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Now what these Wicked Spirits cannot compass, by the vast disproportion of their Forces, to those of the Superior Beings, they may by their Fraud and Cunning carry farther, in a seeming League, Confederacy, or Subferviency to the Defigns of some good Angel, as far as consists with his Purity, to luffer such an Aid, the end of which may possibly be disguis'd, and conceald from his finite Knowledge. This is indeed to suppose a great Errour in such a Be'ng: Yet since a Devil can appear like an Angel of Light; fince Craft and Malice may sometimes blind for a while a more perfe& Understanding; and lastly, since Milton has given us an example of the like Nature, when Satan appearing like a Cherub to Uriel, the Intelligence of the Sun, circumvented him even in his own Province, and pass’d only for a Curious Traveller through those new-created Regions, that he might observe therein the Workmanship of God, and praise him in his Works.
I know not why, upon the same Suppofition, or some other, à Fiend may not deceive a Creature of more Excellency than himself, but yet a Creature ; at least by the connivance, or tacit permission of the Omniscient Being.
Thus, my Lord, I have, as briefly as I cou'd, given your Lordship, and by you the World, arude Draught of what I have been long labouring in my Imagination. And what I had intended to have put in practice, (tho’ far unable for the Attempo of such a Poem) and to have left the Stage, which my Genius never much inclin'd me, for a Work which wou'd have taken up my Life in the performance of it. This too, I had intended chiefly for the Honour of my Native Country, to which a Poet is particularly oblig'd: Of two Subjects,
both relating to it, I was doubtful, whether I fhould chuse that of King Arthur conquering the Saxons; which being farther diftant in Time, gives the greater Scope to my Invention: Or that of Edward the Black Prince in subduing Spain, and restoring it to the Lawful Prince, tho' a great Tyrant, Don Pedro the Cruel : Which' for the compass of Time, including only the Expedition of one Year; for the Greatness of the Action, and its answerable Event; for the Magnanimity of the English Hero, oppos'd to the Ingratitude of the Person whom he reitor'd; and for the many beautiful Episodes, which I had interwoven with the principal Design, together with the Characters of the chiefest English Persons; wherein, after Virgil and Spencer, I wou'd have taken occalion to represent my living Friends and Patrons of the nobleit Families, and also shadow'd the Events of future Ages, in the Sucession of our Imperial Line. With these Helps, and those of the Machines, which I have mention'd; I might perhaps have done as well some of my Predecessors; or at least chalk'd out a way, for others to amend my Errors in a like Design. But being encourag'd only with fair Words by King Charles II. my little Salary ill paid, and no prospect of a future Sublistance, I was then discourag'd in the beginning of my Attempt; and now Age has overtaken me; and Want, a more insufferable Evil, through the Change of the Times, has wholly disenabi'd me. Tho' I must ever acknowledge, to the Honour of your Lordship, and the eternal Memory of your Charity, that fince this Revolution, wherein Í have patiently fuffer'd the Ruin of my small Fortune, and the loss of that poor Subsistance which I had from Two Kings, whom I had serv'd more
faithfully than profitably. to my self; then your Lordship was pleas'd, out of no other Motive but your own Nobleness, without any Desert of mine, or the least Sollicitation from me, to make me a most Bountiful Present, which at that time, when I was most in want of it, came most seasonably and unexpectedly to my Relief. That Favour, my Lord, is of it self sufficient to bind any Grateful Man, to a perpetual Acknowledgment, and to all the future Service, which one of my mean Condition can be ever able to perform. May the Almighty God return it for me, both in Blessing you here, and Rewarding you hereafter. I mait not presume to defend the Cause for which I now. fuffer, because your Lordship is engag'd against it: But the more you are so, the greater is my Obligation to you: For your laying aside all the Considerations of Factions and Parties, to do an Action of pure disinteress's Charity. This is one amongft many of your thining Qualities, which distinguish you from others of your Rank: But let me add a farther Truth, That without these Tics of Gratitude, and abstracting from them all, I have a most particular Inclination to Honour you; and, if it were not too bold an Expression, to say, I Love you. 'Tis no shame to be a Poet, tho' 'tis to be a bad one. Augustus Cæfar of old, and Cardinal Richlieu of late, wou'd willingly have been such; and David and Solomon were such. You, who without Flattery, are the best of the present Age in England, and would have been lo, had you been born in any other Country, will receive more Honour in future Ages, by that one Excellency, than by all those Honours to which your Birth has intitl'd you, or your Merits have acquir'd you.'
Ne, forte, pudori, Sit Tibi Musa Lyre folers, & Cantor Apollo. I have formerly said in this Epiftle, that I cou'd distinguish your Writings from those of any others : 'Tis now time to clear my self from any imputation of Self-conceit on that Subject. I aisume not to my self any particular Lights in this Discovery; they are such only as are obvious to every Man of Sense and Judgment, who loves Poetry, and understands it. Your Thoughts are always so remote from the common way of Thinking, that they are, as I may fay, of another Species, than the Conceptions of other Poets; yet you go not out of Nature for any of them: Gold is never bred upon the Surface of the Ground; but lies so hidden, and fo deep, that the Mines of it are seldom found; but the force of Waters casts it out from the Bowels of Mountains, and exposes it amongst the Sands of Rivers; giving us of her Bounty, what we cou'd not hope for by our search. This Success attends your Lord thip's Thougots, which wou'd look like Chance, if it were not perpetual, and always of the same tenour. If I grant that there is Care in it, 'tis such a Care as wou'd be ineffectual and fruitless in other Men 'Tis the Curiosa felicitas which Petronius ascribes to Horace, in bis Odes. We have not wherewithal to imagine so strongly, so justly, and so pleasantly: In mort, if we have the same Knowledge, we cannot draw out of it the same Quintessence; we cannot give it such a Term, such a Propriety, and such a Beauty: Something is deficient in the Manner, or the Words, but more in the Nobleness of our Conception. Yet when you have finish'd all, and it appears in its full Luftre, when the Diamond is not only found,
but the Roughness smooth’d, when it is cut into a Form, and let in Gold, then we cannot but acknowledge, that it is the perfect Work of Art and Nature: And every one will be so vain, to think he himself cou'd have perform'd the like, 'till he attempts it. 'Tis juft the Description that Horace makes of such a finish'd Piece: It appears so eafie, Ut fibi quivis fperet idem; Sudet multum, frustraque laboret, ausus idem. And besides all this, 'tis your Lord ship's particular Talent to lay your Thoughts fo close together, that were they closer they wou'd be crouded, and even a due Connexion wou'd be wanting. We are not kept in expectation of Two good Lines, which are to come after a long Parenthesis of Twenty bad; which is the April-Poetry of other Writers, a mixture of Rain and Sun-fhine by fits: You are always bright, even almost to a Fault, by reason of the excess. There is continual abundance, a Magazine of Thought, and yet a perpetual Variety of Entertainment, which creates such an Appetite in your Reader, that he is not cloy'd with any thing, but fatisfy'd with all. 'Tis that which the Romans call Cæna dubia; where there is such Plenty, yet withal fo much Diversity, and so good Order, that the Choice is diíficult betwixt one Excellency and another; and yet the Conclusion, by a due Climax, is evermore the best; that is, as a Conclusion ought to be, ever the most proper for its Place. See, my Lord, whether I have not ftudy'd your Lordship with some Application: And fince You are fo Modest, that you will not be Judge and Party, I appeal to the whole World, if I have not drawn your Picture to a great degree of Likeness, tho' 'tis but in Miniature: And that some of the best Features are yet wanting. Yet what I