« PreviousContinue »
Prompt or to guard or stab, to saint or damn, Heaven's Swiss, who fight for any god, or man. Through Lud's famed gates, along the well-known
Fleet Rolls the black troop, and overshades the street, 300 Till showers of sermons, characters, essays, In circling fleeces whiten all the ways: So clouds, replenish'd from some bog below, Mount in dark volumes, and descend in snow. Here stopp'd the goddess; and in pomp proclaims A gentler exercise to close the games :
• Ye critics ! in whose heads, as equal scales, I weigh what author's heaviness prevails : Which most conduce to soothe the soul in slumbers, My Henley's periods, or my Blackmore's numbers; Attend the trial we propose to make:
371 If there be man, who o'er such works can wake, Sleep's all-subduing charms who dares defy, And boasts Ulysses' ear with Argus' eye; To him we grant our amplest powers, to sit Judge of all present, past, and future wit; To cavil, censure, dictate, right or wrong, Full and eternal privilege of tongue.' · Three college sophs and three pert templars came, The same their talents, and their tastes the same; Each prompt to query, answer, and debate, 381 And smit with love of poesy and prate. The ponderous books two gentle readers bring! The heroes sit, the vulgar form a ring. The clamorous crowd is hush'd with mugs of mum, Till all, tuned equal, send a general hum. Then mount the clerks, and in one lazy tone Through the long, heavy, painful page drawl on; Soft creeping, words on words, the sense compose, At every line they stretch, they yawn, they doze. 390 As to soft gales top-heavy pines bow low Their heads, and lift them as they cease to blow; Thus oft they rear, and oft the head decline, As breathe, or pause, by fits, the airs divine.
REMARKS. ening the virtues of patriots; in corrupting religion by superstition, or betraying it by libertinism, as either was thought best to serve the ends of policy, or Aatter the follies of the great.
And now to this side, now to that they nod,
REMARKS. Ver. 397. Thrice Budgel aim'd to speak,) 'Famous for his speeches on many occasions about the South Sea scheme, &c. • He is a very ingenious gentleman, and hath written somé excellent epilogues to plays, and one small piece on Love, which is very pretty.' Jacob, Lives of Poets, vol. ii. p. 289. But this gentleman since made himself much more eminent, and personally well known to the greatest statesmen of all parties, as well as to all the courts of law in this nation.
Ver. 399. Toland and Tindal,] Two persons not so happy as to be obscure, who writ against the religion of their country, Toland, the author of the atheists liturgy, called Pantheisticon, was a spy, in pay to Lord Oxford. Tindal was author of the Rights of the Christian Church, and, Christianity as old as the Creation. He also wrote an abusive pamphlet against Earlş, which was suppressed while yet in Ms. by an eminent person, then out of the ministry, to whom he shewed it, expecting his approbation. This doctor afterward published the same piece, mutatis mutandis, against that very person:
Ver. 400. —Christ's no kingdom - This is said, by Curll, Key to the Dunc. to allude to a sermon of a reverend bishop.
Ver. 411.-Centlivre- ] Mrs. Susanna Centlivre,wife to Mr.Centlivre, yeoman of the mouth to his majesty. She writ many plays, and songs (says Mr. Jacob, vol. i. p. 32), before she was seven years old. She also writ a ballad against Mr. Pope's Homer, before he began it.
Ver. 413. Boyer the state, and Law the stage gave o'er,] A. Boyer, a voluminous compiler of annals, political collections, &c.-William Law, A. M. wrote with great zeal against the stage; Mr. Dennis answered with as great: their books were printed in 1726. The same Mr. Law is author of a book entitled, An Appeal
Norton, from Daniel and Ostroea spring,
Thus the soft gifts of sleep conclude the day,
420 Why should I sing, what bards the nightly muse Did slumbering visit, and convey to stews ? Whọ prouder march'd with magistrates in state, To some famed round-house, ever-open gate ? How Henley lay inspired beside a sink, And to mere mortals seem'd a priest in drink: While others, timely, to the neighbouring Fleet (Haunt of the muses) made their safe retreat ?
REMARKS. to all that doubt of or disbelieve the Truth of the Gospel ; in which he has detailed a system of the rankest Spinosism, for the most exalted theology; and amongst other things as rare, has informed us of this, that Sir Isaac Newton stole the principles of his philosophy from one Jacob Behmen, a German cobbler. Ver. 414. Morgan- A writer against
religiou, 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 couriesy 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
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 Dalness, 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 vision, 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 bence, he had never seeu. -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 1, and afterward (like Edward Ward) kept an ale-house in Longacre. He died in 1654.
Ver. 21. Benlowes,] a conntry gentleman, famous for his own bad poetry, and for patronizing bad poets, as may be seen frotu