Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Impale a glow-worm, or vertà profess,
Shine in the dignity of F. R. S.

570
Some, deep free-masons, join in 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,
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.

580 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.

REMARKS. to be Mr. Thomas Edward's ancestor, is only related to him by the Muse's side.-Scribl.

This tribe of men, which Scriblerus has here so well exemplified, our poet hath elsewhere admirably characterized in that happy line,

A brain of feathers, and a heart of lead. For the satire extends much farther than to the person who occasioned it, and takes in the whole species of those on whom a good education (to fit them for some useful and learned pro fession) has been bestowed in vain. The worthless band

Of ever-listless loiterers, that attend

No cause, no trust, no duty, and no friend; who, with an understanding too dissipated and futile for the offices of civil life; and a heart too lumpish, narrow, and contracted for those of social, become fit for nothing; and so turn wits and critics, where sense and civility are neither required por expected.

Ver. 571. Some, deep free-masons, join the silent race, The poet all along expresses a very particular concern for this silent race. He has here provided, that in case they will not waken or open (as was before proposed) to a humming-bird, or a cockle, yet at worst they may be made free-masons;, where taciturnity is the only essential qualification, as it was the chief of the disciples of Pythagoras.

Ver. 576.-a Gregorian, one a Gormogon) A sort of laybrothers, slips from the root of the free-masons.

Ver. 584.-each privilege your own, &c.) This speech of Dulness to her sons at parting, may possibly fall short of the reader's expectation; who may imagine the goddess might give them a charge of more consequence, and, from such a theory as is before delivered, incite them to the practice of something more extraordinary, than to personate running-footmen, jockeys, stage-coachmen, &c.

But if it be well considered, that whatever inclination they might have to do mischief, her sons are generally rendered harmless by their inability; and that it is the common effect of Dulness (even in her greatest efforts) to defeat her own de.

The cap and switch be sacred to his grace;
With staff and pumps the marquis leads 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;

590
The judge to dance his brother sergeant call,
The senator at cricket urge the ball;
The bishop stow (pontific luxury !)
A hundred souls of turkeys in a pie;
The sturdy 'squire to Gallic masters stonp,
And drown his lands and manors in a soup.
Others import yet nobler arts from France,
Teach kings to fiddle, and makes senates dance.
Perhaps more high some daring son may soar,
Proud to my list to add one monarch more. 000
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?

REMARKS the sign ;, poet I am persuaded, will be justified, and it will be, ailowed that these worthy persons, in their several rarks, do as much as can be expected from them.

Ver. 585. The cap and switch, &c.] The goddess's political balance of favour, in the distribution of her rewards, deserves our notice. It consists in joining with those honours claimed by birth and high place, others more adapted to the genius and talents of the candidates. And thus ber great forerunner, John of Leyden, king of Munster, entered on his government, by making his ancient friend and companion, Knipperdolling, general of his horse, and hangman. And had but fortune seconded his great schemes of reformation, it is said, he would have established his whole household on the same reasonable footing.--Scribl.

Ver. 590. -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 spíders, see the Phil. Trans. Ver. 591. The judge

to dance his brother sergeant call,) Alluding perhaps to that ancient and solemn dance, entitled, A can of sergeants.

Ver. 598. Teach kings to fiddle,] An ancient amusement of sovereign princes (viž). Achilles, Alexander, Nero; though despised by Themistocles, who was a republican-Make senates dance, either after their prince, or to Pontoise, or Siberia.

Ver.606. What mortal can resist the yawn of gods !) This verse is truly Homerical: as is the conclusion of the action, where the great mother composes all, in the same manner as Minerva at the period of the Odyssey.-It may, indeed, seem a very singular

Churches and chapels instantly it reach'd:
(St. James's first, for leaden G- preach'd)
Then catch'd the schools; the Hall scarce kept awake;
The convocation gap'd, but could not speak: 610
Lost was the nation's sense, nor could be found,
While the long solemn unison went round:
Wide, and more wide, it spread all oʻer the realm;
E'en 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,

O muse! relate (for you can tell alone,
Wits have short memories, and dunces none) 620

REMARKS. epitasis of a poem, to end as this does, with a great yawn; but we must consider it as the yawn of a god, and of powerful effects. It is not out of nature, most long and grave councils concluding in this very manner: nor without authority, the incomparable Spenser having ended one of the most considerable of his works with a roar; but then it is the roar of a lion, the effects whereof are described as the catastrophe of the poem.

Ver. 507. Churches and chapels, &c.] The progress of the yawn is judicious, natural, and worthy to be noted. First it seizeth the churcbes and chapels, then catcheth the schools, where, though the boys be unwilling to sleep, the masters are not. Next Westminster-hall, much more hard, indeed, to sub due, and not totally put to silence even by the goddess. Then the convocation, which though extremely desirous to speak, yet cannot. Even the House of Commons, justly called the sense of the nation, is lost (that is to say suspended) during the yawn; (far be it from our author to suggest it could be lost any longer!) but it spreadeth at large over all the rest of the kingdom, to such a degree, that Palinurus himself (though as incapable of sleeping, as Júpiter) yet noddeth for a moment; the effect of which,

though ever so momentary, could not but cause some relaxation, for the time, in all public affairs.-- Scribl.

Ver. 610. The convocation gaped, but could not speak:) Implying a great desire so to do, as the learned scholiast on the place rightly observes. Therefore beware, reader, lest thon take this gape for a yawn, which is attended with no desire but to go to rest, by no means the disposition of the convocation; whose melancholy case in short is this: she was, as is reported, infected with the general influence of the goddess; and while she was yawning carelessly at her ease, a wanton courtier took her at advantage, and in the very nick clapp'd a gạg into her chops. Well, therefore, may we know her meaning by her gaping; and this distressful posture our poet here describes, just as she stands at this day, a sad example of the effects of Dulness and Malice unchecked and despised.-Bentl.

Ver. 615–618. These verses were written many years ago, and may be found in the state poems of that time. So that Scrible rus is mistaken, or whoever else have imagined this poem of a fresher date.

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 ; [wrong-
Till drown'd was sense, and shame, and right and
O sing, and hush the nations with thy song!

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

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!

630
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 sickening stars fade off th' ethereal plain ;

REMARKS. Ver. 620. Wits have short memories,] This seems to be the reason why the poets, when they give us a catalogue, constantly call for help on the muses, who, as the daughters of memory, are obliged not to forget any thing. So Homer, Iliad B.

Πληθυν δ' ουκ αν εγώ μυθήσομαι ουδ' όνομήνω,
μή Ολυμπιάδες Μούσαι, Διός αιγιόχοιο

θυγατέρες, μνήσαίαθ'-. And Virgil, Æn. VII.

Et meministis enim, divæ, et memorare potestis ;

Ad nos vix tenuis famæ perlabitur aura. Bat opr poet had yet another reason for putting this task upon the mise, that, all besides being asleep, she only could relate what passed,

Scribl. Ver. 624. The venal quiet, and,&c.] It were a problem worthy the solution of Mr. Ralph and his patron, who had lights that we know nothing of,-which required the greatest effort of our goddess's power, to entrance the dull, or to quiet the venal. For though the venal may be more unruly than the dull, yet, on the other hand, it demands a much greater expense of her virtue to entrance than barely to quiet.--Scribl.

Ver. 629. She comes ! she comes ! &c.] Here the muse, like Jove's eagle, after a sudden stoop, at ignoble gare, soareth again to the skies. As prophecy hath ever been one of the chief provinces of poesy, our poet here foretels from what we feel, what we are to fear; and, in the style of other prophets, hath used the future tense for the preterit; since what he says shall be, is already to be seen, in the writings of some even of our most adored authors, in divinity, philosophy, physics, metaphysics, &c. who are too good, indeed, to be named in such company.

Ibid. -the sable throne behold-] The sable thrones of Night and Chaos, here represented as advancing to extinguish the light of the sciences, in the first place blot out the colours of tancy, and damp the fire of wit, before they proceed to their work.

640

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,
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.

REMARKS Ver. 641. -truth to her old cavern fled,] Allading 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.'

Ver. 649. Religion blushing veils her sacred fires,] Blushing as well at the memory of the past overflow of Dulness, when the barbarous learning of so many ages was wholly employed in corrupting the simplicity, and defiling the purity of religion, as at the view of these her false supports in the present; of which it would be endless to recount the particulars. However, amidst the extinction of all other lights, she is said only to with draw hers! as hers alone in its own nature is unextinguishable and eternal.

Ver. 650. And unawares morality expires.] It appears from hence that our poet was of very different sentiments from the author of the Characteristics, who has written a formal treatise on virtue, to prove it not only real but durable, without the support of religion. The word Unawares alludes to the confidence of those men, who suppose that morality would flourish best without it, and consequently to the surprise such would be in (if any such there are) who, indeed, love virtue, and yet do all they can to root out the religion of their country.

THE END

Printed by J. F. Dove, St. John's Square.

« ZurückWeiter »