« ZurückWeiter »
VOL V. facingp.5.
Then blefoing all, Go Children of my Carel!
ET, yet a moment, one dim Ray of Light
Indulge, dread Chaos, and eternal Night! Of darkness visible so much be lent, As half to fhew, half veil the deep Intent.
RIMARK S. The DUNCIĄD, Book IV.] This Book may properly be diftinguifhed from the former, by the Name of the GREATER DUNCIAD, not so indeed in Size, but in Subject; and so far contrary to the distinction anciently made of the Greater and Leffer Iliad. But much are they mistaken who imagine this Work in any wise inferior to the former, or of any other hand than of our Poet; of which I am much more certain than that the Iliad itself was the Work of Solomon, or the Batrachomuoma. cbia of Homer, as Barnes hath affirmed
BENT, Ver. I, &c.] This is an Invocation of muca Piety, The Poet willing to approve himself a genuine Son, beginneth by Mhewing (what is ever agreeable to Dulness) his high respect for Antiquity and a Great Family, how dead or dark soever : Next declareth his passion for explaining Mysteries; and lastly his Impatience to be re-united to her.
YER, 2, dread Chaos, and eternal Night!] Invoked, as the Restoration of their Empire is the Action of the Poem.
VER. 4. balf to fhez, half veil the deep Intent] This is a great propriety, for a dull Poet can never express himself other wise than by balves, or imperfectly.
SCRIBL. I understand it very differently; the Author in this work had indeed a deep Intent; there were in it Mysteries or atóponla which he durft not fully reveal, and doubtless in divers verses (according zo Milton) more is meant than meets the ear,
Ye Pow'rs! whose Mysteries restor'd I fing,
Now flam'd the Dog-star's unpropitious ray,
MARK S. Ver. 6. To whom Time bears me on bis rapid wing,] Fair and Softly, good Poet! (cries the gentle Scriblerus on this place.) For fure in spite of his unusual modesty, he shall not travel so fast toward Oblivion, as divers others of more Confidence have done : For when I revolve in my mind the Catalogue of those who have most boldly promised to themselves Immortality, viz. Pindar, Luis Gongora, Ronsard Oldbam, Lyrics; Lycophron, Statius, Chapman, Blackmore, Heroics; I find the one half to be already dead, and the other in utter darkness. But it becometh not us, who hive taken up the office of his Com. mentator, to suffer our Poet thus prodigally to cast away his Life; contrariwise, the more hidden and abstruse is his work, and the more remote its beauties from common Understanding, the more is it our duty to draw forth and exalt the same, in the face of Men and Angels. Herein shall we imitate the laudable Spirit of those, who have (for this very reason) delighted to comment on dark and uncoulb Authors, and even on their darker Fragments; preferred Ennius to Virgil, and chosen to turn the dark Lanthorn of LYCOPHRON, rather than to trim the everlasting Lamp of Homer.
SCRIBL. VER. 5. Force inertly strong, ) Alluding to the Vis inertia of Master, which, though it really be no Power, is yet the Foundat on of all the Qualities and Attributes of that sluggish Sub. fance.
VER. 11, 12. Sick was the Sun, --The moon-ftruck Propber] The Poet introduceth this (as all great events are supposed by
Then rose the Seed of Chaos, and of Night,
REMA R K S. fage Historians to be preceded) by an Eclipse of the Sun; but with a peculiar propriety, as the Sun is the Emblem of that intellectual light which dies before the face of Dulness. Very appofite likewise is it to make this Eclipse, which is occafioned by the Moon's predominancy, the very time when Dulness and Madness are in Conjunction ; whose relation and influence on each other the poet hath shewn in many places, Book i, v. 29. Book iii. v. 5. & feq.
VER. 14. To blot out Order, and extinguiso Light] The two great Ends of her Mission; the one in quality of Daughter of Chaos, the other as Daughter of Nigbt. Order here is to be understood extensively, both as Civil and Moral; the distinctions between high and low in Society, and true and false in Individuals : Light, as Intellectual only, Wit, Science, Arts.
VER. 15. Of dull and venal] The Allegory continued ; dull referring to the extinction of Light or Science; venal to the destruction of Order, and the Truth of Things. - Ibid. a new World] In allufion to the Epicurean opinion, that from the Diffolution of the natural World into Night and Chaos a new one should arise; this the Poet alluding to, in the Production of a new moral World, makes it partake of its original Principles.
VBR. 16. Lead and Gold,] i, e, dull and venal.
Ver. 18. all below reveal'd,] It was the opinion of the Anci. ents, that the Divinities manifested themselves to Men by their
Back-parts. Virg. Æn.i. et avertens, rosea cervice refullit. But ? this paffage may admit of another exposition,--Vet. Adag.
('Tis thus aspiring Dulness ever shines) Soft on her lap her Laureate son reclines,
REMARKS. The higher you climb, the może pou fheld your *—. Verified in no instance more than in Duiness aspiring. Emblem. atized also by an Ape climbing and exposing his posteriors,
SCRIBL. Ver. 20. ber Larreate son reclines] With great judgment it is imagined by the Poet; that such a Collegue as Dulness had elected, should seep on the Throne, and have very little share in the Action of the Poem. Accordingly he hath done little or nothing from the day of his Anointing; having past through the second book without taking part in any thing that was transacted about him; and through the third in profound Sleep. Nor ought this, well considered, to seem ftrange in our days, when so many King-conforts have done the like.
SCRIBL. This verse our excellent Laureate took so to heart, that he appealed to all mankind,“ if he was not as seldom asleep as any “ fool?”. But it is hoped the Poot hath not injured him, but rather verified his Prophecy (p. 243. of his own Life, 8vo. ch. ix.) where he says “ the reader will be as much pleased 10 so find me a Dunce in my Old Age, as be was to prove me a brisk « blockhead in my Youth.” Wherever there was any room for. Brifkness, or Alacrity of any fort, even in finking, he hath had it allowed; but here, where there is nothing for him to do but to take his natural rest, he must permit his Historian to be filent. It is from their actions only that Princes have their character, and Poets from their works: And if in those he be as much asleep as any fool, the Poet must leave him and them to Sleep to all eternity.
BENT. Ibid, ber Laureate] “ When I find my Name in the satirical “ works of this Poet, I never look upon it as any malice meant « to me; but Profit to himself. For he considers that my “ Face is more krown than most in the nation; and therefore & * Lick at the Laurcate will be a fure bait ad captandum vulgus, to catch little readers.” Life of Colley Cibber, ch, ij.