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Hibernian politics, O Swift! thy fate ;
Proceed, great days! till learning fly the shore,
REMARKS. several works of humour with great success, the Shepherd's Week, Trivia, the What d'ye call it, Fables, and lastly, the celebrated Beggar's Opera; a piece of satire which hit ali tastes and de grees of men, from those of the highest quality to the very rabble: that verse of Horace,
‘Primores popali arripuit, populumque tributim,' could never be so justly applied as to this. The vast success of it was unprecedented, and almost incredible: what is related of the wonderful effects of the ancient music or tragedy hardly came up to it: Sophocles and Euripides were less followed and famous. It was acted in London sixty-three days, uninterrupted; and renewed the next season with equal applauses. It spread into all the great towns of England, was played in many places to the thirtieth and fortieth time, and at Bath and Bristol fifty, &c. It made its progress into Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, where it was performed twenty-four days together; it was last acted in Minorca, The fame of it was not confined to the author only; the ladies carried about with them the favourite songs of it in fans; and houses were furnished with it in screens. The person who acted Polly, till then obscure, became all at once the favourite of the town: her pictures were engraved, and sold in great numbers, her life written, books of letters and verses to her published; and pamphlets made even of her sayings and jests,
Furthermore, it drove out of England, for that season, the Italian opera, which had carried all before it for ten years. That idol of the nobility and people, which the great critic Mr. Dennis, by the labours and outcries of a whole life could not overthrow, was demolished by a single stroke of this gentleman's pen. This happened in the year 1728. Yet so great was his modesty, that he constantly prefixed to all the editions of it this motto: Nos hæc novimus esse nihil.
Ver. 332. And Pope's, ten years to comment and translate.] The author here plainly laments, that he was so long employed in translating and commenting. He began the Iliad in 1713, and finished it in 1719. The edition of Shakspeare (which he under took merely because nobody else would) took up near two years more in the drudgery of comparing impressions, rectifying the scenery, &c. and the translation of half the Odyssey employed him from that time to 1725.
Ver. 333. Proceed, great days! &c.) It may, perhaps, seem incredible, that so great a revolution in learning as is here prophesied, should be brought about by such weak instruments as have been [hitherto] described in our poem; but do not thou, gentle reader, rest too secure in thy contempt of these instru ments. Remember what the Dutch stories somewhere relate, that a great part of their provinces was once overflowed, by a small opening made in one of their dykes by a single water-rat. However, that such is not seriously
the judgment of our poet, but that he conceiveth better hopes from the diligence of our schools, from the regularity of our universities, the discernment of our great
men, the accomplishments of our nobility, the en
Till Thames see Eton's sons for ever play,
• Enough! enough! the raptured monarch cries, And through the ivory gate the vision flies. 340
REMARKS. couragement of our patrons, and the genius of our writers of all kinds (notwithstanding some few exceptions in each), may plainly be seen from his conclusion; where, causing all this vision to pass through the ivory gate, he expressly, in the language of poesy, declares all such im
to be wild, ungrounded, and fictitious,--Scribl.
BOOK THE FOURTH.
ARGUMENT. The poet being, in this book, to declare the completion of the prophecies mentioned at the end of the former, makes a new ipvocation; as the greater poets are wont, when soine high and worthy matter is to be sung. He shews the goddess coming in her majesty, to destroy order and science, and to substitute the kingdom of the Dull upon earth. How she leads captive the sciences, and silences the muses: and what they be who succeed in their stead. All her children, by a wonderful attraction, are drawn about her; and bear along with them divers others, who promote her empire by connivance, weak resistance, or discouragement of arts; such as half-wits, tasteless admirers, vain pretenders, the flatterers of dunces, or the patrons of them. All these crowd round her; one of them, offering to approach her, is driven back by a rival, but she commends and encourages both. The first who speak in form are the geniuses of the schools, who assure her of their care to advance her cause by confining youth to words, and keeping them out of the way of real knowledge. Their address, and her gracious answer; with her charge to them and the universities. The universities appear by their proper deputies, and assure her that the same method is observed in the progress of education. The speech of Aristarchus on this subject. They are driven off by a band of young gentlemen returned from travel with their tutors; one of whom delivers to the goddess, in a polite oration, an account of the whole conduct and fruits of their travels presenting to her at the same time a young nobleman perfectly accomplished. She receives him graciously, and endues him with the happy, quality of want of shame. She sees loitering about her a pumber of indolent persons abandoning all business and duty, and dying with laziness: to these approaches the antiquary Annius, entreating, ber to make them virtuosos, and assign them over to him: but Mummius, another antiquary, complaining of his fraudulent proceeding, she finds a method to reconcile their difference. Then enter a troop of people fantastically adorned, offering her strange and exotic presents: amongst them, one stands forth and demands justice on another, who had deprived him of one of the greatest curiosities in nature; but he justifies himself so well, that the goddess gives them both her approbation. She recommends to them to find proper employment for the indolents before mentioned, in the study of butterflies, shells, birds'-nests, moss, &c. but with particular caution, not to proceed beyond trifles, to any useful or extensive views of nature, or of the author of nature. Against the last of these apprehensions, she is secured by a hearty address from the minute philosophers and free-thinkers, one of whom speaks in the name of the rest. The youth, thus instructed and principled, are delivered to her in a body, by the hands of Silenus ; and then admitted to taste the cup of Magus, her high priest, which causes a total oblivion of all obligations, divine, civil, moral, or rational. To these, her adepts, she sends priests, attendants, and comforters, of various kinds; confers on them orders and degrees, and then dismissing them with a speech, confirming to each his privileges, and telling what she expects from each, concludes
with a yawn of extraordinary virtue: the progress and effects whereof on all orders of men, and the consummation of all, in the restoration of night and chaos, conclude
YET, yet a moment, one dim ray of light
Now flamed the dog-star's unpropitious ray,
She mounts the throne: her head a cloud conceald, In broad effulgence all below reveal'a
REMARKS. This book may properly be distinguished from the former, by the name of the Greater Dunciad, not so indeed in size, but in subject; and so far contrary to the distinction anciently made of the Greater and Lesser 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.-Bentl.
Ver. 1, &c.] This is an invocation of much piety. The poet, willing to approve himself a genuine son, beginneth by shewing (what is ever agreeable to Dulness) his high respect for antiquity and a great family, how dead or dark soever : 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.
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 distinction between kigh and low in society, and true and false in individuals: light as intellectual only, wit, science, arts.
Ver. 15. Of dull and venal-j 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,
('Tis thus aspiring Dulness ever shines),
Beneath her footstool, science groans in chains,
REMARKS. Ver. 20.-her laureat son reclines.) With great judgment it is imagined by the poet, that such a colleague as Dulness had elected, should sleep on the throne, and have very little share in the action of the poem. Accordingly, he hath done little or nothing from the day of his anointing; having passed through the second book without taking part in any thing that was transacted about him; and through the third in profound sleep. Not ought this, well considered, to seem strange in our days, when so many king-consorts have done the like.Scribl.
This verse our excellent laureat took so to beart, that he appealed to all mankind, if he was not as seldom asleep 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 sinking, 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. Benil.
Ibid. -her laureat-] 'When I find my name in the satirical works of this poet, I never look upon it as any malice meant to me, but profit to himself. For he considers that my fare is more known than most in the nation; and therefore a lick at the laureat 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 ubanswerable argument, that this
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 stroke, the profitable lick at the laureat!-Bentl.
Ver. 21, 22. Beneath her footstool, &c.) We are next presented with the pictures of those whom the goddess 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 she
admits something like each science, as casuistry, sophistry, &c. but nothing like wit, opera alone supplying its place.