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CURLL AND LINTOT.
Ver. 40. Curll's chaste press and Lintot's rubric post.
Two booksellers, of whom see bookii. The former was fined by the Court of King's Bench for publishing obscene books; the latter usually adorned his shop with titles in red letters.
[Bernard Lintot was Pope's principal publisher, and displayed his favourite red lines on the title-pages of the Iliad and Odyssey, and on those of various editions of the poet's works. He was the Longman or Murray of his day, and having made a handsome fortune, and left his business to his son, he died high sheriff of Sussex, in 1736, aged sixty-cne. Edmund Curll was of & different stamp. He was audacious, unscrupulous, and shameless. In his reply to the Dunciad, he admitted the above offences, but attempted to defend his indecent publications by stating that they were medical treatises. He was confined five months in the King's Bench prison. He was also fined twenty marks, and set in the pillory for publishing a volume of Memoirs and Negotiations at the Courts of England, Vienna, Hanover, &c., which he had obtained, he said, from a fellow-prisoner in the King's Bench, John Kerr, Esq., of Kerrsland. This was in 1726. The readiness and alacrity with which Curll met Pope's repeated attacks, or threw out occasion for new ones, would suggest the idea that he enjoyed the conflict, and thought himself benefited by the notoriety which such warfare brought him. He considered himself quite a match for Pope in prose, and hurled at him his favourite motto, the Scotch proverb, Nemo me impune lacesset. The affair of the correspondence he looked upon as a complete triumph, and he occasionally sported with his formidable antagonist. In one of his impudent addresses, we find this ridiculous story:
“ The New Year's Gift, I sent by a special messenger to Mr. Pope at Twickenham, was a little book neatly bound in red Turkey leather, ruled, and the capital letters illuminated with gold and various colours), entitled Heures des Prières : dédie à Madame la Duchesse de Chartres. Avec les Sept. Pseaumes Pénitentieux. A Paris, 1696. This manual was likewise illustrated with four beautiful prints, one in particular representing David prostrate; in which part of the book, upon a label, was wrote the following lines :
" As friends who of a criminal take leave,
Pray the Almighty may his soul receive;
Hoping like David, you'll at length repent.'' Curll died December 11, 1747, aged 72. His business had for some years before been carried on by his son, Henry Curll, whom Pope also attacked in a note, which he afterwards suppressed. In a letter to Martha Blount, Pope alludes to “Mr. Edmund Curll having been exercised in a blanket, and whipped at Westminster school by the boys, whereof (he adds), the common prints have given some account.” The following letter in the St. James's Chronicle records the famous exploit:
King's College, Westminster, August 3, 1716. “Sir,– You are desired to acquaint the public that a certain bookseller near Temple Bar, not taking warning by the frequent drubs that he has undergone for his often pirating other men's copies, did lately, without the consent of Mr. Jolin Barber, present captain of Westminster school, publish the scraps of a funeral oration, spoken by him over the corpse of the Rev. Dr. South. And being on Thursday last fortunately nabbed within the limits of Dean's Yard, by the king's scholars there, he met with a college salutation ; for he was first presented with the ceremony of the blanket, in which, when the skeleton had been well shook, he was carried in triumph to the school; and after receiving a grammatical construction for his false concords, he was reconducted to Dean's Yard, and on his knees asking pardon of the aforesaid Mr. Barber for his offence, he was kicked out of the Yard, and left to the huzzas of the rabble.
I am, Sir, yours, &c.
“ T. A.”]
Ver. 41. Hence hymning Tyburn's elegiac lines.]
It is an ancient English custom for the malefactors to sing a psalm at their execution at Tyburn; and no less customary to print elegies on their deaths, at the same time, or before.
[Shakspeare has alluded, in Love's Labour Lost, to the gallows at Tyburn, and it existed as early as the time of Henry IV. A few years before the date of the Dunciad, Jack Sheppard was executed there, in the presence, it is said, of about 200,000 persons. The last execution that took place at Tyburn was in 1783.]
JOURNALS, MAGAZINES, &c.
New-born nonsense first is taught to cry;
These were thrown out weekly and monthly by every miserable scribbler, or picked up piecemeal and stolen from anybody, under the title of papers, essays, queries, verses, epigrams, riddles, &c., equally the disgrace of human wit, morality, and decency. [Edit. 1743.]
Magazines.—The common name of those upstart collections in prose and verse; where Dulness assumes all the various shapes of folly to draw in and cajole the rabble. The eruption of every miserable scribbler; the dirty scum of every stagnant newspaper; the rags of worn-out nonsense and scandal, picked up from every dunghill; under the title of "Essays, Reflections,
Queries, Songs, Epigrams, Riddles, &c.,” equally the disgrace of human wit, morality, and common sense. [Edit. 1751.]
[Warburton probably imparted some of the acrid feeling which distinguishes this comment. Warton makes an exception in favour of The Gentleman's Magazine, but the whole statement is ridiculously overcharged. The Gentleman's Magazine-so distinguished for Johnson's early assistance to its pages, and for its antiquarian and biographical illustrations—was commenced in 1731, as the newspapers were then supposed to be too numerous for any one to read! “Upon calculating the number of newspapers, it is found that (besides divers written accounts) no less than two hundred half sheets per month are thrown from the press only in London, and about as many printed elsewhere in the three kingdoms; a considerable part of which constantly exhibit essays on various subjects for entertainment; and all the rest occasionally oblige their readers with matters of public concern.”—Introd. to Gent. Mag. No. I.]
EPITAPHS. Ver. 43. Sepulchral lies our holy walls to grace,] is a just satire on the flatteries and falsehoods admitted to be inscribed on the walls of churches in epitaphs. ["Which,” says Warburton,“ occasioned the following epigram :
“Friend ! in your epitaphs, I'm grieved
So very much is said :
The other never read.” The epigram is of very general application; but according to Warton, it alludes to the too long and sometimes fulsome epitaphs, written by Dr. Friend, Master of Westminster school, in pure Latinity, indeed, but full of antitheses. Pope directed that he should have no other epitaph but the words sibique obiit, and the time, added to the epitaph on his parents.]
Ver. 44. And New Year Odes, and all the Grub-street race.]
Made by the poet laureate for the time being, to be sung at court on every new-year's day, the words of which are happily drowned in the voices of the instruments. The new-year odes of the hero of this work were of a caste distinguished from all that preceded him, and made a conspicuous part of his character as a writer, which, doubtless, induced our author to mention them here so particularly.
[It must be admitted, that of all who have worn the laureate crown, Colley Cibber wrote the most execrable Odes. They are not dull, but sampant wit: fustian and bombast. His New-year Odes were a work of supererogation which exposed him to unmerciful ridicule, particularly after the Dunciad had led the way. Their yearly appearance was generally a signal for the small wits to assail the laureate with parodies and lampoons. His ode for 1743 concludes as follows:
“On thee, great GEORGE, mankind rely,
To heal their griefs or swell their joy."
PUNS UPON POPE.
Ver. 63. Here one poor word an hundred clenches makes.] It may not be amiss to give an instance or two of these operations of Dulness out of the works of her sons, celebrated in the poem. A great critic formerly held these clenches in such abhorrence, that he declared “he that would pun would pick a pocket." Yet Mr. Dennis's works afford us notable examples in this kind : "Alexander Pope hath sent abroad into the world as many bulls as his name. sake Pope Alexander.—Let us take the initial and final letters of his name, viz. A. P-E, and they give you the idea of an ape.-Pope comes from the Latin word popa, which signifies a little wart; or from poppysma, because he was continually popping out squibs of wit, or rather popysmata, or popysms.”— DENNIS on Hom. and Daily Journal, June 11, 1728.
LORD MAYOR'S DAY.
'Twas on the day, when * * * rich and grave, 1
1 Viz. a Lord's Mayor's day; his name the author had left in blanks, but most certainly could never be that which the editor foisted in formerly, and which no ways agrees with the chronology of the poem.-BENT.
The procession of a Lord Mayor is made partly by land, and partly by water.—Cimon, the famous Athenian general, obtained a victory by sea,
and another by land, on the same day, over the Persians and barbarians. In the former editions thus:
“ 'Twas on the day when Thorold, rich and grave." 2 The ignorance of these moderns! This was altered in one edition to gold chains, showing more regard to the metal of which the chains of alder. men are made than to the beauty of the Latinism and Græcism, nay, of figurative speech itself; Lætas segetes, glad, for making glad, &c.
SCRIBLERUS. 8 A beautiful manner of speaking, usual with poets in praise of poetry, in which kind nothing is finer than those lines of Mr. Addison :
Sometimes, misguided by the tuneful throng,
And in the smooth description murmur still." 4 Settle was poet to the city of London. His office was to compose yearly panegyrics upon the Lord Mayors, and verses to be spoken in the pageants; but that part of the show being at length frugally abolished, the employment of city poet ceased, so that upon Settle's demise there was no successor to that place.
[The brief sketch of the Lord Mayor's day in the above lines is in Pope's felicitous picturesque style, but it seems a needless piece of finessing to have left out the mayor's name, which was in all the editions before 1743, with the note—“Sir George Thorold, Lord Mayor of London in the year 1720."]
Ver. 98. And sure succession down from Heywood's days.] John Heywood, whose interludes were printed in the time of Henry VIII.
[An account of Heywood's interludes will be found in Mr. Collier's Annals of the Stage, and in his Life of Shakspeare. Those early dramatic performances occupy a sort of middle place between the moral plays and the modern dramas. They are coarse and farcical, but abound in native humour and character. “The Four P's," a popular piece, by Heywood, is founded on a dispute between a palmer, a pardoner, a poticary, and a pedlar, as to who shall tell the greatest lie. The palmer settles the knotty point by saying incidentally, that he never saw a woman out of patience in his life! This was admitted to be the most outrageous falsehood ever uttered, and the drama and the dispute end with the decision. The old dramatist was a court musician and professed wit or jester, as well as writer of interludes.]