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A slip-shod Sibyl led his steps along,
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,
19 (Once swan of Thames, tho' now he sings no more) Benlowes, propitious still to blockheads, bows; And Shadwell nods the poppy on his brows. Here in a dusky vale where Lethe rolls, Old Bavius sits, to dip poetic souls,
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 confess I do want eloquence,
And never scarce did learn my accidence;
I there was gravel'd, could no farther get.”
WARBURTON. VER. 21. Benlawes,] A country gentleman famous for his own bad poetry, and for patronizing bad poets, as may be seen from many dedications of Quarles, and others to him. Some of these anagram'd his name, Bentowes into Benevolus; to verify which, he spent his whole estate upon them.
WARBURTON. VER. 22. And Shadwell nods the Poppy, &c.] Shadwell took opium for many years, and died of too large a dose, in the ye:r 1692. .
WARBURTON. Ver. 24. Old Bavius isits,] Bavius was an ancient poèi, celebrated by Virgil for the like cause as Bays by our Author, though not in so Christian-like a manner: for heathenishly it is declared by Virgil of Bavius, that he ought to be bated and detested for his evil works; Qui Bavium non odit; whereas we have often had occasion to observe our Poet's great good nature and mercifulness through the whole course of this poem.
And blunt the sense and fit it for a skull
25 Of solid proof, impenetrably dull ; Instant, when dipt, away they wing their flight, Where Brown and Mears unbar the gates of light, Demand new bodies, and in calf's array, Rush to the world, impatient for the day. 30 Millions and millions on these banks he views, Thick as the stars of night, or morning dews, As thick as bees o'er vernal blossoms fly, As thick as eggs at Ward in pillory.
Mr. Dennis warmly contends, that Bavius was no inconsiderable author; nay, that " he and Mævius had (even in Augustus's days) a very formidable party at Rome, who thought them much superior to Virgil and Horace: For (saith he) I cannot believe they would nave fixed that eternal brand upon them, if they had not been coxcombs in more than ordinary credit.” Rem. on Pr. Arthur, part ii. c. 1. An argument which, if this poem should last, will conduce to the honour of the gentlemen of the Dunciad.
WARBURTON. Ver. 28. Brown and Mears] Booksellers, printers for any body,—The allegory of the souls of the dull coming forth in the form of books, dressed in calf's leather, and being let abroad in vast numbers by booksellers, is sufficiently intelligible.
WARBURTON. Ver. 34. Ward in Pillory.] John Ward of Hackney, Esq. Member of Parliament, being convicted of forgery, was first expulled the House, and then sentenced to the pillory on the 17th of February 1727. Mr. Curl (having likewise stood there; looks upon the mention of such a gentleman in a satire, as a great act of barbarity, Key to the Dunc. 3d edit. p. 16. And another author reasons thus upon it. Durgen, 8vo. p. 11, 126
" How unworthy is it of Christian cbarity to animate the rabble to abuse a wortby mon in such a situation? What could move the Poet thus to mention a brave sufferer, a gallant prisoner, exposed to the view of all mankind ? It was laying aside his senses, it was committing a crime, for which the law is deficient not to punish him! nay, a
Wond'ring he gaz'd: when lo! a sage appears, By his broad shoulders known, and length of ears, Known by the band and suit which Settle wore (His only suit) for twice three years before :
crime which man can scarce forgive, or time efface! Nothing surely could have induced him to it but being bribed by a great lady,” &c. to whom this brave, honest, worthy gentleman was guilty of no offence but forgery, proved in open court. But it is evident this verse could not be meant of him; it being notorious, that 10 eggs were thrown at that gentleman. Perhaps therefore it might be intended of Mr. Edward Ward the Poet, when he stood there.
WARBURTON. Ver. 36. and length of years,] This is a sophistical reading. I think I may venture to affirm all the copyists are mistaken here : I believe I may say the same of the critics; Dennis, Oldmixon), Welsted have passed it in silence. I have also stumbled at it, and wondered how an error so manifest could escape such accurate persons. I dare assert it proceeded originally from the inadvertency of some transcriber, whose head ran on the pillory, mentioned tivo lines before; it is therefore amazing that Mr. Curl himself should overlook it ! yet that soboliast takes not the least notice hereof. That the learned Mist also read it thus, is plain from his rangiug this passage among those in which our Author was blamed for personal satire on a man's face (whereof doubtless he might take the bar to be a part); so likewise Concanen, Ralph, the Flying-Post, and all the herd of commentators.- Tota armenta sequuntur.
A very little sagacity (which all these gentlemen' therefore wanted) will restore us to the true sense of the Poet, thus,
“. By his broad shoulders known, and length of years.", See how easy a change; of one single letter! That Mr. Settle was old, is most certain ; but he was (happily) a stranger to the pillory. This note partly Mr. TuCOBALD's, partly SCRIBL.
WARBURTON. Ver. 37. Settle) Elkanah Settle was once a writer in vogue, as well as Cibber, both for dramatic poetry and politics. Mr. Dennis tells us, that “ he was a formidable rival to Mr. Dryden, and that in the university of Cambridge there were those who gave him the preference.”. Mr. Welsted goes yet farther in his behalf: “Poor Settle was formerly the mighty rival of Dryden ;
All as the vest, appear'd the wearer's frame,
« Oh born to see what none can see awake! «', Behold the wonders of th' oblivious lake.
44 “ Thou, yet unborn, hast touch'd this sacred shore ; “ The hand of Bavius drench'd thee o'er and o’er. “ But blind to former as to future fate, “ What mortal knows his pre-existent state ?
Who knows how long thy transmigrating soul
50 46. How many Dutchmen she vouchsaf'd to thrid ? “ How many stages thro’ old Monks she rid? " And all who since, in mild benighted days, “. Mixd the owl's ivy with the poet's bays.
nay, for many years, bore his reputation above him.” Pref. to his Poems, 8vo. p. 31. And Mr. Milbourn cried out,
« How little was Dryden able, even when his I lood run high, to defend himself against Mr Settle!” Notes ont Dryd. Virg. p. 175. These are comfortable opinions! and no wonder some authors indulge them.
He was author or publisher of many noted pamphlets in the time of King Charles II. He answered all Dryden's political poers; and being cried up on one side, succeeded not a little in his tragedy of the Empress of Morrocco (the first that was ever printed with cuts). “ Upon this he grew insolent, the wits writ against his play, he replied, and the town judged he had the better. In short, Settle was then thought a very formidable rival to Mr. Dryden; and not only the town, but the university of Cambridge, was divided which to prefer; and in both places the younger sort inclined te Eikanah.' DENNIS, Pref. to Rem. on Homer.
WARBURTON VOL. iv.
66 As man's meanders to the vital spring
55 “ Roll all their tides, then back their circles bring ; “ Or whirligigs, twirl'd round by skilful swain, o Suck the thread in, then yield it out again ; “ All nonsense thus, of old or modern date, « Shall in thee centre, from thee circulate. 60 “ For thus our Queen unfolds to vision true “ Thy mental
for thou hast much to view : “ Old scenes of glory, times long cast behind “ Shall, first recall’d, rush forward to thy mind : • Then stretch thy sight o'er all her rising reign, 65 “ And let the past and future fire thy brain.
“ Ascend this hill, whose cloudy point commands “ Her boundless empire over seas and lands. 66 See, round the poles where keener spangles shine, 6 Where spices smoke beneath the burning line, 70 * (Earth's wide extremes) her sable flag display'd, " And all the nations cover'd in her shade!
• Far eastward cast thine eye, from whence the
6. And orient science their bright course begun :
VER. 67. Ascend this bill, & c.) The scenes of this vision are remarkable for the order of their appearance. First from ver. 67 to 73, those places of the globe are shewn where science never rose; then, from ver. 74 to 83, those where she was destroyed by tyranny; from ver. 85 to 95, by inundations of Barbarians; from ver. 96 to 106, by superstition. Then Rome, the mistress of arts, is described in her degeneracy; and lastly Britain, the scene of the action of the poem ; which furnishes the occasion of drawing eut she progeny of Duluess in review.