« AnteriorContinuar »
Who prouder march’d, with magistrates in state,
Ver. 421. Why should I sing what bards the nightly Muse
Did slumb'ring visit, and convey to stews ;] A parody on Paradise Lost, ix. 20.
“ If answerable style I can obtain
Of my celestial patroness, who deigns
Wakefield. Ver. 426. And to mere mortals seem'd a priest in drink;] This line presents us with an excellent moral, that we are never to pass judgment merely by appearance ; a lesson to all men, who may happen to see a reverend person in a like situation, not to determine too rashly: since not only the poets frequently describe a bard inspired in this posture,
“ On Cam's fair bank, where Chaucer lay inspir’d,” and the like, but an eminent Casuist tells us, that “if a priest be seen in
any indecent action, we ought to account it a deception of sight, or illusion of the devil, who sometimes takes upon him the shape of holy men on purpose to cause scandal.” SCRIBLERUS. P.
Ver. 427. Fleet,] A prison for insolvent debtors on the bank of the Ditch.
THE END OF THE SECOND BOOK.
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 causes all the Visions of wild enthusiasts, projectors, politicians, inamoratos, castle-builders, chemists, and poets. He is inmediately 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 ure 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 eder conquered by Science; how soon those conquests were stopped, and those dery nations again reduced to her dominion. Then, distinguishing the Island of Great Britain, he 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 be. fore 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 surprizing 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 prophecies how first the nation shall be over-run 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 accomplishment whercof is the subject of the fourth and last book.
But in her Temple's last recess enclos’d, On Dulness' lap th' anointed head repos’d; Him close she curtains round with vapours blue, And soft besprinkles with Cimmerian dew; Then raptures high the seat of sense o'erflow, 5 Which only heads refin’d from reason know. Hence, from the straw where Bedlam's prophet nods, He hears loud oracles, and talks with Gods; Hence the fool's paradise, the statesman's scheme, The air-built castle, and the golden dream,
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. SCRIBLERUS.
P. Ver. 8. He hears loud oracles, and talks with Gods;] Ogilby's version of the passage, imitated from Virgil, is :
“ When wond'rous shapes of fleeting forms appear,
He talks with Gods, and doth strange language hear."
“ In noble songs and lofty odes,
He hears loud oracles, and talks with Gods:]
Virg. Æneid. viii. P.
The maid's romantic wish, the chemist's flame,
And now, on Fancy's easy wing convey'd,
15 In lofty madness meditating song; Her tresses staring from poetic dreams, And never wash’d, but in Castalia's streams. Taylor, their better Charon, lends an oar, Once swan of Thames, tho' now he sings no more;
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 run like lead, which of all metals falls quickest into fusion : whereas fire, in a Genius, is truly Promethean; it hurts not its constituent parts, but only fits it (as the furnace does well tempered steel) for the necessary impressions of art. But the common people have been taught, I know not on what foundation, to regard lunacy as a mark of wit, just as the Turks, and our modern Methodists, esteem it a mark 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.
W. Ver. 19. Taylor] John Taylor, the Water-poet, an honest man, who owns he learned not so much as the accidence. A rare example of modesty in a poet !
" I must
IMITATIONS. Ver. 15. A slip-shod Sibyl, &c ] “ Conclamat Vates
forens antro se iinmisit aperto.” Virgil. W.t