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University of Adelaide
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It is with pleasure I hear that you have procured a correct copy of ‘The Dunciad,’ which the many surreptitious ones have rendered so necessary; and it is yet with more, that I am informed it will be attended with a commentary; a work so requisite, that I cannot think the author himself would have omitted it, had he approved of the first appearance of this poem.
Such notes as have occurred to me I herewith send you: you will oblige me by inserting them amongst those which are, or will be, transmitted to you by others; since not only the author’s friends but even strangers appear engaged by humanity, to take some care of an orphan of so much genius and spirit, which its parent seems to have abandoned from the very beginning, and suffered to step into the world naked, unguarded, and unattended.
It was upon reading some of the abusive papers lately published, that my great regard to a person, whose friendship I esteem as one of the chief honours of my life, and a much greater respect to truth, than to him or any man living, engaged me in inquiries, of which the enclosed notes are the fruit.
I perceived that most of these authors had been (doubtless very wisely) the first aggressors. They had tried till they were weary, what was to be got by railing at each other; nobody was either concerned or surprised, if this or that scribbler was proved a dunce. But every one was curious to read what could be said to prove Mr Pope one, and was ready to pay something for such a discovery; a stratagem which, would they fairly own it, might not only reconcile them to me, but screen them from the resentment of their lawful superiors, whom they daily abuse, only (as I charitably hope) to get that by them, which they cannot get from them.
I found this was not all. Ill success in that had transported them to personal abuse, either of himself, or (what I think he could less forgive) of his friends. They had called men of virtue and honour bad men, long before he had either leisure or inclination to call them bad writers; and some had been such old offenders, that he had quite forgotten their persons as well as their slanders, till they were pleased to revive them.
Now what had Mr Pope done before to incense them? He had published those works which are in the hands of everybody, in which not the least mention is made of any of them. And what has he done since? He has laughed, and written ‘The Dunciad.’ What has that said of them? A very serious truth, which the public had said before, that they were dull; and what it had no sooner said, but they themselves were at great pains to procure, or even purchase, room in the prints to testify under their hands to the truth of it.
I should still have been silent, if either I had seen any inclination in my friend to be serious with such accusers, or if they had only meddled with his writings; since whoever publishes, puts himself on his trial by his country. But when his moral character was attacked, and in a manner from which neither truth nor virtue can secure the most innocent; in a manner which, though it annihilates the credit of the accusation with the just and impartial, yet aggravates very much the guilt of the accusers; I mean by authors without names; then I thought, since the danger was common to all, the concern ought to be so; and that it was an act of justice to detect the authors, not only on this account, but as many of them are the same who, for several years past, have made free with the greatest names in Church and State, exposed to the world the private misfortunes of families, abused all, even to women, and whose prostituted papers (for one or other party, in the unhappy divisions of their country) have insulted the fallen, the friendless, the exiled, and the dead.
Besides this, which I take to be a public concern, I have already confessed I had a private one. I am one of that number who have long loved and esteemed Mr Pope; and had often declared it was not his capacity or writings (which we ever thought the least valuable part of his character), but the honest, open, and beneficent man, that we most esteemed, and loved in him. Now if what these people say were believed, I must appear to all my friends either a fool, or a knave; either imposed on myself, or imposing on them; so that I am as much interested in the confutation of these calumnies as he is himself.
I am no author, and consequently not to be suspected either of jealousy or resentment against any of the men, of whom scarce one is known to me by sight; and as for their writings, I have sought them (on this one occasion) in vain, in the closets and libraries of all my acquaintance. I had still been in the dark if a gentleman had not procured me (I suppose from some of themselves, for they are generally much more dangerous friends than enemies) the passages I send you. I solemnly protest I have added nothing to the malice or absurdity of them; which it behoves me to declare, since the vouchers themselves will be so soon and so irrecoverably lost. You may in some measure prevent it, by preserving at least their titles, and discovering (as far as you can depend on the truth of your information) the names of the concealed authors.
The first objection I have heard made to the poem is, that the persons are too obscure for satire. The persons themselves, rather than allow the objection, would forgive the satire; and if one could be tempted to afford it a serious answer, were not all assassinates, popular insurrections, the insolence of the rabble without doors, and of domestics within, most wrongfully chastised, if the meanness of offenders indemnified them from punishment? On the contrary, obscurity renders them more dangerous, as less thought of: law can pronounce judgment only on open facts; morality alone can pass censure on intentions of mischief; so that for secret calumny, or the arrow flying in the dark, there is no public punishment left, but what a good writer inflicts.
The next objection is, that these sort of authors are poor. That might be pleaded as an excuse at the Old Bailey for lesser crimes than defamation (for ’tis the case of almost all who are tried there), but sure it can be none: for who will pretend that the robbing another of his reputation supplies the want of it in himself? I question not but such authors are poor, and heartily wish the objection were removed by any honest livelihood. But poverty is here the accident, not the subject: he who describes malice and villany to be pale and meagre, expresses not the least anger against paleness or leanness, but against malice and villany. The apothecary in Romeo and Juliet is poor; but is he therefore justified in vending poison? Not but poverty itself becomes a just subject of satire, when it is the consequence of vice, prodigality, or neglect of one’s lawful calling; for then it increases the public burden, fills the streets and highways with robbers, and the garrets with clippers, coiners, and weekly journalists.
But admitting that two or three of these offend less in their morals than in their writings, must poverty make nonsense sacred? If so, the fame of bad authors would be much better consulted than that of all the good ones in the world; and not one of a hundred had ever been called by his right name.
They mistake the whole matter: it is not charity to encourage them in the way they follow, but to get them out of it; for men are not bunglers because they are poor, but they are poor because they are bunglers.
Is it not pleasant enough to hear our authors crying out on the one hand, as if their persons and characters were too sacred for satire; and the public objecting on the other, that they are too mean even for ridicule? But whether bread or fame be their end, it must be allowed, our author, by and in this poem, has mercifully given them a little of both.
There are two or three who, by their rank and fortune, have no benefit from the former objections, supposing them good; and these I was sorry to see in such company. But if, without any provocation, two or three gentlemen will fall upon one, in an affair wherein his interest and reputation are equally embarked, they cannot, certainly, after they have been content to print themselves his enemies, complain of being put into the number of them.
Others, I am told, pretend to have been once his friends. Surely they are their enemies who say so, since nothing can be more odious than to treat a friend as they have done. But of this I cannot persuade myself, when I consider the constant and eternal aversion of all bad writers to a good one.
Such as claim a merit from being his admirers, I would gladly ask, if it lays him under a personal obligation? At that rate, he would be the most obliged humble servant in the world. I dare swear for these in particular, he never desired them to be his admirers, nor promised in return to be theirs: that had truly been a sign he was of their acquaintance; but would not the malicious world have suspected such an approbation of some motive worse than ignorance in the author of the Essay on Criticism? Be it as it will, the reasons of their admiration and of his contempt are equally subsisting, for his works and theirs are the very same that they were.
One, therefore, of their assertions I believe may be true — ‘That he has a contempt for their writings.’ And there is another, which would probably be sooner allowed by himself than by any good judge beside — ‘That his own have found too much success with the public.’ But as it cannot consist with his modesty to claim this as justice, it lies not on him, but entirely on the public, to defend its own judgment.
There remains what in my opinion might seem a better plea for these people than any they have made use of. If obscurity or poverty were to exempt a man from satire, much more should folly or dulness, which are still more involuntary; nay, as much so as personal deformity. But even this will not help them: deformity becomes an object of ridicule when a man sets up for being handsome; and so must dulness when he sets up for a wit. They are not ridiculed because ridicule in itself is, or ought to be, a pleasure, but because it is just to undeceive and vindicate the honest and unpretending part of mankind from imposition, because particular interest ought to yield to general, and a great number who are not naturally fools ought never to be made so, in complaisance to a few who are. Accordingly we find that in all ages, all vain pretenders, were they ever so poor or ever so dull, have been constantly the topics of the most candid satirists, from the Codrus of Juvenal to the Damon of Boileau.
Having mentioned Boileau, the greatest poet and most judicious critic of his age and country, admirable for his talents, and yet perhaps more admirable for his judgment in the proper application of them, I cannot help remarking the resemblance betwixt him and our author, in qualities, fame, and fortune, in the distinctions shown them by their superiors, in the general esteem of their equals, and in their extended reputation amongst foreigners; in the latter of which ours has met with the better fate, as he has had for his translators persons of the most eminent rank and abilities in their respective nations. But the resemblance holds in nothing more than in their being equally abused by the ignorant pretenders to poetry of their times, of which not the least memory will remain but in their own writings, and in the notes made upon them. What Boileau has done in almost all his poems, our author has only in this: I dare answer for him he will do it in no more; and on this principle, of attacking few but who had slandered him, he could not have done it at all, had he been confined from censuring obscure and worthless persons, for scarce any other were his enemies. However, as the parity is so remarkable, I hope it will continue to the last; and if ever he shall give us an edition of this poem himself, I may see some of them treated as gently, on their repentance or better merit, as Perrault and Quinault were at last by Boileau.
In one point I must be allowed to think the character of our English poet the more amiable. He has not been a follower of fortune or success; he has lived with the great without flattery — been a friend to men in power, without pensions, from whom, as he asked, so he received no favour but what was done him in his friends. As his satires were the more just for being delayed, so were his panegyrics; bestowed only on such persons as he had familiarly known, only for such virtues as he had long observed in them, and only at such times as others cease to praise, if not begin to calumniate them — I mean, when out of power or out of fashion. A satire, therefore, on writers so notorious for the contrary practice, became no man so well as himself; as none, it is plain, was so little in their friendships, or so much in that of those whom they had most abused — namely, the greatest and best of all parties. Let me add a further reason, that, though engaged in their friendships, he never espoused their animosities; and can almost singly challenge this honour, not to have written a line of any man, which, through guilt, through shame, or through fear, through variety of fortune, or change of interests, he was ever unwilling to own.
I shall conclude with remarking, what a pleasure it must be to every reader of humanity to see all along, that our author in his very laughter is not indulging his own ill-nature, but only punishing that of others. As to his poem, those alone are capable of doing it justice, who, to use the words of a great writer, know how hard it is (with regard both to his subject and his manner) vetustis dare novitatem, obsoletis nitorem, obscuris lucem, fastiditis gratiam. — I am
Your most humble servant,
ST JAMES’S, Dec. 22, 1728.
1 This gentleman was of Scotland, and bred at the university of Utrecht, with the Earl of Mar. He served in Spain under Earl Rivers. After the peace, he was made one of the Commissioners of the Customs in Scotland, and then of Taxes in England, in which having shewn himself for twenty years diligent, punctual, and incorruptible, though without any other assistance of fortune, he was suddenly displaced by the minister in the sixty-eighth year of his age, and died two months after, in 1741. — P.
I cannot but think it the most reasonable thing in the world to distinguish good writers, by discouraging the bad. Nor is it an ill-natured thing, in relation even to the very persons upon whom the reflections are made. It is true, it may deprive them, a little the sooner, of a short profit and a transitory reputation; but then it may have a good effect, and oblige them (before it be too late) to decline that for which they are so very unfit, and to have recourse to something in which they may be more successful.
The persons whom Boileau has attacked in his writings have been for the most part authors, and most of those authors, poets: and the censures he hath passed upon them have been confirmed by all Europe.
It is the common cry of the poetasters of the town, and their fautors, that it is an ill-natured thing to expose the pretenders to wit and poetry. The judges and magistrates may, with full as good reason, be reproached with ill-nature for putting the laws in execution against a thief or impostor. The same will hold in the republic of letters, if the critics and judges will let every ignorant pretender to scribbling pass on the world.
Attacks may be levelled either against failures in genius, or against the pretensions of writing without one.
A satire upon dulness is a thing that has been used and allowed in all ages.
Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, wicked scribbler.
Before we present thee with our exercitations on this most delectable poem (drawn from the many volumes of our Adversaria on modern authors) we shall here, according to the laudable usage of editors, collect the various judgments of the learned concerning our Poet: various indeed, not only of different authors, but of the same author at different seasons. Nor shall we gather only the testimonies of such eminent wits as would of course descend to posterity, and consequently be read without our collection; but we shall likewise, with incredible labour, seek out for divers others, which, but for this our diligence, could never, at the distance of a few months, appear to the eye of the most curious. Hereby thou may’st not only receive the delectation of variety, but also arrive at a more certain judgment, by a grave and circumspect comparison of the witnesses with each other, or of each with himself. Hence also, thou wilt be enabled to draw reflections, not only of a critical, but a moral nature, by being let into many particulars of the person as well as genius, and of the fortune as well as merit, of our author: in which, if I relate some things of little concern peradventure to thee, and some of as little even to him, I entreat thee to consider how minutely all true critics and commentators are wont to insist upon such, and how material they seem to themselves, if to none other. Forgive me, gentle reader, if (following learned example) I ever and anon become tedious: allow me to take the same pains to find whether my author were good or bad, well or ill-natured, modest or arrogant; as another, whether his author was fair or brown, short or tall, or whether he wore a coat or a cassock.
We purposed to begin with his life, parentage, and education: but as to these, even his cotemporaries do exceedingly differ. One saith,1 he was educated at home; another,2 that he was bred at St Omer’s by Jesuits; a third,3 not at St Omer’s, but at Oxford; a fourth,4 that he had no University education at all. Those who allow him to be bred at home differ as much concerning his tutor: one saith,5 he was kept by his father on purpose; a second,6 that he was an itinerant priest; a third,7 that he was a parson; one8 calleth him a secular clergyman of the Church of Rome; another,9 a monk. As little do they agree about his father, whom one10 supposeth, like the father of Hesiod, a tradesman or merchant; another,11 a husbandman; another,12 a hatter, &c. Nor has an author been wanting to give our Poet such a father as Apuleius hath to Plato, Jamblichus to Pythagoras, and divers to Homer, namely, a demon: For thus Mr Gildon13: ‘Certain it is, that his original is not from Adam, but the Devil; and that he wanteth nothing but horns and tail to be the exact resemblance of his infernal Father.’ Finding, therefore, such contrariety of opinions, and (whatever be ours of this sort of generation) not being fond to enter into controversy, we shall defer writing the life of our Poet, till authors can determine among themselves what parents or education he had, or whether he had any education or parents at all.
Proceed we to what is more certain, his Works, though not less uncertain the judgments concerning them; beginning with his Essay on Criticism, of which hear first the most ancient of critics —
‘His precepts are false or trivial, or both; his thoughts are crude and abortive, his expressions absurd, his numbers harsh and unmusical, his rhymes trivial and common:— instead of majesty, we have something that is very mean; instead of gravity, something that is very boyish; and instead of perspicuity and lucid order, we have but too often obscurity and confusion.’ And in another place: ‘What rare numbers are here! Would not one swear that this youngster had espoused some antiquated Muse, who had sued out a divorce from some superannuated sinner, upon account of impotence, and who, being poxed by her former spouse, has got the gout in her decrepid age, which makes her hobble so damnably.’14
No less peremptory is the censure of our hypercritical historian,
‘I dare not say anything of the Essay on Criticism in verse; but if any more curious reader has discovered in it something new which is not in Dryden’s prefaces, dedications, and his Essay on Dramatic Poetry, not to mention the French critics, I should be very glad to have the benefit of the discovery.’15
He is followed (as in fame, so in judgment) by the modest and simple-minded
who, out of great respect to our poet not naming him, doth yet glance at his essay, together with the Duke of Buckingham’s, and the criticisms of Dryden, and of Horace, which he more openly taxeth: ‘As to the numerous treatises, essays, arts, &c., both in verse and prose, that have been written by the moderns on this ground-work, they do but hackney the same thoughts over again, making them still more trite. Most of their pieces are nothing but a pert, insipid heap of common-place. Horace has even, in his Art of Poetry, thrown out several things which plainly shew he thought an Art of Poetry was of no use, even while he was writing one.’16
To all which great authorities, we can only oppose that of
‘The Art of Criticism (saith he), which was published some months since, is a master-piece in its kind. The observations follow one another, like those in Horace’s Art of Poetry, without that methodical regularity which would have been requisite in a prose writer. They are some of them uncommon, but such as the reader must assent to, when he sees them explained with that ease and perspicuity in which they are delivered. As for those which are the most known and the most received, they are placed in so beautiful a light, and illustrated with such apt allusions, that they have in them all the graces of novelty, and make the reader, who was before acquainted with them, still more convinced of their truth and solidity. And here give me leave to mention what Monsieur Boileau has so well enlarged upon in the preface to his works — that wit and fine writing doth not consist so much in advancing things that are new, as in giving things that are known an agreeable turn. It is impossible for us, who live in the latter ages of the world, to make observations in criticism, morality, or any art or science, which have not been touched upon by others; we have little else left us but to represent the common sense of mankind in more strong, more beautiful, or more uncommon lights. If a reader examines Horace’s Art of Poetry, he will find but few precepts in it which he may not meet with in Aristotle, and which were not commonly known by all the poets of the Augustan age. His way of expressing and applying them, not his invention of them, is what we are chiefly to admire.’
‘Longinus, in his Reflections, has given us the same kind of sublime which he observes in the several passages that occasioned them: I cannot but take notice that our English author has, after the same manner, exemplified several of the precepts in the very precepts themselves.’ He then produces some instances of a particular beauty in the numbers, and concludes with saying, ‘that there are three poems in our tongue of the same nature, and each a master-piece in its kind — the Essay on Translated Verse, the Essay on the Art of Poetry, and the Essay on Criticism.’17
Of Windsor Forest, positive is the judgment of the affirmative
But the author of the Dispensary,
in the preface to his poem of Claremont, differs from this opinion: ‘Those who have seen these two excellent poems of Cooper’s Hill and Windsor Forest — the one written by Sir John Denham, the other by Mr Pope — will shew a great deal of candour if they approve of this.’
Of the Epistle of ELOISA, we are told by the obscure writer of a poem called Sawney, ‘That because Prior’s Henry and Emma charmed the finest tastes, our author writ his Eloise in opposition to it, but forgot innocence and virtue: if you take away her tender thoughts and her fierce desires, all the rest is of no value.’ In which, methinks, his judgment resembleth that of a French tailor on a villa and gardens by the Thames: ‘All this is very fine, but take away the river and it is good for nothing.’
But very contrary hereunto was the opinion of
himself, saying in his Alma —
‘O Abelard! ill-fated youth,
Thy tale will justify this truth.
But well I weet thy cruel wrong
Adorns a nobler poet’s song:
Dan Pope, for thy misfortune grieved,
With kind concern and skill has weaved
A silken web; and ne’er shall fade
Its colours: gently has he laid
The mantle o’er thy sad distress,
And Venus shall the texture bless,’20 &c.
Come we now to his translation of the ILIAD, celebrated by numerous pens, yet shall it suffice to mention the indefatigable
who (though otherwise a severe censurer of our author) yet styleth this a ‘laudable translation.’21 That ready writer,
in his forementioned essay, frequently commends the same. And the painful
thus extols it: ‘The spirit of Homer breathes all through this translation. — I am in doubt whether I should most admire the justness to the original, or the force and beauty of the language, or the sounding variety of the numbers: but when I find all these meet, it puts me in mind of what the poet says of one of his heroes, that he alone raised and flung with ease a weighty stone, that two common men could not lift from the ground; just so, one single person has performed in this translation what I once despaired to have seen done by the force of several masterly hands.’22 Indeed, the same gentleman appears to have changed his sentiment in his Essay on the Art of Sinking in Reputation (printed in Mist’s Journal, March 30, 1728,) where he says thus:— ‘In order to sink in reputation, let him take into his head to descend into Homer (let the world wonder, as it will, how the devil he got there), and pretend to do him into English, so his version denote his neglect of the manner how.’ Strange variation! We are told in
‘That this translation of the Iliad was not in all respects conformable to the fine taste of his friend, Mr Addison; insomuch that he employed a younger Muse in an undertaking of this kind, which he supervised himself.’ Whether Mr Addison did find it conformable to his taste or not, best appears from his own testimony the year following its publication, in these words:
‘When I consider myself as a British freeholder, I am in a particular manner pleased with the labours of those who have improved our language with the translations of old Greek and Latin authors. — We have already most of their historians in our own tongue, and what is more for the honour of our language, it has been taught to express with elegance the greatest of their poets in each nation. The illiterate among our own countrymen may learn to judge from Dryden’s Virgil of the most perfect epic performance. And those parts of Homer which have been published already by Mr Pope, give us reason to think that the Iliad will appear in English with as little disadvantage to that immortal poem.’
As to the rest, there is a slight mistake, for this younger Muse was an elder: nor was the gentleman (who is a friend of our author) employed by Mr Addison to translate it after him, since he saith himself that he did it before.23 Contrariwise that Mr Addison engaged our author in this work appeareth by declaration thereof in the preface to the Iliad, printed some time before his death, and by his own letters of October 26, and November 2, 1713, where he declares it his opinion that no other person was equal to it.
Next comes his Shakspeare on the stage: ‘Let him (quoth one, whom I take to be
publish such an author as he has least studied, and forget to discharge even the dull duty of an editor. In this project let him lend the bookseller his name (for a competent sum of money) to promote the credit of an exorbitant subscription.’ Gentle reader, be pleased to cast thine eye on the proposal below quoted, and on what follows (some months after the former assertion) in the same journalist of June 8. ‘The bookseller proposed the book by subscription, and raised some thousands of pounds for the same: I believe the gentleman did not share in the profits of this extravagant subscription.
‘After the Iliad, he undertook (saith
the sequel of that work, the Odyssey; and having secured the success by a numerous subscription, he employed some underlings to perform what, according to his proposals, should come from his own hands.’ To which heavy charge we can in truth oppose nothing but the words of
‘I take this occasion to declare that the subscription for Shakspeare belongs wholly to Mr Tonson: And that the benefit of this proposal is not solely for my own use, but for that of two of my friends, who have assisted me in this work.’ But these very gentlemen are extolled above our poet himself in another of Mist’s Journals, March 30, 1728, saying, ‘That he would not advise Mr Pope to try the experiment again of getting a great part of a book done by assistants, lest those extraneous parts should unhappily ascend to the sublime, and retard the declension of the whole.’ Behold! these underlings are become good writers!
If any say, that before the said proposals were printed, the subscription was begun without declaration of such assistance, verily those who set it on foot, or (as their term is) secured it, to wit, the Right Honourable the Lord Viscount Harcourt, were he living, would testify, and the Right Honourable the Lord Bathurst, now living, doth testify the same is a falsehood.
Sorry I am, that persons professing to be learned, or of whatever rank of authors, should either falsely tax, or be falsely taxed. Yet let us, who are only reporters, be impartial in our citations, and proceed.
‘Mr Addison raised this author from obscurity, obtained him the acquaintance and friendship of the whole body of our nobility, and transferred his powerful interests with those great men to this rising bard, who frequently levied by that means unusual contributions on the public.’ Which surely cannot be, if, as the author of The Dunciad Dissected reporteth, ‘Mr Wycherley had before introduced him into a familiar acquaintance with the greatest peers and brightest wits then living.’
‘No sooner (saith the same journalist) was his body lifeless, but this author, reviving his resentment, libelled the memory of his departed friend; and, what was still more heinous, made the scandal public.’ Grievous the accusation! unknown the accuser! the person accused no witness in his own cause; the person, in whose regard accused, dead! But if there be living any one nobleman whose friendship, yea, any one gentleman whose subscription Mr Addison procured to our author, let him stand forth that truth may appear! Amicus Plato, amicus Socrates, sed magis amica veritas. In verity, the whole story of the libel is a lie. Witness those persons of integrity, who, several years before Mr Addison’s decease, did see and approve of the said verses, in nowise a libel but a friendly rebuke sent privately in our author’s own hand to Mr Addison himself, and never made public, till after their own journals and Curll had printed the same. One name alone, which I am here authorised to declare, will sufficiently evince this truth, that of the Eight Honourable the Earl of Burlington.
Next is he taxed with a crime (in the opinion of some authors, I doubt, more heinous than any in morality) to wit, plagiarism, from the inventive and quaint-conceited
‘Upon reading the third volume of Pope’s Miscellanies, I found five lines which I thought excellent; and happening to praise them, a gentleman produced a modern comedy (the Rival Modes) published last year, where were the same verses to a tittle. These gentlemen are undoubtedly the first plagiaries that pretend to make a reputation by stealing from a man’s works in his own life-time, and out of a public print.’24 Let us join to this what is written by the author of the Rival Modes, the said Mr James Moore Smith, in a letter to our author himself, who had informed him, a month before that play was acted, Jan. 27, 1726–7, that ‘these verses, which he had before given him leave to insert in it, would be known for his, some copies being got abroad. He desires, nevertheless, that since the lines had been read in his comedy to several, Mr P. would not deprive it of them,’ &c. Surely if we add the testimonies of the Lord Bolingbroke, of the lady to whom the said verses were originally addressed, of Hugh Bethel, Esq., and others, who knew them as our author’s, long before the said gentleman composed his play, it is hoped the ingenuous that affect not error will rectify their opinion by the suffrage of so honourable personages.
And yet followeth another charge, insinuating no less than his enmity both to Church and State, which could come from no other informer than the said
‘The Memoirs of a Parish Clerk was a very dull and unjust abuse of a person who wrote in defence of our religion and constitution, and who has been dead many years.’25 This seemeth also most untrue, it being known to divers that these memoirs were written at the seat of the Lord Harcourt in Oxfordshire, before that excellent person (Bishop Burnet’s) death, and many years before the appearance of that history of which they are pretended to be an abuse. Most true it is that Mr Moore had such a design, and was himself the man who pressed Dr Arbuthnot and Mr Pope to assist him therein; and that he borrowed those memoirs of our author, when that history came forth, with intent to turn them to such abuse. But being able to obtain from our author but one single hint, and either changing his mind, or having more mind than ability, he contented himself to keep the said memoirs, and read them as his own to all his acquaintance. A noble person there is, into whose company Mr Pope once chanced to introduce him, who well remembereth the conversation of Mr Moore to have turned upon the ‘contempt he had for the work of that reverend prelate, and how full he was of a design he declared himself to have of exposing it.’ This noble person is the Earl of Peterborough.
Here in truth should we crave pardon of all the foresaid right honourable and worthy personages, for having mentioned them in the same page with such weekly riff-raff railers and rhymers, but that we had their ever-honoured commands for the same; and that they are introduced not as witnesses in the controversy, but as witnesses that cannot be controverted; not to dispute, but to decide.
Certain it is, that dividing our writers into two classes, of such who were acquaintance, and of such who were strangers to our author; the former are those who speak well, and the other those who speak evil of him. Of the first class, the most noble
sums up his character in these lines:
‘And yet so wondrous, so sublime a thing,
As the great Iliad, scarce could make me sing,
Unless I justly could at once commend
A good companion, and as firm a friend;
One moral, or a mere well-natured deed,
Can all desert in sciences exceed.’26
So also is he deciphered by the honourable
‘Say, wondrous youth, what column wilt thou choose,
What laurell’d arch, for thy triumphant Muse?
Though each great ancient court thee to his shrine,
Though every laurel through the dome be thine.
Go to the good and just, an awful train!
Thy soul’s delight.’27
Recorded in like manner for his virtuous disposition and gentle bearing, by the ingenious
in this apostrophe:
‘Oh! ever worthy, ever crown’d with praise!
Bless’d in thy life, and bless’d in all thy lays.
Add, that the Sisters every thought refine,
And even thy life be faultless as thy line.
Yet Envy still with fiercer rage pursues,
Obscures the virtue, and defames the Muse.
A soul like thine, in pain, in grief, resign’d,
Views with just scorn the malice of mankind.’28
The witty and moral satirist,
wishing some check to the corruption and evil manners of the times, calleth out upon our poet to undertake a task so worthy of his virtue:
‘Why slumbers Pope, who leads the Muses’ train,
Nor hears that Virtue, which he loves, complain?’29
in his epistle on Verbal Criticism:
‘Whose life, severely scann’d, transcends his lays;
For wit supreme is but his second praise.’
that delicate and correct imitator of Tibullus, in his Love Elegies, Elegy xiv.:
‘Now, fired by Pope and Virtue, leave the age,
In low pursuit of self-undoing wrong,
And trace the author through his moral page,
Whose blameless life still answers to his song.’
in his elegant and philosophical poem of the Seasons:
‘Although not sweeter his own Homer sings,
Yet is his life the more endearing song.’
To the same tune also singeth that learned clerk of Suffolk,
‘Thus, nobly rising in fair Virtue’s cause,
From thy own life transcribe the unerring laws.’30
And to close all, hear the reverend Dean of St Patrick’s:
‘A soul with every virtue fraught,
By patriots, priests, and poets taught.
Whose filial piety excels
Whatever Grecian story tells.
A genius for each business fit,
Whose meanest talent is his wit,’ &c.
Let us now recreate thee by turning to the other side, and showing his character drawn by those with whom he never conversed, and whose countenances he could not know, though turned against him: first again, commencing with the high-voiced and never-enough quoted
who, in his ‘Reflections on the Essay on Criticism,’ thus describeth him, ‘A little affected hypocrite, who has nothing in his mouth but candour, truth, friendship, good-nature, humanity, and magnanimity. He is so great a lover of falsehood, that, whenever he has a mind to calumniate his cotemporaries, he brands them with some defect which is just contrary to some good quality for which all their friends and their acquaintance commend them. He seems to have a particular pique to people of quality, and authors of that rank. He must derive his religion from St Omer’s.’ But in the character of Mr P. and his writings (printed by S. Popping, 1716), he saith, ‘Though he is a professor of the worst religion, yet he laughs at it;’ but that ‘nevertheless he is a virulent Papist; and yet a pillar for the Church of England.’
Of both which opinions
seems also to be; declaring, in Mist’s Journal of June 22, 1718 — ‘That, if he is not shrewdly abused, he made it his practice to cackle to both parties in their own sentiments.’ But, as to his pique against people of quality, the same journalist doth not agree, but saith (May 8, 1728)— ‘He had, by some means or other, the acquaintance and friendship of the whole body of our nobility.’
However contradictory this may appear, Mr Dennis and Gildon, in the character last cited, make it all plain, by assuring us, ‘That he is a creature that reconciles all contradictions; he is a beast, and a man; a Whig, and a Tory; a writer (at one and the same time) of Guardians and Examiners;31 an assertor of liberty, and of the dispensing power of kings; a Jesuitical professor of truth, a base and a foul pretender to candour.’ So that, upon the whole account, we must conclude him either to have been a great hypocrite, or a very honest man; a terrible imposer upon both parties, or very moderate to either.
Be it as to the judicious reader shall seem good. Sure it is, he is little favoured of certain authors, whose wrath is perilous: for one declares he ought to have a price set on his head, and to be hunted down as a wild beast.32 Another protests that he does not know what may happen; advises him to insure his person; says he has bitter enemies, and expressly declares it will be well if he escapes with his life.33 One desires he would cut his own throat, or hang himself.34
But Pasquin seemed rather inclined it should be done by the Government, representing him engaged in grievous designs with a lord of Parliament, then under prosecution.35 Mr Dennis himself hath written to a minister, that he is one of the most dangerous persons in this kingdom;36 and assureth the public, that he is an open and mortal enemy to his country; a monster, that will, one day, shew as daring a soul as a mad Indian, who runs a-muck to kill the first Christian he meets.37 Another gives information of treason discovered in his poem.38 Mr Curll boldly supplies an imperfect verse with kings and princesses.39 And one Matthew Concanen, yet more impudent, publishes at length the two most sacred names in this nation, as members of the Dunciad.40
This is prodigious! yet it is almost as strange, that in the midst of these invectives his greatest enemies have (I know not how) borne testimony to some merit in him.
in censuring his Shakspeare, declares, ‘He has so great an esteem for Mr Pope, and so high an opinion of his genius and excellencies, that, notwithstanding he professes a veneration almost rising to idolatry for the writings of this inimitable poet, he would be very both even to do him justice, at the expense of that other gentleman’s character.’41
after having violently attacked him in many pieces, at last came to wish from his heart, ‘That Mr Pope would be prevailed upon to give us Ovid’s Epistles by his hand, for it is certain we see the original of Sappho to Pliaon with much more life and likeness in his version, than in that of Sir Car Scrope. And this,’ he adds, ‘is the more to be wished, because in the English tongue we have scarce anything truly and naturally written upon love.’42 He also, in taxing Sir Richard Blackmore for his heterodox opinions of Homer, challengeth him to answer what Mr Pope hath said in his preface to that poet.
calls him a great master of our tongue; declares ‘the purity and perfection of the English language to be found in his Homer; and, saying there are more good verses in Dryden’s Virgil than in any other work, excepts this of our author only.’43
says, ‘Pope was so good a versifier [once], that, his predecessor, Mr Dryden, and his cotemporary, Mr Prior, excepted, the harmony of his numbers is equal to anybody’s. And that he had all the merit that a man can have that way.’44 And
after much blemishing our author’s Homer, crieth out —
‘But in his other works what beauties shine,
While sweetest music dwells in every line!
These he admired — on these he stamp’d his praise,
And bade them live to brighten future days.’45
So also one who takes the name of
the maker of certain verses to Duncan Campbell,46 in that poem, which is wholly a satire on Mr Pope, confesseth —
”Tis true, if finest notes alone could show
(Tuned justly high, or regularly low)
That we should fame to these mere vocals give,
Pope more than we can offer should receive:
For when some gliding river is his theme,
His lines run smoother than the smoothest stream,’ &c.
Although he says, ‘The smooth numbers of the Dunciad are all that recommend it, nor has it any other merit,’ yet that same paper hath these words: ‘The author is allowed to be a perfect master of an easy and elegant versification. In all his works we find the most happy turns and natural similes, wonderfully short and thick sown.’
The Essay on the Dunciad also owns (p. 25) it is very full of beautiful images. But the panegyric which crowns all that can be said on this poem is bestowed by our laureate,
who ‘grants it to be a better poem of its kind than ever was writ:’ but adds, ‘it was a victory over a parcel of poor wretches, whom it was almost cowardice to conquer. — A man might as well triumph for having killed so many silly flies that offended him. Could he have let them alone, by this time, poor souls! they had all been buried in oblivion.’47 Here we see our excellent laureate allows the justice of the satire on every man in it but himself, as the great Mr Dennis did before him.
in the most furious of all their works (the forecited Character, p. 5), do in concert confess, ‘That some men of good understanding value him for his rhymes.’ And (p. 17), ‘That he has got, like Mr Bayes in the Rehearsal (that is, like Mr Dryden), a notable knack at rhyming, and writing smooth verse.’
Of his Essay on Man, numerous were the praises bestowed by his avowed enemies, in the imagination that the same was not written by him, as it was printed anonymously.
Thus sang of it even
‘Auspicious bard! while all admire thy strain,
All but the selfish, ignorant, and vain;
I, whom no bribe to servile flattery drew,
Must pay the tribute to thy merit due:
Thy Muse, sublime, significant, and clear,
Alike informs the soul, and charms the ear,’ &c.
thus wrote48 to the unknown author, on the first publication of the said Essay:— ‘I must own, after the reception which the vilest and most immoral ribaldry hath lately met with, I was surprised to see what I had long despaired — a performance deserving the name of a poet. Such, sir, is your work. It is, indeed, above all commendation, and ought to have been published in an age and country more worthy of it. If my testimony be of weight anywhere, you are sure to have it in the amplest manner,’ &c.
Thus we see every one of his works hath been extolled by one or other of his most inveterate enemies; and to the success of them all, they do unanimously give testimony. But it is sufficient, instar omnium, to behold the great critic, Mr Dennis, sorely lamenting it, even from the Essay on Criticism to this day of the Dunciad! ‘A most notorious instance,’ quoth he, ‘of the depravity of genius and taste, the approbation this essay meets with.’49 ‘I can safely affirm, that I never attacked any of these writings, unless they had success infinitely beyond their merit. This, though an empty, has been a popular scribbler. The epidemic madness of the times has given him reputation.’50 ‘If, after the cruel treatment so many extraordinary men (Spencer, Lord Bacon, Ben. Jonson, Milton, Butler, Otway, and others) have received from this country, for these last hundred years, I should shift the scene, and show all that penury changed at once to riot and profuseness, and more squandered away upon one object than would have satisfied the greater part of those extraordinary men, the reader to whom this one creature should be unknown would fancy him a prodigy of art and nature, would believe that all the great qualities of these persons were centred in him alone. But if I should venture to assure him that the people of England had made such a choice, the reader would either believe me a malicious enemy and slanderer, or that the reign of the last (Queen Anne’s) ministry was designed by fate to encourage fools.’51
But it happens that this our poet never had any place, pension, or gratuity, in any shape, from the said glorious queen, or any of her ministers. All he owed, in the whole course of his life, to any court, was a subscription, for his Homer, of £200 from King George I., and £100 from the Prince and Princess.
However, lest we imagine our author’s success was constant and universal, they acquaint us of certain works in a less degree of repute, whereof, although owned by others, yet do they assure us he is the writer. Of this sort Mr Dennis52 ascribes to him two farces, whose names he does not tell, but assures us that there is not one jest in them; and an imitation of Horace, whose title he does not mention, but assures us it is much more execrable than all his works.53 The Daily Journal, May 11, 1728, assures us ‘He is below Tom D’Urfey in the drama, because (as that writer thinks) the Marriage–Hater Matched, and the Boarding School, are better than the What-d’-ye-call-it,’ which is not Mr P.‘s, but Mr Gay’s. Mr Gildon assures us, in his New Rehearsal, p. 48, ‘That he was writing a play of the Lady Jane Grey;’ but it afterwards proved to be Mr Howe’s. We are assured by another, ‘He wrote a pamphlet called Dr Andrew Tripe,’54 which proved to be one Dr Wagstaff’s. Mr Theobald assures us in Mist of the 27th April, ‘That the Treatise of the Pro-found is very dull, and that Mr Pope is the author of it.’ The writer of Gulliveriana is of another opinion, and says, ‘The whole, or greatest part, of the merit of this treatise must and can only be ascribed to Gulliver.’55 (Here, gentle reader! cannot I but smile at the strange blindness and positiveness of men, knowing the said treatise to appertain to none other but to me, Martinus Scriblerus.) We are assured, in Mist of June 8, ‘That his own plays and farces would better have adorned the Dunciad than those of Mr Theobald, for he had neither genius for tragedy nor comedy;’ which, whether true or not, is not easy to judge, inasmuch as he hath attempted neither — unless we will take it for granted, with Mr Cibber, that his being once very angry at hearing a friend’s play abused was an infallible proof the play was his own, the said Mr Cibber thinking it impossible for a man to be much concerned for any but himself: ‘Now let any man judge,’ saith he, ‘by this concern, who was the true mother of the child?’56
But from all that hath been said, the discerning reader will collect, that it little availed our author to have any candour, since, when he declared he did not write for others, it was not credited; as little to have any modesty, since, when he declined writing in any way himself, the presumption of others was imputed to him. If he singly enterprised one great work, he was taxed of boldness and madness to a prodigy;57 if he took assistants in another, it was complained of, and represented as a great injury to the public.58 The loftiest heroics, the lowest ballads, treatises against the State or Church, satires on lords and ladies, raillery on wits and authors, squabbles with booksellers, or even full and true accounts of monsters, poisons, and murders; of any hereof was there nothing so good, nothing so bad, which hath not at one or other season been to him ascribed. If it bore no author’s name, then lay he concealed; if it did, he fathered it upon that author to be yet better concealed: if it resembled any of his styles, then was it evident; if it did not, then disguised he it on set purpose. Yea, even direct oppositions in religion, principles, and politics, have equally been supposed in him inherent. Surely a most rare and singular character! Of which, let the reader make what he can.
Doubtless most commentators would hence take occasion to turn all to their author’s advantage; and, from the testimony of his very enemies, would affirm that his capacity was boundless, as well as his imagination; that he was a perfect master of all styles, and all arguments; and that there was in those times no other writer, in any kind, of any degree of excellence, save he himself. But as this is not our own sentiment, we shall determine on nothing, but leave thee, gentle reader, to steer thy judgment equally between various opinions, and to choose whether thou wilt incline to the testimonies of authors avowed, or of authors concealed — of those who knew him, or of those who knew him not.
1 Giles Jacob’s Lives of Poets, vol. ii. in his Life.
2 Dennis’s Reflections on the Essay on Criticism.
3 Dunciad Dissected, p. 4.
4 Guardian, No. 40.
5 Jacob’s Lives, &c. vol. ii.
6 Dunciad Dissected, p. 4.
7 Farmer P—— and his Son.
8 Dunciad Dissected.
9 Characters of the Times, p. 45.
10 Female Dunciad, p. ult.
11 Dunciad Dissected.
12 Roome, Paraphrase on the 4th of Genesis, printed 1729.
13 Character of Mr Pope and his Writings, in a Letter to a Friend, printed for S. Popping, 1716, p. 10. Curll, in his Key to the Dunciad (first edition, said to be printed for A. Dodd), in the 10th page, declared Gildon to be author of that libel; though in the subsequent editions of his Key he left out this assertion, and affirmed (in the Curlliad, p. 4 and 8) that it was written by Dennis only.
14 Reflections, Critical and Satirical, on a Rhapsody called An Essay on Criticism. Printed for Bernard Lintot, 8vo.
15 Essay on Criticism in prose, 8vo, 1728, by the author of the Critical History of England.
16 Preface to his Poems, p.18, 53.
17 Spectator, No. 253.
18 Letter to B. B. at the end of the Remarks on Pope’s Homer, 1717.
19 Printed 1728, p. 12.
20 Alma, canto 2.
21 In his Essays, vol. i., printed for E. Curll.
22 Censor, vol. ii. n. 33.
23 Vide preface to Mr Tickel’s translation of the first book of the Iliad, 4to. Also vide Life.
24 Daily Journal, March 18, 1728.
25 Ibid, April 3, 1728.
26 Verses to Mr Pope on his translation of Homer.
27 Poem prefixed to his works.
28 In his poems, printed for B. Lintot.
29 Universal Passion, Satire i.
30 In his Poems, and at the end of the Odyssey.
31 The names of two weekly papers.
32 Theobald, Letter in Mist’s Journal, June 22, 1728.
33 Smedley, Preface to Gulliveriana, p. 14, 16.
34 Gulliveriana, p. 332.
35 Anno 1723.
36 Anno 1729.
37 Preface to Remarks on the Rape of the Lock, p. 12, and in the last page of that treatise.
38 Pages 6, 7 of the Preface, by Concanen, to a book entitled, A Collection of all the Letters, Essays, Verses, and Advertisements occasioned by Pope and Swift’s Miscellanies. Printed for A. Moore, 8vo, 1712.
39 Key to the Dunciad, third edition, p. 18.
40 A list of persons, &c., at the end of the forementioned Collection of all the Letters, Essays, &c.
41 Introduction to his Shakspeare Restored, in 4to, p. 3.
42 Commentary on the Duke of Buckingham’s Essay, 8vo, 1721, p. 97, 98.
43 In his prose Essay on Criticism.
44 Printed by J. Roberts, 1742, p. 11.
45 Battle of Poets, folio, p. 15.
46 Printed under the title of the Progress of Dulness, duodecimo, 1728.
47 Cibber’s Letter to Mr Pope, p. 9, 12.
48 In a letter under his hand, dated March 12, 1733.
49 Dennis’s Preface to his Reflections on the Essay on Criticism.
50 Preface to his Remarks on Homer.
51 Remarks on Homer, p. 8, 9.
52 Ibid, p. 8.
53 Character of Mr Pope, p. 7.
54 Ibid, p. G.
55 Gulliver, p. 886.
56 Cibber’s Letter to Mr. Pope, p. 19.
57 Burnet Homerides, p. 1 of his Translation of the Iliad.
58 The London and Mist’s Journals, on his undertaking of the Odyssey.
This poem, as it celebrateth the most grave and ancient of things, Chaos, Night, and Dulness; so is it of the most grave and ancient kind. Homer (saith Aristotle) was the first who gave the form, and (saith Horace) who adapted the measure, to heroic poesy. But even before this, may be rationally presumed from what the ancients have left written, was a piece by Homer, composed of like nature and matter with this of our poet. For of epic sort it appeareth to have been, yet of matter surely not unpleasant, witness what is reported of it by the learned Archbishop Eustathius, in Odyss. x., and accordingly Aristotle, in his Poetic, chap, iv., does further set forth, that as the Iliad and Odyssey gave example to tragedy, so did this poem to comedy its first idea.
From these authors also it should seem that the hero or chief personage of it was no less obscure, and his understanding and sentiments no less quaint and strange (if indeed not more so), than any of the actors of our poem. Margites was the name of this personage, whom antiquity recordeth to have been Dunce the first; and surely, from what we hear of him, not unworthy to be the root of so spreading a tree and so numerous a posterity. The poem therefore celebrating him was properly and absolutely a Dunciad; which, though now unhappily lost, yet is its nature sufficiently known by the infallible tokens aforesaid. And thus it doth appear that the first Dunciad was the first epic poem, written by Homer himself, and anterior even to the Iliad or Odyssey.
Now, forasmuch as our poet had translated those two famous works of Homer which are yet left, he did conceive it in some sort his duty to imitate that also which was lost; and was therefore induced to bestow on it the same form which Homer’s is reported to have had, namely, that of epic poem; with a title also framed after the ancient Greek manner, to wit, that of Dunciad.
Wonderful it is that so few of the moderns have been stimulated to attempt some Dunciad! since, in the opinion of the multitude, it might cost less pain and oil than an imitation of the greater epic. But possible it is also, that, on due reflection, the maker might find it easier to paint a Charlemagne, a Brute, or a Godfrey, with just pomp and dignity heroic, than a Margites, a Codrus, or a Flecknoe.
We shall next declare the occasion and the cause which moved our poet to this particular work. He lived in those days, when (after Providence had permitted the invention of printing as a scourge for the sins of the learned) paper also became so cheap, and printers so numerous, that a deluge of authors covered the land; whereby not only the peace of the honest unwriting subject was daily molested, but unmerciful demands were made of his applause, yea of his money, by such as would neither earn the one nor deserve the other. At the same time, the licence of the press was such, that it grew dangerous to refuse them either: for they would forthwith publish slanders unpunished, the authors being anonymous, and skulking under the wings of publishers, a set of men who never scrupled to vend either calumny or blasphemy, as long as the town would call for it.
Now our author,1 living in those times, did conceive it an endeavour well worthy an honest satirist to dissuade the dull and punish the wicked, the only way that was left. In that public-spirited view he laid the plan of this poem, as the greatest service he was capable (without much hurt, or being slain) to render his dear country. First, taking things from their original, he considereth the causes creative of such authors — namely, dulness and poverty; the one born with them, the other contracted by neglect of their proper talents, through self-conceit of greater abilities. This truth he wrappeth in an allegory2 (as the construction of epic poesy requireth), and feigns that one of these goddesses had taken up her abode with the other, and that they jointly inspired all such writers and such works. He proceedeth to show the qualities they bestow on these authors,3 and the effects they produce;4 then the materials, or stock, with which they furnish them;5 and (above all) that self-opinion6 which causeth it to seem to themselves vastly greater than it is, and is the prime motive of their setting up in this sad and sorry merchandise. The great power of these goddesses acting in alliance (whereof as the one is the mother of industry, so is the other of plodding) was to be exemplified in some one great and remarkable action:7 and none could be more so than that which our poet hath chosen, viz., the restoration of the reign of Chaos and Night, by the ministry of Dulness their daughter, in the removal of her imperial seat from the city to the polite world; as the action of the Æneid is the restoration of the empire of Troy, by the removal of the race from thence to Latium. But as Homer singing only the wrath of Achilles, yet includes in his poem the whole history of the Trojan war; in like manner our author hath drawn into this single action the whole history of Dulness and her children.
A person must next be fixed upon to support this action. This phantom in the poet’s mind must have a name:8 He finds it to be ——; and he becomes, of course, the hero of the poem.
The fable being thus, according to the best example, one and entire, as contained in the proposition, the machinery is a continued chain of allegories, setting forth the whole power, ministry, and empire of Dulness, extended through her subordinate instruments, in all her various operations.
This is branched into episodes, each of which hath its moral apart, though all conducive to the main end. The crowd assembled in the second book demonstrates the design to be more extensive than to bad poets only, and that we may expect other episodes of the patrons, encouragers, or paymasters of such authors, as occasion shall bring them forth. And the third book, if well considered, seemeth to embrace the whole world. Each of the games relateth to some or other vile class of writers: the first concerneth the Plagiary, to whom he giveth the name of More; the second the libellous Novelist, whom he styleth Eliza; the third, the flattering Dedicator; the fourth, the bawling Critic, or noisy Poet; the fifth, the dark and dirty Party-writer; and so of the rest; assigning to each some proper name or other, such as he could find.
As for the characters, the public hath already acknowledged how justly they are drawn: the manners are so depicted, and the sentiments so peculiar to those to whom applied, that surely to transfer them to any other or wiser personages would be exceeding difficult: and certain it is, that every person concerned, being consulted apart, hath readily owned the resemblance of every portrait, his own excepted. So Mr Cibber calls them ‘a parcel of poor wretches, so many silly flies;’ but adds, ‘our author’s wit is remarkably more bare and barren whenever it would fall foul on Cibber, than upon any other person whatever.’9
The descriptions are singular, the comparisons very quaint, the narration various, yet of one colour. The purity and chastity of diction is so preserved, that in the places most suspicious, not the words but only the images have been censured, and yet are those images no other than have been sanctified by ancient and classical authority (though, as was the manner of those good times, not so curiously wrapped up), yea, and commented upon by the most grave doctors and approved critics.
As it beareth the name of Epic, it is thereby subjected to such severe indispensable rules as are laid on all neoterics — a strict imitation of the ancients; insomuch that any deviation, accompanied with whatever poetic beauties, hath always been censured by the sound critic. How exact that imitation hath been in this piece, appeareth not only by its general structure, but by particular allusions infinite, many whereof have escaped both the commentator and poet himself; yea, divers by his exceeding diligence are so altered and interwoven with the rest, that several have already been, and more will be, by the ignorant abused, as altogether and originally his own.
In a word, the whole poem proveth itself to be the work of our author when his faculties were in full vigour and perfection, at that exact time when years have ripened the judgment without diminishing the imagination; which by good critics is held to be punctually at forty. For at that season it was that Virgil finished his Georgics; and Sir Richard Blackmore at the like age composing his Arthurs, declared the same to be the very acmè and pitch of life for epic poesy — though since he hath altered it to sixty, the year in which he published his Alfred.10 True it is, that the talents for criticism — namely, smartness, quick censure, vivacity of remark, certainty of asseveration, indeed all but acerbity — seem rather the gifts of youth than of riper age. But it is far otherwise in poetry; witness the works of Mr Rymer and Mr Dennis, who, beginning with criticism, became afterwards such poets as no age hath paralleled. With good reason, therefore, did our author choose to write his essay on that subject at twenty, and reserve for his maturer years this great and wonderful work of the Dunciad.
Of the nature of Dunciad in general, whence derived, and on what authority founded, as well as of the art and conduct of this our poem in particular, the learned and laborious Scriblerus hath, according to his manner, and with tolerable share of judgment, dissertated. But when he cometh to speak of the person of the hero fitted for such poem, in truth he miserably halts and hallucinates. For, misled by one Monsieur Bossu, a Gallic critic, he prateth of I cannot tell what phantom of a hero, only raised up to support the fable. A putrid conceit! As if Homer and Virgil, like modern undertakers, who first build their house, and then seek out for a tenant, had contrived the story of a war and a wandering, before they once thought either of Achilles or Æneas. We shall therefore set our good brother and the world also right in this particular, by assuring them, that, in the greater epic, the prime intention of the Muse is to exalt heroic virtue, in order to propagate the love of it among the children of men; and, consequently, that the poet’s first thought must needs be turned upon a real subject meet for laud and celebration; not one whom he is to make, but one whom he may find, truly illustrious. This is the primum mobile of his poetic world, whence everything is to receive life and motion. For this subject being found, he is immediately ordained, or rather acknowledged, a hero, and put upon such action as befitteth the dignity of his character.
But the Muse ceaseth not here her eagle-flight. For sometimes, satiated with the contemplation of these suns of glory, she turneth downward on her wing, and darts with Jove’s lightning on the goose and serpent kind. For we may apply to the Muse, in her various moods, what an ancient master of wisdom affirmeth of the gods in general: ‘Si Dii non irascuntur impiis et injustis, nec pios utique justosque diligunt. In rebusenim diversis, aut in utramque partem moveri necesse est, aut in neutram. Itaque qui bonos diligit, et malos odit; et qui malos non odit, nec bonos diligit. Quia et diligere bonos ex odio malorum venit; et malos odisse ex bonorum caritate descendit.’ Which, in our vernacular idiom, may be thus interpreted: ‘If the gods be not provoked at evil men, neither are they delighted with the good and just. For contrary objects must either excite contrary affections, or no affections at all. So that he who loveth good men must at the same time hate the bad; and he who hateth not bad men cannot love the good; because to love good men proceedeth from an aversion to evil, and to hate evil men from a tenderness to the good.’ From this delicacy of the Muse arose the little epic, (more lively and choleric than her elder sister, whose bulk and complexion incline her to the phlegmatic), and for this some notorious vehicle of vice and folly was sought out, to make thereof an example. An early instance of which (nor could it escape the accurate Scriblerus) the father of epic poem himself affordeth us. From him the practice descended to the Greek dramatic poets, his offspring, who, in the composition of their tetralogy, or set of four pieces, were wont to make the last a satiric tragedy. Happily one of these ancient Dunciads (as we may well term it) is come down unto us amongst the tragedies of the poet Euripides. And what doth the reader suppose may be the subject thereof? Why, in truth, and it is worthy observation, the unequal contention of an old, dull, debauched buffoon Cyclops, with the heaven-directed favourite of Minerva; who, after having quietly borne all the monster’s obscene and impious ribaldry, endeth the farce in punishing him with the mark of an indelible brand in his forehead. May we not then be excused, if for the future we consider the epics of Homer, Virgil, and Milton, together with this our poem, as a complete tetralogy, in which the last worthily holdeth the place or station of the satiric piece?
Proceed we therefore in our subject. It hath been long, and, alas for pity! still remaineth a question, whether the hero of the greater epic should be an honest man? or, as the French critics express it, un honnête homme:1 but it never admitted of any doubt, but that the hero of the little epic should be just the contrary. Hence, to the advantage of our Dunciad, we may observe how much juster the moral of that poem must needs be, where so important a question is previously decided.
But then it is not every knave, nor (let me add) every fool, that is a fit subject for a Dunciad. There must still exist some analogy, if not resemblance of qualities, between the heroes of the two poems, and this in order to admit what neoteric critics call the parody, one of the liveliest graces of the little epic. Thus, it being agreed that the constituent qualities of the greater epic hero are wisdom, bravery, and love, from whence springeth heroic virtue; it followeth that those of the lesser epic hero should be vanity, impudence, and debauchery, from which happy assemblage resulteth heroic dulness, the never-dying subject of this our poem.
This being confessed, come we now to particulars. It is the character of true wisdom to seek its chief support and confidence within itself, and to place that support in the resources which proceed from a conscious rectitude of will. And are the advantages of vanity, when arising to the heroic standard, at all short of this self-complacence? Nay, are they not, in the opinion of the enamoured owner, far beyond it? ‘Let the world (will such an one say) impute to me what folly or weakness they please; but till wisdom can give me something that will make me more heartily happy, I am content to be gazed at.’2 This, we see, is vanity according to the heroic gauge or measure; not that low and ignoble species which pretendeth to virtues we have not, but the laudable ambition of being gazed at for glorying in those vices which everybody knows we have. ‘The world may ask (says he) why I make my follies public? Why not? I have passed my time very pleasantly with them.’3 In short, there is no sort of vanity such a hero would scruple, but that which might go near to degrade him from his high station in this our Dunciad — namely, ‘Whether it would not be vanity in him to take shame to himself for not being a wise man?’4
Bravery, the second attribute of the true hero, is courage manifesting itself in every limb; while its correspondent virtue in the mock hero is that same courage all collected into the face. And as power when drawn together must needs have more force and spirit than when dispersed, we generally find this kind of courage in so high and heroic a degree, that it insults not only men, but gods. Mezentius is, without doubt, the bravest character in all the Æneis. But how? His bravery, we know, was a high courage of blasphemy. And can we say less of this brave man’s, who, having told us that he placed ‘his summum bonum in those follies, which he was not content barely to possess, but would likewise glory in,’ adds, ‘If I am misguided, ’tis nature’s fault, and I follow her.’5 Nor can we be mistaken in making this happy quality a species of courage, when we consider those illustrious marks of it which made his face ‘more known (as he justly boasteth) than most in the kingdom,’ and his language to consist of what we must allow to be the most daring figure of speech, that which is taken from the name of God.
Gentle love, the next ingredient in the true hero’s composition, is a mere bird of passage, or (as Shakspeare calls it) summer-teeming lust, and evaporates in the heat of youth; doubtless, by that refinement, it suffers in passing through those certain strainers which our poet somewhere speaketh of. But when it is let alone to work upon the lees, it acquireth strength by old age, and becometh a lasting ornament to the little epic. It is true, indeed, there is one objection to its fitness for such a use: for not only the ignorant may think it common, but it is admitted to be so, even by him who best knoweth its value. ‘Don’t you think,’ argueth he, ‘to say only a man has his whore,6 ought to go for little or nothing? Because defendit numerus; take the first ten thousand men you meet, and I believe you would be no loser if you betted ten to one that every single sinner of them, one with another, had been guilty of the same frailty.’7 But here he seemeth not to have done justice to himself: the man is sure enough a hero who hath his lady at fourscore. How doth his modesty herein lessen the merit of a whole well-spent life: not taking to himself the commendation (which Horace accounted the greatest in a theatrical character) of continuing to the very dregs the same he was from the beginning,
. . . ‘Servetur ad imum
Qualis ab incepto processerat’ . . .
But here, in justice both to the poet and the hero, let us further remark, that the calling her his whore implieth she was his own, and not his neighbour’s. Truly a commendable continence! and such as Scipio himself must have applauded. For how much self-denial was exerted not to covet his neighbour’s whore? and what disorders must the coveting her have occasioned in that society where (according to this political calculator) nine in ten of all ages have their concubines!
We have now, as briefly as we could devise, gone through the three constituent qualities of either hero. But it is not in any, or in all of these, that heroism properly or essentially resideth. It is a lucky result rather from the collision of these lively qualities against one another. Thus, as from wisdom, bravery, and love, ariseth magnanimity, the object of admiration, which is the aim of the greater epic; so from vanity, impudence, and debauchery, springeth buffoonery, the source of ridicule, that ‘laughing ornament,’ as he well termeth it,8 of the little epic.
He is not ashamed (God forbid he ever should be ashamed!) of this character, who deemeth that not reason, but risibility, distinguisheth the human species from the brutal. ‘As nature,’ saith this profound philosopher, ‘distinguished our species from the mute creation by our risibility, her design must have been by that faculty as evidently to raise our happiness, as by our os sublime (our erected faces) to lift the dignity of our form above them.’9 All this considered, how complete a hero must he be, as well as how happy a man, whose risibility lieth not barely in his muscles, as in the common sort, but (as himself informeth us) in his very spirits! and whose os sublime is not simply an erect face, but a brazen head, as should seem by his preferring it to one of iron, said to belong to the late king of Sweden!10
But whatever personal qualities a hero may have, the examples of Achilles and Aeneas show us, that all those are of small avail without the constant assistance of the gods — for the subversion and erection of empires have never been adjudged the work of man. How greatly soever, then, we may esteem of his high talents, we can hardly conceive his personal prowess alone sufficient to restore the decayed empire of Dulness. So weighty an achievement must require the particular favour and protection of the great — who, being the natural patrons and supporters of letters, as the ancient gods were of Troy, must first be drawn off and engaged in another interest, before the total subversion of them can be accomplished. To surmount, therefore, this last and greatest difficulty, we have, in this excellent man, a professed favourite and intimado of the great. And look, of what force ancient piety was to draw the gods into the party of Aeneas, that, and much stronger, is modern incense, to engage the great in the party of Dulness.
Thus have we essayed to portray or shadow out this noble imp of fame. But now the impatient reader will be apt to say, if so many and various graces go to the making up a hero, what mortal shall suffice to bear his character? Ill hath he read who seeth not, in every trace of this picture, that individual, all-accomplished person, in whom these rare virtues and lucky circumstances have agreed to meet and concentre with the strongest lustre and fullest harmony.
The good Scriblerus indeed — nay, the world itself — might be imposed on, in the late spurious editions, by I can’t tell what sham hero or phantom; but it was not so easy to impose on him whom this egregious error most of all concerned. For no sooner had the fourth book laid open the high and swelling scene, but he recognised his own heroic acts; and when he came to the words —
‘Soft on her lap her laureate son reclines,’
(though laureate imply no more than one crowned with laurel, as befitteth any associate or consort in empire), he loudly resented this indignity to violated majesty — indeed, not without cause, he being there represented as fast asleep; so misbeseeming the eye of empire, which, like that of Providence, should never doze nor slumber. ‘Hah!’ saith he, ‘fast asleep, it seems! that’s a little too strong. Pert and dull at least you might have allowed me, but as seldom asleep as any fool.’11 However, the injured hero may comfort himself with this reflection, that though it be a sleep, yet it is not the sleep of death, but of immortality. Here he will live12 at least, though not awake; and in no worse condition than many an enchanted warrior before him. The famous Durandarte, for instance, was, like him, cast into a long slumber by Merlin, the British bard and necromancer; and his example, for submitting to it with a good grace, might be of use to our hero. For that disastrous knight being sorely pressed or driven to make his answer by several persons of quality, only replied with a sigh — ‘Patience, and shuffle the cards.’13
But now, as nothing in this world, no, not the most sacred or perfect things either of religion or government, can escape the sting of envy, methinks I already hear these carpers objecting to the clearness of our hero’s title.
It would never (say they) have been esteemed sufficient to make an hero for the Iliad or Aeneis, that Achilles was brave enough to overturn one empire, or Aeneas pious enough to raise another, had they not been goddess-born, and princes bred. What, then, did this author mean by erecting a player instead of one of his patrons (a person ‘never a hero even on the stage,’14) to this dignity of colleague in the empire of Dulness, and achiever of a work that neither old Omar, Attila, nor John of Leyden could entirely bring to pass?
To all this we have, as we conceive, a sufficient answer from the Roman historian, Fabrum esse suae quemque fortunae: That every man is the smith of his own fortune. The politic Florentine, Nicholas Machiavel, goeth still further, and affirmeth that a man needeth but to believe himself a hero to be one of the worthiest. ‘Let him (saith he) but fancy himself capable of the highest things, and he will of course be able to achieve them.’ From this principle it follows, that nothing can exceed our hero’s prowess; as nothing ever equalled the greatness of his conceptions. Hear how he constantly paragons himself; at one time to Alexander the Great and Charles XII of Sweden, for the excess and delicacy of his ambition;15 to Henry IV of France for honest policy;16 to the first Brutus, for love of liberty;17 and to Sir Robert Walpole, for good government while in power.18 At another time, to the godlike Socrates, for his diversions and amusements;19 to Horace, Montaigne, and Sir William Temple for an elegant vanity that maketh them for ever read and admired;20 to two Lord Chancellors, for law, from whom, when confederate against him at the bar, he carried away the prize of eloquence;21 and, to say all in a word, to the right reverend the Lord Bishop of London himself, in the art of writing pastoral letters.22
Nor did his actions fall short of the sublimity of his conceit. In his early youth he met the Revolution23 face to face in Nottingham, at a time when his betters contented themselves with following her. It was here he got acquainted with old Battle-array, of whom he hath made so honourable mention in one of his immortal odes. But he shone in courts as well as camps. He was called up when the nation fell in labour of this Revolution;24 and was a gossip at her christening, with the bishop and the ladies.25
As to his birth, it is true he pretended no relation either to heathen god or goddess; but, what is as good, he was descended from a maker of both.26 And that he did not pass himself on the world for a hero as well by birth as education was his own fault: for his lineage he bringeth into his life as an anecdote, and is sensible he had it in his power to be thought he was nobody’s son at all:27 And what is that but coming into the world a hero?
But be it (the punctilious laws of epic poesy so requiring) that a hero of more than mortal birth must needs be had, even for this we have a remedy. We can easily derive our hero’s pedigree from a goddess of no small power and authority amongst men, and legitimate and install him after the right classical and authentic fashion: for like as the ancient sages found a son of Mars in a mighty warrior, a son of Neptune in a skilful seaman, a son of Phoebus in a harmonious poet, so have we here, if need be, a son of Fortune in an artful gamester. And who fitter than the offspring of Chance to assist in restoring the empire of Night and Chaos?
There is, in truth, another objection, of greater weight, namely, ‘That this hero still existeth, and hath not yet finished his earthly course. For if Solon said well, that no man could be called happy till his death, surely much less can any one, till then, be pronounced a hero, this species of men being far more subject than others to the caprices of fortune and humour.’ But to this also we have an answer, that will (we hope) be deemed decisive. It cometh from himself, who, to cut this matter short, hath solemnly protested that he will never change or amend.
With regard to his vanity, he declareth that nothing shall ever part them. ‘Nature (saith he) hath amply supplied me in vanity — a pleasure which neither the pertness of wit nor the gravity of wisdom will ever persuade me to part with.’28 Our poet had charitably endeavoured to administer a cure to it: but he telleth us plainly, ‘My superiors perhaps may be mended by him; but for my part I own myself incorrigible. I look upon my follies as the best part of my fortune.’29 And with good reason: we see to what they have brought him!
Secondly, as to buffoonery, ‘Is it (saith he) a time of day for me to leave off these fooleries, and set up a new character? I can no more put off my follies than my skin; I have often tried, but they stick too close to me; nor am I sure my friends are displeased with them, for in this light I afford them frequent matter of mirth, &c., &c.’30 Having then so publicly declared himself incorrigible, he is become dead in law (I mean the law Epopoeian), and devolveth upon the poet as his property, who may take him and deal with him as if he had been dead as long as an old Egyptian hero; that is to say, embowel and embalm him for posterity.
Nothing therefore (we conceive) remaineth to hinder his own prophecy of himself from taking immediate effect. A rare felicity! and what few prophets have had the satisfaction to see alive! Nor can we conclude better than with that extraordinary one of his, which is conceived in these oraculous words, My dulness will find somebody to do it right.31
‘Tandem Phoebus adest, morsusque inferre parantem
Congelat, et patulos, ut erant, indurat hiatus.’32
1 Si nil Heros Poëtique doit être un honnête homme. Bossu, du Poême Epique, lib. v. ch. 5.
2 Dedication to the Life of C. C.
3 Life, p. 2, 8vo edition.
4 Life, ibid.
5 Life, p. 23, 8vo.
6 Alluding to these lines in the Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot:
‘And has not Colley still his lord and whore,
His butchers, Henley, his freemasons, Moore?’
7 Letter to Mr Pope, p. 46.
8 P. 31.
9 Life, p. 23, 24.
10 Letter, p. 8.
11 Letter, p. 53.
12 Letter, p. 1.
13 Don Quixote, Part ii. book ii. ch. 22.
14 See Life, p. 148.
15 Life, p. 149.
16 p. 424.
17 p. 366.
18 p. 457.
19 p. 18.
20 p. 425.
21 pp. 436, 437.
22 p. 52.
23 p. 47.
24 p. 57.
25 pp. 58, 59.
26 A statuary.
27 Life, p. 6.
28 p. 424.
29 p. 19.
30 Life, p. 17.
31 Ibid. p. 243, 8vo edition.
32 Ovid, of the serpent biting at Orpheus’s head.
The proposition, the invocation, and the inscription. Then the original of the great empire of Dulness, and cause of the continuance thereof. The college of the goddess in the city, with her private academy for poets in particular; the governors of it, and the four cardinal virtues. Then the poem hastes into the midst of things, presenting her, on the evening of a Lord Mayor’s day, revolving the long succession of her sons, and the glories past and to come. She fixes her eye on Bayes to be the instrument of that great event which is the subject of the poem. He is described pensive among his books, giving up the cause, and apprehending the period of her empire: after debating whether to betake himself to the Church, or to gaming, or to party-writing, he raises an altar of proper books, and (making first his solemn prayer and declaration) purposes thereon to sacrifice all his unsuccessful writings. As the pile is kindled, the goddess, beholding the flame from her seat, flies and puts it out by casting upon it the poem of Thulè. She forthwith reveals herself to him, transports him to her temple, unfolds her arts, and initiates him into her mysteries; then announcing the death of Eusden the poet laureate, anoints him, carries him to court, and proclaims him successor.
The mighty mother, and her son, who brings2
The Smithfield Muses3 to the ear of kings,
I sing. Say you, her instruments, the great!
Called to this work by Dulness, Jove, and Fate;4
You by whose care, in vain decried and cursed,
Still Dunce the second reigns like Dunce the first:
Say, how the goddess5 bade Britannia sleep,
And pour’d her spirit o’er the land and deep.
In eldest time, ere mortals writ or read,
Ere Pallas issued from the Thunderer’s head,
Dulness o’er all possess’d her ancient right,
Daughter of Chaos6 and Eternal Night:
Fate in their dotage this fair idiot gave,
Gross as her sire, and as her mother grave,
Laborious, heavy, busy, bold, and blind,7
She ruled, in native anarchy, the mind.
Still her old empire8 to restore she tries,
For, born a goddess, Dulness never dies.
O thou! whatever title please thine ear,
Dean, Drapier, Bickerstaff, or Gulliver!9
Whether thou choose Cervantes’ serious air,
Or laugh and shake in Rabelais’ easy-chair,
Or praise the court, or magnify mankind,10
Or thy grieved country’s copper chains unbind;
From thy Boeotia though her power retires,
Mourn not, my Swift, at ought our realm acquires.
Here pleased behold her mighty wings outspread
To hatch a new Saturnian age of lead.
Close to those walls where Folly holds her throne,
And laughs to think Monro would take her down,
Where o’er the gates, by his famed father’s hand,11
Great Cibber’s brazen, brainless brothers stand,
One cell there is, conceal’d from vulgar eye,
The cave of Poverty and Poetry.
Keen, hollow winds howl through the bleak recess,
Emblem of music caused by emptiness.
Hence bards, like Proteus long in vain tied down,
Escape in monsters, and amaze the town.
Hence Miscellanies spring, the weekly boast
Of Curll’s chaste press, and Lintot’s rubric post:12
Hence hymning Tyburn’s elegiac lines,13
Hence Journals, Medleys, Merc’ries, Magazines:
Sepulchral lies,14 our holy walls to grace,
And new-year odes,15 and all the Grub Street race.
In clouded majesty here Dulness shone;
Four guardian Virtues, round, support her throne:
Fierce champion Fortitude, that knows no fears
Of hisses, blows, or want, or loss of ears:
Calm Temperance, whose blessings those partake
Who hunger and who thirst for scribbling sake:
Prudence, whose glass presents the approaching jail:
Poetic Justice, with her lifted scale,
Where, in nice balance, truth with gold she weighs,
And solid pudding against empty praise.
Here she beholds the chaos dark and deep,
Where nameless somethings in their causes sleep,
‘Till genial Jacob,16 or a warm third day,
Call forth each mass, a poem, or a play;
How hints, like spawn, scarce quick in embryo lie,
How new-born nonsense first is taught to cry,
Maggots half-form’d in rhyme exactly meet,
And learn to crawl upon poetic feet.
Here one poor word an hundred clenches makes,
And ductile Dulness new meanders takes;
There motley images her fancy strike,
Figures ill pair’d, and similes unlike.
She sees a mob of metaphors advance,
Pleased with the madness of the mazy dance;
How Tragedy and Comedy embrace;
How Farce and Epic17 get a jumbled race;
How Time himself stands still at her command,
Realms shift their place, and ocean turns to land.
Here gay Description Egypt glads with showers,
Or gives to Zembla fruits, to Barca flowers;
Glittering with ice here hoary hills are seen,
There painted valleys of eternal green;
In cold December fragrant chaplets blow,
And heavy harvests nod beneath the snow.
All these, and more, the cloud-compelling queen
Beholds through fogs that magnify the scene.
She, tinsell’d o’er in robes of varying hues,
With self-applause her wild creation views;
Sees momentary monsters rise and fall,
And with her own fools-colours gilds them all.
’Twas on the day,18 when Thorold rich and grave,
Like Cimon, triumphed both on land and wave:
(Pomps without guilt, of bloodless swords and maces,
Glad chains,19 warm furs, broad banners, and broad faces.)
Now night descending, the proud scene was o’er,
But lived, in Settle’s numbers, one day more.20
Now mayors and shrieves all hushed and satiate lay,
Yet eat, in dreams, the custard of the day;
While pensive poets painful vigils keep,
Sleepless themselves, to give their readers sleep.
Much to the mindful queen the feast recalls
What city swans once sung within the walls;
Much she revolves their arts, their ancient praise,
And sure succession down from Heywood’s21 days.
She saw, with joy, the line immortal run,
Each sire impress’d and glaring in his son:
So watchful Bruin forms, with plastic care,
Each growing lump, and brings it to a bear.
She saw old Pryn in restless Daniel22 shine,
And Eusden23 eke out Blackmore’s endless line;
She saw slow Philips creep like Tate’s24 poor page,
And all the mighty mad in Dennis rage.25
In each she marks her image full express’d,
But chief in Bayes’s monster-breeding breast;
Bayes formed by nature stage and town to bless,
And act, and be, a coxcomb with success.
Dulness with transport eyes the lively dunce,
Remembering she herself was pertness once.
Now (shame to Fortune!26) an ill run at play
Blank’d his bold visage, and a thin third day;
Swearing and supperless the hero sate,
Blasphemed his gods, the dice, and damn’d his fate.
Then gnaw’d his pen, then dash’d it on the ground,
Sinking from thought to thought, a vast profound!
Plunged for his sense, but found no bottom there,
Yet wrote and floundered on, in mere despair.
Round him much embryo, much abortion lay,
Much future ode, and abdicated play;
Nonsense precipitate, like running lead,
That slipp’d through cracks and zig-zags of the head;
All that on Folly Frenzy could beget,
Fruits of dull heat, and sooterkins of wit.
Next, o’er his books his eyes began to roll,
In pleasing memory of all he stole,
How here he sipp’d, how there he plunder’d snug,
And suck’d all o’er, like an industrious bug.
Here lay poor Fletcher’s half-eat scenes,27 and here
The frippery of crucified Molière;
There hapless Shakspeare, yet of Tibbald28 sore,
Wish’d he had blotted29 for himself before.
The rest on outside merit but presume,
Or serve (like other fools) to fill a room;
Such with their shelves as due proportion hold,
Or their fond parents dress’d in red and gold;
Or where the pictures for the page atone,
And Quarles is saved by beauties not his own.
Here swells the shelf with Ogilby the great;30
There, stamp’d with arms, Newcastle shines complete:31
Here all his suffering brotherhood retire,
And ‘scape the martyrdom of Jakes and fire:
A Gothic library! of Greece and Rome
Well purged, and worthy Settle, Banks, and Broome.32
But, high above, more solid learning shone,
The classics of an age that heard of none;
There Caxton33 slept, with Wynkyn at his side,
One clasp’d in wood, and one in strong cow-hide;
There, saved by spice, like mummies, many a year,
Dry bodies of divinity appear:
De Lyra34 there a dreadful front extends,
And here the groaning shelves Philemon35 bends.
Of these, twelve volumes, twelve of amplest size,
Redeem’d from tapers and defrauded pies,
Inspired he seizes: these an altar raise:
An hecatomb of pure, unsullied lays
That altar crowns: a folio common-place
Founds the whole pile, of all his works the base:
Quartos, octavos, shape the lessening pyre:
A twisted birth-day ode completes the spire.
Then he: Great tamer of all human art!
First in my care, and ever at my heart;
Dulness! whose good old cause I yet defend,
With whom my Muse began, with whom shall end,
E’er since Sir Fopling’s periwig36 was praise,
To the last honours of the butt and bays:
O thou! of business the directing soul;
To this our head, like bias to the bowl,
Which, as more ponderous, made its aim more true,
Obliquely waddling to the mark in view;
Oh, ever gracious to perplexed mankind,
Still spread a healing mist before the mind;
And, lest we err by wit’s wild dancing light,
Secure us kindly in our native night.
Or, if to wit a coxcomb make pretence,
Guard the sure barrier between that and sense;
Or quite unravel all the reasoning thread,
And hang some curious cobweb in its stead!
As, forced from wind-guns, lead itself can fly,
And ponderous slugs cut swiftly through the sky;
As clocks to weight their nimble motion owe,
The wheels above urged by the load below:
Me Emptiness and Dulness could inspire,
And were my elasticity and fire.
Some demon stole my pen (forgive the offence)
And once betrayed me into common sense:
Else all my prose and verse were much the same;
This, prose on stilts; that, poetry fallen lame.
Did on the stage my fops appear confined?
My life gave ampler lessons to mankind.
Did the dead letter unsuccessful prove?
The brisk example never fail’d to move.
Yet sure, had Heaven decreed to save the state,
Heaven had decreed these works a longer date.
Could Troy be saved by any single hand,
This gray-goose weapon must have made her stand.
What can I now my Fletcher cast aside,
Take up the Bible, once my better guide?
Or tread the path by venturous heroes trod,
This box my thunder, this right hand my god?
Or chair’d at White’s amidst the doctors sit,
Teach oaths to gamesters, and to nobles wit?
Or bidst thou rather party to embrace?
(A friend to party thou, and all her race;
’Tis the same rope at different ends they twist;
To Dulness Ridpath is as dear as Mist.37)
Shall I, like Curtins, desperate in my zeal,
O’er head and ears plunge for the common weal?
Or rob Rome’s ancient geese38 of all their glories,
And, cackling, save the monarchy of Tories?
Hold — to the minister I more incline;
To serve his cause, O queen! is serving thine.
And see! thy very gazetteers give o’er,
Ev’n Ralph repents, and Henley writes no more.
What then remains? Ourself. Still, still remain
Cibberian forehead, and Cibberian brain.
This brazen brightness, to the squire so dear;
This polish’d hardness, that reflects the peer:
This arch absurd, that wit and fool delights;
This mess, tossed up of Hockley-hole and White’s;
Where dukes and butchers join to wreathe my crown,
At once the bear and fiddle39 of the town.
O born in sin, and forth in folly brought!
Works damn’d, or to be damn’d (your father’s fault)!
Go, purified by flames, ascend the sky,
My better and more Christian progeny!
Unstain’d, untouch’d, and yet in maiden sheets;
While all your smutty sisters walk the streets.
Ye shall not beg, like gratis-given Bland,40
Sent with a pass, and vagrant through the land;
Nor sail with Ward41 to ape-and-monkey climes,
Where vile Mundungus trucks for viler rhymes:
Not sulphur-tipp’d, emblaze an ale-house fire;
Not wrap up oranges, to pelt your sire!
Oh, pass more innocent, in infant state,
To the mild limbo of our father Tate:42
Or peaceably forgot, at once be blest
In Shadwell’s bosom with eternal rest!
Soon to that mass of nonsense to return,
Where things destroyed are swept to things unborn.
With that, a tear (portentous sign of grace!)
Stole from the master of the sevenfold face:
And thrice he lifted high the birth-day brand,
And thrice he dropp’d it from his quivering hand;
Then lights the structure with averted eyes:
The rolling smoke involves the sacrifice.
The opening clouds disclose each work by turns,
Now flames the Cid, and now Perolla burns;
Great Caesar roars, and hisses in the fires;
King John in silence modestly expires:
No merit now the dear Nonjuror claims,
Moliere’s43 old stubble in a moment flames.
Tears gush’d again, as from pale Priam’s eyes
When the last blaze sent Ilion to the skies.
Roused by the light, old Dulness heaved the head,
Then snatch’d a sheet of Thulè44 from her bed,
Sudden she flies, and whelms it o’er the pyre;
Down sink the flames, and with a hiss expire.
Her ample presence fills up all the place;
A veil of fogs dilates her awful face:
Great in her charms! as when on shrieves and mayors
She looks, and breathes herself into their airs.
She bids him wait her to her sacred dome:
Well pleased he enter’d, and confessed his home.
So, spirits ending their terrestrial race,
Ascend, and recognise their native place.
This the great mother dearer held than all
The clubs of quidnuncs, or her own Guildhall:
Here stood her opium, here she nursed her owls,
And here she plann’d the imperial seat of fools.
Here to her chosen all her works she shows;
Prose swell’d to verse, verse loitering into prose:
How random thoughts now meaning chance to find,
Now leave all memory of sense behind:
How prologues into prefaces decay,
And these to notes are fritter’d quite away:
How index-learning turns no student pale,
Yet holds the eel of science by the tail:
How, with less reading than makes felons ‘scape,
Less human genius than God gives an ape,
Small thanks to France, and none to Rome or Greece,
A past, vamp’d, future, old, revived, new piece,
‘Twixt Plautus, Fletcher, Shakspeare, and Corneille,
The goddess then o’er his anointed head,
With mystic words, the sacred opium shed.
And, lo! her bird (a monster of a fowl,
Something betwixt a Heidegger47 and owl,)
Perch’d on his crown. ‘All hail! and hail again,
My son! the promised land expects thy reign.
Know, Eusden thirsts no more for sack or praise;
He sleeps among the dull of ancient days;
Safe, where no critics damn, no duns molest,
Where wretched Withers, Ward, and Gildon48 rest,
And high-born Howard,49 more majestic sire,
With fool of quality completes the quire,
Thou, Cibber! thou, his laurel shalt support,
Folly, my son, has still a friend at Court.
Lift up your gates, ye princes, see him come!
Sound, sound, ye viols, be the cat-call dumb!
Bring, bring the madding bay, the drunken vine;
The creeping, dirty, courtly ivy join.
And thou! his aide-decamp, lead on my sons,
Light-arm’d with points, antitheses, and puns.
Let Bawdry, Billingsgate, my daughters dear,
Support his front, and Oaths bring up the rear:
And under his, and under Archer’s wing,
Gaming50 and Grub Street, skulk behind the king.
Oh! when shall rise a monarch all our own,
And I, a nursing mother, rock the throne;
‘Twixt prince and people close the curtain draw,
Shade him from light, and cover him from law;
Fatten the courtier, starve the learnèd band,
And suckle armies, and dry-nurse the land:
Till senates nod to lullabies divine,
And all be sleep, as at an ode of thine.’
She ceased. Then swells the chapel-royal51 throat:
God save King Cibber! mounts in every note.
Familiar White’s, God save King Colley! cries;
God save King Colley! Drury lane replies:
To Needham’s quick the voice triumphal rode,
But pious Needham52 dropp’d the name of God;
Back to the Devil53 the last echoes roll,
And Coll! each butcher roars at Hockley-hole.
So when Jove’s block descended from on high
(As sings thy great forefather Ogilby54),
Loud thunder to its bottom shook the bog,
And the hoarse nation croak’d, God save King Log!
VER. 1. The mighty mother, &c. In the first edition it was thus —
Books and the man I sing, the first who brings
The Smithfield muses to the ear of kings.
Say, great patricians! since yourselves inspire
These wondrous works (so Jove and Fate require)
Say, for what cause, in vain decried and cursed,
After VER. 22, in the MS. —
Or in the graver gown instruct mankind,
Or silent let thy morals tell thy mind.
But this was to be understood, as the poet says, ironicè, like the 23d verse.
VER. 29. Close to those walls, &c. In the former edition thus —
Where wave the tatter’d ensigns of Rag-fair,55
A yawning ruin hangs and nods in air;56
Keen hollow winds howl through the bleak recess,
Emblem of music caused by emptiness;
Here in one bed two shivering sisters lie,
The cave of Poverty and Poetry.
VER. 41 in the former lines —
Hence hymning Tyburn’s elegiac lay,
Hence the soft sing-song on Cecilia’s day.
VER. 42 alludes to the annual songs composed to music on St Cecilia’s Feast.
VER. 85 in the former editions —
’Twas on the day — when Thorald,57 rich and grave.
VER. 108. But chief in Bayes’s, &e. In the former edition thus —
But chief, in Tibbald’s monster-breeding breast;
Sees gods with demons in strange league engage,
And earth, and heaven, and hell her battles wage.
She eyed the bard, where supperless he sate,
And pined, unconscious of his rising fate;
Studious he sate, with all his books around,
Sinking from thought to thought, &c —
VER. 121. Round him much embryo, &c. In the former editions thus —
He roll’d his eyes, that witness’d huge dismay,
Where yet unpawn’d much learned lumber lay;
Volumes whose size the space exactly fill’d,
Or which fond authors were so good to gild,
Or where, by sculpture made for ever known,
The page admires new beauties not its own.
Here swells the shelf, &c. —
VER. 146. In the first edition it was —
Well-purged, and worthy W— y, W— s, and Bl ——.
VER. 162. A twisted, &c. In the former edition —
And last, a little Ajax58 tips the spire.
VER. 177. Or, if to wit, &c. In the former edition —
Ah! still o’er Britain stretch that peaceful wand,
Which lulls th’ Helvetian and Batavian land;
Where rebel to thy throne if science rise,
She does but show her coward face, and dies:
There thy good scholiasts with unwearied pains
Make Horace flat, and humble Maro’s strains:
Here studious I unlucky moderns save,
Nor sleeps one error in its father’s grave,
Old puns restore, lost blunders nicely seek,
And crucify poor Shakspeare once a week.
For thee supplying, in the worst of days.
Notes to dull books, and prologues to dull plays;
Not that my quill to critics was confined,
My verse gave ampler lessons to mankind;
So gravest precepts may successless prove.
But sad examples never fail to move.
As, forced from wind-guns, &c.
VER. 195. Yet sure had Heaven, &c. In the former edition —
Had Heaven decreed such works a longer date,
Heaven had decreed to spare the Grub Street state.
But see great Settle to the dust descend,
And all thy cause and empire at an end!
Could Troy be saved, &c. —
VER. 213. Hold — to the minister. In the former edition —
Yes, to my country I my pen consign
Yes, from this moment, mighty Mist! am thine.
VER. 225. O born in sin, &c. In the former edition —
Adieu, my children! better thus expire
Unstall’d, unsold; thus glorious mount in fire,
Fair without spot; than greased by grocer’s hands,
Or shipp’d with Ward to ape-and-monkey lands,
Or wafting ginger, round the streets to run,
And visit ale-house, where ye first begun,
With that he lifted thrice the sparkling brand,
And thrice he dropp’d it, &c. —
VER. 250. Now flames the Cid, &c. In the former edition —
Now flames old Memnon, now Rodrigo burns,
In one quick flash see Proserpine expire,
And last, his own cold Aeschylus took fire.
Then gushed the tears, as from the Trojan’s eyes,
When the last blaze, &c.
After VER. 268, in the former edition, followed these two lines —
Raptured, he gazes round the dear retreat,
And in sweet numbers celebrates the seat.
VER. 293. Know, Eusden, &c. In the former edition —
Know, Settle, cloy’d with custard and with praise,
Is gather’d to the dull of ancient days,
Safe where no critics damn, no duns molest,
Where Gildon, Banks, and high-born Howard rest.
I see a king! who leads my chosen sons
To lands that flow with clenches and with puns:
Till each famed theatre my empire own;
Till Albion, as Hibernia, bless my throne!
I see! I see! — Then rapt she spoke no more.
God save King Tibbald! Grub Street alleys roar.
So when Jove’s block, &c.
1 ‘The Dunciad:’ sic MS. It may well be disputed whether this be a right reading. Ought it not rather to be spelled Dunceiad, as the etymology evidently demands? Dunce with an e, therefore Dunceiad with an e? That accurate and punctual man of letters, the restorer of Shakespeare, constantly observes the preservation of this very letter e, in spelling the name of his beloved author, and not like his common careless editors, with the omission of one, nay, sometimes of two e’s (as Shakspear), which is utterly unpardonable. ‘Nor is the neglect of a single letter so trivial as to some it may appear; the alteration whereof in a learned language is an achievement that brings honour to the critic who advances it; and Dr Bentley will be remembered to posterity for his performances of this sort, as long as the world shall have any esteem for the remains of Menander and Philemon.’— Theobald.
This is surely a slip in the learned author of the foregoing note, there having been since produced by an accurate antiquary, an autograph of Shakspeare himself, whereby it appears that he spelled his own name without the first e. And upon this authority it was, that those most critical curators of his monument in Westminster Abbey erased the former wrong reading, and restored the true spelling on a new piece of old Egyptian granite. Nor for this only do they deserve our thanks, but for exhibiting on the same monument the first specimen of an edition of an author in marble; where (as may be seen on comparing the tomb with the book), in the space of five lines, two words and a whole verse are changed, and it is to be hoped will there stand, and outlast whatever hath been hitherto done in paper; as for the future, our learned sister University (the other eye of England) is taking care to perpetuate a total new Shakspeare, at the Clarendon press. — Bentl.
It is to be noted, that this great critic also has omitted one circumstance: which is, that the inscription with the name of Shakspeare was intended to be placed on the marble scroll to which he points with his hand; instead of which it is now placed behind his back, and that specimen of an edition is put on the scroll, which indeed Shakspeare hath great reason to point at. — Anon.
Though I have as just a value for the letter e as any grammarian living, and the same affection for the name of this poem as any critic for that of his author, yet cannot it induce me to agree with those who would add yet another e to it, and call it the Dunceiade; which being a French and foreign termination, is no way proper to a word entirely English and vernacular. One e, therefore, in this case is right, and two e’s wrong. Yet, upon the whole, I shall follow the manuscript, and print it without any e at all; moved thereto by authority (at all times, with critics, equal, if not superior to reason). In which method of proceeding, I can never enough praise my good friend, the exact Mr Thomas Hearne; who, if any word occur which to him and all mankind is evidently wrong, yet keeps he it in the text with due reverence, and only remarks in the margin sic MS. In like manner we shall not amend this error in the title itself, but only note it obiter, to evince to the learned that it was not our fault, nor any effect of our ignorance or inattention. — Scriblerus.
This poem was written in the year 1726. In the next year, an imperfect edition was published at Dublin, and reprinted at London in twelves; another at Dublin, and another at London in octavo; and three others in twelves the same year. But there was no perfect edition before that of London in quarto; which was attended with notes. We are willing to acquaint posterity, that this poem was presented to King George the Second and his queen by the hands of Sir Robert Walpole, on the 12th of March 1728–9. — Schol. Vet.
It was expressly confessed in the preface to the first edition, that this poem was not published by the author himself. It was printed originally in a foreign country. And what foreign country? Why, one notorious for blunders; where finding blanks only instead of proper names, these blunderers filled them up at their pleasure.
The very hero of the poem hath been mistaken to this hour; so that we are obliged to open our notes with a discovery who he really was. We learn from the former editor, that this piece was presented by the hands of Sir Robert Walpole to King George II. Now the author directly tells us, his hero is the man
The Smithfield muses to the ear of kings.’
And it is notorious who was the person on whom this prince conferred the honour of the laurel.
It appears as plainly from the apostrophe to the great in the third verse, that Tibbald could not be the person, who was never an author in fashion, or caressed by the great; whereas this single characteristic is sufficient to point out the true hero, who, above all other poets of his time, was the peculiar delight and chosen companion of the nobility of England, and wrote, as he himself tells us, certain of his works at the earnest desire of persons of quality.
Lastly, the sixth verse affords full proof; this poet being the only one who was universally known to have had a son so exactly like him, in his poetical, theatrical, political, and moral capacities, that it could justly be said of him,
‘Still Dunce the second reign’d like Dunce the first.’— Bentl.
2 ‘Her son who brings,’ &c. Wonderful is the stupidity of all the former critics and commentators on this work! It breaks forth at the very first line. The author of the critique prefixed to Sawney, a poem, p. 5, hath been so dull as to explain ‘the man who brings,’ &c., not of the hero of the piece, but of our poet himself, as if he vaunted that kings were to be his readers — an honour which though this poem hath had, yet knoweth he how to receive it with more modesty.
We remit this ignorant to the first lines of the Aeneid, assuring him that Virgil there speaketh not of himself but of Aeneas:
‘Arma virumque cano, Trojae qui primus ab oris
Italiam, fato profugus, Lavinaque venit
Littora: multum ille et terris jactatus et alto,’ &c.
I cite the whole three verses, that I may by the way offer a conjectural emendation, purely my own, upon each: First, oris should be read aris, it being, as we see, Aen. ii. 513, from the altar of Jupiter Hercaeus that Aeneas fled as soon as he saw Priam slain. In the second line I would flatu for fato, since it is most clear it was by winds that he arrived at the shore of Italy. Jactatus, in the third, is surely as improperly applied to terris, as proper to alto. To say a man is tossed on land, is much at one with saying, he walks at sea. Risum teneatis, amici? Correct it, as I doubt not it ought to be, vexatus. — Scriblerus.
3 ‘The Smithfield Muses.’ Smithfield was the place where Bartholomew Fair was kept, whose shows, machines, and dramatical entertainments, formerly agreeable only to the taste of the rabble, were, by the hero of this poem and others of equal genius, brought to the theatres of Covent Garden, Lincolns–Inn-Fields, and the Haymarket, to be the reigning pleasures of the court and town. This happened in the reigns of King George I. and II. See Book iii.
4 ‘By Dulness, Jove, and Fate:’ i.e., by their judgments, their interests, and their inclinations. — W.
5 ‘Say how the goddess,’ &c. The poet ventureth to sing the action of the goddess; but the passion she impresseth on her illustrious votaries, he thinketh can be only told by themselves. — Scribl. W.
6 ‘Daughter of Chaos,’ &c. The beauty of this whole allegory being purely of the poetical kind, we think it not our proper business, as a scholiast, to meddle with it, but leave it (as we shall in general all such) to the reader, remarking only that Chaos (according to Hesiod’s [Greek: Theogonia]), was the progenitor of all the gods. — Scriblerus.
7 ‘Laborious, heavy, busy, bold,’ &c. I wonder the learned Scriblerus has omitted to advertise the reader, at the opening of this poem, that Dulness here is not to be taken contractedly for mere stupidity, but in the enlarged sense of the word, for all slowness of apprehension, shortness of sight, or imperfect sense of things. It includes (as we see by the poet’s own words) labour, industry, and some degree of activity and boldness — a ruling principle not inert, but turning topsy-turvy the understanding, and inducing an anarchy or confused state of mind. This remark ought to be carried along with the reader throughout the work; and without this caution he will be apt to mistake the importance of many of the characters, as well as of the design of the poet. Hence it is, that some have complained he chooses too mean a subject, and imagined he employs himself like Domitian, in killing flies; whereas those who have the true key will find he sports with nobler quarry, and embraces a larger compass; or (as one saith, on a like occasion)—
‘Will see his work, like Jacob’s ladder, rise,
Its foot in dirt, its head amid the skies.’— Bentl.
8 ‘Still her old empire to restore.’ This restoration makes the completion of the poem. Vide Book iv. — P.
9 ‘Drapier, Bickerstaff, or Gulliver!’ the several names and characters he assumed in his ludicrous, his splenetic, or his party-writings; which take in all his works. — P.
10 ‘Or praise the court, or magnify mankind:’ ironicè, alluding to Gulliver’s representations of both. The next line relates to the papers of the Drapier against the currency of Wood’s copper coin in Ireland, which, upon the great discontent of the people, his Majesty was graciously pleased to recall.
11 ‘By his famed father’s hand:’ Mr Caius–Gabriel Cibber, father of the poet laureate. The two statues of the lunatics over the gates of Bedlam Hospital were done by him, and (as the son justly says of them) are no ill monuments of his fame as an artist.
12 ‘Curll’s chaste press, and Lintot’s rubric post:’ two booksellers, of whom, see Book ii. The former was fined by the Court of King’s Bench for publishing obscene books; the latter usually adorned his shop with titles in red letters. — P.
13 ‘Hence hymning Tyburn’s elegiac lines:’ it is an ancient English custom for the malefactors to sing a psalm at their execution at Tyburn, and no less customary to print elegies on their deaths, at the same time, or before. — P.
14 ‘Sepulchral lies:’ is a just satire on the flatteries and falsehoods admitted to be inscribed on the walls of churches, in epitaphs, which occasioned the following epigram:—
‘Friend! in your epitaphs, I’m grieved,
So very much is said:
One-half will never be believed,
The other never read.’— W.
15 ‘New-year odes:’ made by the poet laureate for the time being, to be sung at Court on every New–Year’s Day, the words of which are happily drowned in the voices and instruments. — P.
16 ‘Jacob:’ Tonson, the well-known bookseller.
17 ‘How farce and epic — how Time himself,’ allude to the transgressions of the unities in the plays of such poets. For the miracles wrought upon time and place, and the mixture of tragedy and comedy, farce and epic, see Pluto and Proserpine, Penelope, &c., if yet extant. — P.
18 ”Twas on the day, when Thorold rich and grave, like Cimon, triumph’d:’ viz., a Lord Mayor’s day; his name the author had left in blanks, but most certainly could never be that which the editor foisted in formerly, and which no way agrees with the chronology of the poem. — Bentl. The procession of a lord mayor is made partly by land, and partly by water. Cimon, the famous Athenian general, obtained a victory by sea, and another by land, on the same day, over the Persians and Barbarians. — P.
19 ‘Glad chains:’ The ignorance of these moderns! This was altered in one edition to gold chains, showing more regard to the metal of which the chains of aldermen are made than to the beauty of the Latinism and Graecism — nay, of figurative speech itself: Loetas segetes, glad, for making glad, &c. — P.
20 ‘But lived, in Settle’s numbers, one day more:’ a beautiful manner of speaking, usual with poets in praise of poetry, in which kind nothing is finer than those lines of Mr Addison:—
‘Sometimes, misguided by the tuneful throng,
I look for streams immortalised in song,
That lost in silence and oblivion lie,
Dumb are their fountains, and their channels dry;
Yet run for over by the Muses’ skill,
And in the smooth description murmur still. — P.
Settle was poet to the city of London. His office was to compose yearly panegyrics upon the lord mayors, and verses to be spoken in the pageants. But that part of the shows being at length frugally abolished, the employment of city-poet ceased, so that upon Settle’s demise there was no successor to that place. — P.
21 John Heywood, whose interludes were printed in the time of Henry VIII. — P.
22 ‘Daniel Defoe,’ a man in worth and original genius incomparably superior to his defamer.
23 ‘And Eusden eke out,’ &c.: Laurence Eusden, poet laureate. Mr Jacob gives a catalogue of some few only of his works, which were very numerous. Mr Cook, in his Battle of Poets, saith of him —
‘Eusden, a laurell’d bard, by fortune raised, By very few was read, by fewer praised.’— P.
24 Nahum Tate was poet laureate, a cold writer, of no invention; but sometimes translated tolerably when befriended by Mr Dryden. In his second part of Absalom and Achitophel are above two hundred admirable lines together of that great hand, which strongly shine through the insipidity of the rest. Something parallel may be observed of another author here mentioned. — P.
25 ‘Dennis rage:’ Mr John Dennis was the son of a sadler in London, born in 1657. He paid court to Mr Dryden; and having obtained some correspondence with Mr Wycherly and Mr Congreve, he immediately obliged the public with their letters. He made himself known to the Government by many admirable schemes and projects, which the ministry, for reasons best known to themselves, constantly kept private. — P.
26 ‘Shame to Fortune:’ because she usually shows favour to persons of this character, who have a threefold pretence to it.
27 ‘Poor Fletcher’s half-eat scenes:’ a great number of them taken out to patch up his plays. — P.
28 ‘Tibbald:’ this Tibbald, or Theobald, published an edition of Shakspeare, of which he was so proud himself as to say, in one of Mist’s journals, June 8, ‘That to expose any errors in it was impracticable.’ And in another, April 27, ‘That whatever care might for the future be taken by any other editor, he would still give above five hundred emendations, that shall escape them all.’— P.
29 ‘Wish’d he had blotted:’ it was a ridiculous praise which the players gave to Shakspeare, ‘that he never blotted a line.’ Ben Jonson honestly wished he had blotted a thousand; and Shakspeare would certainly have wished the same, if he had lived to see those alterations in his works, which, not the actors only (and especially the daring hero of this poem) have made on the stage, but the presumptuous critics of our days in their editions — P.
30 ‘Ogilby the great:’ ‘John Ogilby was one who, from a late initiation into literature, made such a progress as might well style him the prodigy of his time! sending into the world so many large volumes. His translations of Homer and Virgil done to the life, and with such excellent sculptures. And (what added great grace to his works) he printed them all on special good paper, and in a very good letter.’— Winstanly, Lives of Poets. — P.
31 ‘There, stamp’d with arms, Newcastle shines complete:’ Langbaine reckons up eight folios of the Duchess of Newcastle’s works, which were usually adorned with gilded covers, and had her coat of arms upon them.
32 ‘Worthy Settle, Banks, and Broome:’ the poet has mentioned these three authors in particular, as they are parallel to our hero in his three capacities — 1. Settle was his brother laureate — only, indeed, upon half-pay, for the city instead of the court; but equally famous for unintelligible flights in his poems on public occasions, such as shows, birth-days, &c.; 2. Banks was his rival in tragedy (though more successful) in one of his tragedies, the Earl of Essex, which is yet alive: Anna Boleyn, the Queen of Scots, and Cyrus the Great, are dead and gone. These he dressed in a sort of beggar’s velvet, or a happy mixture of the thick fustian and thin prosaic; exactly imitated in Perolla and Isidora, Caesar in Egypt, and the Heroic Daughter; 3. Broome was a serving-man of Ben Jonson, who once picked up a comedy from his betters, or from some cast scenes of his master, not entirely contemptible. — P.
33 ‘Caxton:’ a printer in the time of Edward IV., Richard III., and Henry VII.; Wynkyn de Worde, his successor, in that of Henry VII. and VIII. — P.
34 ‘Nich. de Lyra:’ or Harpsfield, a very voluminous commentator, whose works, in five vast folios, were printed in 1472. — P.
35 ‘Philemon Holland:’ doctor in physic. ‘He translated so many books, that a man would think he had done nothing else; insomuch that he might be called translator general of his age. The books alone of his turning into English are sufficient to make a country gentleman a complete library.’— Winstanly. — P.
36 ‘E’er since Sir Fopling’s periwig:’ the first visible cause of the passion of the town for our hero, was a fair flaxen full-bottomed periwig, which, he tells us, he wore in his first play of the Fool in Fashion. It attracted, in a particular manner, the friendship of Col. Brett, who wanted to purchase it. — P.
37 ‘Ridpath — Mist:’ George Ridpath, author of a Whig paper, called the Flying Post; Nathanael Mist, of a famous Tory journal. — P.
38 ‘Rome’s ancient geese:’ relates to the well-known story of the geese that saved the Capitol; of which Virgil, Aen. VIII.
‘Atque hic auratis volitans argenteus anser
Porticibus, Gallos in limine adesse canebat.’
A passage I have always suspected. Who sees not the antithesis of auratis and argenteus to be unworthy the Virgilian majesty? And what absurdity to say a goose sings? canebat. Virgil gives a contrary character of the voice of this silly bird, in Ecl. ix.
. . . ‘argutos interstrepere anser olores.’
Read it, therefore, adesse strepebat. And why auratis porticibus? does not the very verse preceding this inform us,
‘Romuleoque recens horrebat regia culmo.’
Is this thatch in one line, and gold in another, consistent? I scruple not (repugnantibas omnibus manuscriptis) to correct it auritis. Horace uses the same epithet in the same sense. — P.
39 ‘Bear and Fiddle:’ see ‘Butler’s Hudibras.’
40 ‘Gratis-given Bland — Sent with a pass.’ It was a practice so to give the Daily Gazetteer and ministerial pamphlets (in which this Bland, Provost of Eton, was a writer), and to send them post-free to all the towns in the kingdom. — P.
41 ‘With Ward, to ape-and-monkey climes.’ Edward Ward, a very voluminous poet in Hudibrastic verse, but best known by the London Spy, in prose. He has of late years kept a public-house in the City (but in a genteel way), and with his wit, humour, and good liquor (ale) afforded his guests a pleasurable entertainment, especially those of the High–Church party. Jacob, Lives of Poets, vol. ii., p. 225. Great number of his works were yearly sold into the plantations. Ward, in a book called Apollo’s Maggot, declared this account to be a great falsity, protesting that his public-house was not in the City, but in Moorfields. — P.
42 ‘Tate, Shadwell:’ two of his predecessors in the Laurel. — P.
43 ‘The dear Nonjuror, Moliere’s old stubble:’ a comedy threshed out of Moliere’s Tartuffe, and so much the translator’s favourite, that he assures us all our author’s dislike to it could only arise from disaffection to the government:
‘Qui meprise Cotin, n’estime point son roi,
Et n’a, selon Cotin, ni Dieu, ni foi, ni loi.’— Boil.
He assures us, that ‘when he had the honour to kiss his Majesty’s hand upon presenting his dedication of it, he was graciously pleased, out of his royal bounty, to order him two hundred pounds for it. And this he doubts not grieved Mr P.’— P.
44 ‘Thulè:’ An unfinished poem of that name, of which one sheet was printed many years ago, by Amb. Philips, a northern author. It is a usual method of putting out a fire to cast wet sheets upon it. Some critics have been of opinion that this sheet was of the nature of the asbestos, which cannot be consumed by fire: but I rather think it an allegorical allusion to the coldness and heaviness of the writing. — P.
45 ‘Tibbald:’ Lewis Tibbald (as pronounced) or Theobald (as written) was bred an attorney, and son to an attorney (says Mr Jacob) of Sittenburn, in Kent. He was author of some forgotten plays, translations, and other pieces. He was concerned in a paper called the Censor, and a Translation of Ovid. ‘There is a notorious idiot, one hight Whachum, who, from an under-spur-leather to the law, is become an under-strapper to the play-house, who hath lately burlesqued the Metamorphoses of Ovid by a vile translation, &c. This fellow is concerned in an impertinent paper called the Censor.’ Dennis, Rem. on Pope’s Hom. pp. 9, 10. — P.
46 ‘Ozell:’ ‘Mr John Ozell (if we credit Mr Jacob) did go to school in Leicestershire, where somebody left him something to live on, when he shall retire from business. He was designed to be sent to Cambridge, in order for priesthood; but he chose rather to be placed in an office of accounts in the city, being qualified for the same by his skill in arithmetic, and writing the necessary hands. He has obliged the world with many translations of French plays.’ Jacob, Lives of Dram. Poets, p. 198. — P. Mr Jacob’s character of Mr Ozell seems vastly short of his merits, and he ought to have further justice done him, having since fully confuted all sarcasms on his learning and genius, by an advertisement of September 20, 1729, in a paper called the Weekly Medley, &c. ‘As to my learning, this envious wretch knew, and everybody knows, that the whole bench of bishops, not long ago, were pleased to give me a purse of guineas, for discovering the erroneous translations of the Common Prayer in Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, &c. As for my genius, let Mr Cleland show better verses in all Pope’s works than Ozell’s version of Boileau’s Lutrin, which the late Lord Halifax was so pleased with, that he complimented him with leave to dedicate it to him, &c. Let him show better and truer poetry in the Rape of the Lock than in Ozell’s Rape of the Bucket (La Secchia Rapita). And Mr Toland and Mr Gildon publicly declared Ozell’s translation of Homer to be, as it was prior, so likewise superior to Pope’s. Surely, surely, every man is free to deserve well of his country.’— John Ozell. We cannot but subscribe to such reverend testimonies as those of the bench of bishops, Mr Toland, and Mr Gildon. — P.
47 ‘A heidegger:’ a strange bird from Switzerland, and not (as some have supposed) the name of an eminent person who was a man of parts, and, as was said of Petronius, arbiter elegantiarum. — P.
48 ‘Gildon:’ Charles Gildon, a writer of criticisms and libels of the last age, bred at St Omer’s with the Jesuits; but renouncing Popery, he published Blount’s books against the divinity of Christ, the Oracles of Reason, &c. He signalised himself as a critic, having written some very bad plays, abused Mr Pope very scandalously in an anonymous pamphlet of the Life of Mr Wycherly, printed by Curll; in another, called the New Rehearsal, printed in 1714; in a third, entitled the Complete Art of English Poetry, in two volumes, and others. — P.
49 ‘Howard:’ Hon. Edward Howard, author of the British Princes, and a great number of wonderful pieces, celebrated by the late Earls of Dorset and Rochester, Duke of Buckingham, Mr Waller, &c. — P.
50 ‘Under Archer’s wing — Gaming:’ when the statute against gaming was drawn up, it was represented that the king, by ancient custom, plays at hazard one night in the year; and therefore a clause was inserted, with an exception as to that particular. Under this pretence, the groom-porter had a room appropriated to gaming all the summer the court was at Kensington, which his Majesty, accidentally being acquainted of, with a just indignation prohibited. It is reported the same practice is yet continued wherever the court resides, and the hazard table there open to all the professed gamesters in town.
‘Greatest and justest sovereign! know ye this?
Alas! no more, than Thames’ calm head can know
Whose meads his arms drown, or whose corn o’erflow.’
DONNE to QUEEN ELIZ. — P.
51 ‘Chapel-royal:’ the voices and instruments used in the service of the chapel-royal being also employed in the performance of the Birth-day and New-year Odes. — P.
52 ‘But pious Needham:’ a matron of great and peculiar fame, and very religious in her way. — P.
53 ‘Back to the Devil:’ the Devil Tavern in Fleet Street, where these odes are usually rehearsed before they are performed at court. — W.
54 ‘Ogilby — God save King Log:’ See Ogilby’s Aesop’s Fables, where, in the story of the Frogs and their King, this excellent hemistich is to be found. — P.
55 ‘Rag-fair’ is a place near the Tower of London, where old clothes and frippery are sold — P.
56 ‘A yawning ruin hangs and nods in air:’— Here in one bed two shivering sisters lie, The cave of Poverty and Poetry.
57 Sir George Thorald, Lord Mayor of London in the year 1720.
58 ‘A little Ajax:’ in duodecimo, translated from Sophocles by Tibhald.
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.
After the other persons are disposed in their proper places of rest, the goddess transports the king to her temple, and there lays him to slumber with his head on her lap; a position of marvellous virtue, which causes all the visions of wild enthusiasts, projectors, politicians, inamoratos, castle-builders, chemists, and poets. He is immediately carried on the wings of Fancy, and led by a mad poetical Sibyl, to the Elysian shade; where, on the banks of Lethe, the souls of the dull are dipped by Bavius, before their entrance into this world. There he is met by the ghost of Settle, and by him made acquainted with the wonders of the place, and with those which he himself is destined to perform. He takes him to a mount of vision, from whence he shows him the past triumphs of the empire of Dulness, then the present, and lastly the future: how small a part of the world was ever conquered by science, how soon those conquests were stopped, and those very nations again reduced to her dominion: then distinguishing the island of Great Britain, shows by what aids, by what persons, and by what degrees it shall be brought to her empire. Some of the persons he causes to pass in review before his eyes, describing each by his proper figure, character, and qualifications. On a sudden the scene shifts, and a vast number of miracles and prodigies appear, utterly surprising and unknown to the king himself, till they are explained to be the wonders of his own reign now commencing. On this subject Settle breaks into a congratulation, yet not unmixed with concern, that his own times were but the types of these. He prophesies how first the nation shall be overrun with farces, operas, and shows; how the throne of Dulness shall be advanced over the theatres, and set up even at Court; then how her sons shall preside in the seats of arts and sciences; giving a glimpse, or Pisgah-sight, of the future fulness of her glory, the accomplishment whereof is the subject of the fourth and last book.
But in her temple’s last recess enclosed,
On Dulness’ lap the anointed head reposed.
Him close the curtains round with vapours blue,
And soft besprinkles with Cimmerian dew.
Then raptures high the seat of sense o’erflow,
Which only heads refined from reason know.
Hence, from the straw where Bedlam’s prophet nods,
He hears loud oracles, and talks with gods:
Hence the fool’s Paradise, the statesman’s scheme,
The air-built castle, and the golden dream,
The maid’s romantic wish, the chemist’s flame,
And poet’s vision of eternal fame.
And now, on Fancy’s easy wing convey’d,
The king descending, views the Elysian shade,
A slip-shod sibyl led his steps along,
In lofty madness meditating song;
Her tresses staring from poetic dreams,
And never wash’d, but in Castalia’s streams.
Taylor,1 their better Charon, lends an oar,
(Once swan of Thames, though now he sings no more.)
Benlowes,2 propitious still to blockheads, bows;
And Shadwell nods the poppy3 on his brows.
Here, in a dusky vale where Lethe rolls,
Old Bavius sits,4 to dip poetic souls,
And blunt the sense, and fit it for a skull
Of solid proof, impenetrably dull:
Instant, when dipp’d, away they wing their flight,
Where Brown and Mears5 unbar the gates of light,
Demand new bodies, and in calf’s array
Rush to the world, impatient for the day.
Millions and millions on these banks he views,
Thick as the stars of night, or morning dews,
As thick as bees o’er vernal blossoms fly,
As thick as eggs at Ward in pillory.6
Wond’ring he gazed: when, lo! a sage appears,
By his broad shoulders known, and length of ears,
Known by the band and suit which Settle7 wore
(His only suit) for twice three years before:
All as the vest appear’d the wearer’s frame,
Old in new state — another, yet the same.
Bland and familiar as in life, begun
Thus the great father to the greater son:
‘Oh born to see what none can see awake!
Behold the wonders of the oblivious lake.
Thou, yet unborn, hast touch’d this sacred shore;
The hand of Bavius drench’d thee o’er and o’er.
But blind to former as to future fate,
What mortal knows his preexistent state?
Who knows how long thy transmigrating soul
Might from Boeotian to Boeotian roll?
How many Dutchmen she vouchsafed to thrid?
How many stages through old monks she rid?
And all who since, in mild benighted days,
Mix’d the owl’s ivy with the poet’s bays.
As man’s meanders to the vital spring
Roll all their tides, then back their circles bring;
Or whirligigs, twirl’d round by skilful swain,
Suck the thread in, then yield it out again:
All nonsense thus, of old or modern date,
Shall in thee centre, from thee circulate.
For this our queen unfolds to vision true
Thy mental eye, for thou hast much to view:
Old scenes of glory, times long cast behind,
Shall, first recall’d, rush forward to thy mind:
Then stretch thy sight o’er all thy rising reign,
And let the past and future fire thy brain.
‘Ascend this hill, whose cloudy point commands
Her boundless empire over seas and lands.
See, round the poles where keener spangles shine,
Where spices smoke beneath the burning line,
(Earth’s wide extremes), her sable flag display’d,
And all the nations cover’d in her shade!
‘Far eastward cast thine eye, from whence the sun
And orient science their bright course begun;
One god-like monarch8 all that pride confounds,
He whose long wall the wandering Tartar bounds;
Heavens! what a pile! whole ages perish there,
And one bright blaze turns learning into air.
‘Thence to the south extend thy gladden’d eyes;
There rival flames with equal glory rise,
From shelves to shelves see greedy Vulcan roll,
And lick up all their physic of the soul.9
‘How little, mark! that portion of the ball,
Where, faint at best, the beams of science fall:
Soon as they dawn, from Hyperborean skies
Embodied dark, what clouds of Vandals rise!
Lo! where Maeotis sleeps, and hardly flows
The freezing Tanais through a waste of snows,
The North by myriads pours her mighty sons,
Great nurse of Goths, of Alans, and of Huns!
See Alaric’s stern port! the martial frame
Of Genseric! and Attila’s dread name!
See the bold Ostrogoths on Latium fall;
See the fierce Visigoths on Spain and Gaul!
See, where the morning gilds the palmy shore,
(The soil that arts and infant letters bore,)
His conquering tribes the Arabian prophet draws,
And saving ignorance enthrones by laws.
See Christians, Jews, one heavy sabbath keep,
And all the western world believe and sleep.
‘Lo! Rome herself, proud mistress now no more
Of arts, but thundering against heathen lore;
Her gray-hair’d synods damning books unread,
And Bacon trembling for his brazen head.
Padua, with sighs, beholds her Livy burn,
And ev’n the Antipodes Virgilius mourn.
See, the cirque falls, the unpillar’d temple nods,
Streets paved with heroes, Tiber choked with gods:
Till Peter’s keys some christen’d Jove adorn,
And Pan to Moses lends his pagan horn;
See graceless Venus to a virgin turn’d,
Or Phidias broken, and Apelles burn’d.
‘Behold yon isle, by palmers, pilgrims trod,
Men bearded, bald, cowl’d, uncowl’d, shod, unshod,
Peel’d, patch’d, and piebald, linsey-woolsey brothers,
Grave mummers! sleeveless some, and shirtless others.
That once was Britain — happy! had she seen
No fiercer sons, had Easter never been.10
In peace, great goddess, ever be adored;
How keen the war, if Dulness draw the sword!
Thus visit not thy own! on this bless’d age
Oh spread thy influence, but restrain thy rage.
‘And see, my son! the hour is on its way
That lifts our goddess to imperial sway;
This favourite isle, long sever’d from her reign,
Dove-like she gathers to her wings again.
Now look through Fate! behold the scene she draws!
What aids, what armies to assert her cause!
See all her progeny, illustrious sight!
Behold, and count them, as they rise to light.
As Berecynthia, while her offspring vie
In homage to the mother of the sky,
Surveys around her, in the bless’d abode,
An hundred sons, and every son a god;
Not with less glory mighty Dulness crown’d,
Shall take through Grub Street her triumphant round;
And her Parnassus glancing o’er at once,
Behold an hundred sons, and each a dunce.
‘Mark first that youth who takes the foremost place,
And thrusts his person full into your face.
With all thy father’s virtues bless’d, be born!
And a new Cibber shall the stage adorn.
‘A second see, by meeker manners known,
And modest as the maid that sips alone;
From the strong fate of drams if thou get free,
Another D’Urfey, Ward! shall sing in thee.
Thee shall each ale-house, thee each gill-house mourn,
And answering gin-shops sourer sighs return.
‘Jacob, the scourge of grammar, mark with awe,11
Nor less revere him, blunderbuss of law.
Lo Popple’s brow, tremendous to the town,
Horneck’s fierce eye, and Roome’s12 funereal frown.
Lo, sneering Goode,13 half-malice and half-whim,
A fiend in glee, ridiculously grim.
Each cygnet sweet, of Bath and Tunbridge race,
Whose tuneful whistling makes the waters pass:
Each songster, riddler, every nameless name,
All crowd, who foremost shall be damn’d to fame.
Some strain in rhyme; the Muses, on their racks,
Scream like the winding of ten thousand jacks;
Some, free from rhyme or reason, rule or check,
Break Priscian’s head and Pegasus’s neck;
Down, down the ‘larum, with impetuous whirl,
The Pindars, and the Miltons of a Curll.
‘Silence, ye wolves! while Ralph14 to Cynthia howls,
And makes night hideous — answer him, ye owls!
‘Sense, speech, and measure, living tongues and dead,
Let all give way — and Morris may be read.
Flow, Welsted, flow! like thine inspirer, beer;
Though stale, not ripe; though thin, yet never clear;
So sweetly mawkish, and so smoothly dull;
Heady, not strong; o’erflowing, though not full.
‘Ah Dennis! Gildon ah! what ill-starr’d rage
Divides a friendship long confirm’d by age?
Blockheads with reason wicked wits abhor,
But fool with fool is barbarous civil war.
Embrace, embrace, my sons! be foes no more!
Nor glad vile poets with true critics’ gore.
‘Behold yon pair,15 in strict embraces join’d;
How like in manners, and how like in mind!
Equal in wit, and equally polite,
Shall this a Pasquin, that a Grumbler write?
Like are their merits, like rewards they share,
That shines a consul, this commissioner.
‘But who is he, in closet close y-pent,
Of sober face, with learned dust besprent?
Right well mine eyes arede the myster wight,
On parchment scraps y-fed, and Wormius hight.16
To future ages may thy dulness last,
As thou preserv’st the dulness of the past!
‘There, dim in clouds, the poring scholiasts mark,
Wits, who, like owls, see only in the dark,
A lumberhouse of books in every head,
For ever reading, never to be read!
‘But where each science lifts its modern type,
History her pot, divinity her pipe,
While proud philosophy repines to show,
Dishonest sight! his breeches rent below;
Embrown’d with native bronze, lo! Henley17 stands,
Tuning his voice, and balancing his hands.
How fluent nonsense trickles from his tongue!
How sweet the periods, neither said nor sung!
Still break the benches, Henley! with thy strain,
While Sherlock, Hare, and Gibson18 preach in vain.
O great restorer of the good old stage,
Preacher at once, and zany of thy age!
O worthy thou of Egypt’s wise abodes,
A decent priest, where monkeys were the gods!
But fate with butchers placed thy priestly stall,
Meek modern faith to murder, hack, and maul;
And bade thee live to crown Britannia’s praise,
In Toland’s, Tindal’s, and in Woolston’s days.19
‘Yet O! my sons, a father’s words attend
(So may the fates preserve the ears you lend):
’Tis yours a Bacon or a Locke to blame,
A Newton’s genius, or a Milton’s flame:
But O! with One, immortal One dispense,
The source of Newton’s light, of Bacon’s sense.
Content, each emanation of his fires
That beams on earth, each virtue he inspires,
Each art he prompts, each charm he can create,
Whate’er he gives, are given for you to hate.
Persist, by all divine in man unawed,
But, “Learn, ye Dunces! not to scorn your God.”’
Thus he, for then a ray of reason stole
Half through the solid darkness of his soul;
But soon the cloud return’d — and thus the sire:
‘See now, what Dulness and her sons admire!
See what the charms that smite the simple heart
Not touch’d by Nature, and not reach’d by art.’
His never-blushing head he turn’d aside,
(Not half so pleased when Goodman prophesied),
And looked, and saw a sable sorcerer20 rise,
Swift to whose hand a winged volume flies:
All sudden, Gorgons hiss, and dragons glare,
And ten-horn’d fiends and giants rush to war.
Hell rises, heaven descends, and dance on earth:21
Gods, imps, and monsters, music, rage, and mirth,
A fire, a jig, a battle, and a ball,
Till one wide conflagration swallows all.
Thence a new world to Nature’s laws unknown
Breaks out refulgent, with a heaven its own:
Another Cynthia her new journey runs,
And other planets circle other suns.
The forests dance, the rivers upward rise,
Whales sport in woods, and dolphins in the skies;
And last, to give the whole creation grace,
Lo! one vast egg produces human race.22
Joy fills his soul, joy innocent of thought: 249
‘What power,’ he cries, ‘what power these wonders wrought?’
‘Son, what thou seek’st is in thee! Look, and find
Each monster meets his likeness in thy mind.
Yet would’st thou more? In yonder cloud behold,
Whose sarsenet skirts are edged with flamy gold,
A matchless youth! his nod these worlds controls,
Wings the red lightning, and the thunder rolls.
Angel of Dulness, sent to scatter round
Her magic charms o’er all unclassic ground
Yon stars, yon suns, he rears at pleasure higher,
Illumes their light, and sets their flames on fire.
Immortal Rich!23 how calm he sits at ease
‘Mid snows of paper, and fierce hail of pease;
And proud his mistress’ orders to perform,
Rides in the whirlwind, and directs the storm.
‘But, lo! to dark encounter in mid air,
New wizards rise; I see my Cibber there!
Booth24 in his cloudy tabernacle shrined,
On grinning dragons thou shalt mount the wind.
Dire is the conflict, dismal is the din,
Here shouts all Drury, there all Lincoln’s inn;
Contending theatres our empire raise,
Alike their labours, and alike their praise.
‘And are these wonders, son, to thee unknown?
Unknown to thee? These wonders are thy own.
These Fate reserved to grace thy reign divine,
Foreseen by me, but ah! withheld from mine.
In Lud’s old walls though long I ruled, renown’d
Far as loud Bow’s stupendous bells resound;
Though my own Aldermen conferred the bays,
To me committing their eternal praise,
Their full-fed heroes, their pacific mayors,
Their annual trophies, and their monthly wars;
Though long my party25 built on me their hopes,
For writing pamphlets, and for roasting popes;
Yet lo! in me what authors have to brag on!
Reduced at last to hiss in my own dragon.
Avert it, Heaven! that thou, my Cibber, e’er
Should’st wag a serpent-tail in Smithfield fair!
Like the vile straw that’s blown about the streets,
The needy poet sticks to all he meets,
Coach’d, carted, trod upon, now loose, now fast,
And carried off in some dog’s tail at last;
Happier thy fortunes! like a rolling stone,
Thy giddy dulness still shall lumber on,
Safe in its heaviness, shall never stray,
But lick up every blockhead in the way.
Thee shall the patriot, thee the courtier taste,
And every year be duller than the last;
Till raised from booths, to theatre, to court,
Her seat imperial Dulness shall transport.
Already Opera prepares the way,
The sure forerunner of her gentle sway:
Let her thy heart, next drabs and dice, engage,
The third mad passion of thy doting age.
Teach thou the warbling Polypheme26 to roar,
And scream thyself as none e’er scream’d before!
To aid our cause, if Heaven thou can’st not bend,
Hell thou shalt move; for Faustus27 is our friend:
Pluto with Cato thou for this shalt join,
And link the Mourning Bride to Proserpine.
Grub Street! thy fall should men and gods conspire,
Thy stage shall stand, ensure it but from fire.28
Another Æschylus appears!29 prepare
For new abortions, all ye pregnant fair!
In flames, like Semele’s, be brought to bed,
While opening Hell spouts wild-fire at your head.
‘Now, Bavius, take the poppy from thy brow,
And place it here! here, all ye heroes, bow!
This, this is he, foretold by ancient rhymes:
Th’ Augustus born to bring Saturnian times.
Signs following signs lead on the mighty year!
See! the dull stars roll round and reappear.
See, see, our own true Phoebus wears the bays!
Our Midas sits Lord Chancellor of Plays!
On poets’ tombs see Benson’s titles writ!30
Lo! Ambrose Philips31 is preferr’d for wit!
See under Ripley rise a new Whitehall,
While Jones’ and Boyle’s united labours fall;32
While Wren with sorrow to the grave descends,
Gay dies unpension’d with a hundred friends;
Hibernian politics, O Swift! thy fate;
And Pope’s, ten years to comment and translate.
‘Proceed, great days! till Learning fly the shore,
Till Birch shall blush with noble blood no more,
Till Thames see Eton’s sons for ever play,
Till Westminster’s whole year be holiday,
Till Isis’ elders reel, their pupils sport,
And Alma Mater lie dissolved in port!’
Enough! enough! the raptured monarch cries;
And through the Ivory Gate the vision flies.
VER. 73. In the former edition —
Far eastward cast thine eye, from whence the sun
And orient science at a birth begun.
VER. 149. In the first edition it was —
Woolston, the scourge of scripture, mark with awe!
And mighty Jacob, blunderbuss of law!
VER. 151. Lo Popple’s brow, &c. In the former edition —
Haywood, Centlivre, glories of their race,
Lo Horneck’s fierce, and Roome’s funereal face.
VER. 157. Each songster, riddler, &c. In the former edition —
Lo Bond and Foxton, every nameless name.
After VER. 158 in the first edition followed —
How proud, how pale, how earnest all appear!
How rhymes eternal jingle in their ear!
VER. 197. In the first edition it was —
And proud philosophy with breeches tore,
And English music with a dismal score:
Fast by in darkness palpable enshrined
W——s, B——r, M——n, all the poring kind.
After VER. 274 in the former edition followed —
For works like these let deathless journals tell,
‘None but thyself can be thy parallel.’
VER. 295. Safe in its heaviness, etc. In the former edition —
Too safe in inborn heaviness to stray,
And lick up every blockhead in the way.
Thy dragons, magistrates and peers shall taste,
And from each show rise duller than the last;
Till raised from booths, etc.
VER. 323. See, see, our own, &c. In the former edition —
Beneath his reign shall Eusden wear the bays.
Cibber preside Lord Chancellor of plays,
Benson sole Judge of Architecture sit,
And Namby Pamby be preferr’d for wit!
I see the unfinish’d dormitory wall,
I see the Savoy totter to her fall;
Hibernian politics, O Swift! thy doom,
And Pope’s, translating three whole years with Broome.
Proceed great days, &c.
VER. 331. In the former edition, thus —
—— O Swift! thy doom,
And Pope’s, translating ten whole years with Broome.
After VER. 338, in the first edition, were the following lines —
Then when these signs declare the mighty year,
When the dull stars roll round and reappear;
Let there be darkness! (the dread Power shall say)
All shall be darkness, as it ne’er were day;
To their first Chaos wit’s vain works shall fall,
And universal darkness cover all.
1 ‘Taylor:’ John Taylor, the water-poet, an honest man, who owns he learned not so much as the Accidence — a rare example of modesty in a poet!
‘I must confess I do want eloquence,
And never scarce did learn my Accidence;
For having got from possum to posset,
I there was gravell’d, could no further get.’
He wrote fourscore books in the reign of James I. and Charles I., and afterwards (like Edward Ward) kept an ale-house in Long–Acre. He died in 1654. — P.
2 ‘Benlowes:’ a country gentleman, famous for his own bad poetry, and for patronising bad poets, as may be seen from many dedications of Quarles and others to him. Some of these anagrammed his name, Benlowes, into Benevolus; to verify which, he spent his whole estate upon them. — P.
3 ‘And Shadwell nods the poppy:’ Shadwell took opium for many years, and died of too large a dose, in the year 1692. — P.
4 ‘Old Bavius sits:’ Bavius was an ancient poet, celebrated by Virgil for the like cause as Bayes by our author, though not in so Christian-like a manner: for heathenishly it is declared by Virgil of Bavius, that he ought to be hated and detested for his evil works; qui Bavium non odit; whereas we have often had occasion to observe our poet’s great good nature and mercifulness through the whole course of this poem. Scribl. — P.
5 ‘Brown and Mears:’ booksellers, printers for anybody. — The allegory of the souls of the dull coming forth in the form of books, dressed in calf’s leather, and being let abroad in vast numbers by booksellers, is sufficiently intelligible. — P.
6 ‘Ward in pillory:’ John Ward of Hackney, Esq., member of parliament, being convicted of forgery, was first expelled the House, and then sentenced to the pillory on the 17th of February 1727. Mr Curll (having likewise stood there) looks upon the mention of such a gentleman in a satire as a great act of barbarity. Key to the Dunc., 3d edit. p. 16. And another author reasons thus upon it: Durgen., 8vo, pp. 11, 12, ‘How unworthy is it of Christian charity to animate the rabble to abuse a worthy man in such a situation? What could move the poet thus to mention a brave sufferer, a gallant prisoner, exposed to the view of all mankind? It was laying aside his senses, it was committing a crime, for which the law is deficient not to punish him! nay, a crime which man can scarce forgive or time efface! Nothing surely could have induced him to it but being bribed by a great lady,’ &c. (to whom this brave, honest, worthy gentleman was guilty of no offence but forgery, proved in open court). But it is evident this verse could not be meant of him, it being notorious that no eggs were thrown at that gentleman. Perhaps, therefore, it might be intended of Mr Edward Ward, the poet, when he stood there. — P.
7 ‘Settle:’ Elkanah Settle was once a writer in vogue, as well as Cibber, both for dramatic poetry and politics. — P.
8 ‘Monarch:’ Chi Ho-am-ti, Emperor of China, the same who built the great wall between China and Tartary, destroyed all the books and learned men of that empire. — P.
9 ‘Physic of the soul:’ the caliph, Omar I., having conquered Egypt, caused his general to burn the Ptolemaean library, on the gates of which was this inscription, [Greek: PSYCHES IATREION], the Physic of the soul. — P.
10 ‘Happy! — had Easter never been:’ wars in England anciently, about the right time of celebrating Easter. — P.
11 ‘Jacob, the scourge of grammar, mark with awe:’ this gentleman is son of a considerable maltster of Romsey in Southamptonshire, and bred to the law under a very eminent attorney; who, between his more laborious studies, has diverted himself with poetry. He is a great admirer of poets and their works, which has occasioned him to try his genius that way. He has wrote in prose the Lives of the Poets, Essays, and a great many law-books, The Accomplished Conveyancer, Modern Justice, &c.’ Giles Jacob of himself, Lives of Poets, vol. i. He very grossly, and unprovoked, abused in that book the author’s friend, Mr Gay. — P.
12 ‘Horneck and Roome:’ these two were virulent party-writers, worthily coupled together, and one would think prophetically, since, after the publishing of this piece, the former dying, the latter succeeded him in honour and employment. The first was Philip Horneck, author of a Billingsgate paper called The High German Doctor. Edward Roome was son of an undertaker for funerals in Fleet Street, and wrote some of the papers called Pasquin, where by malicious innuendos he endeavoured to represent our author guilty of malevolent practices with a great man then under prosecution of Parliament. Of this man was made the following epigram:
‘You ask why Roome diverts you with his jokes,
Yet if he writes, is dull as other folks?
You wonder at it. This, sir, is the case,
The jest is lost unless he prints his face.’
Popple was the author of some vile plays and pamphlets. He published abuses on our author in a paper called the Prompter. — P.
13 ‘Goode:’ an ill-natured critic, who wrote a satire on our author, called The Mock Aesop, and many anonymous libels in newspapers for hire. — P.
14 ‘Ralph:’ James Ralph, a name inserted after the first editions, not known to our author till he writ a swearing-piece called Sawney, very abusive of Dr Swift, Mr Gay, and himself. These lines allude to a thing of his, entitled Night, a Poem. This low writer attended his own works with panegyrics in the journals, and once in particular praised himself highly above Mr Addison, in wretched remarks upon that author’s account of English Poets, printed in a London journal, September 1728. He was wholly illiterate, and knew no language, not even French. Being advised to read the rules of dramatic poetry before he began a play, he smiled and replied, ‘Shakspeare wrote without rules.’ He ended at last in the common sink of all such writers, a political newspaper, to which he was recommended by his friend Arnall, and received a small pittance for pay. — P. B. Franklin seems to have thought that his friend Ralph was alluded to here. See his Autobiography.
15 ‘Behold yon pair:’ one of these was author of a weekly paper called The Grumbler, as the other was concerned in another called Pasquin, in which Mr Pope was abused with the Duke of Buckingham and Bishop of Rochester. They also joined in a piece against his first undertaking to translate the Iliad, entitled Homerides, by Sir Iliad Doggrel, printed 1715. — P.
16 ‘Wormius hight:’ let not this name, purely fictitious, be conceited to mean the learned Olaus Wormius; much less (as it was unwarrantably foisted into the surreptitious editions) our own antiquary, Mr Thomas Hearne, who had no way aggrieved our poet, but, on the contrary, published many curious tracts which he hath to his great contentment perused. — P.
17 ‘Lo! Henley stands,’ &c.: J. Henley, the orator; he preached on the Sundays upon theological matters, and on the Wednesdays upon all other sciences. Each auditor paid one shilling. He declaimed some years against the greatest persons, and occasionally did our author that honour. — P.
18 ‘Sherlock, Hare, Gibson:’ bishops of Salisbury, Chichester, and London, whose Sermons and Pastoral Letters did honour to their country as well as stations. — P.
19 Of Toland and Tindal, see book ii. Thomas Woolston was an impious madman, who wrote in a most insolent style against the miracles of the Gospel, in the year 1726, &c. — P.
20 ‘A sable sorcerer:’ Dr Faustus, the subject of a set of farces, which, lasted in vogue two or three seasons, in which both playhouses strove to outdo each other for some years. — P.
21 ‘Hell rises, Heaven descends, and dance on earth:’ this monstrous absurdity was actually represented in Tibbald’s Rape of Proserpine. — P.
22 ‘Lo! one vast egg:’ in another of these farces, Harlequin is hatched upon the stage, out of a large egg. — P.
23 ‘Immortal Rich:’ Mr John Rich, master of the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden, was the first that excelled this way. — P.
24 Booth and Cibber were joint managers of the Theatre in Drury Lane. — P.
25 ‘Though long my party:’ Settle, like most party-writers, was very uncertain in his political principles. He was employed to hold the pen in the character of a popish successor, but afterwards printed his narrative on the other side. He had managed the ceremony of a famous pope-burning on Nov. 17, 1680, then became a trooper in King James’s army, at Hounslow Heath. After the Revolution he kept a booth at Bartholomew Fair, where, in the droll called St George for England, he acted in his old age in a dragon of green leather of his own invention; he was at last taken into the Charter-house, and there died, aged sixty years. — P.
26 ‘Polypheme:’ he translated the Italian Opera of Polifemo, but unfortunately lost the whole gist of the story. The Cyclops asks Ulysses his name who tells him his name is Noman. After his eye is put out, he roars and calls the brother Cyclops to his aid: they inquire who has hurt him? he answers Noman; whereupon they all go away again. Our ingenious translator made Ulysses answer, ‘I take no name,’ whereby all that followed became unintelligible. Hence it appears that Mr Gibber (who values himself on subscribing to the English translation of Homer’s Iliad) had not that merit with respect to the Odyssey, or he might have been better instructed in the Greek Punology. — P.
27 ‘Faustus, Pluto,’ &c.: names of miserable farces, which it was the custom to act at the end of the best tragedies, to spoil the digestion of the audience. — P.
28 ‘Ensure it but from fire:’ in Tibbald’s farce of Proserpine, a corn-field was set on fire; whereupon the other play-house had a barn burned down for the recreation of the spectators. They also rivalled each other in showing the burnings of hell fire, in Dr Faustus. — P.
29 ‘Another Æschylus appears:’ it is reported of Æschylus, that when his tragedy of the Furies was acted, the audience were so terrified that the children fell into fits, and the big-bellied women miscarried. — P.
30 ‘On poets’ tombs see Benson’s titles writ:’ W——— m Benson (surveyor of the buildings to his Majesty King George I.) gave in a report to the Lords, that their house and the painted-chamber adjoining were in immediate danger of falling. Whereupon the Lords met in a committee to appoint some other place to sit in, while the house should be taken down. But it being proposed to cause some other builders first to inspect it, they found it in very good condition. The Lords, upon this, were going upon an address to the king against Benson for such a misrepresentation; but the Earl of Sunderland, then secretary, gave them an assurance that his Majesty would remove him, which was done accordingly. In favour of this man, the famous Sir Christopher Wren, who had been architect to the Crown for above fifty years, who built most of the churches in London, laid the first stone of St Paul’s, and lived to finish it, had been displaced from his employment at the age of nearly ninety years. — P.
31 ‘Ambrose Philips:’ ‘he was,’ saith Mr Jacob, ‘one of the wits at Button’s, and a justice of the peace.’— P.
32 ‘While Jones’ and Boyle’s united labours fall:’ at the time when this poem was written, the banqueting-house of Whitehall, the church and piazza of Covent Garden, and the palace and chapel of Somerset House, the works of the famous Inigo Jones, had been for many years so neglected as to be in danger of ruin. The portico of Covent Garden church had been just then restored and beautified at the expense of the Earl of Burlington, who, at the same time, by his publication of the designs of that great master and Palladio, as well as by many noble buildings of his own, revived the true taste of architecture in this kingdom. — P.
The poet being, in this book, to declare the completion of the prophecies mentioned at the end of the former, makes a new invocation; as the greater poets are wont, when some high and worthy matter is to be sung. He shows the goddess coming in her majesty to destroy order and science, and to substitute the kingdom of the Dull upon earth; how she leads captive the Sciences, and silenceth the Muses; and what they be who succeed in their stead. All her children, by a wonderful attraction, are drawn about her; and bear along with them divers others, who promote her empire by connivance, weak resistance, or discouragement of Arts; such as half-wits, tasteless admirers, vain pretenders, the flatterers of Dunces, or the patrons of them. All these crowd round her; one of them offering to approach her, is driven back by a rival, but she commends and encourages both. The first who speak in form are the geniuses of the schools, who assure her of their care to advance her cause, by confining youth to words, and keeping them out of the way of real knowledge. Their address, and her gracious answer; with her charge to them and the Universities. The Universities appear by their proper deputies, and assure her that the same method is observed in the progress of education. The speech of Aristarchus on this subject. They are driven off by a band of young gentlemen returned from travel with their tutors; one of whom delivers to the goddess, in a polite oration, an account of the whole conduct and fruits of their travels; presenting to her at the same time a young nobleman perfectly accomplished. She receives him graciously, and indues him with the happy quality of want of shame. She sees loitering about her a number of indolent persons abandoning all business and duty, and dying with laziness: to these approaches the antiquary Annius, entreating her to make them virtuosos, and assign them over to him; but Mummius, another antiquary, complaining of his fraudulent proceeding, she finds a method to reconcile their difference. Then enter a troop of people fantastically adorned, offering her strange and exotic presents: amongst them, one stands forth and demands justice on another, who had deprived him of one of the greatest curiosities in nature; but he justifies himself so well, that the goddess gives them both her approbation. She recommends to them to find proper employment for the indolents before-mentioned, in the study of butterflies, shells, birds’ nests, moss, &c., but with particular caution not to proceed beyond trifles, to any useful or extensive views of nature, or of the Author of nature. Against the last of these apprehensions, she is secured by a hearty address from the minute philosophers and freethinkers, one of whom speaks in the name of the rest. The youth thus instructed and principled, are delivered to her in a body, by the hands of Silenus; and then admitted to taste the cup of the Magus her high-priest, which causes a total oblivion of all obligations, divine, civil, moral, or rational. To these her adepts she sends priests, attendants, and comforters, of various kinds; confers on them orders and degrees; and then dismissing them with a speech, confirming to each his privileges, and telling what she expects from each, concludes with a yawn of extraordinary virtue: the progress and effects whereof on all orders of men, and the consummation of all, in the restoration of Night and Chaos, conclude the poem.
Yet, yet a moment, one dim ray of light
Indulge, dread Chaos, and eternal Night!
Of darkness visible so much be lent,
As half to show, half veil the deep intent.
Ye Powers! whose mysteries restored I sing,
To whom Time bears me on his rapid wing,
Suspend a while your force inertly strong,
Then take at once the poet and the song.
Now flamed the dog-star’s unpropitious ray,
Smote every brain, and wither’d every bay;
Sick was the sun, the owl forsook his bower,
The moon-struck prophet felt the madding hour:
Then rose the seed of Chaos, and of Night,
To blot out order, and extinguish light,
Of dull and venal a new world to mould,
And bring Saturnian days of lead and gold.
She mounts the throne: her head a cloud conceal’d,
In broad effulgence all below reveal’d,
(’Tis thus aspiring Dulness ever shines),
Soft on her lap her laureate son reclines.
Beneath her foot-stool, Science groans in chains,
And Wit dreads exile, penalties and pains.
There foam’d rebellious Logic, gagg’d and bound,
There, stripp’d, fair Rhetoric languish’d on the ground;
His blunted arms by Sophistry are borne,
And shameless Billingsgate her robes adorn.
Morality, by her false guardians drawn.
Chicane in furs, and Casuistry in lawn,
Gasps, as they straiten at each end the cord,
And dies, when Dulness gives her page the word.
Mad Máthesis1 alone was unconfined,
Too mad for mere material chains to bind,
Now to pure space2 lifts her ecstatic stare,
Now running round the circle, finds it square.3
But held in tenfold bonds the Muses lie,
Watch’d both by Envy’s and by Flattery’s eye:
There to her heart sad Tragedy address’d
The dagger wont to pierce the tyrant’s breast;
But sober History restrain’d her rage,
And promised vengeance on a barbarous age.
There sunk Thalia, nerveless, cold, and dead,
Had not her sister Satire held her head:
Nor could’st thou, Chesterfield!4 a tear refuse,
Thou wept’st, and with thee wept each gentle Muse.
When, lo! a harlot form5 soft sliding by,
With mincing step, small voice, and languid eye:
Foreign her air, her robe’s discordant pride
In patchwork fluttering, and her head aside:
By singing peers upheld on either hand,
She tripp’d and laugh’d, too pretty much to stand;
Cast on the prostrate Nine a scornful look,
Then thus in quaint recitative spoke:
‘O Cara! Cara! silence all that train:
Joy to great Chaos! let division reign:6
Chromatic7 tortures soon shall drive them hence,
Break all their nerves, and fritter all their sense:
One trill shall harmonise joy, grief, and rage,
Wake the dull church, and lull the ranting stage;8
To the same notes thy sons shall hum, or snore,
And all thy yawning daughters cry, Encore!
Another Phoebus, thy own Phoebus, reigns,
Joys in my jigs, and dances in my chains.
But soon, ah soon, rebellion will commence,
If music meanly borrows aid from sense:
Strong in new arms, lo! giant Handel stands,
Like bold Briareus, with a hundred hands;
To stir, to rouse, to shake the soul he comes,
And Jove’s own thunders follow Mars’s drums.
Arrest him, empress; or you sleep no more’—
She heard, and drove him to the Hibernian shore.
And now had Fame’s posterior trumpet blown,
And all the nations summon’d to the throne.
The young, the old, who feel her inward sway,
One instinct seizes, and transports away.
None need a guide, by sure attraction led,
And strong impulsive gravity of head;
None want a place, for all their centre found,
Hung to the goddess, and cohered around.
Not closer, orb in orb, conglobed are seen
The buzzing bees about their dusky queen.
The gathering number, as it moves along,
Involves a vast involuntary throng,
Who, gently drawn, and struggling less and less,
Roll in her vortex, and her power confess.
Not those alone who passive own her laws,
But who, weak rebels, more advance her cause.
Whate’er of dunce in college or in town
Sneers at another, in toupée or gown;
Whate’er of mongrel no one class admits,
A wit with dunces, and a dunce with wits.
Nor absent they, no members of her state,
Who pay her homage in her sons, the great;
Who, false to Phoebus, bow the knee to Baal;
Or, impious, preach his word without a call.
Patrons, who sneak from living worth to dead,
Withhold the pension, and set up the head;
Or vest dull flattery in the sacred gown;
Or give from fool to fool the laurel crown.
And (last and worst) with all the cant of wit,
Without the soul, the Muse’s hypocrite.
There march’d the bard and blockhead, side by side,
Who rhymed for hire, and patronised for pride.
Narcissus,9 praised with all a parson’s power,
Look’d a white lily sunk beneath a shower.
There moved Montalto with superior air;
His stretch’d-out arm display’d a volume fair;
Courtiers and patriots in two ranks divide,
Through both he pass’d, and bow’d from side to side;
But as in graceful act, with awful eye
Composed he stood, bold Benson10 thrust him by:
On two unequal crutches propp’d he came,
Milton’s on this, on that one Johnston’s name.
The decent knight11 retired with sober rage,
Withdrew his hand, and closed the pompous page.
But (happy for him as the times went then)
Appear’d Apollo’s mayor and aldermen,
On whom three hundred gold-capp’d youths await,
To lug the ponderous volume off in state.
When Dulness, smiling — ‘Thus revive the wits!
But murder first, and mince them all to bits;
As erst Medea (cruel, so to save!)
A new edition of old Aeson gave;
Let standard authors, thus, like trophies borne,
Appear more glorious as more hack’d and torn.
And you, my critics! in the chequer’d shade,
Admire new light through holes yourselves have made.
Leave not a foot of verse, a foot of stone,
A page, a grave, that they can call their own;
But spread, my sons, your glory thin or thick,
On passive paper, or on solid brick.
So by each bard an alderman12 shall sit,
A heavy lord shall hang at every wit,
And while on Fame’s triumphal car they ride,
Some slave of mine be pinion’d to their side.’
Now crowds on crowds around the goddess press,
Each eager to present the first address.
Dunce scorning dunce beholds the next advance,
But fop shows fop superior complaisance.
When, lo! a spectre rose, whose index-hand
Held forth the virtue of the dreadful wand;
His beaver’d brow a birchen garland wears,
Dropping with infants’ blood and mothers’ tears.
O’er every rein a shuddering horror runs;
Eton and Winton shake through all their sons.
All flesh is humbled, Westminster’s bold race
Shrink, and confess the genius of the place:
The pale boy-senator yet tingling stands,
And holds his breeches close with both his hands.
Then thus: ‘Since man from beast by words is known,
Words are man’s province, words we teach alone,
When reason doubtful, like the Samian letter,13
Points him two ways, the narrower is the better.
Placed at the door of Learning, youth to guide,
We never suffer it to stand too wide.
To ask, to guess, to know, as they commence,
As fancy opens the quick springs of sense,
We ply the memory, we load the brain,
Bind rebel wit, and double chain on chain,
Confine the thought, to exercise the breath,
And keep them in the pale of words till death.
Whate’er the talents, or howe’er design’d,
We hang one jingling padlock on the mind:
A poet the first day he dips his quill;
And what the last? a very poet still.
Pity! the charm works only in our wall,
Lost, lost too soon in yonder House or Hall.14
There truant Wyndham every Muse gave o’er,
There Talbot sunk, and was a wit no more!
How sweet an Ovid, Murray was our boast!
How many Martials were in Pulteney lost!
Else sure some bard, to our eternal praise,
In twice ten thousand rhyming nights and days,
Had reach’d the work, the all that mortal can,
And South beheld that master-piece of man.’15
‘Oh (cried the goddess) for some pedant reign!
Some gentle James,16 to bless the land again;
To stick the doctor’s chair into the throne,
Give law to words, or war with words alone,
Senates and courts with Greek and Latin rule,
And turn the council to a grammar school!
For sure, if Dulness sees a grateful day,
’Tis in the shade of arbitrary sway.
Oh! if my sons may learn one earthly thing,
Teach but that one, sufficient for a king;
That which my priests, and mine alone, maintain,
Which as it dies or lives, we fall or reign:
May you, may Cam and Isis, preach it long!
“The right divine of kings to govern wrong.”’
Prompt at the call, around the goddess roll
Broad hats, and hoods, and caps, a sable shoal:
Thick and more thick the black blockade extends,
A hundred head of Aristotle’s friends.
Nor wert thou, Isis! wanting to the day,
Though Christ-church long kept prudishly away.
Each stanch polemic, stubborn as a rock,
Each fierce logician, still expelling Locke,17
Came whip and spur, and dash’d through thin and thick
On German Crousaz,18 and Dutch Burgersdyck.
As many quit the streams19 that murmuring fall
To lull the sons of Margaret and Clare-hall,
Where Bentley late tempestuous wont to sport
In troubled waters, but now sleeps in port.20
Before them march’d that awful Aristarch!
Plough’d was his front with many a deep remark:
His hat, which never vail’d to human pride,
Walker with reverence took, and laid aside.
Low bow’d the rest: he, kingly, did but nod;
So upright Quakers please both man and God.
‘Mistress! dismiss that rabble from your throne:
Avaunt! is Aristarchus yet unknown?
Thy mighty scholiast, whose unwearied pains
Made Horace dull, and humbled Milton’s strains.
Turn what they will to verse, their toil is vain,
Critics like me shall make it prose again.
Roman and Greek grammarians! know your better,
Author of something yet more great than letter;21
While towering o’er your alphabet, like Saul,
Stands our digamma,22 and o’ertops them all.
”Tis true, on words is still our whole debate,
Disputes of me or te, of aut or at,
To sound or sink in cano, O or A,
Or give up Cicero23 to C or K.
Let Freind24 affect to speak as Terence spoke,
And Alsop never but like Horace joke:
For me, what Virgil, Pliny, may deny,
Manilius or Solinus25 shall supply:
For Attic phrase in Plato let them seek,
I poach in Suidas26 for unlicensed Greek.
In ancient sense if any needs will deal,
Be sure I give them fragments, not a meal;
What Gellius or Stobaeus hash’d before,
Or chew’d by blind old scholiasts o’er and o’er,
The critic eye, that microscope of wit,
Sees hairs and pores, examines bit by bit:
How parts relate to parts, or they to whole,
The body’s harmony, the beaming soul,
Are things which Kuster, Burman, Wasse shall see,
When Man’s whole frame is obvious to a flea.
‘Ah, think not, mistress! more true Dulness lies
In Folly’s cap, than Wisdom’s grave disguise;
Like buoys, that never sink into the flood,
On Learning’s surface we but lie and nod.
Thine is the genuine head of many a house,
And much divinity27 without a [Greek: Nous].
Nor could a Barrow work on every block,
Nor has one Atterbury spoil’d the flock.
See! still thy own, the heavy cannon roll,
And metaphysic smokes involve the pole.
For thee we dim the eyes, and stuff the head
With all such reading as was never read:
For thee explain a thing till all men doubt it,
And write about it, goddess, and about it:
So spins the silk-worm small its slender store,
And labours till it clouds itself all o’er.
‘What though we let some better sort of fool
Thrid every science, run through every school?
Never by tumbler through the hoops was shown
Such skill in passing all, and touching none.
He may indeed (if sober all this time)
Plague with dispute, or persecute with rhyme.
We only furnish what he cannot use,
Or wed to what he must divorce, a Muse:
Full in the midst of Euclid dip at once,
And petrify a genius to a dunce;28
Or, set on metaphysic ground to prance,
Show all his paces, not a step advance.
With the same cement, ever sure to bind,
We bring to one dead level every mind.
Then take him to develop, if you can,
And hew the block off,29 and get out the man.
But wherefore waste I words? I see advance
Whore, pupil, and laced governor from France.
Walker! our hat,’— nor more he deign’d to say,
But, stern as Ajax’ spectre,30 strode away.
In flow’d at once a gay embroider’d race,
And tittering push’d the pedants off the place:
Some would have spoken, but the voice was drown’d
By the French horn, or by the opening hound.
The first came forwards,31 with an easy mien,
As if he saw St James’s32 and the queen;
When thus the attendant orator begun:
‘Receive, great empress! thy accomplish’d son:
Thine from the birth, and sacred from the rod,
A dauntless infant! never scared with God.
The sire saw, one by one, his virtues wake:
The mother begg’d the blessing of a rake.
Thou gav’st that ripeness which so soon began,
And ceased so soon — he ne’er was boy nor man;
Through school and college, thy kind cloud o’ercast,
Safe and unseen the young Æneas pass’d:
Thence bursting glorious, all at once let down,
Stunn’d with his giddy ‘larum half the town.
Intrepid then, o’er seas and lands he flew:
Europe he saw, and Europe saw him too.
There all thy gifts and graces we display,
Thou, only thou, directing all our way,
To where the Seine, obsequious as she runs,
Pours at great Bourbon’s feet her silken sons;
Or Tiber, now no longer Roman, rolls,
Vain of Italian arts, Italian souls:
To happy convents, bosom’d deep in vines,
Where slumber abbots, purple as their wines:
To isles of fragrance, lily-silver’d vales,33
Diffusing languor in the panting gales:
To lands of singing or of dancing slaves,
Love-whispering woods, and lute-resounding waves.
But chief her shrine where naked Venus keeps,
And Cupids ride the lion of the deeps;34
Where, eased of fleets, the Adriatic main
Wafts the smooth eunuch and enamour’d swain,
Led by my hand, he saunter’d Europe round,
And gather’d every vice on Christian ground;
Saw every court, heard every king declare
His royal sense of operas or the fair;
The stews and palace equally explored,
Intrigued with glory, and with spirit whored;
Tried all hors-d’oeuvres, all liqueurs defined,
Judicious drank, and greatly-daring dined;35
Dropp’d the dull lumber of the Latin store,
Spoil’d his own language, and acquired no more;
All classic learning lost on classic ground;
And last turned air, the echo of a sound!
See now, half-cured, and perfectly well-bred,
With nothing but a solo in his head;
As much estate, and principle, and wit,
As Jansen, Fleetwood, Cibber36 shall think fit;
Stolen from a duel, follow’d by a nun,
And, if a borough choose him, not undone;
See, to my country happy I restore
This glorious youth, and add one Venus more.
Her too receive (for her my soul adores),
So may the sons of sons of sons of whores
Prop thine, O empress! like each neighbour throne,
And make a long posterity thy own.’
Pleased, she accepts the hero, and the dame
Wraps in her veil, and frees from sense of shame.
Then look’d, and saw a lazy, lolling sort,
Unseen at church, at senate, or at court,
Of ever-listless loiterers that attend
No cause, no trust, no duty, and no friend.
Thee, too, my Paridel!37 she marked thee there,
Stretch’d on the rack of a too easy chair,
And heard thy everlasting yawn confess
The pains and penalties of idleness.
She pitied! but her pity only shed
Benigner influence on thy nodding head.
But Annius,38 crafty seer, with ebon wand,
And well-dissembled emerald on his hand,
False as his gems, and canker’d as his coins,
Came, cramm’d with capon, from where Pollio dines.
Soft, as the wily fox is seen to creep,
Where bask on sunny banks the simple sheep,
Walk round and round, now prying here, now there,
So he; but pious, whisper’d first his prayer.
‘Grant, gracious goddess! grant me still to cheat,39
Oh may thy cloud still cover the deceit!
Thy choicer mists on this assembly shed,
But pour them thickest on the noble head.
So shall each youth, assisted by our eyes,
See other Caesars, other Homers rise;
Through twilight ages hunt the Athenian fowl,40
Which Chalcis gods, and mortals call an owl,
Now see an Attys, now a Cecrops41 clear,
Nay, Mahomet! the pigeon at thine ear;
Be rich in ancient brass, though not in gold,
And keep his Lares, though his house be sold;
To headless Phoebe his fair bride postpone,
Honour a Syrian prince above his own;
Lord of an Otho, if I vouch it true;
Bless’d in one Niger, till he knows of two.’
Mummius42 o’erheard him; Mummius, fool-renown’d,
Who like his Cheops43 stinks above the ground,
Fierce as a startled adder, swell’d, and said,
Rattling an ancient sistrum at his head;
‘Speak’st thou of Syrian prince?44 Traitor base!
Mine, goddess! mine is all the hornèd race.
True, he had wit to make their value rise;
From foolish Greeks to steal them was as wise;
More glorious yet, from barbarous hands to keep,
When Sallee rovers chased him on the deep.
Then, taught by Hermes, and divinely bold,
Down his own throat he risk’d the Grecian gold,
Received each demi-god, with pious care,
Deep in his entrails — I revered them there,
I bought them, shrouded in that Irving shrine,
And, at their second birth, they issue mine.’
‘Witness, great Ammon!45 by whose horns I swore,
(Replied soft Annius) this our paunch before
Still bears them, faithful; and that thus I eat,
Is to refund the medals with the meat.
To prove me, goddess! clear of all design,
Bid me with Pollio sup, as well as dine:
There all the learn’d shall at the labour stand,
And Douglas46 lend his soft, obstetric hand.’
The goddess smiling seem’d to give consent;
So back to Pollio, hand in hand, they went.
Then thick as locusts blackening all the ground,
A tribe, with weeds and shells fantastic crown’d,
Each with some wondrous gift approach’d the power,
A nest, a toad, a fungus, or a flower.
But far the foremost, two, with earnest zeal,
And aspect ardent, to the throne appeal.
The first thus open’d: ‘Hear thy suppliant’s call,
Great queen, and common mother of us all!
Fair from its humble bed I rear’d this flower,
Suckled, and cheer’d, with air, and sun, and shower;
Soft on the paper ruff its leaves I spread,
Bright with the gilded button tipp’d its head;
Then throned in glass, and named it Caroline:47
Each maid cried, charming! and each youth, divine!
Did Nature’s pencil ever blend such rays,
Such varied light in one promiscuous blaze?
Now prostrate! dead! behold that Caroline:
No maid cries, charming! and no youth, divine!
And lo, the wretch! whose vile, whose insect lust
Laid this gay daughter of the spring in dust.
Oh, punish him, or to th’ Elysian shades
Dismiss my soul, where no carnation fades.’
He ceased, and wept. With innocence of mien,
Th’ accused stood forth, and thus address’d the queen:
‘Of all th’ enamell’d race, whose silvery wing
Waves to the tepid zephyrs of the spring,
Or swims along the fluid atmosphere,
Once brightest shined this child of heat and air.
I saw, and started, from its vernal bower,
The rising game, and chased from flower to flower;
It fled, I follow’d; now in hope, now pain;
It stopp’d, I stopp’d; it moved, I moved again.
At last it fix’d; ’twas on what plant it pleased,
And where it fix’d, the beauteous bird I seized:
Rose or carnation was below my care;
I meddle, goddess! only in my sphere.
I tell the naked fact without disguise,
And, to excuse it, need but show the prize;
Whose spoils this paper offers to your eye,
Fair ev’n in death! this peerless butterfly.’
‘My sons! (she answer’d) both have done your parts:
Live happy both, and long promote our arts.
But hear a mother, when she recommends
To your fraternal care our sleeping friends.
The common soul, of Heaven’s more frugal make,
Serves but to keep fools pert and knaves awake:
A drowsy watchman, that just gives a knock,
And breaks our rest, to tell us what’s a clock.
Yet by some object every brain is stirr’d;
The dull may waken to a humming-bird;
The most recluse, discreetly open’d, find
Congenial matter in the cockle-kind;
The mind in metaphysics at a loss,
May wander in a wilderness of moss;48
The head that turns at super-lunar things,
Poised with a tail, may steer on Wilkins’ wings.49
‘Oh! would the sons of men once think their eyes
And reason given them but to study flies!
See nature in some partial narrow shape,
And let the Author of the whole escape:
Learn but to trifle; or, who most observe,
To wonder at their Maker, not to serve.’
‘Be that my task’ (replies a gloomy clerk,
Sworn foe to mystery, yet divinely dark;
Whose pious hope aspires to see the day
When moral evidence50 shall quite decay,
And damns implicit faith, and holy lies,
Prompt to impose, and fond to dogmatise:)
‘Let others creep by timid steps and slow,
On plain experience lay foundations low,
By common sense to common knowledge bred,
And last, to Nature’s cause through Nature led:
All-seeing in thy mists, we want no guide,
Mother of arrogance, and source of pride!
We nobly take the high priori road,51
And reason downward, till we doubt of God:
Make Nature still52 encroach upon his plan;
And shove him off as far as e’er we can:
Thrust some mechanic cause into his place;
Or bind in matter, or diffuse in space.53
Or, at one bound o’erleaping all his laws,
Make God man’s image, man the final cause,
Find virtue local, all relation scorn,
See all in self, and but for self be born:
Of nought so certain as our reason still,
Of nought so doubtful as of soul and will.
O! hide the God still more! and make us see,
Such as Lucretius drew, a God like thee:
Wrapt up in self, a God without a thought,
Regardless of our merit or default.
Or that bright image54 to our fancy draw,
Which Theocles55 in raptured vision saw,
While through poetic scenes the genius roves,
Or wanders wild in academic groves;
That Nature our society adores,56
Where Tindal dictates, and Silenus57 snores.’
Roused at his name, up rose the bousy sire,
And shook from out his pipe the seeds of fire;
Then snapt his box, and stroked his belly down:
Rosy and reverend, though without a gown.
Bland and familiar to the throne he came,
Led up the youth, and call’d the goddess dame.
Then thus: ‘From priestcraft happily set free,
Lo! every finish’d son returns to thee:
First, slave to words,58 then vassal to a name,
Then dupe to party; child and man the same;
Bounded by nature, narrow’d still by art,
A trifling head, and a contracted heart;
Thus bred, thus taught, how many have I seen,
Smiling on all, and smiled on by a queen?59
Mark’d out for honours, honour’d for their birth,
To thee the most rebellious things on earth:
Now to thy gentle shadow all are shrunk,
All melted down in pension or in punk!
So K— — so B—— sneak’d into the grave,
A monarch’s half, and half a harlot’s slave.
Poor W— — 60 nipp’d in folly’s broadest bloom,
Who praises now? his chaplain on his tomb.
Then take them all, oh, take them to thy breast!
Thy Magus, goddess! shall perform the rest.’
With that, a wizard old his cup extends,
Which whoso tastes forgets his former friends,
Sire, ancestors, himself. One casts his eyes
Up to a star, and like Endymion dies:
A feather, shooting from another’s head,
Extracts his brain, and principle is fled;
Lost is his God, his country, everything;
And nothing left but homage to a king!61
The vulgar herd turn off to roll with hogs,
To run with horses, or to hunt with dogs;
But, sad example! never to escape
Their infamy, still keep the human shape.
But she, good goddess, sent to every child
Firm Impudence, or Stupefaction mild;
And strait succeeded, leaving shame no room,
Cibberian forehead, or Cimmerian gloom.
Kind Self-conceit to some her glass applies,
Which no one looks in with another’s eyes:
But as the flatterer or dependant paint,
Beholds himself a patriot, chief, or saint.
On others Interest her gay livery flings,
Interest, that waves on party-colour’d wings:
Turn’d to the sun, she casts a thousand dyes,
And, as she turns, the colours fall or rise.
Others the Syren sisters warble round,
And empty heads console with empty sound.
No more, alas! the voice of fame they hear,
The balm of Dulness62 trickling in their ear.
Great C— — H— — P— — R— — K— —
Why all your toils? your sons have learn’d to sing.
How quick ambition hastes to ridicule!
The sire is made a peer, the son a fool.
On some, a priest succinct in amice white
Attends; all flesh is nothing in his sight!
Beeves, at his touch, at once to jelly turn,
And the huge boar is shrunk into an urn:
The board with specious miracles he loads,63
Turns hares to larks, and pigeons into toads.
Another (for in all what one can shine?)
Explains the séve and verdeur of the vine.64
What cannot copious sacrifice atone?
Thy truffles, Perigord! thy hams, Bayonne!
With French libation, and Italian strain,
Wash Bladen white, and expiate Hays’s stain.65
Knight lifts the head; for what are crowds undone
To three essential partridges in one?
Gone every blush, and silent all reproach,
Contending princes mount them in their coach.
Next bidding all draw near on bended knees,
The queen confers her titles and degrees.
Her children first of more distinguish’d sort,
Who study Shakspeare at the Inns of Court,
Impale a glow-worm, or vertú profess,
Shine in the dignity of F.R.S.
Some, deep freemasons, join the silent race,
Worthy to fill Pythagoras’s place:
Some botanists, or florists at the least,
Or issue members of an annual feast.
Nor pass’d the meanest unregarded; one
Rose a Gregorian, one a Gormogon.66
The last, not least in honour or applause,
Isis and Cam made Doctors of her Laws.
Then, blessing all, ‘Go, children of my care!
To practice now from theory repair.
All my commands are easy, short, and full:
My sons! be proud, be selfish, and be dull.
Guard my prerogative, assert my throne:
This nod confirms each privilege your own.
The cap and switch be sacred to his grace;
With staff and pumps the marquis lead the race;
From stage to stage the licensed earl may run,
Pair’d with his fellow-charioteer the sun;
The learned baron butterflies design,
Or draw to silk Arachne’s subtile line;67
The judge to dance his brother sergeant call;68
The senator at cricket urge the ball;
The bishop stow (pontific luxury!)
An hundred souls of turkeys in a pie;
The sturdy squire to Gallic masters stoop,
And drown his lands and manors in a soup.
Others import yet nobler arts from France,
Teach kings to fiddle, and make senates dance.69
Perhaps more high some daring son may soar,
Proud to my list to add one monarch more;
And nobly conscious, princes are but things
Born for first ministers, as slaves for kings,
Tyrant supreme! shall three estates command,
And MAKE ONE MIGHTY DUNCIAD OF THE LAND!’
More she had spoke, but yawn’d — All Nature nods:
What mortal can resist the yawn of gods?
Churches and chapels instantly it reach’d;
(St James’s first, for leaden Gilbert70 preach’d;)
Then catch’d the schools; the Hall scarce kept awake;
The Convocation gaped, but could not speak;
Lost was the nation’s sense, nor could be found,
While the long solemn unison went round:
Wide, and more wide, it spread o’er all the realm;
Even Palinurus nodded at the helm:
The vapour mild o’er each committee crept;
Unfinish’d treaties in each office slept;
And chiefless armies dozed out the campaign;
And navies yawn’d for orders on the main.71
O Muse! relate (for you can tell alone,
Wits have short memories, and dunces none,)
Relate, who first, who last resign’d to rest;
Whose heads she partly, whose completely bless’d;
What charms could faction, what ambition, lull,
The venal quiet, and entrance the dull;
‘Till drown’d was sense, and shame, and right, and wrong —
O sing, and hush the nations with thy song!
In vain, in vain — the all-composing hour
Resistless falls: the Muse obeys the power.
She comes! she comes! the sable throne behold
Of Night primeval, and of Chaos old!
Before her, Fancy’s gilded clouds decay,
And all its varying rainbows die away.
Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires,
The meteor drops, and in a flash expires.
As one by one, at dread Medea’s strain,
The sick’ning stars fade off the ethereal plain;
As Argus’ eyes, by Hermes’ wand oppress’d,
Closed one by one to everlasting rest;
Thus at her felt approach, and secret might,
Art after art goes out, and all is night.
See skulking Truth to her old cavern fled,72
Mountains of casuistry heap’d o’er her head!
Philosophy, that lean’d on heaven before,
Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more.
Physic of Metaphysic begs defence,
And Metaphysic calls for aid on Sense!
See Mystery to Mathematics fly!
In vain! they gaze, turn giddy, rave, and die.
Religion, blushing, veils her sacred fires,
And unawares Morality expires.
Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine;
Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!
Lo! thy dread empire, Chaos! is restored;
Light dies before thy uncreating word:
Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall;
And universal darkness buries all.
VER. 114 —
‘What! no respect, he cried, for Shakspeare’s page?’
VER. 441. The common soul, &c. In the first edition, thus —
Of souls the greater part, Heaven’s common make,
Serve but to keep fools pert, and knaves awake;
And most but find that sentinel of God,
A drowsy watchman in the land of Nod.
VER. 643. In the former edition, it stood thus —
Philosophy, that reach’d the heavens before,
Shrinks to her hidden cause, and is no more.
1 ‘Mad Máthesis:’ alluding to the strange conclusions some mathematicians have deduced from their principles, concerning the real quantity of matter, the reality of space, &c. — P. W.
2 ‘Pure space:’ i.e. pure and defaecated from matter. ‘Ecstatic stare:’ the action of men who look about with full assurance of seeing what does not exist, such as those who expect to find space a real being. — W.
3 ‘Running round the circle, finds it square:’ regards the wild and fruitless attempts of squaring the circle. — P. W.
4 ‘Nor couldst thou,’ &c.: this noble person in the year 1737, when the act aforesaid was brought into the House of Lords, opposed it in an excellent speech (says Mr Cibber), ‘with a lively spirit, and uncommon eloquence.’ This speech had the honour to be answered by the said Mr Cibber, with a lively spirit also, and in a manner very uncommon, in the 8th chapter of his Life and Manners. — P.
5 ‘Harlot form:’ the attitude given to this phantom represents the nature and genius of the Italian Opera; its affected airs, its effeminate sounds, and the practice of patching up these operas with favourite songs, incoherently put together. These things were supported by the subscriptions of the nobility. This circumstance, that Opera should prepare for the opening of the grand sessions, was prophesied of in book iii. ver. 304,
‘Already Opera prepares the way,
The sure forerunner of her gentle sway.’
6 ‘Division reign:’ alluding to the false taste of playing tricks in music with numberless divisions, to the neglect of that harmony which conforms to the sense, and applies to the passions. Mr Handel had introduced a great number of hands, and more variety of instruments into the orchestra, and employed even drums and cannon to make a fuller chorus; which proved so much too manly for the fine gentlemen of his age, that he was obliged to remove his music into Ireland. After which they were reduced, for want of composers, to practise the patch-work above mentioned. — P. W.
7 ‘Chromatic:’ that species of the ancient music called the Chromatic was a variation and embellishment, in odd irregularities, of the diatonic kind. They say it was invented about the time of Alexander, and that the Spartans forbad the use of it, as languid and effeminate. — W.
8 ‘Wake the dull church, and lull the ranting stage:’ i.e. dissipate the devotion of the one by light and wanton airs; and subdue the pathos of the other by recitative and sing-song. — W.
9 ‘Narcissus:’ Lord Hervey.
10 ‘Bold Benson:’ this man endeavoured to raise himself to fame by erecting monuments, striking coins, setting up heads, and procuring translations of Milton; and afterwards by as great passion for Arthur Johnston, a Scotch physician’s version of the Psalms, of which he printed many fine editions. See more of him, book iii. v. 325. — P. W.
11 ‘The decent knight:’ Sir Thomas Hanmer, who was about to publish a very pompous edition of a great author, at his own expense. — P. W.
12 ‘So by each bard an alderman,’ &c.: alluding to the monument of Butler erected by Alderman Barber.
13 ‘The Samian letter:’ the letter Y, used by Pythagoras as an emblem of the different roads of Virtue and Vice.
‘Et tibi quae Samios diduxit litera ramos.’— Pers. P. W.
14 ‘House or Hall:’ Westminster Hall and the House of Commons. — W.
15 ‘Master-piece of man:’ viz., an epigram. The famous Dr South declared a perfect epigram to be as difficult a performance as an epic poem. And the critics say, ‘An epic poem is the greatest work human nature is capable of.’— P. W.
16 ‘Gentle James:’ Wilson tells us that this king, James I., took upon himself to teach the Latin tongue to Carr, Earl of Somerset; and that Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador, would speak false Latin to him, on purpose to give him the pleasure of correcting it, whereby he wrought himself into his good graces. — P. W. See Fortunes of Nigel.
17 ‘Locke:’ in the year 1703 there was a meeting of the heads of the University of Oxford to censure Mr Locke’s Essay on Human Understanding, and to forbid the reading it. See his Letters in the last edit. — P. W.
18 ‘Crousaz:’ see Life.
19 ‘The streams:’ the River Cam, running by the walls of these colleges, which are particularly famous for their skill in disputation. — P. W.
20 ‘Sleeps in port:’ viz., ‘now retired into harbour, after the tempests that had long agitated his society.’ So Scriblerus. But the learned Scipio Maffei understands it of a certain wine called port, from Oporto a city of Portugal, of which this professor invited him to drink abundantly. Scip. Maff., De Compotationibus Academicis. — P. W.
21 ‘Letter:’ alluding to those grammarians, such as Palamedes and Simonides, who invented single letters. But Aristarchus, who had found out a double one, was therefore worthy of double honour. — Scribl. W.
22 ‘Digamma:’ alludes to the boasted restoration of the Aeolic digamma, in his long-projected edition of Homer. He calls it something more than letter, from the enormous figure it would make among the other letters, being one gamma set upon the shoulders of another. — P. W.
23 ‘Cicero:’ grammatical disputes about the manner of pronouncing Cicero’s name in Greek. — W.
24 ‘Freind — Alsop:’ Dr Robert Freind, master of Westminster school, and canon of Christ-church — Dr Anthony Alsop, a happy imitator of the Horatian style. — P. W.
25 ‘Manilius or Solinus:’ some critics having had it in their choice to comment either on Virgil or Manilius, Pliny or Solinus, have chosen the worse author, the more freely to display their critical capacity. — P. W.
26 ‘Suidas, Gellius, Stobaeus:’ the first a dictionary-writer, a collector of impertinent facts and barbarous words; the second a minute critic; the third an author, who gave his common-place book to the public, where we happen to find much mince-meat of old books. — P. W.
27 ‘Divinity:’ a word much affected by the learned Aristarchus in common conversation, to signify genius or natural acumen. But this passage has a further view: [Greek: Nous] was the Platonic term for mind, or the first cause, and that system of divinity is here hinted at which terminates in blind nature without a [Greek: Nous]. — P. W.
28 ‘Petrify a genius:’ those who have no genius, employed in works of imagination; those who have, in abstract sciences. — P. W.
29 ‘And hew the block off:’ a notion of Aristotle, that there was originally in every block of marble a statue, which would appear on the removal of the superfluous parts. — P. W.
30 ‘Ajax’ spectre:’ see Homer Odyss. xi., where the ghost of Ajax turns sullenly from Ulysses the traveller, who had succeeded against him in the dispute for the arms of Achilles. — Scribl. W.
31 ‘The first came forwards:’ this forwardness or pertness is the certain consequence, when the children of Dulness are spoiled by too great fondness of their parent. — W.
32 ‘As if he saw St James’s:’ reflecting on the disrespectful and indecent behaviour of several forward young persons in the presence, so offensive to all serious men, and to none more than the good Scriblerus. — P. W.
33 ‘Lily-silver’d vales:’ Tube roses. — P.
34 ‘Lion of the deeps:’ the winged Lion, the arms of Venice. — P. W.
35 ‘Greatly-daring dined:’ it being, indeed, no small risk to eat through those extraordinary compositions, whose disguised ingredients are generally unknown to the guests, and highly inflammatory and unwholesome. — P. W.
36 ‘Jansen, Fleetwood, Cibber:’ three very eminent persons, all managers of plays; who, though not governors by profession, had, each in his way, concerned themselves in the education of youth, and regulated their wits, their morals, or their finances, at that period of their age which is the most important — their entrance into the polite world. — P. W.
37 ‘Paridel:’ the poet seems to speak of this young gentleman with great affection. The name is taken from Spenser, who gives it to a wandering courtly squire, that travelled about for the same reason for which many young squires are now fond of travelling, and especially to Paris. — P. W.
38 ‘Annius:’ the name taken from Annius the Monk of Viterbo, famous for many impositions and forgeries of ancient manuscripts and inscriptions, which he was prompted to by mere vanity, but our Annius had a more substantial motive. Annius, Sir Andrew Fontaine. — P. W.
39 ‘Still to cheat:’ some read skill, but that is frivolous, for Annius hath that skill already; or if he had not, skill were not wanting to cheat such persons. — Bentl. P. W.
40 ‘Hunt the Athenian fowl:’ the owl stamped on the reverse on the ancient money of Athens. — P. W.
41 ‘Attys and Cecrops:’ the first king of Athens, of whom it is hard to suppose any coins are extant; but not so improbable as what follows, that there should be any of Mahomet, who forbad all images, and the story of whose pigeon was a monkish fable. Nevertheless, one of these Annius’s made a counterfeit medal of that impostor, now in the collection of a learned nobleman. — P. W.
42 ‘Mummius:’ this name is not merely an allusion to the mummies he was so fond of, but probably referred to the Roman General of that name, who burned Corinth, and committed the curious statues to the captain of a ship, assuring him, ‘that if any were lost or broken, he should procure others to be made in their stead,’ by which it should seem (whatever may be pretended) that Mummius was no virtuoso.-P. W.
43 ‘Cheops:’ a king of Egypt, whose body was certainly to be known, as being buried alone in his pyramid, and is therefore more genuine than any of the Cleopatras. This royal mummy, being stolen by a wild Arab, was purchased by the consul of Alexandria, and transmitted to the Museum of Mummius; for proof of which he brings a passage in Sandys’s Travels, where that accurate and learned voyager assures us that he saw the sepulchre empty, which agrees exactly (saith he) with the time of the theft above mentioned. But he omits to observe that Herodotus tells the same thing of it in his time. — P. W.
44 ‘Speak’st thou of Syrian princes:’ the strange story following, which may be taken for a fiction of the poet, is justified by a true relation in Spon’s Voyages. Vaillant (who wrote the History of the Syrian Kings as it is to be found on medals) coming from the Levant, where he had been collecting various coins, and being pursued by a corsair of Sallee, swallowed down twenty gold medals. A sudden bourasque freed him from the rover, and he got to land with them in his belly. On his road to Avignon, he met two physicians, of whom he demanded assistance. One advised purgations, the other vomits. In this uncertainty he took neither, but pursued his way to Lyons, where he found his ancient friend, the famous physician and antiquary Dufour, to whom he related his adventure. Dufour first asked him whether the medals were of the higher empire? He assured him they were. Dufour was ravished with the hope of possessing such a treasure — he bargained with him on the spot for the most curious of them, and was to recover them at his own expense. — P. W.
45 ‘Witness, great Ammon:’ Jupiter Ammon is called to witness, as the father of Alexander, to whom those kings succeeded in the division of the Macedonian Empire, and whose horns they wore on their medals. — P. W.
46 ‘Douglas:’ a physician of great learning and no less taste; above all, curious in what related to Horace, of whom he collected every edition, translation, and comment, to the number of several hundred volumes. — P. W.
47 ‘And named it Caroline:’ it is a compliment which the florists usually pay to princes and great persons, to give their names to the most curious flowers of their raising. Some have been very jealous of vindicating this honour, but none more than that ambitions gardener, at Hammersmith, who caused his favourite to be painted on his sign, with this inscription — ‘This is my Queen Caroline.’— P. W.
48 ‘Moss:’ of which the naturalists count I can’t tell how many hundred species. — P. W.
49 ‘Wilkins’ wings:’ one of the first projectors of the Royal Society, who, among many enlarged and useful notions, entertained the extravagant hope of a possibility to fly to the moon; which has put some volatile geniuses upon making wings for that purpose. — P. W.
50 ‘Moral evidence:’ alluding to a ridiculous and absurd way of some mathematicians in calculating the gradual decay of moral evidence by mathematical proportions; according to which calculation, in about fifty years it will be no longer probable that Julius Caesar was in Gaul, or died in the senate-house. — P. W.
51 ‘The high priori road:’ those who, from the effects in this visible world, deduce the eternal power and Godhead of the First Cause, though they cannot attain to an adequate idea of the Deity, yet discover so much of him as enables them to see the end of their creation, and the means of their happiness; whereas they who take this high priori road (such as Hobbes, Spinoza, Descartes, and some better reasoners) for one that goes right, ten lose themselves in mists, or ramble after visions, which deprive them of all right of their end, and mislead them in the choice of the means. — P. W.
52 ‘Make Nature still:’ this relates to such as, being ashamed to assert a mere mechanic cause, and yet unwilling to forsake it entirely, have had recourse to a certain plastic nature, elastic fluid, subtile matter, &c. — P. W.
‘Thrust some mechanic cause into his place, Or bind in matter, or diffuse in space:’
The first of these follies is that of Descartes; the second, of Hobbes; the third, of some succeeding philosophers. — P. W.
54 ‘Bright image:’ bright image was the title given by the later Platonists to that vision of nature which they had formed out of their own fancy, so bright that they called it [Greek: Autopton Agalma], or the self-seen image, i. e., seen by its own light. This ignis fatuus has in these our times appeared again in the north; and the writings of Hutcheson, Geddes, and their followers, are full of its wonders. For in this lux borealis, this self-seen image, these second-sighted philosophers see everything else. — Scribl. W. Let it be either the Chance god of Epicurus, or the Fate of this goddess. — W.
55 ‘Theocles:’ thus this philosopher calls upon his friend, to partake with him in these visions:
‘To-morrow, when the eastern sun With his first beams adorns the front Of yonder hill, if you’re content To wander with me in the woods you see, We will pursue those loves of ours, By favour of the sylvan nymphs:
and invoking, first, the genius of the place, we’ll try to obtain at least some faint and distant view of the sovereign genius and first beauty.’ Charact. vol. ii. p. 245. — P. W.
56 ‘Society adores:’ see the Pantheisticon, with its liturgy and rubrics, composed by Toland. — W.
57 ‘Silenus:’ Silenus was an Epicurean philosopher, as appears from Virgil, Eclog. vi., where he sings the principles of that philosophy in his drink. He is meant for one Thomas Gordon. — P. W.
58 ‘First, slave to words:’ a recapitulation of the whole course of modern education described in this book, which confines youth to the study of words only in schools, subjects them to the authority of systems in the universities, and deludes them with the names of party distinctions in the world — all equally concurring to narrow the understanding, and establish slavery and error in literature, philosophy, and politics. The whole finished in modern free-thinking; the completion of whatever is vain, wrong, and destructive to the happiness of mankind, as it establishes self-love for the sole principle of action. — P. W.
59 ‘Smiled on by a queen:’ i.e. this queen or goddess of Dulness. — P.
60 ‘Mr Philip Wharton, who died abroad and outlawed in 1791.
61 ‘Nothing left but homage to a king:’ so strange as this must seem to a mere English reader, the famous Mons. de la Bruyère declares it to be the character of every good subject in a monarchy; ‘where,’ says he, ‘there is no such thing as love of our country; the interest, the glory, and service of the prince, supply its place.’— De la République, chap. x. — P.
62 ‘The balm of Dulness:’ the true balm of Dulness, called by the Greek physicians [Greek: Kolakeia], is a sovereign remedy against inanity, and has its poetic name from the goddess herself. Its ancient dispensators were her poets; and for that reason our author, book ii. v. 207, calls it the poet’s healing balm; but it is now got into as many hands as Goddard’s Drops or Daffy’s Elixir. — W.
63 ‘The board with specious miracles he loads:’ these were only the miracles of French cookery, and particularly pigeons en crapeau were a common dish. — P. W.
64 ‘Séve and verdeur:’ French terms relating to wines, which signify their flavour and poignancy. — P. W.
65 ‘Bladen — Hays:’ names of gamesters. Bladen is a black man. Robert Knight, cashier of the South Sea Company, who fled from England in 1720 (afterwards pardoned in 1742). These lived with the utmost magnificence at Paris, and kept open tables frequented by persons of the first quality of England, and even by princes of the blood of France. — P. W. The former note of ‘Bladen is a black man,’ is very absurd. The manuscript here is partly obliterated, and doubtless could only have been, Wash blackmoors white, alluding to a known proverb. — Scribl. P. W. Bladen was uncle to Collins the poet. See our edition of ‘Collins.’
66 ‘Gregorian, Gormogon:’ a sort of lay-brothers, slips from the root of the freemasons. — P. W.
67 ‘Arachne’s subtile line:’ this is one of the most ingenious employments assigned, and therefore recommended only to peers of learning. Of weaving stockings of the webs of spiders, see the Phil. Trans. — P. W.
68 ‘Sergeant call:’ alluding perhaps to that ancient and solemn dance, entitled, A Call of Sergeants. — P. W.
69 ‘Teach kings to fiddle:’ an ancient amusement of sovereign princes, viz. Achilles, Alexander, Nero; though despised by Themistocles, who was a republican. ‘Make senates dance:’ either after their prince, or to Pontoise, or Siberia. — P. W.
70 ‘Gilbert:’ Archbishop of York, who had attacked Dr King, of Oxford, a friend of Pope’s.
71 Verses 615–618 were written many years ago, and may be found in the state poems of that time. So that Scriblerus is mistaken, or whoever else have imagined this poem of a fresher date. — P. W.
72 ‘Truth to her old cavern fled:’ alluding to the saying of Democritus, that Truth lay at the bottom of a deep well, from whence he had drawn her; though Butler says, he first put her in, before he drew her out. — W.
BY THE AUTHOR.
Whereas certain haberdashers of points and particles, being instigated by the spirit of pride, and assuming to themselves the name of critics and restorers, have taken upon them to adulterate the common and current sense of our glorious ancestors, poets of this realm, by clipping, coining, defacing the images, mixing their own base alloy, or otherwise falsifying the same; which they publish, utter, and vend as genuine: The said haberdashers having no right thereto, as neither heirs, executors, administrators, assigns, or in any sort related to such poets, to all or any of them: Now we, having carefully revised this our Dunciad,73 beginning with the words ‘The Mighty Mother,’ and ending with the words ‘buries all,’ containing the entire sum of one thousand seven hundred and fifty-four verses, declare every word, figure, point, and comma of this impression to be authentic: And do therefore strictly enjoin and forbid any person or persons whatsoever, to erase, reverse, put between hooks, or by any other means, directly or indirectly, change or mangle any of them. And we do hereby earnestly exhort all our brethren to follow this our example, which we heartily wish our great predecessors had heretofore set, as a remedy and prevention of all such abuses. Provided always, that nothing in this Declaration shall be construed to limit the lawful and undoubted right of every subject of this realm, to judge, censure, or condemn, in the whole or in part, any poem or poet whatsoever.
Given under our hand at London, this third day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred thirty and two.
Declarat’ cor’ me, JOHN BARBER, Mayor.
73 Read thus confidently, instead of ‘beginning with the word books, and ending with the word flies,’ as formerly it stood. Read also, ‘containing the entire sum of one thousand seven hundred and fifty-four verses,’ instead of ‘one thousand and twelve lines;’ such being the initial and final words, and such the true and entire contents of this poem. Thou art to know, reader! that the first edition thereof, like that of Milton, was never seen by the author (though living and not blind). The editor himself confessed as much in his preface; and no two poems were ever published in so arbitrary a manner. The editor of this had as boldly suppressed whole passages, yea the entire last book, as the editor of Paradise Lost added and augmented. Milton himself gave but ten books, his editor twelve; this author gave four books, his editor only three. But we have happily done justice to both; and presume we shall live, in this our last labour, as long as in any of our others. — Bentl.
It will be found a true observation, though somewhat surprising, that when any scandal is vented against a man of the highest distinction and character, either in the state or in literature, the public in general afford it a most quiet reception; and the larger part accept it as favourably as if it were some kindness done to themselves: whereas, if a known scoundrel or blockhead but chance to be touched upon, a whole legion is up in arms, and it becomes the common cause of all scribblers, booksellers, and printers whatsoever.
Not to search too deeply into the reason hereof, I will only observe as a fact, that every week for these two months past, the town has been persecuted with pamphlets, advertisements, letters, and weekly essays, not only against the wit and writings, but against the character and person of Mr Pope. And that of all those men who have received pleasure from his works, which by modest computation may be about a hundred thousand in these kingdoms of England and Ireland (not to mention Jersey, Guernsey, the Orcades, those in the new world, and foreigners who have translated him into their languages), of all this number not a man hath stood up to say one word in his defence.
The only exception is the author of the following poem, who, doubtless, had either a better insight into the grounds of this clamour, or a better opinion of Mr Pope’s integrity, joined with a greater personal love for him, than any other of his numerous friends and admirers.
Further, that he was in his peculiar intimacy, appears from the knowledge he manifests of the most private authors of all the anonymous pieces against him, and from his having in this poem attacked no man living, who had not before printed or published some scandal against this gentleman.
How I came possessed of it is no concern to the reader; but it would have been a wrong to him had I detained the publication, since those names which are its chief ornaments die off daily so fast, as must render it too soon unintelligible. If it provoke the author to give us a more perfect edition, I have my end.
Who he is I cannot say, and (which is a great pity) there is certainly nothing in his style and manner of writing which can distinguish or discover him: for if it bears any resemblance to that of Mr Pope, ’tis not improbable but it might be done on purpose, with a view to have it pass for his. But by the frequency of his allusions to Virgil, and a laboured (not to say affected) shortness in imitation of him, I should think him more an admirer of the Roman poet than of the Grecian, and in that not of the same taste with his friend.
I have been well informed, that this work was the labour of full six years of his life, and that he wholly retired himself from all the avocations and pleasures of the world, to attend diligently to its correction and perfection; and six years more he intended to bestow upon it, as it should seem by this verse of Statius, which was cited at the head of his manuscript —
‘Oh mihi bissenos multum vigilata per annos, Duncia!’
Hence, also, we learn the true title of the poem; which, with the same certainty as we call that of Homer the Iliad, of Virgil the Aeneid, of Camoens the Lusiad, we may pronounce, could have been, and can be no other than
It is styled heroic, as being doubly so: not only with respect to its nature, which, according to the best rules of the ancients, and strictest ideas of the moderns, is critically such; but also with regard to the heroical disposition and high courage of the writer, who dared to stir up such a formidable, irritable, and implacable race of mortals.
There may arise some obscurity in chronology from the names in the poem, by the inevitable removal of some authors, and insertion of others in their niches. For whoever will consider the unity of the whole design, will be sensible that the poem was not made for these authors, but these authors for the poem. I should judge that they were clapped in as they rose, fresh and fresh, and changed from day to day; in like manner as when the old boughs wither, we thrust new ones into a chimney.
I would not have the reader too much troubled or anxious, if he cannot decipher them; since when he shall have found them out, he will probably know no more of the persons than before.
Yet we judged it better to preserve them as they are, than to change them for fictitious names; by which the satire would only be multiplied, and applied to many instead of one. Had the hero, for instance, been called Codrus, how many would have affirmed him to have been Mr T., Mr E., Sir R. B., &c.; but now all that unjust scandal is saved by calling him by a name, which by good luck happens to be that of a real person.
A New Rehearsal, or Bayes the Younger; containing an Examen of Mr Rowe’s plays, and a word or two on Mr Pope’s Rape of the Lock. Anon. [By Charles Gildon]. Printed for J. Roberts, 1714, price 1s.
Homerides, or a Letter to Mr Pope, occasioned by his intended translation of Homer. By Sir Iliad Doggrel. [Tho. Burnet and G. Ducket, Esquires]. Printed for W. Wilkins, 1715, price 9d.
Aesop at the Bear Garden; a Vision, in imitation of the Temple of Fame. By Mr Preston. Sold by John Morphew, 1715, price 6d.
The Catholic Poet, or Protestant Barnaby’s Sorrowful Lamentations; a Ballad about Homer’s Iliad. By Mrs Centlivre and others, 1715, price 1d.
An Epilogue to a Puppet Show at Bath, concerning the said Iliad. By George Ducket, Esq. Printed by E. Curll.
A Complete Key to the What-d’ye-call-it? Anon. [By Griffin, a player, supervised by Mr Th ——]. Printed by J. Roberts, 1715.
A True Character of Mr P. and his Writings, in a Letter to a Friend. Anon. [Dennis]. Printed for S. Popping, 1716, price 3d.
The Confederates, a Farce. By Joseph Gay. [J. D. Breval]. Printed for R. Burleigh, 1717, price 1s.
Remarks upon Mr Pope’s Translation of Homer; with Two Letters concerning the Windsor Forest, and the Temple of Fame. By Mr Dennis. Printed for E. Curll, 1717, price 1s. 6d.
Satires on the Translators of Homer, Mr P. and Mr T. Anon. [Bez. Morris]. 1717, price 6d.
The Triumvirate; or, a Letter from Palaemon to Celia at Bath. Anon. [Leonard Welsted]. 1711, folio, price 1s.
The Battle of Poets, an Heroic Poem. By Thomas Cooke. Printed for J. Roberts. Folio, 1725.
Memoirs of Lilliput. Anon. [Eliza Haywood]. Octavo, printed in 1727.
An Essay on Criticism, in Prose. By the Author of the Critical History of England [J. Oldmixon]. Octavo, printed 1728.
Gulliveriana and Alexandriana; with an ample Preface and Critique on Swift and Pope’s Miscellanies. By Jonathan Smedley. Printed by J. Roberts. Octavo, 1728.
Characters of the Times; or, an Account of the Writings, Characters, &c., of several Gentlemen libelled by S—— and P— — in a late Miscellany. Octavo, 1728.
Remarks on Mr Pope’s Rape of the Lock, in Letters to a Friend. By Mr Dennis. Written in 1724, though not printed till 1728. Octavo.
VERSES, LETTERS, ESSAYS, OR ADVERTISEMENTS, IN THE PUBLIC PRINTS.
British Journal, Nov. 25, 1727. A Letter on Swift and Pope’s Miscellanies. [Writ by M. Concanen].
Daily Journal, March 18, 1728. A Letter by Philo-mauri. James Moore Smith.
Ibid. March 29. A Letter about Thersites; accusing the author of disaffection to the Government. By James Moore Smith.
Mist’s Weekly Journal, March 30. An Essay on the Arts of a Poet’s Sinking in Reputation; or, a Supplement to the Art of Sinking in Poetry. [Supposed by Mr Theobald].
Daily Journal, April 3. A Letter under the name of Philo-ditto. By James Moore Smith.
Flying Post, April 4. A Letter against Gulliver and Mr P. [By Mr Oldmixon.]
Daily Journal, April 5. An Auction of Goods at Twickenham. By James Moore Smith.
The Flying Post, April 6. A Fragment of a Treatise upon Swift and Pope. By Mr Oldmixon.
The Senator, April 9. On the same. By Edward Roome.
Daily Journal, April 8. Advertisement by James Moore Smith.
Flying Post, April 13. Verses against Dr Swift, and against Mr P—— ‘s Homer. By J. Oldmixon.
Daily Journal, April 23. Letter about the Translation of the Character of Thersites in Homer. By Thomas Cooke, &c.
Mist’s Weekly Journal, April 27. A Letter of Lewis Theobald.
Daily Journal, May 11. A Letter against Mr P. at large. Anon. [John Dennis].
All these were afterwards reprinted in a pamphlet, entitled, A Collection of all the Verses, Essays, Letters, and Advertisements, occasioned by Mr Pope and Swift’s Miscellanies, prefaced by Concanen, Anonymous, octavo, and printed for A. Moore, 1728, price 1s. Others of an elder date, having lain as waste paper many years, were, upon the publication of the Dunciad, brought out, and their authors betrayed by the mercenary booksellers (in hope of some possibility of vending a few), by advertising them in this manner:—“The Confederates, a Farce. By Captain Breval (for which he was put into the Dunciad). An Epilogue to Powell’s Puppet Show. By Colonel Ducket (for which he is put into the Dunciad). Essays, &c. By Sir Richard Blackmore. (N.B. — It was for a passage of this book that Sir Richard was put into the Dunciad).” And so of others.
AFTER THE DUNCIAD, 1728.
An Essay on the Dunciad, octavo. Printed for J. Roberts. [In this book, p. 9, it was formally declared, ‘That the complaint of the aforesaid libels and advertisements was forged and untrue; that all mouths had been silent, except in Mr Pope’s praise; and nothing against him published, but by Mr Theobald.’]
Sawney, in Blank Verse, occasioned by the Dunciad; with a Critique on that Poem. By J. Ralph [a person never mentioned in it at first, but inserted after]. Printed for J. Roberts, octavo.
A Complete Key to the Dunciad. By E. Curll. 12mo, price 6d.
A Second and Third Edition of the same, with Additions, 12mo.
The Popiad. By E. Curll. Extracted from J. Dennis, Sir Richard Blackmore, &c. 12mo, price 6d.
The Curliad. By the same E. Curll.
The Female Dunciad. Collected by the same Mr Curll. 12mo, price 6d. With the Metamorphosis of P. into a Stinging Nettle. By Mr Foxton. 12mo.
The Metamorphosis of Scriblerus into Snarlerus. By J. Smedley. Printed for A. Moore, folio, price 6d.
The Dunciad Dissected. By Curll and Mrs Thomas. 12mo.
An Essay on the Tastes and Writings of the Present Times. Said to be writ by a Gentleman of C. C. C. Oxon. Printed for J. Roberts, octavo.
The Arts of Logic and Rhetoric, partly taken from Bouhours, with New Reflections, &c. By John Oldmixon. Octavo.
Remarks on the Dunciad. By Mr Dennis. Dedicated to Theobald. Octavo.
A Supplement to the Profund. Anon. By Matthew Coucanen. Octavo.
Mist’s Weekly Journal, June 8. A long Letter, signed W. A. Writ by some or other of the Club of Theobald, Dennis, Moore, Concanen, Cooke, who for some time held constant weekly meetings for these kind of performances.
Daily Journal, June 11. A Letter signed Philoscriblerus, on the name of Pope. Letter to Mr Theobald, inverse, signed B. M. (Bezaleel Morris) against Mr P——. Many other little Epigrams about this time in the same papers, by James Moore, and others.
Mist’s Journal, June 22. A Letter by Lewis Theobald.
Flying Post, August 8. Letter on Pope and Swift.
Daily Journal, August 8. Letter charging the Author of the Dunciad with Treason.
Durgen: A Plain Satire on a Pompous Satirist. By Edward Ward, with a little of James Moore.
Apollo’s Maggot in his Cups. By E. Ward.
Gulliveriana Secunda. Being a Collection of many of the Libels in the Newspapers, like the former Volume, under the same title, by Smedley. Advertised in the Craftsman, Nov. 9, 1728, with this remarkable promise, that ‘any thing which any body should send as Mr Pope’s or Dr Swift’s should be inserted and published as theirs.’
Pope Alexander’s Supremacy and Infallibility Examined, &c. By George Ducket and John Dennis. Quarto.
Dean Jonathan’s Paraphrase on the Fourth Chapter of Genesis. Writ by E. Roome. Folio. 1729.
Labeo. A Paper of Verses by Leonard Welsted, which after came into One Epistle, and was published by James Moore, quarto, 1730. Another part of it came out in Welsted’s own name, under the just title of Dulness and Scandal, folio, 1731.
There have been since published —
Verses on the Imitator of Horace. By a Lady (or between a Lady, a Lord, and a Court-squire). Printed for J. Roberts. Folio.
An Epistle from a Nobleman to a Doctor of Divinity, from Hampton Court (Lord H——y). Printed for J. Roberts. Folio.
A Letter from Mr Cibber to Mr Pope. Printed for W. Lewis in Covent Garden. Octavo.
It will be sufficient to say of this edition, that the reader has here a much more correct and complete copy of the Dunciad than has hitherto appeared. I cannot answer but some mistakes may have slipped into it, but a vast number of others will be prevented by the names being now not only set at length, but justified by the authorities and reasons given. I make no doubt the author’s own motive to use real rather than feigned names, was his care to preserve the innocent from any false application; whereas, in the former editions, which had no more than the initial letters, he was made, by Keys printed here, to hurt the inoffensive, and (what was worse) to abuse his friends, by an impression at Dublin.
The commentary which attends this poem was sent me from several hands, and consequently must be unequally written; yet will have one advantage over most commentaries, that it is not made upon conjectures, or at a remote distance of time: and the reader cannot but derive one pleasure from the very obscurity of the persons it treats of, that it partakes of the nature of a secret, which most people love to be let into, though the men or the things be ever so inconsiderable or trivial.
Of the persons it was judged proper to give some account; for since it is only in this monument that they must expect to survive (and here survive they will, as long as the English tongue shall remain such as it was in the reigns of Queen Anne and King George), it seemed but humanity to bestow a word or two upon each, just to tell what he was, what he writ, when he lived, and when he died.
If a word or two more are added upon the chief offenders, it is only as a paper pinned upon the breast, to mark the enormities for which they suffered; lest the correction only should be remembered, and the crime forgotten. In some articles it was thought sufficient barely to transcribe from Jacob, Curll, and other writers of their own rank, who were much better acquainted with them than any of the authors of this comment can pretend to be. Most of them had drawn each other’s characters on certain occasions; but the few here inserted are all that could be saved from the general destruction of such works.
Of the part of Scriblerus, I need say nothing; his manner is well enough known, and approved by all but those who are too much concerned to be judges.
The Imitations of the Ancients are added, to gratify those who either never read, or may have forgotten them; together with some of the parodies and allusions to the most excellent of the Moderns. If, from the frequency of the former, any man think the poem too much a Cento, our poet will but appear to have done the same thing in jest which Boileau did in earnest; and upon which Vida, Fracastorius, and many of the most eminent Latin poets, professedly valued themselves.
We apprehend it can be deemed no injury to the author of the three first books of the Dunciad that we publish this fourth. It was found merely by accident in taking a survey of the library of a late eminent nobleman; but in so blotted a condition, and in so many detached pieces, as plainly showed it to be not only incorrect, but unfinished. That the author of the three first books had a design to extend and complete his poem in this manner appears from the dissertation prefixed to it, where it is said that the design is more extensive, and that we may expect other episodes to complete it; and from the declaration in the argument to the third book, that the accomplishment of the prophecies therein would be the theme hereafter of a greater Dunciad. But whether or no he be the author of this, we declare ourselves ignorant. If he be, we are no more to be blamed for the publication of it than Tucca and Varius for that of the last six books of the Aeneid, though perhaps inferior to the former.
If any person be possessed of a more perfect copy of this work, or of any other fragments of it, and will communicate them to the publisher, we shall make the next edition more complete: in which we also promise to insert any criticisms that shall be published (if at all to the purpose) with the names of the authors; or any letters sent us (though not to the purpose) shall yet be printed under the title of Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum; which, together with some others of the same kind formerly laid by for that end, may make no unpleasant addition to the future impressions of this poem.
I have long had a design of giving some sort of Notes on the works of this poet. Before I had the happiness of his acquaintance, I had written a commentary on his Essay on Man, and have since finished another on the Essay on Criticism. There was one already on the Dunciad, which had met with general approbation; but I still thought some additions were wanting (of a more serious kind) to the humorous notes of Scriblerus, and even to those written by Mr Cleland, Dr Arbuthnot, and others. I had lately the pleasure to pass some months with the author in the country, where I prevailed upon him to do what I had long desired, and favour me with his explanation of several passages in his works. It happened that just at that juncture was published a ridiculous book against him, full of personal reflections, which furnished him with a lucky opportunity of improving this poem, by giving it the only thing it wanted — a more considerable hero. He was always sensible of its defect in that particular, and owned he had let it pass with the hero it had purely for want of a better; not entertaining the least expectation that such an one was reserved for this post as has since obtained the Laurel: but since that had happened, he could no longer deny this justice either to him or the Dunciad.
And yet I will venture to say, there was another motive which had still more weight with our author. This person was one who from every folly (not to say vice) of which another would be ashamed has constantly derived a vanity; and therefore was the man in the world who would least be hurt by it.
Whereas, upon occasion of certain pieces relating to the gentlemen of the Dunciad, some have been willing to suggest, as if they looked upon them as an abuse: we can do no less than own it is our opinion, that to call these gentlemen bad authors is no sort of abuse, but a great truth. We cannot alter this opinion without some reason; but we promise to do it in respect to every person who thinks it an injury to be represented as no wit, or poet, provided he procures a certificate of his being really such, from any three of his companions in the Dunciad, or from Mr Dennis singly, who is esteemed equal to any three of the number.
MR DRYDEN— HIS POLITICS, RELIGION, MORALS.
MR DRYDEN is a mere renegado from monarchy, poetry, and good sense1 — a true republican son of monarchical Church2 — a republican atheist.3 Dryden was from the beginning an [Greek: alloprosallos], and I doubt not will continue so to the last.4
In the poem called Absalom and Achitophel are notoriously traduced, the King, the Queen, the Lords and Gentlemen, not only their honourable persons exposed, but the whole nation and its representatives notoriously libelled. It is scandalum magnatum, yea of majesty itself.5
He looks upon God’s gospel as a foolish fable, like the Pope, to whom he is a pitiful purveyor.6 His very Christianity may be questioned.7 He ought to expect more severity than other men, as he is most unmerciful in his own reflections on others.8 With as good a right as his holiness, he sets up for poetical infallibility.9
MR DRYDEN ONLY A VERSIFIER.
His whole libel is all bad matter, beautified (which is all that can be said of it) with good metre.10 Mr Dryden’s genius did not appear in any thing more than his versification, and whether he is to be ennobled for that only is a question.11
MR DRYDEN’S VIRGIL.
Tonson calls it Dryden’s Virgil, to show that this is not that Virgil so admired in the Augustaean age; but a Virgil of another stamp, a silly, impertinent, nonsensical writer.12 None but a Bavius, a Maevius, or a Bathyllus carped at Virgil; and none but such unthinking vermin admire his translator.13 It is true, soft and easy lines might become Ovid’s Epistles or Art of Love; but Virgil, who is all great and majestic, &c., requires strength of lines, weight of words, and closeness of expressions — not an ambling muse running on carpet-ground, and shod as lightly as a Newmarket racer. He has numberless faults in his author’s meaning, and in propriety of expression.14
MR DRYDEN UNDERSTOOD NO GREEK NOR LATIN.
Mr Dryden was once, I have heard, at Westminster school. Dr Bushby would have whipped him for so childish a paraphrase.15 The meanest pedant in England would whip a lubber of twelve for construing so absurdly.16 The translator is mad, every line betrays his stupidity.17 The faults are innumerable, and convince me that Mr Dryden did not, or would not understand his author.18 This shows how fit Mr D. may be to translate Homer! A mistake in a single letter might fall on the printer well enough, but [Greek: eichor] for [Greek: ichor] must be the error of the author. Nor had he art enough to correct it at the press.19 Mr Dryden writes for the court ladies. He writes for the ladies, and not for use.20
The translator puts in a little burlesque now and then into Virgil, for a ragout to his cheated subscribers.21
MR DRYDEN TRICKED HIS SUBSCRIBERS.
I wonder that any man, who could not but be conscious of his own unfitness for it, should go to amuse the learned world with such an undertaking! A man ought to value his reputation more than money; and not to hope that those who can read for themselves will be imposed upon, merely by a partially and unseasonably celebrated name.22 Poetis quidlibei audendi shall be Mr Dryden’s motto, though it should extend to picking of pockets.23
NAMES BESTOWED ON MR DRYDEN.
An Ape. — A crafty ape dressed up in a gaudy gown — whips put into an ape’s paw, to play pranks with — none but apish and papish brats will heed him.24
An Ass. — A camel will take upon him no more burden than is sufficient for his strength, but there is another beast that crouches under all.25
A Frog. — Poet Squab endued with Poet Maro’s spirit! an ugly croaking kind of vermin, which would swell to the bulk of an ox.26
A Coward. — A Clinias or a Damaetas, or a man of Mr Dryden’s own courage.27
A Knave. — Mr Dryden has heard of Paul, the knave of Jesus Christ; and, if I mistake not, I’ve read somewhere of John Dryden, servant to his Majesty.28
A Thing. — So little a thing as Mr Dryden.31
MR POPE— HIS POLITICS, RELIGION, MORALS.
MR POPE is an open and mortal enemy to his country, and the commonwealth of learning.32 Some call him a Popish Whig, which is directly inconsistent.33 Pope, as a papist, must be a Tory and High-flyer.34 He is both a Whig and Tory.35
He hath made it his custom to cackle to more than one party in their own sentiments.36
In his miscellanies, the persons abused are — the King, the Queen, his late Majesty, both Houses of Parliament, the Privy Council, the Bench of Bishops, the Established Church, the present Ministry, &c. To make sense of some passages, they must be construed into royal scandal.37
He is a popish rhymester, bred up with a contempt of the Sacred Writings.38 His religion allows him to destroy heretics, not only with his pen, but with fire and sword; and such were all those unhappy wits whom he sacrificed to his accursed popish principles.39 It deserved vengeance to suggest that Mr Pope had less infallibility than his namesake at Rome.40
MR POPE ONLY A VERSIFIER.
MR POPE’S HOMER.
The Homer which Lintot prints does not talk like Homer, but like Pope; and he who translated him, one would swear, had a hill in Tipperary for his Parnassus, and a puddle in some bog for his Hippocrene.43 He has no admirers among those that can distinguish, discern, and judge.44 He hath a knack at smooth verse, but without either genius or good sense, or any tolerable knowledge of English. The qualities which distinguish Homer are the beauties of his diction and the harmony of his versification. But this little author, who is so much in vogue, has neither sense in his thoughts nor English in his expressions.45
MR POPE UNDERSTOOD NO GREEK.
He hath undertaken to translate Homer from the Greek, of which he knows not one word, into English, of which he understands as little.46 I wonder how this gentleman would look, should it be discovered that he has not translated ten verses together in any book of Homer with justice to the poet, and yet he dares reproach his fellow-writers with not understanding Greek.47 He has stuck so little to his original as to have his knowledge in Greek called in question.48 I should be glad to know which it is of all Homer’s excellencies which has so delighted the ladies, and the gentlemen who judge like ladies.49
But he has a notable talent at burlesque; his genius slides so naturally into it, that he hath burlesqued Homer without designing it.50
MR POPE TRICKED HIS SUBSCRIBERS.
’Tis indeed somewhat bold, and almost prodigious, for a single man to undertake such a work; but ’tis too late to dissuade by demonstrating the madness of the project. The subscribers’ expectations have been raised in proportion to what their pockets have been drained of.51 Pope has been concerned in jobs, and hired out his name to booksellers.52
NAMES BESTOWED ON MR POPE.
An Ape. — Let us take the initial letter of his Christian name, and the initial and final letters of his surname, viz., A P E, and they give you the same idea of an ape as his face,53 &c.
An Ass. — It is my duty to pull off the lion’s skin from this little ass.54
A Frog. — A squab short gentleman — a little creature that, like the frog in the fable, swells, and is angry that it is not allowed to be as big as an ox.55
A Coward. — A lurking, way-laying coward.56
A Knave. — He is one whom God and nature have marked for want of common honesty.57
A Fool. — Great fools will be christened by the names of great poets, and Pope will be called Homer.58
A Thing. — A little abject thing.59
1 Milbourn on Dryden’s Virgil, 8vo, 1698, p. 6.
2 Ibid. p. 38.
3 Ibid. p. 192.
4 Ibid. p. 8.
5 Whip and Key, 4to, printed for R. Janeway, 1682, preface.
7 Milbourn, p. 9.
8 Ibid. p. 176.
9 Ibid. p. 39.
10 Whip and Key, preface.
11 Oldmixon, Essay on Criticism, p. 84.
12 Milbourn, p. 2.
13 Ibid. p. 35.
14 Ibid. pp. 22, 192.
15 Ibid. p. 72.
16 Ibid. p. 203.
17 Ibid, p. 78.
18 Ibid, p. 206.
19 Ibid. p. 19.
20 Ibid. p. 144, 190.
21 Ibid. p. 67.
22 Milbourn, p. 192.
23 Ibid. p. 125.
24 Whip and Key, preface.
25 Milbourn, p. 105.
26 Ibid. p. 11.
27 Ibid. p. 176.
28 Ibid. p. 57.
29 Whip and Key, preface.
30 Milbourn, p. 34.
31 Ibid. p. 35.
32 Dennis’s Remarks on the Rape of the Lock, preface, p. xii.
33 Dunciad Dissected.
34 Preface to Gulliveriana.
35 Dennis, Character of Mr P.
36 Theobald, Letter in Mist’s Journal, June 22, 1728.
37 List at the end of a Collection of Verses, Letters, Advertisements, 8vo, printed for A. Moore, 1728, and the preface to it, p. 6.
38 Dennis’s Remarks on Homer, p. 27.
39 Preface to Gulliveriana, p. 11.
40 Dedication to the Collection of Verses, Letters, &c., p. 9.
41 Mist’s Journal of June 8, 1728.
42 Character of Mr P. and Dennis on Homer.
43 Dennis’s Remarks on Pope’s Homer, p. 12.
44 Ibid. p. 14.
45 Character of Mr P., p. 17, and Remarks on Homer, p. 91.
46 Dennis’s Remarks on Homer, p. 12.
47 Daily Journal, April 23, 1728.
48 Supplement to the Profund, preface.
49 Oldmixon, Essay on Criticism, p. 66.
50 Dennis’s Remarks, p. 28.
51 Homerides, p. 1, &c.
52 British Journal, Nov. 25, 1727.
53 Dennis, Daily Journal, May 11, 1728.
54 Dennis, Remarks on Homer, Preface.
55 Dennis’s Remarks on the Rape of the Lock, preface, p. 9.
56 Character of Mr P., p. 3.
58 Dennis, Remarks on Homer, p. 37.
59 Ibid, p. 8.
THE FIRST NUMBER SHOWS THE BOOK; THE SECOND, THE VERSE.
Ambrose Philips, i. 105; iii. 326.
Attila, iii. 92.
Alaric, iii. 91.
Alma Mater, iii. 388.
Annius, an antiquary, iv. 347.
Arnall, William, ii. 315.
Addison, ii. 124, 140.
Atterbury, iv. 246.
Blackmore, Sir Richard, i. 104; ii. 268.
Bezaleel Morris, ii. 126; iii. 168.
Banks, i. 146.
Bond, ii. 126.
Brown, iii. 28.
Bladen, iv. 560.
Budgel, Esq., ii. 337.
Bentley, Richard, iv. 201.
Bentley, Thomas, ii. 205.
Boyer, Abel, ii. 413.
Bland, a gazetteer, i. 231.
Breval, J. Durant, ii. 126, 238.
Benlowes, iii. 21.
Burmannus, iv. 237.
Benson, William, Esq., iii. 325; iv. 110.
Burgersdyck, iv. 198.
Boeotians, iii. 50.
Bruin and Bears, i, 101.
Bear and Fiddle, i. 224.
Burnet, Thomas, iii. 179.
Bacon, iii. 215.
Barrow, Dr, iv. 245.
Cibber, Colley, Hero of the Poem, passim.
Cibber, sen., i. 31.
Cibber, jun., iii. 139, 326.
Caxton, William, i. 149.
Curll, Edm., i. 40; ii. 3, 58, 167, &c.
Cooke, Thomas, ii. 138.
Concanen, Matthew, ii. 299,
Centlivre, Susannah, ii. 411.
Caesar in Aegypt, i. 251.
Chi Ho-am-ti, Emperor of China, iii. 75.
Crousaz, iv. 198.
Codrus, ii. 144.
Congreve, ii. 124.
Chesterfield, iv. 43.
Defoe, Daniel, i. 103; ii. 147.
Defoe, Norton, ii. 415.
De Lyra, or Harpsfield, i. 153.
Dennis, John, i. 106; ii. 239; iii. 173.
Dunton, John, ii. 144.
D’Urfey, iii. 146.
Dutchmen, ii. 405; iii. 51.
Doctors, at White’s, i. 203.
Douglas, iv. 394.
Ducket, iii. 179.
Eusden, Laurence, Poet Laureate, i. 104.
Evans, Dr, ii. 116
Flecknoe, Richard, ii. 2.
Faustus, Dr, iii. 233.
Fleetwood, iv. 326.
Freemasons, iv. 576.
French Cooks, iv. 553.
Gay, ii. 127; iii. 330.
Gildon, Charles, i. 296.
Goode, Barn., iii. 153.
Goths, iii. 90.
Gazetteers, i. 215; ii. 314.
Gregorians and Gormogons, iv. 575.
Garth, ii. 140.
Genseric, iii. 92.
Gordon, Thomas, iv. 492.
Holland, Philemon, i. 154.
Hearne, Thomas, iii. 185.
Horneck, Philip, iii. 152.
Haywood, Eliza, ii. 157, &c.
Howard, Edward, i. 297.
Henley, John, the Orator, ii. 2, 425; iii. 199, &c.
Huns, iii. 90.
Heywood, John, i. 98.
Harpsfield, i. 153.
Hays, iv. 560.
Heidegger, i. 290.
John, King, i. 252.
James I., iv. 176.
Jacob, Giles, iii. 149.
Janssen, a gamester, iv. 326.
Jones, Inigo, iii. 328.
Johnston, iv. 112.
Knight, Robert, iv. 561.
Kuster, iv. 237.
Kirkall, ii. 160.
Lintot, Bernard, i. 40; ii. 53.
Laws, William, ii. 413.
Log, King, i. lin. ult.
Locke, iii. 215.
More, James, ii. 50, &c.
Morris, Bezaleel, ii. 126; iii. 168.
Mist, Nathaniel, i. 208.
Milbourn, Luke, ii. 349.
Mahomet, iii. 97.
Mears, William, ii. 125; iii. 28.
Motteux, Peter, ii. 412.
Monks, iii. 52.
Mandevil, ii. 414.
Montalto, iv. 105.
Mummius, an antiquary, iv. 371.
Milton, iii. 216.
Murray, iv. 169.
Newcastle, Duchess of, i. 141.
Nonjuror, i. 253.
Newton, iii. 216.
Ogilby, John, i. 141, 328.
Oldmixon, John, ii. 283.
Ozell, John, i. 285.
Ostrogoths, iii. 93.
Omar, the Caliph, iii. 81.
Owls, i. 271, 290; iii. 54.
Owls, Athenian, iv. 362.
Osborne, bookseller, ii. 167.
Osborne, mother, ii. 312.
Prynne, William, i. 103.
Philips, Ambrose, i. 105; iii. 326.
Paridel, iv. 341.
Prior, ii. 124–138.
Popple, iii. 151.
Pope, iii. 332.
Pulteney, iv. 170.
Quarles, Francis, i. 140.
Querno, Camillo, ii. 15.
Ralph, James, i. 216; iii. 165.
Roome, Edward, iii. 152.
Ripley, Thomas, iii. 327.
Ridpath, George, i. 208; ii. 149.
Roper, Abel, ii. 149.
Rich, iii. 261.
Settle, Elkanah, i. 90, 146; iii. 37.
Smedley, Jonathan, ii. 291, &c.
Shadwell, Thomas, i. 240; iii. 22.
Scholiasts, iv. 231.
Silenus, iv. 492.
Sooterkins, i. 126.
Swift, i. 19; ii. 116, 138; iii. 331.
Shaftesbury, iv. 488.
Tate, i. 105, 238.
Theobald, or Tibbald, i. 133, 286.
Tutchin, John, ii. 148.
Toland, John, ii. 399; iii. 212.
Tindal, Dr, ii. 399; iii. 212; iv. 492.
Taylor, John, the Water–Poet, iii. 19.
Thomas, Mrs, ii. 70.
Tonson, Jacob, i. 57; ii. 68.
Thorold, Sir George, i. 85.
Talbot, iv. 168.
Vandals, iii. 86.
Visigoths, iii. 94.
Walpole, late Sir Robert, praised by our author, ii. 314
Withers, George, i. 296.
Wynkyn de Worde, i. 149 (or 140),
Ward, Edw. i. 233; ii. 34.
Webster, ii. 258.
Warner, Thomas, ii. 125.
Welsted, Leonard, ii. 207; iii. 170.
Woolston, Thomas, iii. 212.
Wormius, iii. 188.
Wasse, iv. 237.
Walker, Hat-bearer to Bentley. iv. 206, 273.
Wren, Sir C., iii. 329.
Wyndham, iv. 167.
Young, Ed., ii. 116.
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