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Ver. 207. But Welsted most the poet's healing balm
Strives to extract. Leonard Welsted, author of The Triumvirate, or a Letter in Verse from Palæmon to Celia at Bath, which was meant for a satire on Mr. P. and some of his friends, about the year 1718. He wrote other things, which we cannot remember. Smedley, in his Metamorphosis of Scriblerus, mentions one, the Hymn of a Gentleman to his Creator And there was another in praise either of a Cellar or a Garret. L. W. characterised in the treatise lepi Bátovs, or the Art of Sinking, as a didapper, and after as an eel, is said to be this person, by Dennis, Daily Journal of May 11, 1728. He was also characterised under another animal, a mole, by the author of the ensuing simile, which was handed about at the same time :
“Dear Welsted, mark, in dirty hole,
It blunders into light, and dies.”
The satire of this episode being levelled at the base flatteries of authors to worthless wealth or greatness, concludes here with an excellent lesson to such men: That although their pens and praises were as exquisite as their conceit of themselves, yet (even in their own mercenary views) a creature unlettered, who serveth the passions, or pimpeth to the pleasures, of such vain, braggart, puffed nobility, shall with those patrons be much more inward, and of them much higher rewarded.--SCRIBLERUS.
[The following is the note appended by Pope to the passage in book 3, in which Welsted is again named) :
Of this author see the remark on book 2, v. 209. But (to be impartial) add to it the following different character of him :
“ Mr. Welsted had, in his youth, raised so great expectations of his future genius, that there was a kind of struggle between the most eminent in the two universities, which should have the honour of his education. To compound this, he (civilly) became a member of both, and, after having passed some time at the one, he removed to the other. From thence he returned to town, where he became the darling expectation of all the polite writers, whose encouragement he acknowledged in his occasional poems, in a manner that will make no small part of the fame of his protectors. It also appears from his works, that he was happy in the patronage of the most illustrious characters of the present age. Encouraged by such a combination in his favour, he published a book of poems, some in the Ovidian, some in the Horatian manner, in both which the most exquisite judges pronounce he even rivalled his masters. His love verses have rescued that way of writing from contempt. In his translations, he has given us the very soul and spirit of his author. His Ode-his Epistle-his Verses—his Love-tale-all, are the most perfect things in all poetry.”—Welsted of himself, Char. of the Times, 8vo., 1728, p. 23, 24. It should not be forgotten to his honour, that he received at one time the sum of five hundred pounds for secret service, among the other excellent authors hired to write anonymously for the Ministry. See Report of the Secret Committee, &c., in 1742.
[It was the policy of Pope to represent all his antagonists as poor and wretched, although in many cases there was no foundation for the statements. Welsted, James Moore Smythe, Breval, and others, were men respectable in society. Welsted was Clerk in Ordinary to the Ordnance, to which he was appointed by the Duke of Newcastle, and which he held till his death, in 1747. Many of his poetical pieces are of a superior description. They were collected by Nichols, and published in two volumes, in 1788. It is admitted that in the quarrel with Pope, Welsted was the aggressor.]
Ver. 226. With thunder rumbling from the mustard boul.]
The old way of making thunder and mustard were the same, but since, it is more advantageously performed by troughs of wood with stops in them. Whether Mr. Dennis was the inventor of that improvement, I know not; but it is certain that being once at a tragedy of a new author, he fell into a great passion at hearing some, and cried, “'Sdeath! that is my thunder.”
[In 1709, Dennis brought upon the stage a tragedy, Appius and Virginia, for which, it is said, he had invented a new species of thunder, which was approved of by the actors, and ever afterwards followed in the theatres. His play, however, was not successful; and, happening some nights afterwards to be present at the representation of Macbeth, he heard his own thunder made use of, upon which he rose in a violent passion, and exclaimed, with an oath that it was his thunder! “See,” said he,“ how these rascals use me; they will not let my play run, and yet they steal my thunder!” In Cibber's Lives of the Poets, another ludicrous anecdote of Dennis is related. When residing within the verge of the court, for the security of his person against creditors, and sitting in an open drinking-room, on a Saturday night, the poor poet saw a man enter whom he judged to be a bailiff. He sat in painful anxiety till the clock struck twelve, when he started up and cried in an ecstacy, “Now, Sir Bailiff, or no Bailiff, I don't care a farthing for you-you have no power now." The man was astonished at his behaviour, and no less affronted with the suspicion. Dennis's vanity is well illustrated by another story. In his tragedy of Liberty Asserted, 1704, one of his few plays that enjoyed success, he had, as he conceived, been very severe upon the French nation, exposing unmercifully their frailties and vices. Louis the Fourteenth, he thought, would never consent to a peace with England, unless he was delivered up a sacrifice to national resentment! Under this impression, he waited upon Marlborough, to entreat his interest with the plenipotentiaries that he might not be given up. The Duke said, he did not consider the poet's case to be so desperate. He had taken no care to get himself excepted in the articles of peace, and yet he could not help thinking that he had done the French almost as much damage as even Mr. Dennis had done! Dennis is also said to have one day run away from the coast of Sussex on seeing a ship approach, conceiving that he had been betrayed to the French, and that they had sent the vessel on purpose to carry him off. These ludicrous anecdotes, though probably, like the old Minerva Press novels, “ founded on fact," were no doubt exaggerated by the witty malice of the frequenters of Will's and Button's.]
WEBSTER AND WHITEFIELD.
Ver. 258. There Webster peald thy voice, and Whitefield thine!] The one the writer of a newspaper called the Weekly Miscellany, the other a fieldpreacher. This thought the only means of advancing Christianity was by the new-birth of religious madness; that by the old death of fire and faggot : and therefore they agreed in this, though in no other earthly thing, to abuse all the sober clergy. From the small success of these two extraordinary persons, we may learn how little hurtful bigotry and enthusiasm are, while the civil magistrate prudently forbears to lend his power to the one, in order to the employing it against the other.
[This allusion to Webster and Whitefield was, of course, a late addition to the poem. The celebrated George Whitefield was only fourteen years of age when the Dunciad was first published. Whitefield cannot be said to have had small success as a preacher. He drew crowds after him, and even David Hume said he was worth travelling twenty miles to hear. His influence over the lower classes as a field-preacher was perhaps unparalleled. This remarkable man died in Newbury, New England, in 1770.]
SIR RICHARD BLACKMORE.
Ver. 268. Who sings so loudly and who sings so long. ] just character of Sir Richard Blackmore, knight, who (as Mr. Dryden expresseth it)
“Writ to the rumbling of his coach's wheels;" and whose indefatigable Muse produced no less than six epic poems: Prince and King Arthur, twenty books; Eliza, ten; Alfred, twelve; the Redeemer, six; besides Job, in folio; the whole book of Psalms; the Creation, seven p. 108.
books; Nature of Man, three books; and many more. 'Tis in this sense he is styled afterwards the “everlasting Blackmore.” Notwithstanding all which, Mr. Gildon seems assured, that “this admirable author did not think himself upon the same foot with Homer.” Comp. Art. of Poetry, vol. i.
But how different is the judgment of the author of Characters of the the Times ? p. 25, who says," Sir Richard Blackmore is unfortunate in happen: ing to mistake his proper talents; and that he has not for many years been so much as named, or even thought of, among writers.” Even Mr. Dennis differs greatly from his friend Mr. Gildon: “Blackmore's action (saith he) has neither unity nor integrity, nor morality, nor universality; and con. sequently he can have no fable, and no heroic poem. His narration is neither probable, delightful, nor wonderful; his characters have none of the necessary qualifications; the things contained in his narration are neither in their own nature delightful, nor numerous enough, nor rightly disposed, nor surprising, nor pathetic.” Nay, he proceeds so far as to say, Sir Richard has no genius; first laying down, that “Genius is caused by a furious joy and pride of soul, on the conception of an extraordinary hint. Many men (says he) have their hints, without these motions of fury and pride of soul, because they want fire enough to agitate their spirits; and these we call cold writers. Others who have a great deal of fire, but have not excellent organs, feel the forementioned motions, without the extraordinary hints; and these we call fustian writers." But he declares that “ Sir Richard had neither the hints nor the motions." Remarks on Pr. Arth. octavo, 1696. Preface.
This gentleman in his first works abused the character of Mr. Dryden, and in his last of Mr. Pope, accusing him in very high and sober terms of profaneness and immorality (Essay on Polite Writing, vol. ii. p. 270,) on a mere report, from Edm. Curll, that he was author of a travesty on the First Psalm. Mr. Dennis took up the same report, but with the addition of what Sir Richard had neglected, an argument to prove it; which being very curious we shall
ere transcribe:-“It was he who burlesqued the psalm of David. It is apparent to me that psalm was burlesqued by a Popish rhymester. Let rhyming persons who have been brought up Protestants be otherwise what they will, let them be rakes, let them be scoundrels, let them be atheists, yet education has made an invincible impression on them in behalf of the sacred writings. But a Popish rhymester has been brought up with a contempt for those sacred writings. Now show me another Popish rhymester but he.” This manner of argumentation is usual with Mr. Dennis; he has employed the same against Sir Richard himself, in a like charge of impiety and irreligion:“All Mr. Blackmore's celestial machines, as they cannot be defended so much as by common received opinion, so are they directly contrary to the doctrine of the Church of England; for the visible descent of an angel must be a miracle. Now it is the doctrine of the Church of England, that miracles had ceased a long time before Prince Arthur came into the world. Now if the doctrine of the Church of England be true, as we are obliged to believe, then are all the celestial machines in Prince Arthur unsufferable, as wanting not only human, but divine probability. But if the machines are sufferable, that is if they have so much as divine probability,
then it follows of necessity that the doctrine of the Church is false. So I leave it to every impartial clergyman to consider," &c. Preface to the Remarks on Prince Arthur.
[In the edition of 1729, to the above note was added a declaration, that Mr. Pope never had any obligations to Sir R. B., and never saw him but twice in his life. With respect to the parody on the First Psalm-which bears the indubitable Pope mark on every line, but is too daringly profane and indecent for publication-Curll states that the poem was handed about by Mr. Pope in the Lent season, and was printed from a copy in his handwriting :-"He put out an advertisement in the Postman, offering three guineas reward to discover the person who sent it to the press, but this was only an evasive feint, for Mrs. Burleigh, in Amen Corner, was the publisher of it, and was ready to produce the MS. under his own hand, but neither he nor any one for him ever paid the premium, or said one word more about it, when he found it could be proved upon him."-Key to the Dunciad, 1728.]
FLEET DITCH. Ver. 271. To where Fleet Ditch, with disemboguing sireams.] Previous to the appearance of the Dunciad, Swift and Gay had commemorated in verse the “muddy current" of Fleet Ditch. “That part of the town ditch in front of the city wall, between Bridewell Dock and Holborn, so called from the Fleet, a bourne or brook which runs into the town ditch, by, I believe, Fleet-lane, and so by Bridewell into the Thames at Blackfriars Bridge. After the Great Fire, it was converted into a dock or creek, and called the New Canal. It is now a covered sewer, and one of the largest in London. This celebrated ditch was primarily supplied by the waters of certain wells in the suburbs of the city, called Clerkenwell, Skinners-well, Fags-well, Tode-well, Loders-well, and Radwell, forming a stream called the River of Wells, or Turnmill Brook. From Clerkenwell the River of Wells ran down Turnmill-street, and Hockley-in-theHole, into Holborn, where it was fed by a brook called “Old-Borne,” and so on into what we now call Farringdon-street, where it received the waters of a little rapid streamlet, called the Fleet, and made its way into the Thames by Blackfriars Bridge. As the population increased about Clerkenwell and Holborn, the waters of the wells were diverted from their former channel, and the ditch became a kind of stagnant creek; or, worse still, a receptacle for every description of garbage and offal. Stow enumerates several attempts that were made to clean it and to keep it clean, so that boats and barges might pass and unload their cargoes at Holborn as before. The new canal was forty feet in breadth, and cost the sum of £27,777, besides what was paid to the proprietors whose grounds were taken for wharfs and quays. The toll was heavy, the traffic inconsiderable, and, in spite of its new name, and the money that had been spent upon it, the ditch was doomed to continue a common sewer. The mayor and corporation, when the present Mansion House was about to be built, and it was necessary to remove Stock's Market, wisely determined to arch