Imagens da página

fool, that is a fit subject for a Dunciad. There that refinement it suffers in passing through those must still exist some analogy, if not resemblance certain strainers which our poet somewhere of qualities, between the heroes of the two poems; speaketh of. But when it is let alone to work and this in order to admit what neoteric critics upon the lees, it acquireth strength by old age : call the parody, one of the liveliest graces of the and becometh a standing ornament to the little little epic. Thus it being agreed that the con epic. It is true, indeed, there is one objection to stituent qualities of the greater epic hero are its fitness for such a use: for not only the igwisdom, bravery, and love, from whence springeth norant may think it common, but it is admitted to heroic virtue; it followeth that those of the lesser | be so, even by him who best knoweth its nature. epic hero should be vanity, impudence, and de “Don't you think,” saith he,“ to say only a man bauchery, from which happy assemblage resulteth has his whore ought to go for little or nothing ? heroic dulness, the never-dying subject of this our | Because defendit numerus, take the first ten thouPoem.

sand men you meet, and I believe you would be no This being confessed, come we now to par- loser if you betted ten to one, that every single ticulars. It is the character of true wisdom, to sinner of them, one with another, had been guilty seek its chief support and confidence within itself; of the same frailty 5.” But here he seemeth not and to place that support in the resources which to have done himself justice : the man is sure proceed from a conscious rectitude of will.--And | enough a hero who has his lady at fourscore, are the advantages of vanity, when arising to the | How doth his modesty herein lessen the merit of heroic standard, at all short of this self-com- a whole well-spent life : not taking to himself the placence? Nay, are they not, in the opinion of commendation (which Horace accounted the the enamoured owner, far beyond it? “ Let the greatest in a theatrical character) of continuing world (will such a one say) impute to me what to the very dregs the same he was from the befolly or weakness they please; but till wisdom can ginninggive me something that will make me more heartily

Servetur ad IMUM happy, I am content to be GAZED at 1." This we

Qualis ab incepto processerat see is vanity according to the heroic gage or

But let us farther remark, that the calling her measure; not that low and ignoble species which pretendeth to virtues we have not, but the laudable

his whore, implieth she was his own, and not his ambition of being gazed at for glorying in those

neighbour's. Truly a commendable continence ! vices which all the world know we have. “The

and such as Scipio himself must have applauded. world may ask,” says he, “why I make my follies

For how much self-denial was necessary not to public? Why not? I have passed my time very

covet his neighbour's whore ? and what disorders pleasantly with them ?." In short, there is no

must the coveting her have occasioned, in that sort of vanity such a hero would scruple, but that

society, where (according to this political calcuwhich might go near to degrade him from his high

lator) nine in ten of all ages have their concustation in this our Dunciad; namely, “ whether

bines ? it would not be vanity in him, to take shame to

We have now, as briefly as we could devise,

gone through the three constituent qualities of himself for not being a wise man 37"

either hero. But it is not in any, or all of these, Bravery, the second attribute of the true hero,

that heroism properly or essentially resideth. It is courage, manifesting itself in every limb; while,

is a lucky result rather from the collision of these in its correspondent virtue in the mock hero, that

lively qualities against one another. Thus, as courage is all collected into the face. And as power when drawn together, must needs be more

from wisdom, bravery, and love, ariseth magnastrong than when dispersed, we generally find

nimity, the object of admiration, which is the aim this kind of courage in so high and heroic a

of the greater epic ; so from vanity, impudence, degree, that it insults not only men, but gods.

and debauchery, springeth buffoonery, the source Mezentius is without doubt the bravest character

of ridicule, that “ laughing ornament,” as he well in all the Æneis; but how? His bravery, we

termeth it", of the little epic. know, was a high courage of blasphemy. And

He is not ashamed (God forbid he ever should

be ashamed !) of this character; who deemeth, can we say less of this brave man's, who, having told us that he placed “his summum bonum in

19 | that not reason but risibility distinguisheth the those follies, which he was not content barely to

| human species from the brutal. “As nature (saith possess but would likewise glory in,” adds, “If I

this profound philosopher) distinguished our speam misguided, 'TIS NATURE'S Fault, and I follow

cies from the mute creation by our risibility, her HER 4.” Nor can we be mistaken in making this

design must have been by that faculty as evidently happy quality a species of courage, when we con

to raise our HAPPINESS, as by our os sublime (OUR sider those illustrious marks of it, which made his

ERECTED FACES) to lift the dignity of our FORM face “ more known as he justly boasteth) than

above them?." All this considered, how complete most in the kingdom," and his language to consist

a hero must he be, as well as how happy a man, of what we must allow to be the most daring

whose risibility lieth not barely in his muscles as figure of speech, that which is taken from the

in the common sort, but (as himself informeth us) name of God.

in his very spirits? And whose os sublime is not Gentle love, the next ingredient in the true

simply an erect face, but a brazen head, as should hero's composition, is a mere bird of passage, or,

seem by his comparing it with one of iron, said to (as Shakspeare calls it) summer-teeming lust, and

belong to the late king of Sweden! evaporates in the heat of youth ; doubtless by

But whatever personal qualities a hero may

have, the examples of Achilles and Æneas show I Dedication to the Life of C. C. 2 Life, p. 2, octavo ed.

3 Life, ibid.

5 Letter to Mr. P. p. 46. Ibid. p. 31. 4 Life, p. 23, octav o.

Letter, p. 8.

[ocr errors]

7 Life, p. 23, 24.

us, that all those are of small avail, without the “It would never,” say they,“ have been esteemed constant assistance of the GODS : for the subver- sufficient to make a hero for the Iliad or Æneis, sion and erection of empires have never been that Achilles was brave enough to overturn one judged the work of man. How greatly soever empire, or Æneas pious enough to raise another, then we may esteem of his high talents, we can had they not been goddess-born and princes bred. hardly conceive his personal prowess alone suffi What then did this author mean by erecting a cient to restore the decayed empire of Dulness. I player instead of one of his patrons, (a person So weighty an achievement must require the never a hero even on the stage+') to this dignity particular "favour and protection of the GREAT ; l of colleague in the empire of Dulness, and achiever who being the natural patrons and supporters of of a work that neither old Omar, Attila, nor John letters, as the ancient gods were of Troy, must of Leyden could entirely compass.” first be drawn off and engaged in another inte To all this we have, as we conceive, a sufficient rest, before the total subversion of them can be answer from the Roman historian, Fabrum esse accomplished. To surmount, therefore, this last sue quemque fortune: Every man is the Smith of and greatest difficulty, we have in this excellent | his own fortune. The politic Florentine Nicholas man a professed favourite and intimado of the Machiavel goeth still farther, and affirms that a great. And look of what force ancient piety was man needs but to believe himself a hero to be one to draw the gods into the party of Æneas, that, of the best. “Let him," saith he, “but fancy and much stronger is modern incense, to engage himself capable of the highest things, and he will the great in the party to Dulness.

of course be able to achieve them.” Laying this Thus have we essayed to portray or shadow down as a principle, it will certainly and inconcut this noble imp of fame. But now the im testably follow, that, if ever hero was such a chapatient reader will be apt to say, if so many racter, ours is : for if ever man thought himself and various graces go to the making up a hero, such, ours doth. Hear how he constantly parawhat mortal shall suffice to bear this character? gons himself, at one time to ALEXANDER THE III hath he read, who sees not in every trace of GREAT and CHARLES XII. of Sweden, for the this picture, that individual, ALL-ACCOMPLISHED excess and delicacy of his ambitions; to HENRY PERSON, in whom these rare virtues and lucky cir- | IV. of France, for honest policy.; to the first cumstances have agreed to meet and concentre Brutus for love of liberty?; and to Sir ROBERT with the strongest lustre and fullest harmony. WALPOLE, for good government while in powers.

The good Scriblerus indeed, nay, the world it. | At another time, to the godlike SOCRATES, for his self, might be imposed on in the late spurious diversions and amusements"; to HORACE, Moneditions, by I can't tell what sham-hero, or phan TAIGNE, and SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE, for an elegant tom : But it was not so easy to impose on him whom vanity that makes them for ever read and adthis egregious error most of all concerned. For mired 10 ; to TWO LORD CHANCELLORS, for law, from no sooner had the fourth book laid open the high whom, when confederate against him at the bar, and swelling scene, but he recognized his own he carried away the prize of eloquencell; and, to heroic acts : And when he came to the words, say all in a word, to the right reverend the LORD Soft on her lap her Laurcat son reclines,

BISHOP OF LONDON himself, in the art of writing

pastoral letters 12 (though laureat imply no more than one crowned

Nor did his actions fall short of the sublimity with laurel, as befitteth any associate or consort

of his conceptions. In his early youth he met the in empire) he ROARED (like a lion) and VINDICATED

revolution at Nottingham 13 face to face, at a time HIS RIGHT OF FAME. Indeed not without cause,

when his betters contented themselves with folhe being there represented as fast asleep; so un

louing her. But he shone in courts as well as beseeming the eye of empire, which, like that of

camps. He was called up when the nation fell in Providence, should never slumber. “ Hah!”

labour of this revolution, and was a gossip at her saith he, “fast asleep it seems ! that's a little too

| christening with the bishop and the ladies 15. strong. Pert and dull at least you might have

As to his birth, it is true he pretendeth no relaallowed me, but as seldom asleep as any fool!."

tion either to heathen god or goddess; but, what However, the injured hero may comfort himself with this reflection, that though it be sleep, yet it

is as good, he was descended from a maker of

both 6. And that he did not pass himself on the is not the sleep of death, but of immortality. Here

world for a hero, as well by birth as education, he will live at least, though not awake; and in

was his own fault; for his lineage he bringeth no worse condition than many an enchanted war

into his life as an anecdote, and is sensible he had rior before him. The famous Durandarte, for

| it in his power to be thought nobody's son at all 17: instance, was, like him, cast into a long slumber

and what is that but coming into the world a hero? by Merlin, the British bard and necromancer ;

There is in truth another objection of greater and his example for submitting to it with so good

weight, namely, “That this hero still existeth, a grace might be of use to our hero. For this

and hath not yet finished his earthly course. For disastrous knight being sorely pressed or driven to

if Solon said well, that no man could be called make his answer by several persons of quality, only

happy till his death,' surely much less can any replied with a sigh, Patience, and shuffle the cards.

one, till then, be pronounced a hero ; this species But now, as nothing in this world, no not the

of men being far more subject than others to the most sacred or perfect things either of religion or government, can escape the teeth or tongue of * See Life, p. 148. 5 Ibid. p. 149. Ibid. p. 424. envy, methinks I already hear these carpers ob

7 Ibid. p. 366. 8 Ibid. p. 457. Ibid. p. 18. jecting to the clear title of our hero.

10 Ibid. p. 425. 11 Ibid. p. 436, 437. 12 Ibid. p. 52. 1 Letter, p. 53.

Ibid. p. 1.

13 Ibid. p. 47. 14 Ibid. p. 57. 15 Ibid. p. 58, 59, 3 Don Quixote, part ii. book ii. ch. 22.

16 A statuary.

17 Life, p. 6.

caprices of fortune and humour.” But to this off my follies than my skin ; I have often tried, also we have an answer, that will be deemed (we but they stick too close to me ; nor am I sure my hope) decisive. It cometh from himself, who, to friends are displeased with them, for in this light cut this dispute short, hath solemnly protested I afford them frequent matter of mirth?,” &c. &c. that he will never change or amend.

Having then so publicly declared himself incor. With regard to his vanity, he declareth that rigible, he is become dead in law, (I mean the nothing shall ever part them. “Nature," saith law Epopeian) and descendeth to the poet as his he, “ hath amply supplied me in vanity ; a plea- property, who may take him, and deal with him, sure which neither the pertness of wit nor the as if he had been dead as long as an old Egyptian gravity of wisdom will ever persuade me to part hero ; that is to say, embowel and embalm him for with.” Our poet had charitably endeavoured to posterity. administer a cure to it, but he telleth us plainly, Nothing therefore, we conceive, remains to “My superiors perhaps may be mended by him, hinder his own prophecy of himself from taking but for my part I own myself incorrigible. I look | immediate effect. A rare felicity! and what few upon my follies as the best part of my fortune?.” prophets have had the satisfaction to see alive! And with good reason.We see to what they have | Nor can we conclude better than with that extrabrought him !

ordinary one of his, which is conceived in these Secondly, as to buffoonery. “Is it,” saith he, oraculous words, MY DULNESS WILL FIND so “ a time of day for me to leave off these fooleries, TO DO IT RIGHT 4. and set up a new character? I can no more put !



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 Bays 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

I Life, p. 424.
2 Ibid. p. 19.

marble scroll to which he points with his hand; instead 3 Ibid. p. 17.

4 Ibid. p. 243, octavo edition. of which it is now placed behind his back, and that speci. 5 The DUNCIAD, sic MS. It may well be disputed whether men of an edition is put on the scroll, which indeed this be a right reading. Ought it not rather to be spelled Shakspeare hath great reason to point at.-Anon. Dunceiad, as the etymology evidently demands? Dunce Though I have as just a value for the letter E as any with an e, therefore Dunceiad with an e. That accurate grammarian living, and the same affection for the name of and punctual man of letters, the restorer of Shakespeare, this poem as any critic for that of his author, yet cannot constantly observes the preservation of this very letter e, it induce me to agree with those who would add yet in spelling the name of his beloved author, and not like i another e to it, and call it the Dunceiade: which being a his common careless editors, with the omission of one, nay French and foreign termination, is no way proper to a sometimes of two ecs, (as Shakspear) which is utterly un- word entirely English and vernacular. One e therefore in pardonable. « Nor is the neglect of a single letter so trivial this case is right, and two e's wrong. Yet upon the wbole as to some it may appear; the alteration whereof in a ! I shall follow the manuscript, and print it without any e learned language is an achievement that brings honour to ' at all; moved thereto by authority (at all times, with the critic who advances it; and Dr. Bentley will be re- critics, equal, if not superior, to reason). In which method membered to posterity for his performances of this sort as of proceeding I can never enough praise my good friend, long as the world shall have any esteem for the remains of the exact Mr. Tho. Hearne, who, if any word occur which Menander and Philemon."--THEOBALD.

I to him and all mankind is evidently wrong, yet keeps he This is surely a slip in the learned author of the it in the text with due reverence, and only remarks in the foregoing note, there having been since produced by an margin sic MS. In like manner we shall not amend this accurate antiquary, an autograph of Shakspeare himself, | error in the title itself, but only note it obiter, to evince to whereby it appears that he spelled his own name without the learned that it was not our fault, nor any effect of our the first e. And upon this authority it was that those ! ignorance or inattention-SCRIBLERUS. most critical curators of his monument in Westminster i This poem was written in the year 1726. In the next Abbey erased the former wrong reading, and restored the year an imperfect edition was published at Dublin, and true spelling on a new piece of old Egyptian granite. Nor , reprinted at London in twelves; another at Dublin, and for this only do they deserve our thanks, but for exhibit- another at London in octavo; and three others in twelves ing on the same monument the first specimen of an edition the same year. But there was no perfect edition before of an author in marble; where (as may be seen on com- that of London in quarto, which was attended with notes. paring the tomb with the book) in the space of five lines, - SCHOL. VET. two words and a whole verse are changed, and it is to be It was expressly confessed in the preface to the first hoped will there stand, and outlast whatever hath been edition that this poem was not published by the author hitherto done in paper ; as for the future, our learned himself. It was printed originally in a foreign country: sister university (the other eve of England) is taking care and what foreign country? Why, one notorious for blunto perpetuate a total new Shakespear at the Clarendon ders; where finding blanks only instead of proper names, press.-BENTL.

| these blunderers filled them up at their pleasure. It is to be noted that this great critic also has omitted The very hero of the poem hath been mistaken to this one circumstance, which is, that the inscription with the hour, so that we are obliged to open our notes with a dis name of Shakspeare was intended to be placed on the covery who he really was. We learn from the former

empire: after debating whether to betake himself to the I sing. Say you, her instruments the great! Church, or to Gaming, or to Party-writing, he raises an Call’d to this work by Dulness, Jove, and Fate 4; altar of proper books, and (inaking first his solemn

You by whose care, in vain decried and curst, prayer and declaration) purposes thereon to sacrifice all

Still Dunce the second reigns like Dunce the first; his unsuccessful writings. As the pile is kindled, the

Say how the goddess bade Britannia sleep, Goddess beholding the flame from her seat, flies and puts it out by castins upon it the poem of Thulé. She forth

| And pour'd her spirit o'er the land and deep. with reveals herself to him, transports him to her temple,

In eldest time, ere mortals writ or read, unfolds her arts, and initiates him into her mysteries ; Ere Pallas issued from the Thunderer's head, then announcing the death of Eusden, the Poet Laureate, Dulness o'er all possess'd her ancient right, apoints him, carries him to court, and proclaims him Daughter of Chaos and eternal Nights: successor.

Fate in their dotage this fair idiot gave,

Gross as her sire, and as her mother grave, The mighty mother', and her son who brings ? Laborious, heavy, busy, bold, and blind, The Smithfield muses to the ear of kings,

She ruled, in native anarchy, the mind?.

Still her old empire to restore & she tries, editor, that this piece was presented by the hands of Sir

For, born a goddess, Dulness never dies. Robert Walpole to King George II. Now the author

O thou ! whatever title please thine ear, directly tells us, his hero is the man

Dean, Drapier, Bickerstaff, or Gulliver !
toho brings
The Smithfield muses to the ear of kings.

third, is surely as improperly applied to terris, as proper And it is notorious who was the person on whom this to alto: to say a man is toss'd on land, is much at one with prince conferred the honour of the laurel.

saying he walks at sea : risum teneatis, amici, Correct It appears as plainly from the apostrophe to the great in it, as I doubt not it ought to be, vexatus.-SCRIBLERUS. the third verse, that Tibbald could not be the person, who | 3 Smithfield is the place where Bartholomew Fair was was never an author in fashion, or caregsed by the great ; | kept, whose shows, machines, and dramatical entertainwhereas this single characteristic is sufficient to point out ments, formerly agreeable only to the taste of the rabble, the true hero ; who, above all other poets of his time, was were, by the hero of this poem and others of equal genius, the peculiar delight and chosen companion of the nobility brought to the theatres of Covent-Garden, Lincoln's Inn

of England; and wrote, as he himself tells us, certain of fields, and the Haymarket, to be the reigning pleasures of í his works at the earnest desire of persons of quality.

the court and town. This happened in the reigns of King i Lastly, the sixth verse affords full proof; this poet being George I. and II.-See book iii.

the only one who was universally known to have had a son 4 i. e. By their judgments, their interests, and their incliso exactly like him in his poetical, theatrical, political, nations. and moral capacities, that it could justly be said of him 5 The beauty of this whole allegory being purely of the

Still Dunce the second reign'd like Dunce the first. poetical kind, we think it not our proper business, as a -BEST.

scholiast, to meddle with it; but leave it (as we shall in ! In the first edition it was thus,

general all such) to the reader, remarking only, that Chaos Books and the man I sing, the first who brings

(according to Hesiod's coyovia) was the progenitor of all

the gods.-SCRIBLERUS. The Smithfield muses to the ear of kings.

6 I wonder the learned Scriblerus has omitted to adverSay, great Patricians! since yourselves inspire

tise the reader, at the opening of this poem, that Dulness These wondrous works (80 Jove and fate require)

here is not to be taken contractedly for mere stupidity, Say, for what cause, in vain decried and curst,

but in the enlarged sense of the word, for all slowness of Still

apprehension, shortness of sight, or imperfect sense of Say, great Patricians! since yourselves inspire things. It includes (as we see by the poet's own words) These icondrous works

labour, industry, and some degree of activity and bold-"Dii coeptis (nam vos mutastis et illas).”-Ovid. Met. 1. ness: a ruling principle not inert, but turning topsy-turvy The reader ought here to be cautioned, that the mother

the understanding, and inducing an anarchy or confused and not the son is the principal agent of this poem: the state of mind. This remark ought to be carried along with latter of them is only chosen as her colleague (as was

the reader throughout the work, and without this caution anciently the custom in Rome before some great expedi he will be apt to mistake the importance of many of the tion), the main action of the poem being by no means the

characters, as well as of the design of the poet. Hence it coronation of the Laureate, which is performed in the very

is that some have complained he chooses too mean a subfirst book, but the restoration of the empire of Dulness

ject, and imagined he employs himself, like Domitian, in Britain, which is not accomplished till the last.

in killing flies; whereas those who have the true key will 2 Wonderful is the stupidity of all the former critics and

find he sports with nobler quarry, and embraces a larger commentators on this work! It breaks forth at the very compass, or (as one saith, on a like occasion) first line. The author of the critique prefixed to Sarney, Will see his work, like Jacob's ladder, rise, a poem, p. 5, hath been so dull as to explain the man who Its foot in dirt, its head amid the skies. brings, &c., not of the hero of the piece, but of our poet -BENT. himself, as if he vaunted that kings were to be his readers;

7 The native anarchy of the mind is that state which an honour which though this poem hath had, yet knoweth

precedes the time of reason's assuming the rule of the pas. he how to receive it with more modesty.

sions. But in that state, the uncontrolled violence of the We remit this ignorant to the first lines of the Æneid,

passions would soon bring things to confusion, were it not assuring him that Virgil there speaketh not of himself,

for the intervention of Dulness in this absence of reason; but of Æneas :

who, though she cannot regulate them like reason, yet Arma virumque cano, Trojve qui primus ab oris

blunts and deadens their vigour, and, indeed, produces Italiam, fato profugus, Larinaque venit

some of the good effects of it: hence it is that Dulness has Littora: multum ille et terris jactatus et alto, &c.

often the appearance of reason. This is the only good she I cite the whole three verses, that I may by the way offer

ever did; and the poet takes particular care to tell it in conjectural emendation, purely my own, upon each :

the very introduction of his poem. It is to be observed, first, oris should be read aris, it being, as we see n. ii. indeed, that this is spoken of the universal rule of Dulness 513, from the altar of Jupiter Hercoeus that Æneas fled in ancient days, but we may form an idea of it from her as soon as he saw Priam slain. In the second line I would partial government in later times. read ftatu for fato, since it is most clear it was by winds This restoration makes the completion of the poem. that he arrived at the shore of Italy. Jactatus, in the Vide book iv.

Hence Miscellanies spring, the weekly boast
Of Curl's chaste press, and Lintot's rubric posto:
Hence hymning Tyburn's "' elegiac lines ",
Hence Journals, Medleys, Merc'ries, Magazines 12 :
Sepulchral lies 13, our holy walls to grace,
And new-year odesł4, and all the Grub-street race.

In clouded majesty here Dulness shone 15;
Four guardian Virtues, round, support her throne:

Whether thou choose Cervantes' serious air,
Or laugh and shake in Rabelais' easy chair,
Or praise the court', or magnify mankind?,
Or thy grieved country's copper chains unbind;
From thy Bootia though her power retires,
Mourn not, my Swift, at aught our realm acquires,
Here pleased behold her mighty wings outspread
To hatch a new Saturnian age of lead 3.

Close to those walls where Folly holds her throne',
And laughs to think Monroe would take her down,
Where o'er the gates, by his famed father's hands
Great Cibber's brazen brainless brothers stand;
One cell there ise, conceal'd from vulgar eye,
The cave of Poverty and Poetry?
Keen hollow winds howl thro' the bleak recess,
Emblem of music caus’d by emptiness.
Hence bards, like Proteus long in vain tied down,
Escape in monsters, and amaze the town.

1 In the MS. it followed thus :

Or in the graver gown instruct mankind,

Or silent let thy morals tell thy mind. 2 Ironice, 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 recal.

3 The ancient golden age is by poets styled Saturnian ; but in the chemical language Saturn is lead. She is said here only to be spreading her wings to hatch this age, which is not produced completely till the fourth book. 4 In the former editions thus :

Where wave the tatter'd ensigns of Rag-fair,
A yawning ruin hangs and nods in air;
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. 5 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.

6 The cell of poor Poetry is here very properly represented as a little unendowed hall in the neighbourhood of the magnific college of Bedlam, and as the surest seminary to supply those learned walls with professors; for there cannot be a plainer indication of madness than in men persisting to starve themselves and offend the public by scribbling,

Escape in monsters, and amaze the town ; when they might have benefited themselves and others in profitable and honest employments. The qualities and productions of the students of this private academy are afterwards described in this first book, as are also their actions throughout the second, by which it appears, how near allied dulness is to madness. This naturally prepares us for the subject of the third book, where we find them in union and acting in conjunction, to produce the catastrophe of the fourth; a mad poetical sibyl leading our hero through the regions of vision, to animate him in the present undertaking, by a view of the past triumphs of barbarism over science.

8 Sunt quibus in plures jus est transire figuras :

Ut tibi, com pleri terram maris incola, Proteu;
Nunc violentus aper, nunc quem tetigisse timerent,
Anguis eras, modo te faciebant cornua taurum,

Sæpe lapis poteras.--Ovid. Met. viii. Neither Palæphatus, Phurnutus, nor Heraclides give us any steady light into the mythology of this mysterious fable. If I be not deceived in a part of learning which has so long exercised my pen, by Proteus must certainly be meant a hackneyed town scribbler; and by his transformations, the various disguises such a one assumes, to elude the pursuit of his irreconcileable enemy, the bailiff. Proteus is represented as one bred of the mud and slime of Ægypt, the original soil of arts and letters; and what is a town-scribbler, but a creature made up of the excrements of luxurious science? By the change then into a boar is meant his character of a furious and dirty partywriter : the snake signifies a libeler; and the horns of the bull, the dilemmas of a polemical ansuerer. These are the three great parts he acts under; and when he has completed his circle he sinks back again, as the last change into a stone denotes, into his natural state of immoveable stupidity. If I may expect thanks of the learned world for this discovery, I would by no means deprive that excellent critic of his share, who discovered before me, that in the character of Proteus was designed sophistam, magum, politicum, præsertim rebus sese accommodantem ; which in English is, a political writer, a libeler, and a disputer, writing indifferently for or against every party in the state, every sect in religion, and every character in private life. See my Fables of Ovid explained.-ABBE BANIER.

9 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. 10 In the former editions thus:

Hence hymning Tyburn's elegiac lay,

Hence the soft sing-song on Cecilia's day. 11 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.

-Genus unde Latinum, Albanique patres, atque alla mania Romæ.–Virg. Æn. i. 12 Miscellanies in prose and verse, in which at some times

-new-born nonsense first is taught to cry; at others dead-born Dulness appears in a thousand shapes. These were thrown out weekly and monthly by every miserable scribbler, or picked up piece-meal and stolen from any body, under the title of papers, essays, queries, verses, epigrams, riddles, &c., equally the disgrace of human wit, morality, and decency.

13 Is a just satire on the flatteries and falsehoods admitted to be inscribed on the walls of churches in epitaphs.

7 I cannot here omit a remark that will greatly endear our author to every one, who shall attentively observe that humanity and candour, which everywhere appears in him towards those unhappy objects of the ridicule of all mankind, the bad poets. He here imputes all scandalous rhymes, scurrilous weekly papers, base flatteries, wretched elegies, songs, and verses (even from those sung at court to ballads in the streets) not so much to malice or servility as to dulness, and not so much to dulness as to necessity : and thus, at the very commencement of his satire, makes an apology for all that are to be satirised.

14 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. The new-year odes of the hero of this work were of a caste distinguished from all that preceded him, and made a conspicuous part of his character as a writer, which, doubtless, induced our author to mention them here so particularly.

15 See this cloud removed, or rolled back, or gathered up to her head. book iv. ver. 17, 18. It is worth while to compare this description of the majesty of Dulness in a state of peace and tranquillity, with that more busy scene where she mounts the throne in triumph, and is not so

« AnteriorContinuar »