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Who prouder march’d, with magistrates in state,
425 And to mere mortals seem'd a priest in drink : While others, timely, to the neighb'ring Fleet (Haunt of the muses) made their safe retreat.
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 the 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.
VER. 427. Fleet.) A prison for insolvent debtors on the bank of the ditch.
ARGUMENT OF THE THIRD BOOK.
AFTER the other persons are disposed of in their proper places of
rest, the Goddess transports the King to ber Temple, and there lays bim to slumber with his head on ber lap: a position of marvellous virtue, wbich causes all the Visions of wild enthusiasts, projestors, 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 , wbere, on the banks of Lethe, the souls of the dull are dipped by Bavius, before their entrance into this world. There he is met by the gbost of Settle, and by him made acquainted with the wonders of the place, and with those which be bimself is destined to perform. He takes him to e Mount of Vision, from whence be shews bim the vast triumphs of the empire of Dulness, 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 redaced to ber dominion. Then distinguishing the Island of Great Britain, shews by what aids, by what persons, and by what degrees, it shall be brought to ber 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 surprizing and unknown to the King bimself, till they are explained to be the wonders of bis own reign now commencing. On this subject Settle breuks into a congratulation, yet not unmixed with concern, that bis 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 tbrone 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 glympse, or Pisgab-sight, of the future Fulness of her Glory, the accomplishment wbereof is the subject of the fourth and last book
BUT in her temple's last recess inclos’d,
On Dulness lap th' anointed head repos'd. Him close she curtains round with
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, IO 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, The King descending, views th’ Elysian shade.
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 genius's 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.