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without a genius, nay without learning or much reading. This must necessarily be of great use to all those who confess they never read, and of whom the world is convinced they never learn. Moliere observes of making a dinner, that any man can do it with money, and if a professed cook cannot do it without, he has his art for nothing: the same may be said of making a poem, it is easily brought about by him that has a genius, but the skill lies in doing it without one. In pursuance of this end, I shall present the reader with a plain and certain recipe, by which any author in the bathos may be qualified for this grand performance.
For the FABLE.
Take out of any old poem, history-book, romance, or legend (for instance, Geoffrey of Monmouth or Don Belianis of Greece) those parts of the story which afford most scope for long descriptions: put these pieces together, and throw all the adventures you fancy into one tale. Then take a hero, whom you may choose for the sound of his name, and put him into the midst of these adventures: there let him work for twelve books; at the end of which you may take him out, ready prepared to conquer or to marry; it being necessary that the conclusion of an epick poem be fortunate.
To make an Episov E.
• Take any remaining adventure of your former collection, in which you could no way involve your hero: or any unfortunate accident, that was too good to be thrown away; and it will be of use, applied to any other person, who may be lost and evaporate in
E 4. the
the course of the work, without the least damage to the composition.
For the MoRAL and ALLEGoRY.
These you may extract out of the fable afterward, at your leisure: be sure you strain them sufficiently.
For the MANNERs.
For those of the hero, take all the best qualities you can find in the most celebrated heroes of antiquity; if they will not be reduced to a consistency, lay them all on a heap upon him. But be sure they are qualities, which your patron would be thought to have ; and to prevent any mistake, which the world may be subject to, select from the alphabet those capital letters that compose his name, and set them at the head of a dedication before your poem. However, do not absolutely observe the exact quantity of these virtues, it not being determined whether or not it be necessary for the hero of a poem to be an honest man. For the under characters, gather them from Homer and Virgil, and change the names as occaS1CIl SCI VCS.
For the MAcHINEs.
Take of deities, male and female, as many as you can use: separate them into two equal parts, and keep Jupiter in the middle; let Juno put him in a ferment, and Venus mollify him. Remember on all occasions to make use of volatile Mercury. If you have need of devils, draw them out of Milton's Paradise, and extract your spirits from Tasso. The use of these machines is evident; since no epick poem can possibly subsist without them, the wisest way is - t()
to reserve them for your greatest necessities: when you cannot extricate your hero by any human means, or yourself by your own wit, seek relief from Heaven, and the Gods will do your business very readily. This is according to the direct prescription of Horace in his Art of Poetry.
Nec deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus
That is to say, a poet should never call upon the Gods for their assistance, but when he is in great
For a tempest. Take Eurus, Zephyr, Auster and Boreas, and cast them together in one verse: add to these of rain, lightning and thunder (the loudest you can) quantum sufficit. Mix your clouds and billows well together till they foam, and thicken your description here and there with a quicksand. Brew your tempest well in your head, before you set it a blowing.
For a battle. Pick a large quantity of images and descriptions from Homer's Iliad, with a spice or two of Virgil, and if there remain any overplus, you may lay them by for a skirmish. Season it well with similes, and it will make an excellent battle.
For a burning town. If such a description be necessary (because it is certain there is one in Virgil) old Troy is ready burnt to your hands. But if you fear that would be thought borrowed, a chapter or two of Burnet's Theory of the Conflagration, well circumstanced and done into verse, will be a good
Succedaneum. A S
As for similes and metaphors, they may be found all over the creation; the most ignorant may gather them, but the difficulty is in applying them. For this advise with your bookseller.
IT may be thought that we should not wholly omit
living) made publick in the year 1720, in a project signed with their names, and dated the second of February. I cannot better conclude than by presenting the reader with the substance of it. 1. It is proposed, that the two theatres be incorporated into one company; that the royal academy of musick be added to them as an orchestra; and that Mr. Figg with his prize-fighters, and Violante with the rope-dancers, be admitted in partnership. 2. That a spacious building be erected at the publick expense, capable of containing at least ten thousand spectators; which is become absolutely necessary by the great addition of children and nurses to the audience, since the new entertainments *. That there be a stage as large as the Athenian, which was near ninety thousand geometrical paces square, and separate divisions for the two houses of parliament, my lords the judges, the honourable the directors of the academy, and the court of aldermen, who shall all have their places frank. 3. If Westminster-hall be not allotted to this service (which by reason of its proximity to the two chambers of parliament above mentioned seems not altogether improper) it is left to the wisdom of the nation whether Somerset-house may not be demolished, and a theatre built upon that site, which lies convenient to receive spectators from the county of Surry, who may be wasted thither by water-carriage, esteemed by all projectors the cheapest whatsoever. To this may be added, that the river Thames may in the readiest manner convey those eminent personages from courts beyond the seas, who may be drawn
* Pantomimes were then first exhibited in England.