The king being proclaimed, the solemnity is graced with public games and sports of various kinds; not instituted by the hero, as by Aeneas in Virgil, but for greater honour by the goddess in person (in like manner as the games Pythia, Isthmia, &c., were anciently said to be ordained by the gods, and as Thetis herself appearing, according to Homer, Odyss. xxiv., proposed the prizes in honour of her son Achilles). Hither flock the poets and critics, attended, as is but just, with their patrons and booksellers. The goddess is first pleased, for her disport, to propose games to the booksellers, and setteth up the phantom of a poet, which they contend to overtake. The races described, with their divers accidents. Next, the game for a poetess. Then follow the exercises for the poets, of tickling, vociferating, diving: The first holds forth the arts and practices of dedicators; the second of disputants and fustian poets; the third of profound, dark, and dirty party-writers. Lastly, for the critics, the goddess proposes (with great propriety) an exercise, not of their parts, but their patience, in hearing the works of two voluminous authors, one in verse, and the other in prose, deliberately read, without sleeping: the various effects of which, with the several degrees and manners of their operation, are here set forth; till the whole number, not of critics only, but of spectators, actors, and all present, fall fast asleep; which naturally and necessarily ends the games.
High on a gorgeous seat, that far out-shone
Or that where on her Curlls the public pours,3
All-bounteous, fragrant grains and golden showers,
Great Cibber sate: the proud Parnassian sneer,
The conscious simper, and the jealous leer,
Mix on his look: all eyes direct their rays
On him, and crowds turn coxcombs as they gaze.
His peers shine round him with reflected grace,
New edge their dulness, and new bronze their face.
So from the sun’s broad beam, in shallow urns
Heaven’s twinkling sparks draw light, and point their horns.
Not with more glee, by hands Pontific crown’d,
With scarlet hats wide-waving circled round,
Rome in her Capitol saw Querno sit,4
Throned on seven hills, the Antichrist of wit.
And now the queen, to glad her sons, proclaims
By herald hawkers, high heroic games.
They summon all her race: an endless band
Pours forth, and leaves unpeopled half the land.
A motley mixture! in long wigs, in bags,
In silks, in crapes, in garters, and in rags,
From drawing-rooms, from colleges, from garrets,
On horse, on foot, in hacks, and gilded chariots:
All who true dunces in her cause appear’d,
And all who knew those dunces to reward.
Amid that area wide they took their stand,
Where the tall maypole once o’er-looked the Strand,
But now (so Anne and piety ordain)
A church collects the saints of Drury Lane.
With authors, stationers obey’d the call,
(The field of glory is a field for all).
Glory and gain the industrious tribe provoke;
And gentle Dulness ever loves a joke.
A poet’s form she placed before their eyes,
And bade the nimblest racer seize the prize;
No meagre, muse-rid mope, adust and thin,
In a dun night-gown of his own loose skin;
But such a bulk as no twelve bards could raise,
Twelve starveling bards of these degenerate days.
All as a partridge plump, full-fed, and fair,
She form’d this image of well-bodied air;
With pert flat eyes she window’d well its head;
A brain of feathers, and a heart of lead;
And empty words she gave, and sounding strain,
But senseless, lifeless! idol void and vain!
Never was dash’d out, at one lucky hit,5
A fool, so just a copy of a wit;
So like, that critics said, and courtiers swore,
A wit it was, and call’d the phantom More.6
All gaze with ardour: some a poet’s name,
Others a sword-knot and laced suit inflame.
But lofty Lintot7 in the circle rose:
‘This prize is mine; who tempt it are my foes;
With me began this genius, and shall end.’
He spoke: and who with Lintot shall contend?
Fear held them mute. Alone, untaught to fear,
Stood dauntless Curll:8 ‘Behold that rival here!
The race by vigour, not by vaunts is won;
So take the hindmost Hell.’ He said, and run.
Swift as a bard the bailiff leaves behind,
He left huge Lintot, and out-stripp’d the wind.
As when a dab-chick waddles through the copse
On feet and wings, and flies, and wades, and hops:
So labouring on, with shoulders, hands, and head,
Wide as a wind-mill all his figure spread,
With arms expanded Bernard rows his state,
And left-legg’d Jacob9 seems to emulate.
Full in the middle way there stood a lake,
Which Curll’s Corinna10 chanced that morn to make:
(Such was her wont, at early dawn to drop
Her evening cates before his neighbour’s shop,)
Here fortuned Curll to slide; loud shout the band,
And Bernard! Bernard! rings through all the Strand.
Obscene with filth the miscreant lies bewray’d,
Fallen in the plash his wickedness had laid:
Then first (if poets aught of truth declare)
The caitiff vaticide conceived a prayer:
‘Hear, Jove! whose name my bards and I adore,
As much at least as any god’s, or more;
And him and his if more devotion warms,
Down with the Bible, up with the Pope’s arms.’11
A place there is, betwixt earth, air, and seas,12
Where, from Ambrosia, Jove retires for ease.
There in his seat two spacious vents appear,
On this he sits, to that he leans his ear,
And hears the various vows of fond mankind;
Some beg an eastern, some a western wind:
All vain petitions, mounting to the sky,
With reams abundant this abode supply;
Amused he reads, and then returns the bills
Sign’d with that ichor which from gods distils.
In office here fair Cloacina stands,
And ministers to Jove with purest hands.
Forth from the heap she pick’d her votary’s prayer,
And placed it next him, a distinction rare!
Oft had the goddess heard her servant’s call,
From her black grottos near the Temple-wall,
Listening delighted to the jest unclean
Of link-boys vile, and watermen obscene;
Where as he fish’d her nether realms for wit,
She oft had favour’d him, and favours yet.
Renew’d by ordure’s sympathetic force,
As oil’d with magic juices for the course,
Vigorous he rises; from the effluvia strong
Imbibes new life, and scours and stinks along;
Repasses Lintot, vindicates the race,
Nor heeds the brown dishonours of his face.
And now the victor stretch’d his eager hand
Where the tall Nothing stood, or seem’d to stand;
A shapeless shade, it melted from his sight,
Like forms in clouds, or visions of the night.
To seize his papers, Curll, was next thy care;
His papers light, fly diverse, toss’d in air;
Songs, sonnets, epigrams the winds uplift,
And whisk them back to Evans, Young, and Swift.13
The embroider’d suit at least he deem’d his prey,
That suit an unpaid tailor snatch’d away.
No rag, no scrap, of all the beau, or wit,
That once so flutter’d, and that once so writ.
Heaven rings with laughter: of the laughter vain,
Dulness, good queen, repeats the jest again.
Three wicked imps, of her own Grub Street choir,
She deck’d like Congreve, Addison, and Prior;
Mears, Warner, Wilkins run: delusive thought!
Breval, Bond, Bezaleel,14 the varlets caught.
Curll stretches after Gay, but Gay is gone,
He grasps an empty Joseph15 for a John:
So Proteus, hunted in a nobler shape,
Became, when seized, a puppy, or an ape.
To him the goddess: ‘Son! thy grief lay down,
And turn this whole illusion on the town:16
As the sage dame, experienced in her trade,
By names of toasts retails each batter’d jade;
(Whence hapless Monsieur much complains at Paris
Of wrongs from duchesses and Lady Maries;)
Be thine, my stationer! this magic gift;
Cook shall be Prior,17 and Concanen, Swift:
So shall each hostile name become our own,
And we too boast our Garth and Addison.’
With that she gave him (piteous of his case,
Yet smiling at his rueful length of face18)
A shaggy tapestry, worthy to be spread
On Codrus’ old, or Dunton’s modern bed;19
Instructive work! whose wry-mouth’d portraiture
Display’d the fates her confessors endure.
Earless on high, stood unabash’d Defoe,
And Tutchin flagrant from the scourge below.20
There Ridpath, Roper,21 cudgell’d might ye view,
The very worsted still look’d black and blue.
Himself among the storied chiefs he spies,22
As, from the blanket, high in air he flies,
And oh! (he cried) what street, what lane but knows
Our purgings, pumpings, blanketings, and blows?
In every loom our labours shall be seen,
And the fresh vomit run for ever green!
See in the circle next, Eliza23 placed,
Two babes of love close clinging to her waist;
Fair as before her works she stands confess’d, 159
In flowers and pearls by bounteous Kirkall24 dress’d.
The goddess then: ‘Who best can send on high
The salient spout, far-streaming to the sky;
His be yon Juno of majestic size,
With cow-like udders, and with ox-like eyes.
This China Jordan let the chief o’ercome
Replenish, not ingloriously, at home.’
Osborne25 and Curll accept the glorious strife,
(Though this his son dissuades, and that his wife;)
One on his manly confidence relies,
One on his vigour and superior size.
First Osborne lean’d against his letter’d post;
It rose, and labour’d to a curve at most.
So Jove’s bright bow displays its watery round
(Sure sign, that no spectator shall be drown’d),
A second effort brought but new disgrace,
The wild meander wash’d the artist’s face:
Thus the small jet, which hasty hands unlock,
Spurts in the gardener’s eyes who turns the cock.
Not so from shameless Curll; impetuous spread
The stream, and smoking flourish’d o’er his head.
So (famed like thee for turbulence and horns)
Eridanus his humble fountain scorns;
Through half the heavens he pours the exalted urn;
His rapid waters in their passage burn.
Swift as it mounts, all follow with their eyes:
Still happy impudence obtains the prize.
Thou triumph’st, victor of the high-wrought day,
And the pleased dame, soft-smiling, lead’st away.
Osborne, through perfect modesty o’ercome,
Crown’d with the Jordan, walks contented home.
But now for authors nobler palms remain;
Room for my lord! three jockeys in his train;
Six huntsmen with a shout precede his chair:
He grins, and looks broad nonsense with a stare.
His honour’s meaning Dulness thus express’d,
‘He wins this patron, who can tickle best.’
He chinks his purse, and takes his seat of state:
With ready quills the dedicators wait;
Now at his head the dext’rous task commence,
And, instant, fancy feels the imputed sense;
Now gentle touches wanton o’er his face,
He struts Adonis, and affects grimace:
Rolli26 the feather to his ear conveys,
Then his nice taste directs our operas:
Bentley27 his mouth with classic flattery opes,
And the puff’d orator bursts out in tropes.
But Welsted28 most the poet’s healing balm
Strives to extract from his soft, giving palm;
Unlucky Welsted! thy unfeeling master,
The more thou ticklest, gripes his fist the faster.
While thus each hand promotes the pleasing pain,
And quick sensations skip from vein to vein;
A youth unknown to Phoebus, in despair,
Puts his last refuge all in Heaven and prayer.
What force have pious vows! The Queen of Love
Her sister sends, her votaress, from above.
As taught by Venus, Paris learn’d the art
To touch Achilles’ only tender part;
Secure, through her, the noble prize to carry,
He marches off, his Grace’s secretary.
‘Now turn to different sports (the goddess cries),
And learn, my sons, the wondrous power of noise.
To move, to raise, to ravish every heart,
With Shakspeare’s nature, or with Jonson’s art,
Let others aim: ’tis yours to shake the soul
With thunder rumbling from the mustard bowl,29
With horns and trumpets now to madness swell,
Now sink in sorrows with a tolling bell;
Such happy arts attention can command,
When fancy flags, and sense is at a stand.
Improve we these. Three cat-calls be the bribe
Of him whose chattering shames the monkey tribe:
And his this drum whose hoarse heroic bass
Drowns the loud clarion of the braying ass.’
Now thousand tongues are heard in one loud din:
The monkey-mimics rush discordant in;
’Twas chattering, grinning, mouthing, jabbering all,
And noise and Norton, brangling and Breval,30
Dennis and dissonance, and captious art,
And snip-snap short, and interruption smart,
And demonstration thin, and theses thick,
And major, minor, and conclusion quick.
‘Hold’ (cried the queen) ‘a cat-call each shall win;
Equal your merits! equal is your din!
But that this well-disputed game may end,
Sound forth, nay brayers, and the welkin rend.’
As when the long-ear’d milky mothers wait
At some sick miser’s triple-bolted gate,
For their defrauded, absent foals they make
A moan so loud, that all the guild awake;
Sore sighs Sir Gilbert, starting at the bray,
From dreams of millions, and three groats to pay.
So swells each windpipe; ass intones to ass,
Harmonic twang! of leather, horn, and brass;
Such as from labouring lungs the enthusiast blows,
High sound, attemper’d to the vocal nose,
Or such as bellow from the deep divine;
But far o’er all, sonorous Blackmore’s strain;
Walls, steeples, skies, bray back to him again.
In Tottenham fields, the brethren, with amaze,
Prick all their ears up, and forget to graze;
‘Long Chancery Lane retentive rolls the sound,
And courts to courts return it round and round;
Thames wafts it thence to Rufus’ roaring hall,
And Hungerford reechoes bawl for bawl.
All hail him victor in both gifts of song,
Who sings so loudly, and who sings so long.
This labour past, by Bridewell all descend,
(As morning prayer, and flagellation end)33
To where Fleet-ditch with disemboguing streams
Rolls the large tribute of dead dogs to Thames,
The king of dikes! than whom no sluice of mud
With deeper sable blots the silver flood.
‘Here strip, my children! here at once leap in,
Here prove who best can dash through thick and thin,34
And who the most in love of dirt excel,
Or dark dexterity of groping well.
Who flings most filth, and wide pollutes around
The stream, be his the weekly journals35 bound;
A pig of lead to him who dives the best;
A peck of coals a-piece36 shall glad the rest.’
In naked majesty Oldmixon stands,37
And, Milo-like, surveys his arms and hands;
Then sighing, thus, ‘And am I now threescore?
Ah why, ye gods! should two and two make four?’
He said, and climb’d a stranded lighter’s height,
Shot to the black abyss, and plunged downright.
The senior’s judgment all the crowd admire,
Who but to sink the deeper, rose the higher.
Next Smedley dived;38 slow circles dimpled o’er
The quaking mud, that closed, and oped no more.
All look, all sigh, and call on Smedley lost;
‘Smedley!’ in vain, resounds through all the coast.
Then Hill39 essay’d; scarce vanish’d out of sight,
He buoys up instant, and returns to light:
He bears no token of the sable streams,
And mounts far off among the swans of Thames.
True to the bottom, see Concanen creep,
A cold, long-winded, native of the deep:
If perseverance gain the diver’s prize,
Not everlasting Blackmore this denies:
No noise, no stir, no motion can’st thou make,
The unconscious stream sleeps o’er thee like a lake.
Next plunged a feeble, but a desperate pack,
With each a sickly brother at his back:40
Sons of a day! just buoyant on the flood,
Then number’d with the puppies in the mud.
Ask ye their names? I could as soon disclose
The names of these blind puppies as of those.
Fast by, like Niobe (her children gone)
Sits Mother Osborne,41 stupified to stone!
And monumental brass this record bears,
‘These are — ah no! these were, the gazetteers!’42
Not so bold Arnall;43 with a weight of skull,
Furious he dives, precipitately dull.
Whirlpools and storms his circling arm invest,
With all the might of gravitation bless’d.
No crab more active in the dirty dance,
Downward to climb, and backward to advance.
He brings up half the bottom on his head,
And loudly claims the journals and the lead.
The plunging Prelate,44 and his ponderous Grace,
With holy envy gave one layman place.
When, lo! a burst of thunder shook the flood,
Slow rose a form, in majesty of mud:
Shaking the horrors of his sable brows,
And each ferocious feature grim with ooze.
Greater he looks, and more than mortal stares:
Then thus the wonders of the deep declares.
First he relates, how sinking to the chin,
Smit with his mien, the mud-nymphs suck’d him in:
How young Lutetia, softer than the down,
Nigrina black, and Merdamante brown,
Vied for his love in jetty bowers below,
As Hylas fair was ravish’d long ago.
Then sung, how, shown him by the nut-brown maids;
A branch of Styx here rises from the shades,
That, tinctured as it runs with Lethe’s streams,
And wafting vapours from the land of dreams,
(As under seas Alpheus’ secret sluice
Bears Pisa’s offerings to his Arethuse,)
Pours into Thames: and hence the mingled wave
Intoxicates the pert, and lulls the grave:
Here brisker vapours o’er the Temple creep,
There, all from Paul’s to Aldgate drink and sleep.
Thence to the banks where reverend bards repose,
They led him soft; each reverend bard arose;
And Milbourn45 chief, deputed by the rest,
Gave him the cassock, surcingle, and vest.
‘Receive (he said) these robes which once were mine,
Dulness is sacred in a sound divine.’
He ceased, and spread the robe; the crowd confess
The reverend Flamen in his lengthen’d dress.
Around him wide a sable army stand,
A low-born, cell-bred, selfish, servile band,
Prompt or to guard or stab, to saint or damn,
Heaven’s Swiss, who fight for any god, or man.
Through Lud’s famed gates,46 along the well-known Fleet
Rolls the black troop, and overshades the street,
Till showers of sermons, characters, essays,
In circling fleeces whiten all the ways:
So clouds replenish’d from some bog below,
Mount in dark volumes, and descend in snow.
Here stopp’d the goddess; and in pomp proclaims
A gentler exercise to close the games.
‘Ye critics! in whose heads, as equal scales,
I weigh what author’s heaviness prevails,
Which most conduce to soothe the soul in slumbers,
My Henley’s periods, or my Blackmore’s numbers,
Attend the trial we propose to make:
If there be man, who o’er such works can wake,
Sleep’s all-subduing charms who dares defy,
And boasts Ulysses’ ear with Argus’ eye;
To him we grant our amplest powers to sit
Judge of all present, past, and future wit;
To cavil, censure, dictate, right or wrong,
Full and eternal privilege of tongue.’
Three college Sophs, and three pert Templars came,
The same their talents, and their tastes the same;
Each prompt to query, answer, and debate,
And smit with love of poesy and prate.
The ponderous books two gentle readers bring;
The heroes sit, the vulgar form a ring.
The clamorous crowd is hush’d with mugs of mum,
Till all, tuned equal, send a general hum.
Then mount the clerks, and in one lazy tone
Through the long, heavy, painful page drawl on;
Soft creeping, words on words, the sense compose,
At every line they stretch, they yawn, they doze.
As to soft gales top-heavy pines bow low
Their heads, and lift them as they cease to blow,
Thus oft they rear, and oft the head decline,
As breathe, or pause, by fits, the airs divine;
And now to this side, now to that they nod,
As verse or prose infuse the drowsy god.
Thrice Budgell aim’d to speak,47 but thrice suppress’d
By potent Arthur, knock’d his chin and breast.
Toland and Tindal,48 prompt at priests to jeer,
Yet silent bow’d to Christ’s no kingdom here.49
Who sate the nearest, by the words o’ercome,
Slept first; the distant nodded to the hum.
Then down are roll’d the books; stretch’d o’er ’em lies
Each gentle clerk, and, muttering, seals his eyes,
As what a Dutchman plumps into the lakes,
One circle first, and then a second makes;
What Dulness dropp’d among her sons impress’d
Like motion from one circle to the rest;
So from the midmost the nutation spreads
Round and more round, o’er all the sea of heads.
At last Centlivre50 felt her voice to fail,
Motteux51 himself unfinished left his tale,
Boyer the state, and Law the stage gave o’er,52
Norton,55 from Daniel and Ostroea sprung,
Bless’d with his father’s front and mother’s tongue,
Hung silent down his never-blushing head;
And all was hush’d, as Polly’s self lay dead.
Thus the soft gifts of sleep conclude the day,
And stretch’d on bulks, as usual, poets lay.
Why should I sing what bards the nightly Muse
Did slumbering visit, and convey to stews;
Who prouder march’d, with magistrates in state,
To some famed round-house, ever open gate!
How Henley lay inspired beside a sink,
And to mere mortals seem’d a priest in drink;
While others, timely, to the neighbouring Fleet
(Haunt of the Muses!) made their safe retreat?
VER. 207 in the first edition —
But Oldmixon the poet’s healing balm, &c.
After VER. 298 in the first edition, followed these —
Far worse unhappy D——r succeeds,
He searched for coral, but he gather’d weeds.
VER. 399. In the first edition it was —
Collins and Tindal, prompt at priests to jeer.
VER. 413. In the first edition it was —
T——s and T—— the Church and State gave o’er,
Nor —— talk’d nor S—— whisper’d more.
1 ‘Henley’s gilt tub:’ the pulpit of a dissenter is usually called a tub; but that of Mr Orator Henley was covered with velvet, and adorned with gold. He had also a fair altar, and over it is this extraordinary inscription, ‘The Primitive Eucharist.’ See the history of this person, book iii.
2 ‘Flecknoe’s Irish throne:’ Richard Flecknoe was an Irish priest, but had laid aside (as himself expressed it) the mechanic part of priesthood. He printed some plays, poems, letters, and travels. — P.
3 ‘Or that whereon her Curlls the public pours:’ Edmund Curll stood in the pillory at Charing Cross, in March 1727–8. ‘This,’ saith Edmund Curll, ‘is a false assertion. I had, indeed, the corporal punishment of what the gentlemen of the long robe are pleased jocosely to call mounting the rostrum for one hour; but that scene of action was not in the month of March, but in February’ (Curliad, 12mo, p. 19). And of the history of his being tossed in a blanket, he saith — ‘Here, Scriblerus! thou leeseth in what thou assertest concerning the blanket — it was not a blanket, but a rug,’ p. 25. Much in the same manner Mr Cibber remonstrated, that his brothers at Bedlam, mentioned book i., were not brazen, but blocks; yet our author let it pass unaltered, as a trifle that no way altered the relationship. — P.
4 ‘Rome in her Capitol saw Querno sit:’ Camillo Querno was of Apulia, who, hearing the great encouragement which Leo X. gave to poets, travelled to Rome with a harp in his hand, and sung to it twenty thousand verses of a poem called Alexias. He was introduced as a buffoon to Leo, and promoted to the honour of the laurel — a jest which the court of Rome and the pope himself entered into so far as to cause him to ride on an elephant to the Capitol, and to hold a solemn festival on his coronation, at which it is recorded the poet himself was so transported as to weep for joy.* He was ever after a constant frequenter of the pope’s table, drank abundantly, and poured forth verses without number. Paulus Jovius, Elog. Vir. doct. chap. lxxxii. Some idea of his poetry is given by Fam. Strada, in his Prolusions. — P.
* See Life of C.C. chap. vi. p. 149.
5 ‘Never was dash’d out, at one lucky hit:’ our author here seems willing to give some account of the possibility of Dulness making a wit (which could be done no other way than by chance). The fiction is the more reconciled to probability, by the known story of Apelles, who being at a loss to express the foam of Alexander’s horse, dashed his pencil in despair at the picture, and happened to do it by that fortunate stroke. — P.
6 ‘And call’d the phantom More:’ Curll, in his Key to the Dunciad, affirmed this to be James Moore Smith, Esq., and it is probable (considering what is said of him in the Testimonies) that some might fancy our author obliged to represent this gentleman as a plagiary, or to pass for one himself. His case, indeed, was like that of a man I have heard of, who, as he was sitting in company, perceived his next neighbour had stolen his handkerchief. ‘Sir,’ said the thief, finding himself detected, ‘do not expose me, I did it for mere want; be so good but to take it privately out of my pocket again, and say nothing.’ The honest man did so, but the other cried out, ‘See, gentlemen, what a thief we have among us! look, he is stealing my handkerchief!’— P. — Moore was a notorious plagiarist. — It appears from hence, that this is not the name of a real person, but fictitious. More, from [Greek: moros], stultus, [Greek: moria], stultitia, to represent the folly of a plagiary. Thus Erasmus, Admonuit me Mori cognomen tibi, quod tam ad Moriae vocabulum accedit quam es ipse a re alienus. Dedication of Moriae Encomium to Sir Tho. More; the farewell of which may be our author’s to his plagiary, Vale, More! et moriam tuam gnaviter defende. Adieu, More! and be sure strongly to defend thy own folly! Scribl. — P.
7 ‘But lofty Lintot:’ we enter here upon the episode of the booksellers, persons whose names being more known and famous in the learned world than those of the authors in this poem, do therefore need less explanation. The action of Mr Lintot here imitates that of Dares in Virgil, rising just in this manner to lay hold on a bull. This eminent bookseller printed the Rival Modes before-mentioned. — P.
8 ‘Stood dauntless Curll:’ we come now to a character of much respect, that of Mr Edmund Curll. As a plain repetition of great actions is the best praise of them, we shall only say of this eminent man, that he carried the trade many lengths beyond what it ever before had arrived at; and that he was the envy and admiration of all his profession. He possessed himself of a command over all authors whatever; he caused them to write what he pleased; they could not call their very names their own. He was not only famous among these; he was taken notice of by the state, the church, and the law, and received particular marks of distinction from each. It will be owned that he is here introduced with all possible dignity: he speaks like the intrepid Diomede; he runs like the swift-footed Achilles; if he falls, ’tis like the beloved Nisus; and (what Homer makes to be the chief of all praises) he is favoured of the gods; he says but three words, and his prayer is heard; a goddess conveys it to the seat of Jupiter: though he loses the prize, he gains the victory; the great mother herself comforts him, she inspires him with expedients, she honours him with an immortal present (such as Achilles receives from Thetis, and Aeneas from Venus) at once instructive and prophetical: after this he is unrivalled and triumphant. The tribute our author here pays him is a grateful return for several unmerited obligations. Many weighty animadversions on the public affairs, and many excellent and diverting pieces on private persons, has he given to his name. If ever he owed two verses to any other, he owed Mr Curll some thousands. He was every day extending his fame, and enlarging his writings: witness innumerable instances; but it shall suffice only to mention the Court Poems, which he meant to publish as the work of the true writer, a lady of quality; but being first threatened, and afterwards punished for it by Mr Pope, he generously transferred it from her to him, and ever since printed it in his name. The single time that ever he spoke to C. was on that affair, and to that happy incident he owed all the favours since received from him: so true is the saying of Dr Sydenham, ‘that any one shall be, at some time or other, the better or the worse for having but seen or spoken to a good or bad man.’— P.
9 ‘Left-legged Jacob:’ Jacob Tonson.
10 ‘Curll’s Corinna:’ this name, it seems, was taken by one Mrs T— — who procured some private letters of Mr Pope, while almost a boy, to Mr Cromwell, and sold them without the consent of either of those gentleman to Curll, who printed them in 12mo, 1727. He discovered her to be the publisher, in his Key, p. 11. We only take this opportunity of mentioning the manner in which those letters got abroad, which the author was ashamed of as very trivial things, full not only of levities, but of wrong judgments of men and books, and only excusable from the youth and inexperience of the writer. — P. — See Life.
11 ‘Down with the Bible, up with the Pope’s Arms:’ the Bible, Curll’s sign; the Cross-keys, Lintot’s.
12 ‘Seas:’ see Lucian’s Icaro–Menippus, where this fiction is more extended. — P.
13 ‘Evans, Young, and Swift:’ some of those persons whose writings, epigrams, or jests he had owned. — P.
14 ‘Bezaleel:’ Bezaleel Morris was author of some satires on the translators of Homer, with many other things printed in newspapers. ‘Bond wrote a satire against Mr P——. Capt. Breval was author of the Confederates, an ingenious dramatic performance to expose Mr P., Mr Gay, Dr Arb., and some ladies of quality,’ says Curll, Key, p. 11. — P.
15 ‘Joseph:’ Joseph Gay, a fictitious name put by Curll before several pamphlets, which made them pass with many for Mr Gay’s. — P.
16 ‘And turn this whole illusion on the town:’ it was a common practice of this bookseller to publish vile pieces of obscure hands under the names of eminent authors. — P.
17 ‘Cook shall be Prior:’ the man here specified wrote a thing called the Battle of the Poets, in which Philips and Welsted were the heroes, and Swift and Pope utterly routed. He also published some malevolent things in the British, London, and Daily journals; and at the same time wrote letters to Mr Pope protesting his innocence. His chief work was a translation of Hesiod, to which Theobald wrote notes and half-notes, which he carefully owned. — P.
18 ‘Rueful length of face:’ ‘the decrepit person or figure of a man are no reflections upon his genius; an honest mind will love and esteem a man of worth, though he be deformed or poor. Yet the author of the Dunciad hath libelled a person for his rueful length of face!’— Mist’s Journal, June 8. This genius and man of worth, whom an honest mind should love, is Mr Curll. True it is he stood in the pillory, an incident which would lengthen the face of any man though it were ever so comely, therefore is no reflection on the natural beauty of Mr Curll. But as to reflections on any man’s face or figure Mr Dennis saith excellently: ‘Natural deformity comes not by our fault; ’tis often occasioned by calamities and diseases, which a man can no more help than a monster can his deformity. There is no one misfortune and no one disease but what all the rest of mankind are subject to. But the deformity of this author is visible, present, lasting, unalterable, and peculiar to himself. ’Tis the mark of God and nature upon him, to give us warning that we should hold no society with him, as a creature not of our original, nor of our species; and they who have refused to take this warning which God and nature have given them, and have, in spite of it, by a senseless presumption, ventured to be familiar with him, have severely suffered, &c. ’Tis certain his original is not from Adam, but from the Devil,’ &c. — Dennis, Character of Mr P., octavo, 1716. Admirably it is observed by Mr Dennis against Mr Law, p. 33, ‘That the language of Billingsgate can never be the language of charity, nor consequently of Christianity.’— P.
19 ‘On Codrus’ old, or Dunton’s modern bed:’ of Codrus the poet’s bed, see Juvenal, describing his poverty very copiously, Sat. iii. ver. 103, &c. John Dunton was a broken bookseller, and abusive scribbler. He wrote Neck or Nothing, a violent satire on some ministers of state; a libel on the Duke of Devonshire, and the Bishop of Peterborough, &c. — P.
20 ‘And Tutchin flagrant from the scourge:’ John Tutchin, author of some vile verses, and of a weekly paper called the Observator. He was sentenced to be whipped through several towns in the west of England, upon which he petitioned King James II. to be hanged. When that prince died in exile, he wrote an invective against his memory, occasioned by some humane elegies on his death. He lived to the time of Queen Anne. — P.
21 ‘There Ridpath, Roper:’ authors of the Flying-post and Post-boy, two scandalous papers on different sides, for which they equally and alternately deserved to be cudgelled, and were so. — P.
22 ‘Himself among the storied chiefs he spies:’ the history of Curll’s being tossed in a blanket and whipped by the scholars of Westminster is well known. — P.
23 ‘Eliza:’ Eliza Haywood. This woman was authoress of those most scandalous books called the Court of Carimania, and the New Utopia. — P.
24 ‘Kirkall:’ the name of an engraver. Some of this lady’s works were printed in four volumes in 12mo, with her picture thus dressed up before them. — P.
25 ‘Osborne, Thomas;’ a bookseller in Gray’s Inn, very well qualified by his impudence to act this part; and therefore placed here instead of a less deserving predecessor. This man published advertisements for a year together, pretending to sell Mr Pope’s subscription books of Homer’s Iliad at half the price. Of which books he had none, but cut to the size of them (which was quarto) the common books in folio, without copperplates, on a worse paper, and never above half the value. — P. This was the man Johnson knocked down.
26 ‘Rolli:’ Paolo Antonio Rolli, an Italian poet, and writer of many operas in that language, which, partly by the help of his genius, prevailed in England near twenty years. He taught Italian to some fine gentlemen, who affected to direct the operas. — P.
27 ‘Bentley:’ this applies not to Richard but to Thomas Bentley, his nephew, and a small imitator of his great uncle.
28 ‘Welsted:’ Leonard Welsted, author of the Triumvirate, or a Letter in verse from Palaemon to Celia at Bath, which was meant for a satire on Mr P. and some of his friends about the year 1718. — P.
29 ‘With thunder rumbling from the mustard bowl:’ the old way of making thunder and mustard were the same; but since it is more advantageously performed by troughs of wood with stops in them. Whether Mr Dennis was the inventor of that improvement, I know not; but it is certain that being once at a tragedy of a new author, he fell into a great passion at hearing some, and cried, ”Sdeath! that is my thunder.’— P.
30 ‘Norton:’ see ver. 417. — J. Durant Breval, author of a very extra-ordinary Book of Travels, and some poems. — P.
31 ‘Webster:’ the editor of a newspaper called the Weekly Miscellany.
32 ‘Whitfield:’ the great preacher — what a contrast to his satirist!
33 ‘As morning prayer, and flagellation end:’ it is between eleven and twelve in the morning, after church service, that the criminals are whipped in Bridewell. This is to mark punctually the time of the day: Homer does it by the circumstance of the judges rising from court, or of the labourers’ dinner; our author by one very proper both to the persons and the scene of his poem, which we may remember commenced in the evening of the Lord-mayor’s day. The first book passed in that night; the next morning the games begin in the Strand; thence along Fleet Street (places inhabited by booksellers); then they proceed by Bridewell towards Fleet-ditch; and, lastly, through Ludgate to the City and the temple of the goddess. — P.
34 ‘Dash through thick and thin — love of dirt — dark dexterity:’ the three chief qualifications of party-writers: to stick at nothing, to delight in flinging dirt, and to slander in the dark by guess. — P.
35 ‘The weekly journals:’ papers of news and scandal intermixed, on different sides and parties, and frequently shifting from one side to the other, called the London Journal, British Journal, Daily Journal, &c., the concealed writers of which for some time were Oldmixon, Roome, Arnall, Concanen, and others; persons never seen by our author. — P.
36 ‘A peck of coals a-piece:’ our indulgent poet, whenever he has spoken of any dirty or low work, constantly puts us in mind of the poverty of the offenders, as the only extenuation of such practices. Let any one but remark, when a thief, a pickpocket, a highwayman, or a knight of the post are spoken of, how much our hate to those characters is lessened, if they add a needy thief, a poor pickpocket, a hungry highwayman, a starving knight of the post, &c. — P.
37 ‘In naked majesty Oldmixon stands:’ Mr John Oldmixon, next to Sir Dennis the most ancient critic of our nation. — P.
38 ‘Next Smedley dived:’ the person here mentioned, an Irishman, was author and publisher of many scurrilous pieces, a weekly Whitehall journal, in the year 1722, in the name of Sir James Baker; and particularly whole volumes of Billingsgate against Dr Swift and Mr Pope, called Gulliveriana and Alexandriana, printed in octavo, 1728. — P.
39 ‘Aaron Hill:’ see life.
40 ‘With each a sickly brother at his back: sons of a day, &c:’ these were daily papers, a number of which, to lessen the expense, were printed one on the back of another. — P.
41 ‘Osborne:’ a name assumed by the eldest and gravest of these writers, who at last, being ashamed of his pupils, gave his paper over, and in his age remained silent. — P.
42 ‘Gazetteers:’ temporary journals, the ephemerals of the then press, the spawn of the minister of the hour, ‘born and dying with the foul breath that made them.’
43 ‘William Arnall:’ bred an attorney, was a perfect genius in this sort of work. He began under twenty with furious party-papers; then succeeded Concanen in the ‘British Journal.’ At the first publication of the ‘Dunciad,’ he prevailed on the author not to give him his due place in it, by a letter professing his detestation of such practices as his predecessor’s. But since, by the most unexampled insolence, and personal abuse of several great men, the poet’s particular friends, he most amply deserved a niche in the temple of infamy: witness a paper, called the ‘Free Briton;’ a dedication entitled, ‘To the genuine blunderer,’ 1732, and many others. He wrote for hire, and valued himself upon it; not indeed without cause, it appearing that he received ‘for Free Britons, and other writings, in the space of four years, no less than ten thousand nine hundred and ninety-seven pounds, six shillings, and eight pence, out of the Treasury.’ But frequently, through his fury or folly, he exceeded all the bounds of his commission, and obliged his honourable patron to disavow his scurrilities. — P.
44 ‘The plunging prelate:’ Bishop Sherlock.
45 ‘And Milbourn:’ Luke Milbourn, a clergyman, the fairest of critics, who, when he wrote against Mr Dryden’s Virgil, did him justice in printing at the same time his own translations of him, which were intolerable. — P.
46 ‘Lud’s famed gates:’ ‘King Lud, repairing the city, called it after his own name, Lud’s Town; the strong gate which he built in the west part he likewise, for his own honour, named Ludgate. In the year 1260, this gate was beautified with images of Lud and other kings. Those images in the reign of Edward VI. had their heads smitten off, and were otherwise defaced by unadvised folks. Queen Mary did set new heads upon their old bodies again. The 28th of Queen Elizabeth, the same gate was clean taken down, and newly and beautifully builded, with images of Lud and others, as afore.’ Stowe’s Survey of London. — P.
47 ‘Thrice Budgell aim’d to speak:’ famous for his speeches on many occasions about the South Sea Scheme, &c. ‘He is a very ingenious gentleman, and hath written some excellent Epilogues to Plays, and one small piece on Love, which is very pretty.’ Jacob, Lives of Poets, vol. ii. p. 289. But this gentleman since made himself much more eminent, and personally well known to the greatest statesmen of all parties, as well as to all the courts of law in this nation. — P.
48 ‘Toland and Tindal:’ two persons, not so happy as to be obscure, who wrote against the religion of their country. Toland, the author of the Atheist’s liturgy, called ‘Pantheisticon,’ was a spy, in pay to Lord Oxford. Tindal was author of the ‘Rights of the Christian Church,’ and ‘Christianity as Old as the Creation.’ He also wrote an abusive pamphlet against Earl S— — which was suppressed, while yet in MS., by an eminent person, then out of the ministry, to whom he showed it, expecting his approbation: this doctor afterwards published the same piece, mutatis mutandis, against that very person. — P.
49 ‘Christ’s no kingdom here:’ this is said by Curll, Key to Dunc., to allude to a sermon of a reverend Bishop (Hoadley). — P.
50 ‘Centlivre:’ Mrs Susanna Centlivre, wife to Mr Centlivre, Yeoman of the Mouth to his Majesty. She wrote many plays, and a song (says Mr Jacob, vol. i. p. 32) before she was seven years old. She also wrote a ballad against Mr Pope’s Homer, before he began it. — P.
51 ‘Motteux:’ translator of Don Quixote.
52 ‘Boyer the state, and Law the stage gave o’er:’ A. Boyer, a voluminous compiler of annals, political collections, &c. — William Law, A.M., wrote with great zeal against the stage; Mr Dennis answered with as great. — P. William Law was an extraordinary man. His ‘Serious Call’ made Dr Johnson religious. He became mystical in his views.
53 ‘Morgan:’ a writer against religion.
54 ‘Mandeville:’ the famous author of the ‘Fable of the Bees.’
55 ‘Norton:’ Norton Defoe, natural offspring of the famous Daniel. He edited the ‘Flying Post,’ and was a detractor of Pope.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59