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On Poets' Tombs fee Benson's titles writ!
Ver. 312. ensure it but from Fire.] In Tibbald's farce of Proserpine, a corn-field was set on fire : whereupon the other playhouse had a barn burnt down for the recreation of the spectators. They also rivalled each other in showing the burnings of hell-fire, in Dr. Faustus.
Ver. 313. Another Æschylus appears!! It is reported of Æschylus, that when his tragedy of the Furies was acted, the audience were so terrified that the children fell into fits, and the big-bellied women miscarried.
Ver. 325. On Poets Tombs see Benson's titles writ!) W-m Benson (Surveyor of the Buildings to his Majesty K. George I.) gave in a report to the Lords, that their house and the Painted-chamber adjoining were in immediate danger of falling. Whereupon the Lords
a committee to appoint some other place to fit in, while the house should be taken down. But it being proposed to cause some other builders firft to inspect it, they found it in very good condition. 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 Majesty would remove him, which was done accordingly. in favour of this man, the famous Sir Christopher Wren, who had been Architect 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.
Ver. 326. Ambrose Philips) " He was (saith Mr.
JACOB) one of the wits at Button's, and a justice of “ the peace:” But he hath fince met with higher preferment in Ireland: and a much greater character we have of him in Mr. Gildon's Complete art of Poetry,
See under Ripley rise a new White-hall,
descends, Gay dies unpension’d with a hundred friends ;
vol. i. p. 157
“ Indeed he confeffes, he dares not set “ him quite on the same foot with Virgil, left it should “ seem flattery, but he is much mistaken if pofte“rity does not afford him a greater esteem than he at “ prefent enjoys.” He endeavoured to create some mifunderstanding 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.
Ver. 328. While Jones' and Boyle's united labours fall : ] At the time when this poem was written, the banquetting-house of Whitehall, the church and piazza of Covent-garden, and the palace and chapel of Somerset house, the works of the famous Inigo Jones, had been for many years so neglected, as to be in danger of ruin. The portico of Covent-garden church had been just then restored and beautified at the expence of the Earl of Burlington : who, at the same time, by his publication of the designs of that great Maiter and Palladio, as well as by many noble buildings of his own, revived the true taste of Architecture in this Kingdom.
Ver. 330. Gay dies unpenfion'd, &c.] See Mr. Gay's fable of the Hare and many Friends. This gentleman was early in the friendship of our author, which continued to his death. He wrote several works of
Hibernian Politics, O Swift! thy fate ;
-O Swift! thy doom, And Pope's, translating ten whole years with Broome. On which was the following Note, “ He concludes his “ irony with a stroke upon himself : for whoever ima* gines this a sarcasm on the other ingenious perfon, is “ surely miftaken. The opinion our Author had of
him was fufficiently shewn by his joining him in the “ undertaking of the Odyssey; in which Mr. Broome, “ having engaged without any previous agreement, dis“ charged his part so much to Mr. Pope's fatisfaction, " that he gratified him with the full sum of Five hun“ dred pounds, and a present of all those books for « which his own interest could procure him fubfcribers, $ to the value of One hundred more. The author only “ seems to lament, that he was employed-in Transla« tion at all."
humour with great success, the Shepherd's Week, Trivia, the What d’ye-call it, Fables; and lastly, the celebrated Beggar's Opera; a piece of fatire which hit all tastes and degrees of men, from those of the highest quality to the very rabble: That verse of Horace :
“ Primores populi arripuit, populumque tributim," could never be lo justly applied as to this. The vast success of it was unprecedented, and almost incredible : what is related of the wonderful effects of the ancient music or tragedy hardly came up to it: Sophocles and Euripides were less followed and famous.
It was acted in London sixty-three days, uninterrupted ; and renewed the next season with equal applauses. It spread into all the great towns of England, was played in
Proceed, great days ! till Learning fly the fhore, Till Birch shall bluth with noble blood no more,
Till REMARKS. many places to the thirtieth and fortieth time, and at Bath and Bristol fifty, &c. It made its progress into Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, where it was performed twenty-four days together : it was last acted in Mi
The fame of it was not confined to the author only ; the ladies carried about with them the favourite songs of it in fans; and houses were furnished with it in fcreens. The person who acted Polly, till then obscure, became all at once the favourite of the town; her pictures were engravedl, and fold in great numbers ; her life written, books of letters and verses to her, published; and pamphlets made even of her sayings and jeits.
Furthermore, it drove out of England, for that seafon, the Italian Opera, which had carried all before it for ten years. That idol of the Nobility and people, which the great Critic Mr. Dennis by the labours and outcries of a whole life could not overthrow, was demolished by a single stroke of this gentleman's pen. This happened in the year 1728. Yet so great was his modeity, that he constantly prefixed to all the editions of it this motto, Nos hæc novimus esse nihil.
Ver. 332. And Pope's, ten years to comment and translate. The author here plainly laments that he was fo long employed in translating and commenting. He began the Iliad in 1713, and finished it in 1719. The edition of Shakespeare (which he undertook merely because nobody else would) took up near two years more in the drudgery of comparing impressions, rectifying the Scenery, &c. and the Translation of half the Odyffey employed him from that time to 1725.
Ver. 333. Proceed, great days! &c.] It máy per-baps teem incredible, that lo great a Revolution in
Till Thames see Eaton's sons for ever play,
After ver. 338. in a former Edit. were the following lines :
Signs following ligns lead on the mighty year;
Learning as is here prophesied, should be brought about by such weak instruments as have been [hitherto] described in our poem: But do not thou, gentle reader, rest too secure in thy contempt of these instruments. Remember what the Dutch Itories fomewhere relate,