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images, as our true modern writers set before them. I have observed how fast the general Taste is returning to this first Simplicity and Innocence: and if the intent of all Poetry be to divert and instruct, certainly that kind which diverts and instructs the greatest number, is to be preferred. Let us look round among the Admirers of Poetry, we shall find those who have a taste of the Sublime to be very few; but the Profund strikes universally, and is adapted to every capacity. 'Tis a fruitless undertaking to write for men of a nice and foppish Gusto, whom after all it is almost impossible to please; and 'tis still more chimerical to write for Posterity, of whose Taste we cannot make any judgment, and whose Applause we can never enjoy. It must be confessed our wiser authors have a present end,
Et prodesse volunt et dele&tare Poeta. Their true design is Profit or Gain; in order to acquire which, 'tis necessary to procure applause by administring pleasure to the reader : From whence it follows demonstrably, that their productions must be suited to the present Taste. And I cannot but congratulate our age on this peculiar felicity, that though we have made indeed great progress in all other branches of Luxury, we are not yet debauched with any high Relish in Poes try, but are in this one Taste less nice than our ancestors. If an Art is to be estimated by its suc
cess, I appeal to experience whether there have not been, in proportion to their number, as many starving good Poets, as bad ones. · Nevertheless, in making Gain the principal end of our Art, far be it from me to exclude any great Genius's of Rank or Fortune from diverting themselves this way. They ought to be praised no lero than those Princes, who pass their vacant hours in some ingenious mechanical or manual Art. And to such as these, it would be ingratitude not to own, that our Art has been often infinitely indebted.
CH A P. III. The Necessity of the Bathos, physically
Arthermore, it were great cruelty and injurr tice, if all such Authors as cannot write in the other way, were prohibited from writing at all. Against this I draw an argument from what seems to me an undoubted physical Maxim, That Poetry is a natural or morbid Secretion from the Brain. As I would not suddenly stop a cold in the head, or dry up my neighbour's Iilue, I would as little hinder him from neceffary writing. It may be affirmed with great truth, that there is hardly any
human creature past childhood, but at one time or other has had some Poetical Evacuation, and, no question, was much the better for it in his health ; so true is the saying, Nasimur Poeta. Therefore is the Desire of Writing properly term’d Pruritus, the “ Titillation of the Generative Faculty of the “ Brain,” and the Person is said to conceive ; now such as conceive must bring forth. I have known a man thoughful, melancholy and raving for divers days, who forthwith grew wonderfully easy, lightsome, and chearful, upon a discharge of the peccant humour, in exceeding purulent Metre. Nor can I question, but abundance of untimely deaths are occasioned for want of this laudable vent of unruly passions: yea, perhaps, in poor wretches, (which is very lamentable) for mere want of pen, ink, and paper ! From hence it follows, that a suppression of the very worst Poetry is of dangerous consequence to the State. We find by experience, that the same humours which vent themselves in summer in Ballads and Sonnets, are condensed by the winter's cold into Pamphlets and Speeches for and against the Ministry: Nay, I know not but many times a piece of Poetry may be the most innocent composition of a Minister himself.
It is therefore manifest that Midiocrity ought to be allowed, yea indulged, to the good subiccts of England. Nor can I conceive how the world has swallowed the contrary as a Maxim, upon the fin
gle authority of that - Horace? Why should the golden Mean, and quintessence of all Virtues, be deemed so offensive in this Art? or Coolness or Mediocrity be so amiable a quality in a Man, and so detestable in a Poet?
However, far be it from me to compare these Writers with those great spirits, who are born with a Vivacité de pesanteur, or (as an English Author calls it) an “ Alacrity of sinking;” and who by strength of Nature alone can excel. All I mean is to evince the Necessity of Rules to these lesser Genius's, as well as the Usefulness of them to the greater.
CHA P. IV. That there is an Art of the Bathos, or
Profund. U E come now to prove, that there is an
V Art of Sir king in Poetry. Is there not an Architecture of Vaults and Cellars, as well as of lofty Domes and Pyramids ? Is there not as much skill and labour in making Dikes, as in raising Mounts ? Is there not an Art of Diving as well as of Flying? And will any sober practitioner affirm, that a diving Engine is not of singular use in making him long-windeu, aflisting his fight,
• Mediocribus eft fortis Non dii, non homines, cc.
and furnishing him with other ingenious means of keeping under water ?
If we search the Authors of Antiquity, we thall find as few to have been distinguished in the true Profund, as in the true Sublime. And the very same thing (as it appears from Longinus) had been imagined of that, as now of this: namely, that it was entirely the Gift of Nature. I grant that to excel in the Bathos a Genius is requisite ; yet the Rules of Art must be allowed fo far useful, as to add weight, or, as I may say, hang on lead, to facilitate and enforce our descent, to guide us to the most advantageous declivities, and habituate our imagination to a depth of thinking. Many there are that can fall, but few can arrive at the felicity of falling gracefully; much more for a man who is amongst the lowest of the Creation, at the very bottom of the Atmosphere, to descend beneath himself, is not so easy a task unless he calls
in Art to his assistance. It is with the Bathos as · with small Beer, which is indeed vapid and insi.
pid, if left at large, and let abroad; but being by our Rules confined and well stopt, nothing grows so frothy, pert, and bouncing.
The Sublime of Nature is the Sky, the Sun, Moon, Stars, etc. The Profund of Nature is Gold, Pearls, precious Stones, and the Treasures of the Deep, which are inestimable as unknown. But all that lies between these, as Corn, Flower, Fruits, Animals, and Things for the meer use of