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reveal'd, contending on the other fide, for the Rise of Alexander and his Succeffors, who were appointed to punith the Backsliding Jews, and thereby to put them in mind of their Offences that they might repent, and become more Virtuous, and more observant of the Law reveal'd. But how far thefe Controversies and appearing Enmities of those glorious Creatures may be carry'd; how these Oppositions may best be manag'd. and by what Means conducted, is not my Buliness to thew or determine: These things niuft be left to the Invention and Judgment of the Poet: If any of so happy a Genius be now living, or any future Age can produce a Man, who being conversant in the Philosophy of Plato, as it is now accommodated to Christian Use; for (as Virgilgives us to understand by his Example) he is the only proper Perfon, of all others for an Epique Poem, who to his Natural Endowments, of a large Invention, a ripe Judgment, aad a strong Memory, has jomu'd the Knowledge of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, and particularly Moral Philofophy, the Mathematicks, Geography and History, and with all these Qualifications is born a Poet, knows, and can practise the Variety of Numbers, and is Master of the Language in which he writes; if fuck a Man, I say, be now arisen, or shall arise, I am vain enough to think, that I have propos'd á Model to him, by which he may build a Nobler, a more Beautiful, and more Perfect Poem, than any yet extant since the Ancients
There is another Part of these Machines yet wanting; but by what I have said, it wou'd have been eafily supply'd by a Judicious Writer. He cou'd not have fail'd to add the Opposition of ill Spirits to the good; they have also their Delign, ever oppolite to that of Heaven; and this alo é has hitherto been the Pradice of the Moderas; But
this imperfect System, if I may call it such, which I have given, will infinitely advance and carry farther that Hypothesis of the Evil Spirits contending with the Good. For being so much weaker fince their Fall, than those Blessed Beings, they are yet suppos'd to have a permitted Power of God, of a&ing ill, as from their own deprav'd Nature they have always the Will of designing it. A great Testimony of which we find in Holy Writ, when God Almighty suffer'd Satan to appear in the Holy Synod of the Angels, (a thing not hitherto drawn into Example by any of the Poets,) and also gave him Power over all things belonging to his Servant Job, excepting only Life.
Now what thele Wicked Spirits cannot compass, by the vast disproportion of their Forces to those of the Superior Beings, they may by their Fraud and Conning carry farther, in a feer.ing League, Confederacy, or Subserviency to the Der tigns of some good Angel, as far as confits with his Purity, to suffer fuch 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 Being: Yet fince a Devil can appear like an Angel of Light; lince Craft and Malice may sometimes blind for a while a more perfect 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 hiin in his Works.
I kuow not why, upon the same Suppofition, or some other, a Fiend may not deceive a Creature of more Excellency than himfelf, but yet a
Creature; at least by the Connivance, or tacit Permiffi:n of the Omniscient Being.
Thus, my Lord, I have, as briefly as I cou'd, given your Lordship, and by you the World, a sude 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 Attempt of such a Poem) and to have left the Stage, to 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 whica à Poet is particularly oblig'd: Of two Subjects, both relating to it, I was doubtful, whether I mould chuse that of King Arthur conquering the Saxons; which being farther distant in Time, gives the greater Scope to my Invention: Or that of Edward the Black Prince in fubduing Spain, and restoring it to the Lawful Prince, tho' a great Tyrant, Don Pedro the Cruel : Which for the compals of Time, including only the Expedition of one Year; for the Greatness of the Aaion, and its answerable Event; for the Magnanimity of the English Heroe, oppos’d to the Ingratitude of the Person whom he restord; and for the many beautiful Episodes, which I had interwoven with the principal Design, together with the Characters of the chiefest English Perfons; wherein, after Virgil and Spencer, I would have taken occasion to represent my living Friends and Patrons of the noblest Families, and also fhadow'd the Events of future Ages, in the Succession of our Imperial. Line : With these Helps, and those of the Machines, which I have mention'd; I might perhaps have done as well as some of my Predeceffors; 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
Jittle Salary ill paid, and no prospect of a future Subfistence, 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 disenabld me. Tho'l must ever acknowledge, to the Honour of your Lordship, and the eternal Memory of your Charity, that since this Revolution, wherein I have patiently suffer'd the Ruin of my small For. tune, and the loss of that poor Sublistence which I had from Two Kings, whom I had serv’d more faithfully than profitably to my felt; 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 Cons dition can be ever able to perform. May the Als mighty God return it for me, both in Blessing you here, and Rewarding you hereafter. I must not presume to defend the Cause for which I now fuf. fer, because your Lordship is engag'd against it: But the.mre you are so, the greater is my Oby ligation to you: For your laying aside all the Confiderations of Fa&tions and Partien, to do an Action of pure disinteress's Charity. This is one amongst many of your thining Qualities, which dilling uith you from others of your Rank: But let me add a farther Truth, That without these Ties of Gratitude, and abstracting from theżn all, I have a molt particular Inclination to Honour you; and, it 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. Auguftus Cæfar of old, and Cardinal Richlieu of late, wou'd willingly have been such; and David' and Salomon were such. You, who? without Flattery, are the best of the present Age in England, and wou'd 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 intitld you, or your Merits have acquir'd you.
Ne, forte, pudori. Sit Tibi Musa Lyræ folers, & Cantor Apollo. 1 bave formerly said in this Epistle, that I cou'd diftinguith your Writings from those of any others : 'Tis now time to clear my self from any Imputation of Self-conceit on that Subject. I assume not to my self any particular Lights in this Discovery; they are fuch only as are obvious to every Man of Sense and Judment, who loves Poetry, and understands it. Your Thoughts are always to 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 calts 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 Suocess attends your Lordhrip's Thoughts, which would look like Chance, if it were not perpetual, and always of the fame Tenour. If I grant that there is Care in it, ?ris fuch a Care as wou'd be ineffeétual and fruitless in other Men. 'Tis the Curiofa felicitas which Petronius ascribes to Horace in his Odes.