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Reason, when he pleases. Consequently, what Plea. ' sure, what Entertainment can be rais'd from so pitiful-a. Machine, where we see the Success of the Battle from the very Beginning of it; unless that, as we are Cbriftians, we are glad that we have gotten God on our fide, to maul our Enemies, when we cannot do the Work ourselves ? For if the Poet had given the Faithful more Courage, which had cost him nothing, or at least had, made them exceed the Turks in Number, then he might have gain’d the Victory for us Christians, without interefting Heaven in the Quarrel; and that with as much Ease, and as little Credit to the Conqueror, as when a. Party of 100 Soldiers defeats another, which confifts,
only of 50.
This, my Lord, I confess, is such an Argument against our Modern Poetry, as cannot be answered by those Mediums which have been us'd. We cannot hitherto boast, that our Religion 'has furnish'd us with any such Machines, as have made the Strength and Beauty of the Ancient Buildings.
But what if I venture to advance an Invention of my own, to supply the manifest Defect of our new Writers? I am sufficiently sensible of my Weakness; and, 'tis not very probable that I shou'd succeed in fuch a Project, whereof I have not had the least Hint from any of my Predecessors, the Poets, or any of their Seconds, and Coadjutors, the Critiques. Yet we see the Art of War is improv'd in Sieges, and new. Instruments of Death are invented daily : Something new in Philofophy, and the Mechanicks is discover'd almost every Year: And the Science of former Ages is improv'd by the succeed. ing. I will not detain you with a long Preamble to that, which better Judges will, perhaps, conclude to be little worth.
'Tis this, in short, That Christian Poets have not his therto been acquainted with their own Strength. If they
had search'd the Old Testament as they ought, they ntigbe there have found the Machines which are proper før their Work; and those more certain in their effect, than it may be the New Teftament is, in the Rules suf. ficient for Salvation. The perufing of one Chapter in the Prophecy of Daniel, and accommodating what there they find, with the Principles of Platonique Philofophy, as it is now Chriftianiz'd, wou'd have the Ministry of Angels as strong an "Engine, for the working up Heroique Poetry, in our Religion, as that of the Ancients has been to raise theirs by all the Fables of their Gods, which were only receiv'd for Truths by the most ignorant and weakest of the People.
'Tis a Doctrine almost universally receiv'd by Chriftians, as well Protestants as Catholicks, That there are Guardian Angels appointed by God Almighty, as his Vicegerents, for the Protection and Government of Cities, Provinces, Kingdoms, and Monarchies ; and those as well of Heathens, as of true Believers. All this is to plainly prov'd from those Texts of Daniel, that it ad-, mits of no farther Controversy. The Prince of the Pero fians, and that other of the Grecians, are granted to be the Guardians and Prote&ting Ministers of those Em. pires. It cannot be deny'd, that they were opposite, and refifted one another. St. Michael is mention'd by his Name; as the Patron of the Jews, and is now taken) by the Chriftians, as the Protector General of our Religion. Thefe Tutelar Genii, who presided over the feveral People and Regions committed to their Charge, were watchful over them for good, as far as their Commiffions cou'd possibly extend. The general Purpose, and Design of all, was certainly the Service of their Great CREATOR. But 'tis an undoubted Truth, that for Ends best known to the Almighty Majesty of Heaven, his Providential Designs for the Benefit of his Croatures, for the debasing and punishing of some Nations,
and the Exaltation and Temporal Reward of others, were not wholly known to these his Minifters; else why those fa&ious Quarrels, Controversies, and Battles, amongst themselves, when they were all united in the same Design, the Service and Honour of their Common Mafter ? But being instructed only in the general, and zealous of the main Design; and as Finite Beings, not admitted into the Secrets of Government, the last Reforts of Providence, or capable of discovering the final Purposes of GOD, who can work Good out of Evil, as he pleafes; and irresistibly sways all manner of Events on Earth, directing them finally for the best, to his Creation in general, and to the ultimate End of his own Glory in particular: They muft of necesity be sometimes ignorant of the Means conducing to those Ends, in which alone they can jar and oppose each other. One Angel, as we may suppose: the Prince of Perfia, as he is call’d, judging, that it would be more for God's Ho, nour, and the Benefit of his people, that the Median and Perfian Monarchy, when deliver'd from the Baby bonish Captivity, shou'd fill be uppermost : And the Pas tron of the Grecians, to whom the Will of God might be more particularly reveald, contending on the other fide, for the Rise of Alexander and his Successors, who were appointed to punish the Backsliding Jews, and thereby to put them in mind of their Offences, that they might repent, and become more virtuous, and more obfervient of the Law reveal'd. But how far these Controversies and appearing Enmities of those glorious Creatures may be carry'd; how these Oppofitions may beft be manag'd, and by what Means conducted, is not my Business to thew or determine : These things must 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 Chriftian Use ; for (as Virgil gives us to understand by his Example): he is the only proper Person, of all others for an Epique Poem, who to his Natural Endowments, of a large Invention, a ripe Judg. ment, and a strong Memory, has join'd the Knowledge of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, and particularly Moral Philosophy, the Mathematicks, Geography and History, and with all thele Qualifications is born a Poet; knows, and can practise the Variety of Numbers, and is Mafer of the Language in which he writes ; if such a Man, I say, be now arisen, or shall arise, I am vain enough to think, that I have propos'd a 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 want. ing; but by what I have said, it wou'd have been casily 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 Design, ever opposite to that of Heaven; and this alone has hitherto been the Practice of the Moderns : 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 fuppos'd to have a permitted Power of God, of acting 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 alt things belonging to his Servant Job, excepting only Life.
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 Subserviency to the Designs of some good Angel, as far as consists with his Purity, to suffer such an Aid, the End of which may possibly be disguis'd, and conceal'd from his finite Knowledge.' This is indeed to suppose a great Error in such a Being: Yet fince a Devil can appear like an Angel of Light ; fince Craft and Malice may sometimes blind for a while a more perfect Underkanding; and lastly, fince Milton has given us an Example of the like Nature, when Satan appearing like a Cherab to Uriel, the Intelligence of the Sun, circum. vented him even in his own Province, and passid 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 fome other, a 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, givea your Lorddhip, and by you the World, a rude 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 in. clin'd me, for a Work which wou'd have taken up my Life in the Performance of it. This too, I had intend-.' ed 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 should choose that of King Arthur conquering the Saxons ; which being farther diftant in Time, gives the greater