Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

THE

DUNCI A D.

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 Invocation; as the greater Poets are wont, when some 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 silenceth 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 around 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

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

time a young nobleman perfectly accomplished. She receives him graciously, and indues him with the happy quality of Want of Shame. She sees loitering about her a number of Indolent Persons abandoning all business and duty, and dying with laziness : to these approaches the Antiquary Annius, entreating her 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 the 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 the Poem.

[blocks in formation]

YET, yet a moment, one dim Ray of Light
Indulge, dread Chaos, and eternal Night!
Of darkness visible so much be lent,
As half to shew, half veil the deep Intent.

REMARKS.

1

The DUNCIAD, Book IV.] 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 to be 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. P.

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. P.

It was thought improper to omit the many notes in this fourth book, marked P. * because they were the joint work of Pope and Warburton; and nothing of Mr. Pope's ought to be lost. The first sixteen lines are particularly elevated and strong. And yet the expression in the third line," so much be lent," is somewhat harsh and forced.

Ver. 2. dread Chaos, and eternal Night !] Invoked, as the Restoration of their Empire is the Action of the Poem. P. *

Ver. 4. half to shew, half veil the deep Intent.] This is a great propriety, for a dull Poet can never express himself otherwise than by haloes, or imperfectly. Scribl. P.

I understand it very differently; the Author in this work had indeed a deep Intent; there were in it Mysteries, or åróóónta,

*

Ye Pow'rs! whose Mysteries restor'd I sing, 5
To whom Time bears me on his rapid wing,
Suspend awhile your Force inertly strong,
Then take at once the Poet and the Song.
Now flam'd the Dog-star's unpropitious ray,
Smote ev'ry Brain, and wither'd ev'ry Bay;

10
Sick was the Sun, the Owl forsook his bow'r,
The moon-struck Prophet felt the madding hour:

[ocr errors]

REMARKS.

which he durst not fully reveal; and doubtless in divers verses (according to Milton)

“ more is meant than meets the ear."

Bentl. P

Ver. 6. To whom Time bears me on his rapid wing,] Fair and softly, good Poet! (cries the gentle Scriblerus on this place.) For sure, in spite of his unusual modesty, he shall not travel so fast towards oblivion, as divers others of more confidence have done : for when I revolve in my mind the catalogue of those who have most boldly promised to themselves Immortality, viz. Pindar, Luis Gongora, Ronsard, Oldham, Lyrics ; Lycophron, Statius, Chapman, Blackmore, Heroics ; I find the one half to be already dead, and the other in utter darkness. But it becometh not us, who have taken up the office of his Commentator, to suffer our Poet thus prodigally to cast away his Life; contrariwise, the more hidden and abstruse his work is, and the more remote its beauties from common understanding, the more it is our duty to draw forth and exalt the same, in the face of men and angels. Herein shall we imitate the laudable spirit of those, who have (for this very reason) delighted to comment on dark and uncouth Authors, and even on their darker Fragments: have preferred Ennius to Virgil, and have chosen rather to turn the dark Lantern of LYCOPHRON, than to trim the everlasting Lamp of Homer. Scribl. P. *

[ocr errors]

Ver. 7. Force inertly strong,] Alluding to the Vis inertiæ of Matter, which, though it really be no Power, is yet the foundation of the qualities and attributes of that sluggish substance.

P. *

Then rose the Seed of Chaos, and of Night,
To blot out Order, and extinguish Light,
Of dull and venal a new World to mould, 15
And bring Saturnian days of Lead and Gold.

She mounts the Throne: her head a cloud conceald,
In broad Effulgence all below reveald,
('Tis thus aspiring Dulness ever shines)
Soft on her lap her Laureat son reclines.

20

REMARKS.

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 distinctions between high and low in Society, and true and false in Individuals : Light, as intellectual only; Wit, Science, Arts. P. *

Ver. 15. Of dull and venal] The Allegory continued; dull referring to the extinction of Light or Science ; venal to the destruction of Order, or the truth of things. P. *

Ibid. a new World] in reference 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. P. *

Ver. 16. Lead and Gold.] i. e. dull and venal. P. *

Ver. 18. all below reveald,] It was the opinion of the Ancients that the Divinities manifested themselves to men by their Backparts. Virg. Æneid. i. et avertens, rosea cervice refulsit. But this passage may admit of another exposition. -Vet. Adag. The higher you climb, the more you shew your Am Verified in no instance more than in Dulness aspiring. Emblematized also by an Ape climbing and exposing his posteriors. Scribl. P. *

Ver 20. her Laureat son reclines.] With great judgment is it imagined by the Poet, that such a Colleague as Dulness had elected, should sleep upon 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. Nor ought this,

« AnteriorContinuar »