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“ Nature (saith he) hath amply supplied me in vanity; a pleasure which neither the pertness of wit, nor the gravity of wisdom, will ever persuade me to part with.”29 Our poet had charitably endeavoured to administer a cure to it: but he telleth us plainly, “ My superiors perhaps may be mended by him ; but for my part I own myself incorrigible. I look upon my follies as the best part of my fortune.” 30 And with good reason: we see to what they have brought him !

Secondly, as to buffoonery: "Is it (saith he) a time of day for me to leave off these fooleries, and set up a new character ? I can no more put off my follies than my skin; I have often tried, but they stick too close to me; nor am I sure my friends are displeased with them, for in this light I afford them frequent matter of mirth, &c., &c.”31 Having then so publicly declared himself incorrigible, he is become dead in law (I mean the law Epopeian) and devolveth upon the poet; is now his property, and may be taken and dealt with like an old Egyptian hero; that is to say, embowelled and embalmed for posterity.

Nothing therefore (we conceive) remaineth to hinder his own prophecy of himself from taking immediate effect.

A rare felicity! and what few prophets have had the satisfaction to see, alive! Nor can we conclude better than with that extraordinary one of his, which is conceived in these oraculous words, My dulness will find somebody to do it right.32

Tandem Phoebus adest, morsusque inferre parantem
Congelat, et patulos, ut erant, indurat hiatus.83

29 Cibber's Life, p. 424.

30 Ibid. p. 19. 31 Ibid. p. 17.

82 Ibid. p. 243, octavo edit. 83 ["Phæbus at last his kind protection gives,

And from the fact the greedy monster drives;
Whose marbled jaws his impious crime atone,
Ştill grinning ghastly, though transform’d to stone.”

Ovid's Met. b. xi.-Croxall. This quotation was first applied as a motto to the poem on the title-page to the edition of 1743.]






The proposition, the invocation, and the inscription. Then the original of

the great empire of Dulness, and cause of the continuance thereof. The college of the goddess in the city, with her private academy for poets in particular; the governors of it, and the four cardinal virtues. Then the poem hastes into the midst of things, presenting her on the evening of a Lord Mayor's day, revolving the long succession of her sons, and the glories past and to come. She fixes her eyes on Bayes to be the instrument of that great event which is the subject of the poem. He is described pensive among his books, giving up the cause, and apprehending the period of her empire: after debating whether to betake himself to the church, or to gaming, or to party-writing, he raises an altar of proper books, and (making first his solemn prayer and declaration) purposes thereon to sacrifice all his unsuccessful writings. As the pile is kindled, the goddess, beholding the flame from her seat, flies and puts it out by casting upon it the poem of Thulé. She forthwith reveals herself to him, transports him to her temple, unfolds her arts, and initiates him into her mysteries ; then announcing the death of Eusden, the Poet Laureate, anoints him, carries him to court, and proclaims him successor.

HE mighty mother, and her son, who brings
The Smithfield muses to the ear of kings,

1 In the first edition it was thus,

Books and the man I sing, the first who brings
The Smithfield Muses to the ear of kings.
Say, great patricians! since yourselves inspire
These wondrous works* (so Jove and Fate require)
Say, for what cause, in vain decried and curst,

* "Dii coeptis (nam vos mutastis et illas).” -- Ovid. Met. i.



I sing.

Say you, her instruments, the great!
Call’d to this work by Dulness, Jove, and Fate ;
You by whose care, in vain decried, and curst,
Still Dunce the second reigns like Dunce the first;
Say, how the goddess bade Britannia sleep,
And pour’d her spirit o'er the land and deep.

In eldest time, ere mortals writ or read,
Ere Pallas issued from the Thunderer's head,
Dulness o'er all possess'd her ancient right,
Daughter of Chaos and eternal Night:
Fate in their dotage this fair idiot gave,
Gross as her sire, and as her mother grave,?
Laborious, heavy, busy, bold, and blind,
She ruled, in native anarchy, the mind.

Still her old empire to restore she tries,
For, born a goddess, Dulness never dies.3

O thou ! whatever title please thine ear,
Dean, Drapier, Bickerstaff, or Gulliver !
Whether thou choose Cervantes serious air,
Or laugh and shake in Rabelais' easy chair,
Or praise the court, or magnify mankind,
Or thy grieved country's copper chains unbind ;
From thy Bæotia though her pow'r retires,
Mourn not, my Swift, at aught our reaim acquires.
Here pleased behold her mighty wings outspread
To hatch a new Saturnian age of lead.4



2 [A parody on a verse of Dryden, Æn. vii. 1044:

“Famed as his sire, and as his mother fair.”—Wakefield.] 3 [So Sloth, in the Dispensary, i. 116:

“With godhead born, but cursed that cannot die.”Ibid.] 4 The ancient golden age is by poets styled Saturnian; but in the chemical language Saturn is lead. 5 In the former editions thus,

“Where wave the tatter'd ensigns of Rag-fair,
A yawning ruin hangs and nods in air;
Keen, hollow winds howl through the bleak recess,
Emblem of music caused by emptiness;
Here in one bed two shiv'ring sisters lie,

The cave of Poverty and Poetry.” Rag-fair is a place near the Tower of London, where old clothes and frippery are sold.


Close to those walls 5 where Folly holds her throne,
And laughs to think Monro would take her down,
Where o'er the gates, by his famed father's hand,
Great Cibber's brazen, brainless brothers stand ;
One cell there is, conceal'd from vulgar eye,
The cave of Poverty and Poetry.
Keen, hollow winds howl through the bleak recess,
Emblem of music caused by emptiness.
Hence bards, like Proteus long in vain tied down,
Escape in monsters, and amaze the town.


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Hence miscellanies spring, the weekly boast
Of Curll's chaste press, and Lintot's rubric post :
Hence hymning Tyburn's elegiac lines,7
Hence journals, medleys, merc'ries, magazines :

6 [Dr. Monro, physician to Bethlehem Hospital. He died November 3, 1752.] 7 In the former edition,

“ Hence hymning Tyburn's elegiac lay,
Hence the soft sing-song on Cecilia's day,”


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Sepulchral lies, our holy walls to grace,
And new-year odes, and all the Grub-street race.

In clouded majesty 8 here Dulness shone ;
Four guardian virtues, round, support her throne :
Fierce champion Fortitude, that knows no fears
Of hisses, blows, or want, or loss of ears : 9
Calm Temperance, whose blessings those partake
Who hunger and who thirst for scribbling sake : 10



alludes to the annual songs composed to music on St. Cecilia's Feast.

“Genus unde Latinum,
Albanique patres, atque altæ mænia Romæ."-Virg. Æneid, i.

“The moon
Rising in clouded majesty.”—Milton, book iv.
9 “Quem neque pauperies, neque mors, neque vincula terrent."-Hor.

10 “ This is an allusion to a text in Scripture, which shows, in Mr. Pope, a delight in profaneness,” said Curll upon this place. But it is very familiar with Shakespear to allude to passages of Scripture. Out of a great number I will select a few, in which he not only alludes to, but quotes, the very text from Holy Writ. In 'All's Well that Ends Well,' 'I am no great Nebuchadnezzar, I have not much skill in grass.' Ibid. 'They are for the flowery way that leads to the broad gate and the great fire,' Matt. vii. 13

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