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Norton, from Daniel and Ostrva sprung
Thus the soft gifts of sleep conclude the day,
REMARKS. from Spinosa, he calls himself, by the courtesy of England, a moral philosopher
Ver. 414. Mandevil] This writer, who prided him. self in the reputation of an immoral philosopher, was author of a famous book called the Fable of the Bees: writton to prove, that moral virtue is the invention of knaves, and Christian virtue the imposition of fools; and that vice is necessary, and alone sufficient to render society flourishing and happy.
Ver. 415. Norton] Norton De Foe, offspring of the famous Daniel, fortes creantur fortibus. One of the authors of the Flying Post, in which wellbred work Mr. P. had some time the honour to be abused with his betters; and of many hired scurrili ties and daily papers, to which he never set his name,
Ver. 427. Fleet] A prison for insolvent debtors on the bank of the ditch,
BOOK THE THIRD.
ARGUMENT. After the other persons are disposed in their proper
places of rest, the goddess transports the king to her temple, and there lays him to slumber, with his head on her lap; a position of marvellous vir. tue, which causeth all the visions of wild enthusiasts, projectors, politicians, inamoratos, castle. builders, chemists, and poets. He is immediately carried on the wings of fancy, and led by a mad poetical sibyl, to the Elysian shade; where, on the banks of Lethe, the souls of the dull are dip. ped by Bavius, before their entrance into this world. There he is met by the ghost of Settle, and by him made acquainted with the wonders of the place, and with those which he himself is destined to perform. He takes him to a mount of vision, from whence he shows him the past triumphs of the empire of Dulness, then the present, and lastly the future: how small a part of the world was ever conquered by science, how soon those conquests were stopped, and those very nations again reduced to her dominion, Then
distinguishing the island of Great Britain, shows • by what aids, by what persons, and by what de
grees, it shall be brought to her empire. Some of the persons he causes to pass in review before his eyes, describing each by his proper figure, character, and qualifications. On a sudden the scene shifts, and a vast number of miracles and prodigies appear, utterly surprising and unknown to the king himself, till they are explained to be the wonders of his own reign now commencing. On this subject Settle breaks into a congratulation, yet not unmixed with concern, that his own times were but the types of these. He prophesies how first the nation shall be over-run with farces, operas, and shows; how the throne of Dulness shall be advanced over the theatres, and set up even at court: then how her sons shall preside in the seats of arts and sciences; giving a glimpse, or Pisgah sight, of the future fulness of her glory, the accomplishment whereof is the subject of the fourth and last book.
BOOK III. DUT in her temple's last recess enclos'd, D on Dulness' lap th' anointed head repos'd. Him close she curtains round with vapours blue, And soft besprinkles with Cimmerian dew, Then raptures high the seat of sense o'erflow, Which only heads refia'd from reason know.
Ver. 5, 6, &c.] Hereby is intimated that the following vision is no more than the chimera of the dreamer's brain, and not a real or intended satire on the present age, doubtless more learned, more enlightened, and more abounding with great geniuses in divinity, politics, and whatever arts and sciences. than all the preceding. For fear of any such mistake of our poet's honest meaning, he hath again, at the end of the vision, repeated this monịtion, saying,
Hence from the straw where Bedlam's prophet nods,
And now on fancy's easy wing convey'd,
REMARKS. that it all passed through the ivory gate, which (ac cording to the ancients) denoteth falsity.
SCRIBL. How much the good Scriblerus was mistaken, may be seen from the fourth book, which, it is plain from hence, he had never seen.
BENTL. - Ver. 15. A slip-shod sibyll This allegory is ex
tremely just, no confirmation of the mind so much subjecting it to real madness, as that which produces real dulness. Hence we find the religious (as well as the poetical) enthusiasts of all ages were ever, in their natural state, most heavy and lumpish; but on the least application of heat, they ran like lead, which of all metals falls quickest into fusion. Whereas fire in a genius is truly Promethean; it hurts not its constituent parts, but only fits it (as it does well-tempered steel) for the necessary impressions of art. But the common people have been taught (I do not know on what foundation) to regard lunacy as a mark of wit, just as the Turks and our modern methodists do of holiness. But if the cause of madness assigned by a great philosopher be true, it will una. voidably fall upon the dunces. He supposes it to be the dwelling over long on one object or idea. Now as this attention is occasioned either by grief or study, it will be fixed by dulness; which hath not quiekness enough to comprehend what it seeks, nos
Her tresses staring from poetic dreams,
REMARKS. force and vigour enough to divert the imagination from the object it laments.
Ver. 19. Taylor,] John Taylor, the water-poet, an honest man, who owns he learned not so much as the accidence: a rare example of modesty in a
I must confess I do want eloquence,
I there was gravell’d, could no farther get. He wrote fourscore books in the reign of James I. and Charles I. and afterwards (like Edward Ward) kept an ale-house in Long-acre. He died in 1654.
Ver. 21. Benlowes,] A country gentleman, famous for his own bad poetry, and for patronizing bad poets, as may be seen from many dedications of Quarles and others to him. Some of these anagramed
his name Benlowes into Benevolus: to verify which, · he spent his whole estate upon them.
Ver. 22. And Shadwell nods, the poppy, &c.] Shad. well took opium for many years; and died of too large a dose, in the year 1692.
Ver. 24. Old Bavius, sits,] Bavius was an ancient poet, celebrated by Virgil for the like causes as Bays by our author, though not in so Christianlike a manner : for heathenishly it is declared iy Virgil of Ba yius, that he ought to be hated and detested for his