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See Mystery to Mathematics fly!
the soul, to bring in question the reality of body; which they have attempted to do by a very refined metaphysical reasoning ; while others of the same party, in order to persuade us of the necessity of a Revelation which promises immortality, have been as anxious to prove that those qualities which are commonly supposed to belong only to an immaterial Being, are but the result from certain dispositions of the particles of matter, and consequently that the soul is naturally mortal. Thus, between their different reasonings, these good men have left us neither Soul nor Body; nor the Sciences of Physics and Metaphysics the least support, by making them depend upon, and go a begging to, one another. Ņ.
Ver. 647. See Mystery to Mathematics fly!] A sort of men, who make human reason the adequate measure of all truth, having pretended that whatsoever is not fully comprehended by it, is contrary to it. Certain defenders of religion, who would not be outdone in a paradox, have gone as far in the opposite folly, and attempted to shew that the mysteries of religion may be mathematically demonstrated ; as the authors of Philosophic, or Astronomic Principles of Religion, natural and revealed; who have much prided themselves on reflecting a fantastic light upon religion from the frigid subtilty of school moonshine. W.
Ver. 649. Religion blushing veils her sucred fires,] Blushing as well at the memory of the past overflow of dulness, when the barbarous learning of so many ages was wholly employed in corrupting the simplicity, and defiling the purity of religion, as at the view of these her false supports in the present; of which it would be endless to recount the particulars. However, amidst the extinction of all other lights, she is said only to withdraw hers; as hers alone in its own nature is unextinguishable and eternal.
W. Ver. 650. And unawares Morality expires.] It appears from hence that our poet was of very different sentiments from the author of the Characteristics, who has written a formal treatise
Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine ;
on Virtue, to prove it not only real but durable, without the support of religion. The word unawares alludes to the confidence of those men, who suppose that morality would flourish best without it; and consequently to the surprise such would be in (if any such there are) who indeed love virtue, and yet do all they can to root out the religion of their country.
W. Ver. 656. And universal darkness buries all.] The conclusion is evidently suggested by Shakespear's
“ And darkness be the burier of the dead."" So ends, according to Pope, all knowledge, virtue, art, eloquence, public spirit, and private worth,
“ Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine." I remember an obscure satire upon the follies of France, in which are these curious lines,
Unhappy land, where Truth's kick'd out of doors,
Where all the men are rogues, and women, whores!" The author had the same ideas as Pope, but certainly not so much poetry.
Can it be thought that this period was enlightened by Young, Thomson, Glover, &c. and many whose characters reflected equal lustre on religion, morals, and philosophy ? But such is satire, when it is not guided by truth.
Bowles. It is scarcely necessary to say that the opinions expressed by Mr. Bowles in the foregoing note, are founded on an entire misconception of the nature of the poem, and the intention of the poet, who never meant to apply, actunlly, the universal darkness to the times in which he lived, but hypothetically, as what would be the result of the successful efforts of the Goddess of Dulness. His object is not to depreciate, to lament over, and to degrade, but to forewarn, to stimulate, and to preserve; and if in some passages, both in the poem and notes, he ridicules the idea of there being great geniuses in divinity, politics, &c., (a notion which every age is liable to entertain, and the rudest not the least); his
Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall; 656 And universal darkness buries all.
object is still to abate unjust pretensions, to correct, and to amend. Is it to be supposed that Pope, surrounded as he was by numerous friends of the highest rank, talents, and patriotism, the names of whom he has immortalized in his works, would seriously have
Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine,
Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine ? A due attention to this subject might have superseded the solemn remark with which Mr. Bowles has terminated the notes on the DUNCIAD.
WWHEREAS certain Haberdashers of Points and Particles, being instigated by the spirit of Pride, and assuming to themselves the name of Critics and Restorers, have taken upon them to adulterate the common and current sense of our Glorious Ancestors, Poets of this Realm, by clipping, coining, defacing the images, miring their own base allay, or otherwise falsifying the same ; which they publish, utter, and vend as genuine : The said Haberdashers having no right thereto, as neither heirs, executors, administrators, assigns, or in any sort related to such Poets, to all or any of them; Now We, having carefully revised this our Dunciad, * be
* Read thus confidently, instead of “ beginning with the word Books, and ending with the word flies," as formerly it stood. Read also, “ containing the entire sum of one thousand seden hundred and fifty-four verses," instead of “ one thousand and twelve lines ;” such being the initial and final words, and such the true and entire contents, of this poem.
Thou art to know, reader! that the first edition thereof, like that of Milton, was never seen by the author, though living and not blind. The editor himself confessed as much in his préface ; and no two poems were ever published in so arbitrary a manner. The editor of this had as boldly suppressed whole passages, yea, the entire last book, as the editor of Paradise Lost added and