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Norton, from Daniel and Ostroea spring,
Thus the soft gifts of sleep conclude the day,
Ver. 414. Morgan- A writer against religion, distinguished no otherwise from the rabble of his tribe, than by the pompousness of his title; for, having stolen his morality from Tindal, and his philosophy from Spinosa, he calls himself, by the courtesy of England, a moral philosopher.
Ver. 414. -Mandevil- ] This writer, who prided himself in the reputation of an immoral philosopher, was author of a famous
book called the Fable of the Bees; written to prove, that moral virtue is the invention of knaves, and Christian virtue the imposition of fools; and that vice is necessary, and alone sufficient to render society flourishing and happy.
Ver. 415. Norton De Foe, offspring of the famous Daniel ; fortes creantur fortibus; one of the authors of the Flying Post, 'in which well-bred work Mr. P. had sometime the honour to be abused with his betters; and of many hired scurrilities and daily papers, to which be never set his name.
Ver. 427. -Fleet-) A prison for insolvent debtors on the bank of the ditch.
BOOK THE THIRD.
ARGUMENT. After the other persons are disposed in their proper places of rest, the goddess transports the king to her temple, and there lays him to slumber, with his head on her lap; a position of marvellous virtue, which causeth all the visions of wild enthusiasts, projectors, politicians, inamoratos, castle-builders, chemists, and poets. He is immediately carried on the wings of fancy, and led by a mad poetical Sibyl to the Elysian shade; where, on the banks of Lethe, the souls of the dull are dipped by Bavius, before their entrance into this world. There he is met by the ghost of Settle, and by him made acquainted with the wonders of the place, and with those which he himself is destined to perform. He takes him to a mount of vision, from whence he shews him the past triumphs of the empire of Dulness, then the present, and lastly the future: how small a part of the world was ever conquered by science; how soon those conquests were stopped, and those very nations again reduced to her dominion. Then distinguishing the island of Great Britain, shews by what aids, by what persons, and by what degrees it shall be brought to her empire. Some of the persons he causes to pass in review before his eyes, describing each by his proper figure, character, and qualifications. On a sudden the scene shifts, and a vast number of miracles and prodigies appear, utterly surprising and unknown to the king himself, till they are explained to be the wonders of his own reign now commencing. On this subject Settle breaks into a congratulation, yet not unmixed with concern, that his own times were but the types of these. He prophesies how first the nation shall be overrun with farces, operas, and shows; how the throne of Dulness shall be advanced over the theatres, and set up even at court: then how her sons shall preside in the seats of arts and sciences; giving a glimpse, or Pisgah sight, of the future fulness of her glory, the accomplishmeot whereof is the subject of the fourth and last book.
But in her temple's last recess enclosed,
REMARKS Ver. 5, 6, &c.] Hereby is intimated that the following vision is no more than the chimera of the dreamer's brain, and not a real or intended satire on the present age, doubtless more learned, more enlightened, and more abounding with great geniuses in divinity, politics, and whatever arts and sciences, than all the preceding: For fear of any such mistake of our poet's honest meaning, he hath again, at the end of the repeated this monition, saying that it all passed through the ivory, gate, which (according to the ancients) denoteth falsity. -Scribl.
Hence, from the straw where Bedlam's prophet nods,
10 The maid's romantic wish, the chemist's flame, And poet's vision of eternal fame.
And now on fancy's easy wing convey'd,
20 Benlowes, propitious still to blockheads, bows; And Shadwell nods the poppy on his brows.
REMARKS. How much the good Scriblerus was mistaken, may be seen from the fourth book, which it is plain from hence, he had never seen. Bentl.
Ver. 15. A slip-shod Sibyl-) This allegory is extremely just, no conformation of the mind so much subjecting it to real madness, as that which produces real dulness. Hence
we find the religious (as well as the poetical) enthusiasts of all ages were ever, in their natural state, most heavy and lumpish; but on the least application of heat, they ran like lead, which of all metals falls quickest into fusion. Whereas fire in a geuius is truly Promethean; it hurts not its constituent parts, but only fits it (as it does well-tempered steel) for the necessary impressions of art. But the common people have been taught (I do not know on what foundation) to regard lunacy as a mark of wit, just as the Turks and our modern Methodists do of holiness. But if the cause of madness assigned by a great philosopher be true, it will unavoidably fall upon the dunces. He supposes it to be the dwelling over-long on one object or idea. Now as this attention is occasioned either by grief or study, it will be fixed by dulness; which hath not quickness enough to comprehend what it seeks, nor force and vigour enough to divert the imagination from the object it laments."
Ver. 19. Taylor,] John Taylor, the water-poet, an honest man, who owns he learned not so much as the accidence: a rare ex ample of modesty in a poet!
“I must confess I do want eloquence,
I there was gravelPd, could no farther get.' He wrote fourscore books in the reign of James I. and Charles I, and afterward (like Edward Ward) kept an ale-house in Longacre. He died in 1654.
Ver. 21. Benlowes,] a country gentleman, famous for his own bad poetry, and for patronizing bad poets, as may be seen frotu
Here, in a dusky vale where Lethe rolls,
Wondering he gazed : when, lo! a sage appears, By his broad shoulders known, and length of ears,
REMARKS. many dedications of Quarles and others to him. Some of these anagramed his name Benlowes into Benevolns : to verify which, he spent his whole estate upon them.
Ver. 22. And Shadwell nods the poppy, &c.] Shadwell took opium for many years; and died of too large a dose, in the year 1692.
Ver. 24. Old Bavius sits,] Bavius was an ancient poet, celebrated by Virgil for the like causes as Bays by our author, though pot in so Christian-like a manner; for heathenishly it is declared by Virgil of Bavius, that he ought to be hated and detested for his evil works; qui Bavium non odit : whereas we have often had occasion to observe our poet's great good-nature and merci. fulness through the whole course of this poem.-Scribl.
Ver. 28. -Brown and Meers) Booksellers, printers for any body. The allegory of the souls of the dull coming forth in the form of books, dressed in calf's leather, and being let abroad in vast numbers by booksellers, is sufficiently intelligible.
Ver. 34. ---Ward in pillory.) John Ward, of Hackney, esq. member of parliament, being convicted of forgery, was first expelled the house, and then sentenced to the pillory on the 17th of February, 1727. Mr. Curll (having likewise stood there) looks upon the mention of such a gentleman in a satire, as a great act of barbarity, Key to the Dunc, 3d edit. p. 16. And another author reasons thus upon it: Durgen, 8vo. p. 11, 12. How unworthy is it of Christian charity to animate the rabble to abuso a worthy man in such a situation! What could move the poet thus to mention a brave sufferer, a gallant prisoner, exposed to the view of all mankind! It was laying aside his senses, it was committing a crime for which the law is deficient not to punish him ! nay, a crime which man can scarce forgive, or time efface! nothing surely could have induced him to it but being bribed by a great lady,' &c. (to whom this brave, honest, worthy gentleman was guilty of no offence but forgery, proved in open court.) But it is evident this verse could not be meant of him; it being notorious that no eggs were thrown at that gentleman. Perhaps, therefore, it might be intended of Mr. Edward Ward, the poet, when he stood there.
Ver. 36.--and length of ears,] This is a sophisticated reading. I think I may venture to affirm all the copyists are mistaken
Known by the band and suit which Settle wore
Oh, born to see what none can see awake!
REMARKS. here: I believe I may say the same of the critics; Dennis, Oldmixon, Welsted, have passed it in silence. I have also stumbled at it, and wondered how an error so manifest could escape such accurate persons. I dare assert, it proceeded originally from the inadvertency of some transcriber, whose head ran on the pillory, mentioned two lines before: it is therefore amazing that Mr.Curll himself should overlook it! Yet that scholiast takes not the least notice hereof. 'That the learned Mist also read it thus, is plain from his ranging this passage among those in which our author was blamed for personal satire on a man's face (whereof doubtless he might take the ear to be a part); so likewise Concanen, Ralph, the Flying Post, and all the herd of commentators -Totá armenta sequuntur.
A very little sagacity (which all these gentlemen, therefore, wanted) will restore to us the true sense of the poet, thus :
“By his broad shoulders known, and length of years.' See how easy a change; of one single letter! That Mr. Settle was old, is most certain; but he was happily) a stranger to the pillory. This note is partly Mr. Theobald's, partly Scribl. Ver. 37.
-Settle-) Elkanah Settle was once a writer in vogue as well as Cibber, both for dramatic poetry and polities. Mr. Dennis tells us, that he was a formidable rival to Mr. Dryden, and that in the university of Cambridge there were those who gave him the preference. Mr. Welsted goes yet farther in his behalf! Poor Settle was formerly the mighty rival of Dryden; nay, for many years, bore his reputation above him.' Pref. tó his Poems, svo. p. 31. And Mr. Milbourne cried out, . How little was Dryden able, even when his blood ran high, to defend himself against Mr. Settle!' Notes on Dryd. Virg. p. 175. These are comfortable opinions; and no wonder some authors indulge them.
He was author or publisher of many noted pamphlets, in the time of King Charles 11. He answered all Dryden's political poems; and being cried up on one side, succeeded not a little in his tragedy of the Empress of Morocco (the first that was ever printed with cuts). Upon this he grew insolent, the wits writ against his play, he replied, and the town judged he had the better. In short, Settle was then thought a very formidable rival to Mr. Dryden; and not only the town, but the university of Cambridge
was divided which to prefer; and in both places the younger sort inclined to Elkanah.' Dennis, Pref. to Rem. on Hom.