, Illuminations, Fireworks, &c. and consequently, they [Page 214] could not be design'd for the Mouth of this British Hero.

It will be objected to this, that Prince Arthur had this Account of Chaos, and the Creation, by Vision and Revelation, as he assures Hoel, at the End of the first Book, and that therefore he might be inform'd by those, of what he could not know of him­self.

To this I answer, that this still confirms what I endeavour to prove, and makes the pretended Relation more extravagant. For never has there been such a Vision, or such a Revelation known. It is a Vision of some­thing a long time past, and a Revelation of something reasonable. Now every Vision is either of something but just past, which cannot be otherwise known, by reason of the Distance of Place, or of something to come. For every Vision, is to acquaint the Person who has that Vision with something which could not be conveyed to him by a natural Way. For a Vision is a Miracle, and God never does that by a Miracle, which he can do by the ordinary course of Nature; be­cause that would be to argue him changeable, and to derogate from his infinite Wisdom. Now the Knowledge of any thing which has been a long time past, can be convey'd, if God sees it necessary by a natural Way, and that is by History or Tradition. The Ac­count of the Creation was deliver'd down to Moses by Tradition, and transmitted by Hi­story from him to us. If it had not been [Page 215] conveyed to us thus, what Occasion was there for a Revelation to acquaint Arthur or Hoel that God created the World when eve­ry Man sees it by the Light of Nature? To make God have Recourse to a Miracle for the revealing that which every Man knows already, or which every Man at least may know without a Miracle, is to be impi­ous, and to make him act absurdly. But if Mr. Blackmore answers, that this Revelation was not to inform Arthur or Hoel of the thing, but to instruct them in the Manner how; I answer, that this Manner how, was not at all necessary to Mr. Blackmore's De­sign, which is the making Hoel a Christian. For a Man may be a very good Christian, and yet a very bad natural Philosopher. I would fain know which of the Apostles un­derstood the Cartesian System. And I can­not, for my Life, comprehend, why God, who did not think it necessary to reveal it, either to St. Peter, or to St. Paul, should re­veal it to Arthur and Hoel. Since therefore this Vision and this Revelation, are so impro­bable on every side, and so absurd on most, we ought to conclude, that Mr. Blackmore had Recourse to them, as very bad, yet the only Means to tack the pretended Relation of Arthur to the rest of the Work. But,

Fourthly, No Man ever writ an Epick Poem, without writing Verses preluding to it. No one can doubt of that. Since then Mr. Blackmore did write Verses before he thought of Prince Arthur, and since we ne­ver [Page 216] saw any Verses of his before the Hero­ick Poem appear'd, and we have shewn that the pretended Relation of Arthur is of a dif­ferent Character from the rest of the Poem; and a thing entire by it self, and that there are several things in it which are very ab­surd, as they are tack'd to the rest of the Work; and which would be reasonable enough if the pretended Relation had been published by it self, we have very good pro­bable Grounds to conclude, that the Verses included in that Relation, are some of those which were writ before Mr. Blackmore thought of writing Prince Arthur.


‘But he was afraid of missing the Rites of Funeral.’Page 24.

THAT which is so often said to excuse Aeneas his Fear in the first of the Aeneis, which is, that he was afraid of mis­sing the Rites of Funeral, without which there was no ferrying over the Stygian Lake, seems to me to be invalid. For Aeneas, in the Relation that he makes to Dido of the Destruction of Troy, makes Anchises, when they urg'd him to depart, advise his Son and Daughter-in-law to make their Escape, but [Page 217] that for his own part, he was resolv'd to dye upon the Place; As for the want of a Funeral, says he, that is but a Trifle.

—Facilis jactura sepulcri.

Which he speaks as if he design'd to obviate an Objection that he believ'd his Son might make; which looks as if A [...]chises thought it without Consequence, and Aeneas, by re­peating it, as his Father's Opinion, appears to be of the same Mind too. What shall we say then, that Aeneas did not know that Souls, whose Bodies were unburied, were denied the Passage of the infernal River, till the Sybill, upon his Descent to Hell, shew'd him the Ghosts that were hovering upon the hithermost Banks of Styx, and amongst the rest, some of his own Friends, as Leucaspis, Orontes, and Palinurus. Indeed, she speaks as if she made a Discovery to him.

Hi, quos vehit unda, sepulti.
Nec ripas datur horrendas, & rauca fluent a
Transport are prius quam sedibus ossa quierunt;
Centum errant annos, volitan (que) haec littor a circum.

But then we meet with a terrible Difficul­ty at the latter End of the fifth Book. For when Aeneas saw that Palinurus was lost, after fetching a deep Sigh, and appearing very much disturb'd at the deplorable Acci­dent, he ends the Book with the two fol­lowing [Page 218] Verses which are so admirable for the Pathetick.

Heu nimium Coelo & Pelago consise sereno
Nudus in ignot â Palinure jacebis aren â.

Where we may observe that Aeneas does not lament the Death of Palinurus, but on­ly his want of Funeral.

Nudus in ignot â, &c.

From whence it is plain, that Aeneas knew the Consequence of it: For else these Verses which are now so extreamly pathe­tick, would shew a very great Weakness in the Hero, and consequently, a very great Absurdity in the Poet, and would neither be consonant to good Sense, nor the Nature of true Compassion: It being undeniable, that the want of a Funeral, consider'd in it self, and without any Consequence, is but a Trifle, compar'd to the Calamity of a sudden untimely Death. Aeneas therefore, as was said above, knew the Consequence of this want of Funeral before his Descent to Hell; and the Sybill only told him this, to remind him, upon the Sight of the Ghosts that were slocking to the Banks of Styx: What then can be said to the Passage in the second Book,

—Facilis jactura sepulcri.

[Page 219] The only reasonable Answer that I can make to it is this, That Aeneas and Anchi­ses both knew and believed that all, who had any Excellence above the rest of Man­kind, and were of divine Extraction, were exempted from the common Fate. When Aeneas desires the Sybill, in the sixth Book, to be his Guide to the infernal Regi­ons, he tells her, that he might undoubted­ly take this Journey, since there had been Persons who had done it before him, and that he had the same Qualification that they had.

Si potuit manes, accessere conjugis Orpheus,
Threiciâ fretus citharâ fidibus (que) canoris.
Si fratrem Pollux alternâ Morte redemit,
Itque redit (que) viam toties, quid Thesea, magnum
Quid memorem Alciden? & mi genus ab Jove summo.

Where we see that all, whom he mention­ed, were Persons who had some Excellence above the rest of his Contemporaries, and were of divine Extraction. The Sybill makes answer to him, that very few had been able to do what he desir'd.

Pauci quos aequus amavit
Jupiter, aut ardens evexit and Aether a virtus
Diis geniti potuere.

[Page 220] And those few had been Persons of extra­ordinary Virtucs, and of divine Original.

And afterwards, when Aeneas and the Sybil approach'd the Banks of the River, Ch [...] ­ron says to them,

Nec vero Alciden me sum laetatus cuntem
Accepisse lacu, nec Thesea Perithoum (que)
Diis quamquam geniti at (que) invicti viribus essent.

I was not well pleas'd with carrying over Hercules, nor the two Friends, though they were Heroes all, and all of divine Extraction.

From whence it appears, that since Aeneas knew, that Persons of extraordinary Virtue, and of divine Extraction, had pass'd and repass'd the River of Hell without so much as dying, which was denyed to others; he might very well believe, that they might pass it once for all, without the Rites of Funeral, though it was denyed to others.


‘Consists of needless and trifling De­scriptions.’Of Descriptions. Page 146.

IN speaking of Descriptions, I shall en­deavour to explain Bossu, whose Instru­ctions concerning this matter, are neither so full nor clear as to be understood by every one.

Descriptions in Heroick Poetry are either of Action, and that if it is long, is call'd Narration, if it be short painting; or of the Circumstances of Action, as Time, Place, &c. or of Persons. It is necessary to declare, that by Description here we do not mean Narration, of which we have treated apart: The Descriptions which we speak of here, are but Parts of that which we call Narrati­on. Nothing requires more Judgment than to write them as they should be. He who writes an Heroick Poem, is not to make De­scriptions, only because he has a mind to it, or to indulge the Wantonness of an extrava­gant Fancy. Descriptions in an epick Po­em are only for the Action, and the Action is only for the Moral. The Poet is to make all the Haste that he possibly can with good speed, to the End of his Action, which is the [Page 222] Praise that Horace has given to Homer; be­cause till we come to the End, we can ne­ver have the main Instruction. He ought in­deed to make his Narration as pleasing as he can, because Pleasure serves to the making us attentive to the Action, and tends to the imprinting it upon our Minds more strong­ly; For we always remember a long time, that which has very much pleased us. But he is to consider at the same time, that the Pleasure which he gives us, is only for the Instruction, and therefore he ought to give us such a Sort of a Pleasure, as may not hinder or divert the Instruction, either by digressing from the Action, or by confining our Attentions too long to a Part of it. From whence it follows, that Descriptions in an Epick Poem, are never to be made, unless they appear to be necessary, and they can never be necessary only upon two Accounts. First, when they are re­quisite to give us a reasonable account of some Part of the Action, in order to the making it probable. Secondly, when they serve to imprint some important Circum­stance upon our Minds more strongly. But when they are thus necessary, they ought to be short, not only for the Reasons which we have mentioned above, but because other­wise they would have a quite contrary Effect to that for which they are designed. For if they grow tedious and cloy us, instead of imprinting what they describe more strong­ly on us, they infallibly serve to make us [Page 223] forget it. For a great Man has ob­serv'd, that we are never so likely to forget things, as when we are weary of hearing them. Thus it appears from what we have said, that Descriptions are never to be made, but when they are neces­sary, and then too they are to be short. But besides all this, they are to be accommo­dated to the Character of an Epick Poem in general, and of the Place where they are set in particular.

First, They are to be accommodated to the Character of an Epick Poem in general. Now the Character of an Epick Poem in general, is Gravity, Elevation, and Majesty. For the first of these creates an Aw in us, and is therefore absolutely necessary to a Law-giver, and such is the Writer of every lawful Poem; and as the first of these three causes a Reverence in us, so the two last produce Admiration, which ought to reign every where in an Epick Poem, for Reasons which we have mention'd above. The De­scriptions then in an Epick Poem, ought to be grave, majestick, and elevated. Indeed, they ought not all to be exalted alike; but yet not one of them is to be cold and creep­ing, they are all of them to have Fire in a greater or less Degree, and they are all to have a great and a noble Air. From whence it follows, that they ought all of them to be above Point, and that which we call Conceit, which are always cold, and little and low and wanton, and infinitely below [Page 224] the Gravity and Majesty of the greater Po­etry. Now, as Descriptions ought to be free from these, so they ought never to de­scribe any trifling Circumstances of the Ob­jects which they present to us. Every thing that they mention, ought to be great and important; not only that they may be adap­ted to the grave and majestick Character of the Poem; but that they may be subservient to one of the two Ends, for which Descripti­ons are necessary. And as the Circum­stances which they mention, ought to be great, so they are still to proceed from a great to a more important Circumstance, or else the Reader finds an Anticlimax, than which nothing can be more injudicious in Poetry. For that which is great and strong in it self, may appear to be little and weak, when it comes after something which is greater and stronger. From whence it is evident, that it is ill manag'd when it is thus out of its Place, and shews an apparent Defect in Judgment.

But Descriptions are not only to be ac­commodated to the Character of the Epick Poem in General, they are to be adapted to the Character of the Place where they are in particular; and if that Place is pathetick, they are to exalt the very same Passion that reigns there. As for Example, if the Place where the Description is, appears to be de­sign'd for the exciting Terrour, the Descrip­tion is to tend to the raising that Passion, for which it is very proper, as that Passion is ex­treamly [Page 225] proper for Epick Poetry. For Terrour always includes Admiration; since we always, in some Measure, admire that, with which we are very much terrified. Now, if a Poet would heighthen Terrour by Description, he is to examine all the terri­ble Circumstances of the Object which he describes, of which he is to choose the most terrible, and those which are most capable of imprinting that Cbject very strongly in our Minds, and of these he is to present first to us that which is least dreadful, and so to proceed gradually if the Subject will allow it, to something which is altogether asto­nishing and amazing.


‘Latinus remain'd in Power and Place af­ter the single Combat. But first he had never.Page 33.

VIrgil takes several Occasions to mark the Inclination that Latinus had to Aene­as, and his Aversion to the Proceedings of Turnus. The Reader may consult the se­venth Aeneid, from the 250. Verse, to the two hundred and eighty fifth. And af­terwards in the same Book he remains a long time deaf to the Clamours of those who urge [Page 226] him to declare War. And when he is able to hold out no longer, he protests against the Proceedings of Amata and Turnus, and lets go the Reins of the Government. All which the Reader may see from the 575. to the 600th Verse. And afterwards, in the eleventh Book, he feels Remorse of Consci­ence for not having made a stronger Effort to marry his Daughter to Aeneas, in spigh [...] of his Wise and Turnus, v. 470.

Multas (que) se incusat qui non acceperit ultro.
Dardanium Aeneam generum (que) asciverit urbi.

And in the 12. he feels this Remorse again, and makes the same Accusation against himself. v. 650.


‘The pious Prince is afraid for his People.’Page the 70.

THAT is not the best Excuse that can be made for Prince Arthur, but is a Mi­stake that slipt from me in the Hurry of wri­ting this Treatise.


Secondly, that supposing Aeneas was afraid.Page the 79.

HEre was something left out in the Co­py through the Hurry of writing. All this, to the Bottom of the next Page, is spoken by those who endeavour to defend the Fear of Aeneas (of which the Reader is not advis'd soon enough.) It is my Opinion, that a better Excuse may be made for the Fear of Prince Arthur, than for that of Aene­as, supposing them both afraid. A Man who considers the Differences of their Reli­gions must easiiy consent to that, hut then it is my Opinion, that the Trojan was not afraid.


‘A Man must affirm something, or else he says nothing.’Page 158.

Every Negative includes an Affirmative.


‘Which can never be contrary to a religious Duty.’Page 166.

RIght Reason may be contrary to the Do­ctrine of some Religions, but when a Man once is convinc'd of that, it is certainly most reasonable to do the Duties that are taught by it.


That neither Macor nor Cador having any Characters.Page 175.

THIS was a Mistake occasion'd by my Dispatch. Macor seems to be better distinguish'd than most of Mr. Blackmore's po [...]tical Persons; but it is not a Character proper for the exciting Compassion.


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