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Impale a glow-worm, or vertà profess,
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;
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:
O muse! relate (for you can tell alone,
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;
In vain, in vain, the all-composing hour
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,
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.
As Argus' eyes, by Hermes' wand oppress'd,
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.
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