Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

280

Though my own aldermen conferr'd the bays,
To me committing their eternal praise,
Their full-fed heroes, their pacific may'rs,
Their annual trophies, and their monthly wars:
Though long my party built on me their hopes,
For writing pamphlets, and for roasting Popes;
Yet lo! in me what authors have to brag on!
Reduc'd at last to hiss in my own dragon.
Avert it heav'n! that thou my Cibber, e'er
Should wag a serpent-tail in Smithfield fair!
Like the vile straw, that's blown about the streets,
The needy poet sticks to all he meets,
Coach'd, carted, trod upon, now loose, now fast,
And carry'd off in some dog's tail at last,
Happier thy fortunes! like a rolling stone,
Thy giddy dulness still shall slumber on,
Safe in its heaviness shall never stray,
But lick up every blockhead in the way.
Thee shall the patriot, thee the courtier taste,
And every year be duller than the last;
Till rais'd from booths, to theatre, to court,
Her seat imperial Dulness shall transport.
Already opera prepares the way,

The sure forerunner of her gentle sway:
Let her thy heart, next drabs and dice, engage,
The third mad passion of thy doting age.
Teach thou the warbling Polypheme to roar,
And scream thyself as none e'er scream'd before!
To aid our cause, if heav'n thou canst not bend,
Hell thou shalt move; for Faustus is our friend:
Pluto with Cato thou for this shall join,

285

290

295

300

305

310

And link the Mourning Bride to Proserpine.
Grub-street! thy fall should men and gods conspire,
Thy stage shall stand, insure it but from fire.
Another Eschylus appears! prepare
For new abortions, all ye pregnant fair!
In flames like Semele's, be brought to bed,
While opening hell spouts wild-fire at your head.”
"Now, Bavius, take the poppy from thy brow,

And place it here! here all ye heroes bow!

[ocr errors][merged small]

315

[ocr errors]

This, this is he foretold by ancient rhymes,
Th' Augustus born to bring Saturnian times.
Signs following signs lead on the mighty year!
See! the dull stars roll round and re-appear.
See, see, our own true Phœbus wears the bays!
Our Midas sits Lord Chancellor of plays!
On poet's tombs see Benson's titles writ!
Lo! Ambrose Philips is prefer:'d for wit!
See under Ripley rise a new Whitehall,
While Jones' and Boyle's united labours fall:
While Wren with sorrow to the grave descends,
Gay dies unpension'd with a hundred friends;

REMARKS.

320

325

v. 325. On poet's tombs see Benson's titles writ!] W.--m Benson (surveyor of the buildings to his majesty k ng George 1.) gave in a report to the Lords, that their house and the Painted Chamber adjoining were in immediate danger of falling; whereupon the Lords met in a committee to appoint some other place to sit in while the house should be taken down. But it being proposed to cause some other builders first to inspect it, they found it in very good condi tion. The Lords, upon this, were going upon an address to the king, against Benson for such a misrepresentation; but the Earl of Sunderland, then Secretary, gave them an assurance that his Ma jesty would remove him, which was done accordingly. In favour of this man, the famous Sir Christopher Wren, who had been archi tect to the Crown for above fifty years, who built most of the churches in London, laid the first stone of St. Paul's, and lived to finish it, had been displaced from his employment at the age of near ninety years.

W.

v. 326. ---Ambrose Philips.]" He was (saith Mr. Jacob) one of the wits at Button's, aud a justice of the peace." But he hath since met with higher preferment in Ireland: and a much greater character we have of him in Mr. Gildon's Complete Art of Poetry, vol. i. p. 157. "Indeed, he confesses, he dares not set him quite on the same foot with Virgil, lest it should seem flattery, but he is much mistaken if posterity does not afford him a greater esteem than he at present enjoys." He endeavoured to create some misunderstanding between our author and Mr. Addison, whom also soon after he abused as much. His constant cry was, that Mr. P. was an enemy to the government; and in particular he was the avowed author of a report very industriously spread, that he had a hand in a party-paper called The Examiner; a falsehood well known to those, yet living, who had the direction and publication of it. W.

v. 330. Gay dies unpension'd, &c.] See Mr. Gay's fable of the Hare and many Friends. This gentleman was arly in the friend. ship of our author, which continued to his death. He wrote several works of humour with great success: The Shepherd's Week, Trivia, The What-d'ye-call it, Fables, and lastly, that prodigy of fortune, The Beggar's Opera.

331

Hibernian politics, O Swift! thy fate;
And Pope's, ten years to comment and translate.
"Proceed, great days! till learning fly the shore,
Till Birch shall blush with noble blood no more;
Till Thames see Eton's sons for ever play,
Till Westminster's whole year be holiday;
Till Isis' elders reel, their pupils' sport,
And Alma Mater lie dissolv'd in port!"

66

335

Enough! enough!" the raptur'd monarch cries! And through the ivory gate the vision flies.

REMARKS.

340

v.333. Proceed, great days! &c.---Till Birch shall blush, &c.] Another great prophet of Dulness, on this side Styx, promiseth those days to be near at hand. "The devil (saith he) licensed bishops to license masters of schools to instruct youth in the knowledge of the heathen gods, their religion, &c. The schools and universities will soon be tired and ashamed of classics and such trumpery." Hutchinson's Use of Reason recovered. Scrib.

BOOK IV.

ARGUMENT.

The Poet being in this book to declare the completion of the prophecies mentioned at the end of the former, makes a new Invocation; as the greater poets are wout, when some high and worthy matter is to be sung. He shews the goddess coming in her majesty, to destroy order and science, and to sub stitute the kingdom of the dull upon earth. How she leads captive the sciences, and silences the muses; and what they be wlio succeed in their stead. All her children, by a wonderful attraction, are drawn about her, and bear along with them divers others, who promote her empire by connivance, weak resistance, or discouragement of arts; such as half wits, tasteless admirers, vain pretenders, flatterers of dunces, or the patrons of them. All these crowd around her; one of them offering to approach her, is driven back by a rival, but she commends and encourages both. The first who speak in form are the geniuses of the schools, who assure her of their care to advance her cause by confining youth to words, and keeping them out of the way of real knowledge. Their address, and her gracious answer; with her charge to them and her universities. The universities appear by their proper deputies, and assure her, that the same method is observed in the progress of education. The speech of Aristarchus on this subject. They are driven off by a band of young gentlemen returned from travel with their tutors; one of whom delivers to the goddess, in a pelite oration, an account of the whole conduct and fruits of their travels: presenting to her at the same time a young nobleman perfectly accomplished. She receives him graciously, and erdues him with the happy quality of want of shame. She sees loitering about her a number of indolent persons abaudoning all bu siness and duty, and dying with laziness; to these approaches the antiquary Annius, intreating her to make them virtuosos, and assign them over to him; but Mummius, another antiquary, complaining of his fraudulent proceeding, she finds a method to reconcile their difference. Then enter a troop of people fantastically adorned, offering her strange and exotic presents: amongst them, one stands forth, and demands justice on another, who had deprived him of one of the greatest curiosities in nature; but he justifies himself sa well, that the goddess gives them both her approbation. She recommends to them to find proper employment for the indolents before mentioned, in the

study of butterflies, shells, birds-nests, moss, &c. but with particular caution not to proceed beyond triles, to any useful or extensive views of Nature, or of the Author of Nature. Against the last of these apprehensio is she is secured by a hearty address from the minute philosophers and free-thinkers, one of whom speaks in the uame of the rest. The youth thus instructed and principled, are delivered to her in a body, by the hands of Silenus; and then admitted to taste the cup of the Magus, her high-priest, which causes a total oblivion of all obligations, divine, civil, moral, or rational. To these her adepts she sends priests, attendants, and comforters of various kinds; confers on them orders and degrees; and then dismissing them with a speech, confirming to each his privileges, and telling what she expects from each, concludes with a yawn of extraordinary virtue; the progress and effect whereof on all orders of men, and the consummation of all, in the restoration of night and chaos, conclude the poem.

YET, yet a moment, one dim ray of light
Indulge, dread Chaos, and eternal Night!
Of darkness visible so much be lent,
As half to show, half veil the deep intent.
Ye pow'rs! whose mysteries restor❜d I sing,
To whom Time bears me on his rapid wing,
Suspend a while your force inertly strong,
Then take at once the poet and the song.

Now flam'd the dog-star's unpropitious ray,
Smote every brain, and wither'd every bay;
Sick was the sun, the owl forsook his bow'r,
The moon-struck prophet felt the madding hour:
Then rose the seed of Chaos, and of Night,
To blot out order, and extinguish light,
Of dull and venal a new world to mold,
And bring Saturnian days of lead and gold.

5

10

15

She mounts the throne: her head a cloud conceal'd,

In broad effulgence all below reveal'd,
('Tis thus aspiring Dulness ever shines)
Soft on her lap her laureate son reclines.
Beneath her footstool Science groans in chains,
And Wit dreads exile, penalties, and pains.

REMARKS.

20

v. 2.dread Chaos, and eternal Night!] Invoked, as the restoration of their empire is the action of the Poem.

P.*

v. 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.

P.*

Ibid. a new world.] In allusion to the Epicurean opinion, that from the dissolution of the natural world into night and chaos, a new one should arise: this the poet alluding to, in the production of a new world, makes it partake of its original principles.

P.*

25

There foam'd rebellious Logic, gagg'd and bound;
There, stript, fair Rhetoric languish'd on the ground;
His blunted arms by Sophistry are borne,
And shameless Billingsgate her robes adorn.
Morality, by her false guardians drawn,
Chicane in furs, and Casuistry in lawn,
Gasps, as they straiten at each end the cord,

And dies when Dulness gives her Page the word. 30
Mad Mathesis alone was unconfin'd,

35

Too mad for mere material chains to bind,
Now to pure space lifts her ecstatic stare,
Now running round the circle, finds it square.
But held in tenfold bonds the Muses lie,
Watch'd both by Envy's and by Flattery's eye:
There to her heart sad Tragedy addrest
The dagger, went to pierce the tyrant's breast;
But sober History restrain'd her rage,
And promis'd vengeance on a barbarous age.
There sunk Thalia, nerveless, cold, and dead,
Had not her sister Satire held her head:
Nor couldst thou, Chesterfield! a tear refuse,
Thou wept'st, and with thee wept each gentle Muse.
When, lo! a harlot form soft sliding by,

With mincing step, small voice, and languid eye;
Foreign her air, her robe's discordant pride
In patch-work fluttering, and her head aside;
By singing peers upheld on either hand,

40

45

She tripp'd and laugh'd, too pretty much to stand; 50 Cast on the prostrate Nine a scornful look,

Then thus in quaint recitativo spoke:

"O Cara! Cara! silence all that train;

Joy to great Chaos! let division reign:

Chromatic tortures soon shall drive them hence, 55
Break all their nerves, and fritter all their sense:
One trill shall harmonize joy, grief, and rage,
Wake the dull church, and lull the ranting stage;

IMITATIONS.

v.54. Joy to great Chaos!]

"Joy to great Cæsar!"

The beginning of a famous old song.

« ZurückWeiter »