« ZurückWeiter »
From thy Boeotia though her pow'r retires,
Close to those walls where folly holds her throne, And laughs 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, 35
Hence bards, like Proteus long in vain ty'd down,
And New-year odes, and all the Grub-street race.
Calm Temperance, whose blessings those partake Who hunger and who thirst for scribbling sake: 50 Prudence, whose glass presents th' approaching jail; Poetic Justice, with her lifted scale,
Where, in nice balance, truth with gold she weighs, And solid pudding against empty praise.
Here she beholds the chaos dark and deep, Where nameless somethings in their causes sleep,
.31.by his fam'd father's hand.] Mr. Caius-Gabriel Cibber, father of the Poet-laureate. The two statues of the lunatics over the gates of Bedlam-hospital were done by him, and (as the son justly says of them) are no ill monuments of his fame as an artist.
0.55. Here she beholds the chaos dark and deep,
Where nameless somethings, &c.]
that is to say, unformed things, which are either made into poems,
Till genial Jacob, or a warm third day,
How hints, like spawn, scarce quick in embryo lie,
Here one poor word an hundred clenches makes,
All these, and more, the cloud compelling queen Beholds through fogs that magnify the scene. She, tinsel'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, Like Cimon, triumph'd both on land and wave: (Pomps without guilt, of bloodless swords and maces, Glad chains, warm furs, broad banners, and broad
or plays, as the booksellers or players bid most. These lines allude to the following in Garth's Dispensary, canto vi.
"Within the chambers of the globe they spy,
The beds where sleeping vegetables lie,
Till the glad summons of a genial ray
Unbinds the glebe, and calls them out to day." W. v.64. And ductile Dulness, &c.] A parody on a verse in Garth, canto i.
"How ductile matter new meanders takes."
Now night descending, the proud scene was o'er,
v. 90. But liv'd in Settle's numbers one day more.] Settle vas His office was to compose yearly panepoet to the city of London. gyrics 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-poét ceased; so that upon Settle's demise there was no successor to that place.
v. 98. John Heywood.] Whose interludes were printed in the time of Henry VIII.
v. 103. old Pryn in restless Daniel.] The first edition had it, She saw in Norton all his father shine.
A great mistake! for Daniel de Foe had parts, but Norton de Foe was a wretched writer, and never attempted poetry. Much more justly is Daniel himself made successor to W. Pryn, both of whom wrote verses as well as politics; as appears by the poem De Jure Divino, &c. of De Foe, and by these lines in Cowley's Miscellanies en the other:
"One lately did not fear
(Without the Muses' leave) to plant verse here.
And both these authors had a resemblance in their fates as well as their writings, having been alike sentenced to the pillory.
v. 104. And Eusden eke out, &c.] Laurence Eusden, Poetlaureate. Mr. Jacob gives a catalogue of some few only of his works, which are very numerous. Mr. Cooke, in his Battle of Poets, saith of him,
"Eusden, a laurel'd bard, by fortune rais'd,
She saw slow Philips creep like Tate's poor page, 10′′ And all the mighty mad in Dennis rage.
In each she marks her image full exprest, But chief in Bayes's monster-breeding breast; Bayes, form'd by nature, stage, and town to bless, And act and be a coxcomb with success. Dulness with transport eyes the lively dunce, Remembering she herself was pertness once. Now (shame to Fortune!) an ill run at play Blank'd his bold visage, and a thin third day: Swearing and supperless the hero sate, Blasphem'd his gods, the dice, and damn'd his fate; Then gnaw'd his pen, then dash'd it on the ground, Sinking from thought to thought, a vast profound! Plung'd for his sense, but found no bottom there, Yet wrote and flounder'd on in mere despair. Round him much embryo, much abortion lay, Much future ode, and abdicated play; Nonsense precipitate, like running lead,
That slip'd through cracks and zigzags of the head; All that on folly frenzy could beget,
Fruits of dull heat, and sooterkins of wit.
v. 105. Like Tate's poor page.] Nahum Tate was Poet-laureate; a cold writer, of no invention; but sometimes translated tolerably when befriended by Mr. Dryden. In his second part of Absalom and Achitophel are above two hundred admirable lines together of that great hand, which strongly shine through the insipidity of the rest.
v. 109. Bayes, form'd by nature, &c.] It is hoped the poet here hath done full justice to his hero's character, which it were a great mistake to imagine was wholly sunk in stupidity: he is allowed to have supported it with a wonderful mixture of vivacity. This character is heightened according to his own desire, in a letter he wrote to our author: "Pert and dull at least you might have allowed me. What! am I only to be dull, and dull still, and again, and for ever?" He then solemnly appealed to his own conscience, that " he could not think himself so, or believe that our poet did; but that he spoke worse of him than he could possibly think; and concluded it must be merely to shew his wit, or for some profit or lucre to himself." Life of C. C. ch. vii. and Letter to Mr. P. p. 15, 40, 53. And to shew his claim to what the poet was so unwilling to allow him, of being pert as well as dull, he declares he will have the last word; which occasioned the following epigram:
Quoth Cibber to Pope, though in verse you foreclose,
Next o'er his books his eyes began to roll,
How here he sip'd, how there he plunder'd snug,
Here lay poor Fletcher's half-eat scenes, and here The frippery of crucified Moliere;
There hapless Shakspeare, yet of Tibbald sore,
Here all his suffering brotherhood retire,
A gothic library! of Greece and Rome
Well purg'd, and worthy Settle, Banks, and Broome.
.141. Ogilby the great.] "John Ogilby was one who, from his late initiation into literature, made such a progress as might well style him the prodigy of his time! sending into the world so many large volumes! His translations of Homer and Virgil done to the life, and with such excellent sculptures: and (what added great grace to his works) he printed them all on special good paper, and in a very good letter. Winstanley, Lives of Poets.
v. 142. There, stamp'd with arms, Newcastle shines complete.] "The Duchess of Newcastle was one who busied herself in the ravishing delights of poetry, leaving to posterity in print three ample volumes of her studious endeavours." Winstanley, ibid. Langbaine reckons up eight folios of her Grace's, which were usually adorned with gilded covers, and had her coat of arms upon them. v. 146. --worthy Settle, Banks, and Broome.] The poet has mentioned these three authors in particular, as they are parallel to our hero in his three capacities: 1. Settle was his brother Laureate; only indeed upon half pay, for the City instead of the Court; but equally famous for unintelligible flights in his poems on public occasions, such as shows, birth-days, &c. 2. Banks was his rival in tragedy, though more successful in one of his tragedies, the Earl of Essex, which is yet alive: Anna Boleyne, the Queen of Scots, and Cyrus the Great, are dead and gone. These he dressed in a sort of beggar's velvet, or a happy mixture of the thick fustian and thin prosaic; exactly imitated in Parolla and Isidora, Cæsar