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Whether thou choose Cervantes' serious air.
Or langh and shake in Rabelais' easy chair,
Or praise the court, or magnify mankind.
Or thy griev'd country's copper chains unbind;
From thy Boeotia though her power retires,
Mourn not, my Swift, at ought our realm acquires.
Here pleas'd behold her mighty wings out-spread
To hatch a new Satumian age of lead.
as those who have the true key will find he sports with nobler quarry, and embraces a larger compass; or (as one saith, on a like occasion)
Will see his work, like Jacob's ladder rise,
Ver. 17. Still her old empire to restore]. This restoration makes the completion of the poem. Vide Book iv.
Ver. 22.—langh and shake in Rabelais' easy chair.] The imagery is exquisite; and the equivoque in the last words, gives a peculiar elegance to the whole expression. The easy chair suits his age: Rahelais'1 easy chair marks his character; and he filled and possessed it as the right heir and successor of that original genins.
Ver. 23. Or praise the court, or magnify mankind,] Ironice, allnding 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 recall.
Ver. 26. Mourn not, my Swift! at ougbt our realm acquires.] Ironice iterum. The politics of England and Ireland were at this time by some thought to be opposite, or interfering with each other. Dr. Swift of course was in ttie interest of the latter, our anthor of the former.
Close to those walls whereFolly holds her throne, And langhs to think Monroe would take her down. Where o'er the Gates, by his fam'd father's hand, 31 Great Cibber's brazen, brainless brothers stand; One cell there is, conceal'd from vulgar eye, The cave of poverty and poetry. Keen, hollow winds howl through the bleak recess, Emblem of music cans'd by emptiness. Hence bards, like Protens, long in vain tied down, Escape in monsters, and amaze the town. Hence miscellanies spring, the weekly boast Of Curll's chaste press, and Lin tot's rubric post:
Ver. 31. By his fam'd father's hand,] Mr. CainsGabriel Cibber, father of the poet-lanreate. The two statues of the lunatics over the gates of Bedlamhospital were done by him, and (as the son justly says of them) are no ill monuments of his fame as an artist.
Ver. 34. Poverty and poetry.] I cannot here omit a remark that will greatly endear our anthor to every one, who shall attentively observe that humanity and candour, which every where 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 street), 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 satiriaed.
Ver. 40. Curll's chaste press, and Lintot's rubric post:] 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.
Hence hymning Tyburn's elegiac lines, 41
In clonded majesty here Dulness shone,
REMARKS. Ver. 41. Hence hymning Tyburn's elegiac lines,] 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.
Ver. 43. Sepulchral Was,] is a just satire on the flatteries and falsehoods admitted Jo be inscribed on the walls of churches, in epitaphs; which occasioned the following epigram: Friend! in your epitaphs, I'm griev'd,
So very much is said;
The other never read. Ver.44. —new-year odes.] Made by the poet lanreate 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 ca$t distinguished from all that preceded him, and made a conspicnous part of his character as a writer, which doubtless induced our anthor to mention them here so particularly.
Ver. 45. In clonded majesty here Dulness shone,] See this clond 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 trinmph, and is not so much supported by her own virtues, as by the princely consciousness of having destroyed all other.
Fierce champion Fortitude, that knows no fears
Here she beholds the chaos dark and deep,
All these, and more, the cloud-compelling queen Beholds through fogs, that magnify the scene. 80
Ver. 57. genial Jacob] Tooaon. The famous race of bookseller5 of that name.
She, tinsell'd o'er in robes of varying hues.
With self-applause her wild creation views;
Sees momentary monsters rise and fall.
And with her own fools-colours gilds them all.
Twas on the day, when * • rich and grave.
Now night descending, the proud scene was o'er.
Ver. 85, 86. 'Twas on the day, when**rich and grave -Like Cimon trinmph'd] Viz. a lord mayor's day; his uame the author had left in blanks, bat most certainly could never be that which the editor foisted in formerly, and which no way agrees with the chronology of the poem. BENTL.
The procession of a lord mayor is made partly try land, and partly by water—Cimon, the famous Athenian general, obtained a victory by sea, and another by land, on the same day, over the Persians and Barbarians.
Ver. i)0. But liv'd, in Settle's numbers, one day more.J A beautiful manner of speaking, usual with poets in praise of poetry.
Ibid. But liv'd in Settle's numbers, one day more.] Settle was poet to the city of London. His office was to compose yearly panegyrics upon the lord mayors, and verses to be spoken in the pageants: but that part of the shows being at length frugally abolished, the employment of city poet ceased ; so that upon Settle's demise, there was no successor to that place.