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ET, yet a moment, one dim Ray of Light
Indulge, dread Chaos, and eternal Night!
Now flam'd the Dog-star's unpropitious ray,
The DUNCIAD, Book IV.) This book may properly be distinguished from the former, by the Name of the Greater DUNCIAD, not so indeed in Size, but in fubject; and so far contrary to the distinction anciently made of the Greater and Leffer Iliad. But much are they mistaken who imagine this work in any wise inferior to the former, or of any other hand than of our Poet; of which I am much more certain than that the Iliad itself was the Work of Solomon, or the Batrachomuomachia of Homer, as Barnes hath affirmed.
BENT. Ver. 1, &c.] This is an Invocation of much Piety. The Poet willing to approve himself a genuine Son, bes ginneth by shewing (what is ever agreeable to Dulness) his high respect for Antiquity and a Great Family, how dead or dark foever: Next declareth his passion for explaining Mysteries ; and lastly his Impatience to be reunited to her.
SCRIBL. Ver. 2. dread Chaos, and eternal Night!) Invoked, as the Restoration of their Empire is the Action of the Poem.
Sick was the Sun, the Owl forsook his bower,
She mounts the Throne; her head a Cloud conceal'd,
Ver. 14. To blot out Order, and extinguish Light] The two great Ends of her Mission ; the one in quality of Daughter of Chaos, the other as Daughter of Night. Order here is to be understood extensively, both as Civil and Moral; the distinctions between high and low in Society, and true and false in Individuals : Light as Intellectual only, Wit, Science, Arts.
Ver. 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.
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 moral World, makes it partake of its original Principles.
Ver. 16. Lead and Gold,] i. e. dull and venal.
Ver. 20. her Laureate son reclines.] With great judgment it is imagined by the Poet, that such a Colleague as Dulness had elected, should fleep on the Throne, and have very little share in the Action of the Poem. Accordingly he hath done little or nothing from
Beneath her foot-stool, Science groans in Chains, And Wit dreads Exile, Penalties, and Pains,
the day of his Anointing; having past through the second book without taking part in any thing that was transacted about him; and through the third in profound Sleep. Nor ought this, well considered, to seem strange in our days, when so many King-conforts have done the like.
SCRIBL. This verse our excellent Laureate took so to heart, that he appealed to all mankind, “ if he was not as fel“ dom alleep as any fool!” But it is hoped the Poet hath not injured him, but rather verified his Prophecy (p. 243. of his own Life, 8vo. ch. ix.) where he says, * the reader will be as much pleased to find me a “ Dunce in my Old Age, as he was to prove me a brisk “ blockhead in my Youth.” Wherever there was any room for Briskness, or Alacrity of any sort, even in finking, he hath had it allowed; but here, where there is nothing for him to do but to take his natural rest, he must permit his Historian to be silent. It is from their actions only that Princes have their character, and Poets from their works : And if in those he be as much asleep as any fool, the Poet must leave him and them to sleep to all eternity
BENTL. Ibid. her Laureate] “ When I find my Name in the “ satirical works of this Poet, I never look upon it
any malice meant to me, but Profit to himself. “ For he considers that my Face is more known than « most in the nation; and therefore a Lick at the Lau“ reate will be a sure bait ad captandum vulgus, to " catch little readers.” Life of Colley Cibber, ch. ii.
Now if it be certain, that the works of our Poet have owed their success to this ingenious expedient, we hence derive an unanswerable Argument, that this
There foam'd rebellious Logic, gagg’d and bound; There, stript, fair Rhetoric languish'd on the ground; His blunted Arms by Sophiftry are borne,
25 And shameless Billingsgate her Robes adorn. Morality, by her false Guardians drawn, Chicane in Furs, and Casuistry in Lawn, Gafps, as they straiten at each end the cord, And dies, when Dulness gives her Page the word. 30 Mad Mathesis alone was unconfin'd, 'Too mad for mere material chains to bind,
Now REMARKS. Fourth DUNCIAD, as well as the former three, hath had the Author's last hand, and was by him intended for the Press : Or else to what purpose hath he crowned it, as we see, by this finishing froke, the profitable Lick at the Laureate ?
BENTL. Ver. 21, 22. Beneath her foot-stool, &c.] We are next presented with the pictures of those whom the God. dess leads in Captivity. Science is only depressed and confined so as to be rendered useless; but Wit or Genius, as a more dangerous and active enemy, punished, or driven away : Dulness being often reconciled in some degree with Learning, but never upon any terms with Wit. And accordingly it will be seen that the admits something like cach Science, as Casuistry, Sophiftry, &c. but nothing like Wit, Opera alone supplying its place.
Ver. 30. gives her Page the word.] There was a Judge of this name, always ready to hang any man that came before him, of which he was suffered to give a hundred miferable examples, during a long life, even to his dotage. - Though the candid Scriblerus imagined Page here to mean no more than a Page or Mute, and to allude to the custom of strangling State Criminals in Turkey by Mutes or Pages. A practice more decent than that of our Page, who, before he hanged any one, loaded him with reproachful language.