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fraudulent proceeding, she finds a method to reconcile their differThen enter a troop of people fantastically adorn'd, offering ber 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 beforementioned, 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 hy a bearty address from the Minute Philosophers and Freethinkers, 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 ber 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.
YET, yet a moment, one dim ray of light
Of darkness visible so much be lent,
As half to shew, half veil the deep intent.
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. BENTLEY. POPE.
VER. I, &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 re-united to her. SCRIBLERUS. POPE.
VER. 2. dread Chaos, and eternal Night!] Invoked, as the restoration of their empire is the action of the poem. VER. 4. half to shew, balf veil the deep intent.] This is a great propriety, for a dull poet can never express himself otherwise than by halves, or imperfectly. SCRIBLERUS. POPE.
I understand it very differently; the Author in this work had indeed a deep intent; there were in it mysteries, or åæóppnla, which he durst not fully reveal; and doubtless in divers verses (according to Milton)
-"more is meant than meets the ear."
Ye Pow'rs! whose mysteries restor❜d I sing,
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 toward 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 lanthorn of LYCOPHRON, than to trim the everlasting lamp of Homer. SCRIBLERUS. POPE.
VER. 7. force inertly strong,] Alluding to the vis inertia of matter, which, though it really be no power, is yet the foundation of all the qualities and attributes of that sluggish substance.
VER. 14. To blot out order, and extinguish light,] The two great ends of her mission; the one in quality of daughter of Chaos,
Of dull and venal a new world to mold,
And bring Saturnian days of lead and gold.
She mounts the throne: her head a cloud conceal'd,, In broad effulgence all below reveal'd, ("Tis thus aspiring Dulness ever shines)
Soft on her lap her laureat son reclines.
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 in-tellectual only; wit, science, arts.
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. POPE.
Fbid. 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.,
VER. 16. lead and gold] i. e. dull and venal.
VER. 18. all below reveal'd, 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 bigher you climb, the more you show your aVerified in no instance more than in Dulness aspiring. Emblematized also by an ape climbing and exposing his posteriors. SCRIBLERUS. POPE.
VER. 20. ber 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, well considered, to seem strange in our days, when so many kingconsorts have done the like. SCRIBLERUS. POPE.:
"When I find my name in the satirical works of this Poet, I never look upon it as any malice meant to me, but PROFIT to
Beneath her foot-stool, Science groans in chains, And Wit dreads exile, penalties, and pains. There foam'd rebellious Logic, gagg'd and bound, There, stript, fair Rhet'ric languish'd on the ground; His blunted arms by Sophistry are born, And shameless Billingsgate her robes adorn. Morality, by her false guardians drawn, Chicane in furs, and Casuistry in lawn, Gasps, as they straiten at each end the cord, And dies, when Dulness gives her Page the word.
himself. For he considers that my face is more known than most in the nation; and therefore a lick at the Laureat will be a sure bait ad captandum vulgus, to catch little readers." Life of Colley Cibber, ch. ii.
Now if it be certain, that the works of our Poet have owed their success to thi; ingenious expedient, we hence derive an unanswerable argument, that this Fourth DUNCIAD, as well as the former three, hath had the Author's last hand, and was by him intended for the press: or else to what purpose hath he crowned it, as we see, by this finishing stroke, the profitable lick at the BENTLEY. POPE
VER. 21, 22. Beneath her foot-stool, &c.] We are next presented with the pictures of those whom the Goddess leads in captivity. Science is only depressed and confined so as to be rendered useless; but Wit or Genius, as a more dangerous and active enemy, punished, or driven away: Dulness being often reconciled in some degree with Learning, but never upon any terms with Wit. And accordingly it will be seen that she admits something like each science, as Casuistry, Sophistry, &c. but nothing like Wit, Opera alone supplying its place.
VER. 30. gives her Page the word.] There was a judge of this name, always ready to hang any man that came in his way; of which he was suffered to give a hundred miserable examples during a long life, even to his dotage-Though the candid Scriblerus imagined Page here to mean no more than a page or mute, and to allude to the custom of strangling of state criminals in Turkey by