Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

when confederate against him, at the bar, he carried away the prize of eloquence;* and, to say all in a word, to the right reverend the lord bishop of London himself, in the art of writing pastoral letters.t

Nor did his actions fall short of the sublimity of his conceit. In his early youth he met the Revolutions 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 in camps; he was called up when the nation fell in labour of this Revolution ;s and was a gossip at her christening, with the bishop and the ladies.ll

As to his birth, it is true he pretendeth no relation either to heathen god or guddess; but, what is as good, he was descended from a maker of both. 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 nobody's son at all :** and what is that but coming into the world a hero?

But be it (the pupctilious laws of epic poesy so requiring) that a bero 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 instal 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

# See Life, p. 436, 437

+ P. $2. 1 P. 47.
SP. 57.
# P. 58, 59.

I A ftatuary.
** Life, p. 6.

hath not yet finished his earthly course. For if Solon said well,

« ultima semper Expectanda dies homini; dicique beatus

Ante obitum nemo supremaque funera debet!" if no man can 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,' says 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.' 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 in. corrigible. I look upon my follies as the best part of my fortune.'t 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.'I 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 bim, aud 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 hin. der his own prophecy of himself from taking imme. diate effect. A elicity! and what few prophets have had the satisfaction to see, alive! Nor can we * See Life, p. 424.

+ P. 19.

1 P. 17,

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.'*

Tandem Phæbas adest, morsusque inferre parantem
Congelat, et patulos, ut erant, indurat hiatus.'t

BY AUTHORITY. By virtue of the authority in us vested by the act for subjecting poets to the power of a licenser, we have revised this piece: where, finding the style and appellation of King to have been given to a certain pretender, pseudo-poet, or phantom, of the name of Tibbald; and apprehending the same may be deemed in some sort a reflection on majesty, or at least an insult on that legal authority which has bestowed on another person the crown of poesy: We have ordered the said pretender, pseudo-poet, or phantom, utterly to vanish and evaporate out of this work; and to declare the said throne of poesy from henceforth to be abdicated and vacant, unless duly and lawfully supplied by the laureat himself.

And it is hereby enacted, that no other person do presume to fill the

2C. CH. # Se Life, p. 243, 8vo. edit. + Ovid, of the serpent biting at Orpåeus's head.

same.

THE DUNCIAD.

TO

DR. JONATHAN SWIFT.

BOOK THE FIRST.

ARGUMENT, 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 lordmayor's day, revolving the long succession of her sons, and the glories past and to come. She fixes her eyes 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 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 sacritice 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 Thulé. 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 laureat, anoints him, carries him to court, and proclaims him successor.

The mighty mother, and her son, who brings
The Smithfield muses to the ear of kings,
I sing. Say you, her instruments, the great!
Call'd to this work by Dulness, Jove, and Fate;

REMARKS. 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 ee'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.

l'his 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 au

You, by whose care, in vain decried and cursed,
Still Dunce the second reigns like Dunce the first;
Say, how the goddess bade Britannia sleep,
And pour'd her spirit o'er the land and deep.

REMARKS. thority 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 Ægyptian 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.An on.

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: wbich 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 iwo ee'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. Tho. Hearne; who, it 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.-Scribl.

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 couniry! Why, one notorious for blunders; where finding blanks ouly instead of proper names, these blunderers filled them up at their pleasure.

The very hero of the poem hath been mistaken to this hour;

« ZurückWeiter »