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Mad Mathesis alone was unconfin'd,
Too mad for mere material chains to bind,
Now running round the circle, finds its square.
The dagger wont to pierce the tyrant's breast;
mutes or pages. A practice more decent than that of our Page, who, before he hanged any one, loaded him with reproachful language: SCRIBLERUS. POPE.
VER. 31. Mad Máthesis] Alluding to the strange conclusions: some mathematicians have deduced from their principles, concern-> ing the real quantity of matter, the reality of space, &c. РОРЕ.
VER. 34. running round the circle, finds its square.] Regards, the wild and fruitless attempts of squaring the circle.
VER. 36. Watch'd both by Envy's and by Flatt'ry's eye :] One of the misfortunes falling on authors, from the act for subjecting plays to the power of a licenser, being the false representations to which they were exposed, from such as either gratified their? envy to merit, or made their court to greatness, by perverting general reflections against vice into libels on particular persons.
VER. 43. Nor cou'd'st thou, c.] This noble person, in the year 1737, when the act aforesaid was brought into the House of Lords, opposed it in an excellent speech (says Mr. Cibber)" with a lively spirit, and uncommon eloquence." This speech had the
When lo! a harlot form soft sliding by,
With mincing step, small voice, and languid eye:
She tripp'd and laugh'd, too pretty much to stand; Cast on the prostrate Nine a scornful look,
Then thus in quaint recitative spoke :
O Cara! Cara! silence all that train: Joy to great Chaos! let Division reign:
honour to be answered by the said Mr. Cibber, with a lively spirit also, and in a manner very uncommon, in the 8th chapter of his Life and Manners. And here, gentle reader, would I gladly insert the other speech, whereby thou mightest judge between them: but I must defer it on account of some differences not yet adjusted between the noble author and myself, concerning the true reading of certain passages. BENTLEY. POPE.
VER. 45. When lo! a harlot form] The attitude given to this phantom represents the nature and genius of the Italian opera; its affected airs, its effeminate sounds, and the practice of patching up these operas with favourite songs, incoherently put together. These things were supported by the subscriptions of the nobility. This circumstance, that OPERA should prepare for the opening of the grand sessions, was prophesied of in Book iii. ver. 304. Already Opera prepares the way,
The sure fore-runner of her gentle sway."
VER. 54. let Division reign:] Alluding to the false taste of playing tricks with music with numberless divisions, to the neglect of that harmony which conforms to the sense, and applies to the passions. Mr. Handel had introduced a great number of hands and more variety of instruments into the orchestra, and employed even drums and cannon to make a fuller chorus; which proved so much too manly for the fine gentlemen of his age, that he was obliged to remove his music into Ireland. After which they were reduced, for want of composers, to practise the patch-work abovementioned. PODE
Chromatic tortures soon shall drive them hence,
But soon, ah
If music meanly borrows aid from sense:
Strong in new arms, lo! giant HANDEL stands, 65
VER. 61. thy own Phœbus, reigns,]
"Tuus jam regnat Apollo."
Not the ancient Phabus, the god of harmony, out a modern Phebus of French extraction, married to the Princess Galimathia, one of the handmaids of Dulness, and an assistant to Opera, Of whom see Boubours, and other critics of that nation.
VER. 71. Fame's posterior trumpet] Posterior, viz. her second or more certain report: unless we imagine this word posterior to relate to the position of one of her trumpets, according to Hudibras:
"She blows not both with the same wind,
But one before and one behind:
And therefore modern authors name
One good, and t'other evil fame."
None want a place, for all their centre found,
Who gently drawn, and struggling less and less,
Not those alone who passive own her laws,
But who, weak rebels, more advance her cause.
Whate'er of dunce in college or in town
Sneers at another, in toupee or gown;
VER. 75. None need a guide,— None want a place,] The sons of Dulness want no instructors in study, nor guides in life: they are their own masters in all sciences, and their own heralds and introducers into all places. POPE.
VER. 76 to 101.] It ought to be observed that here are three classes in this assembly. The first of men absolutely and avowedly dull, who naturally adhere to the Goddess, and are represented in the simile of the bees about their queen. The second involuntarily drawn to her, though not caring to own her influence; from ver. 81 to 90. The third, of such as, though not members of her
Who false to Phoebus, bow the knee to Baal;
There march'd the bard and blockhead, side by side, Who rhym'd for hire, and patroniz'd for pride. Narcissus, prais'd with all a parson's pow'r, Look'd a white lilly sunk beneath a show'r. There mov'd Montalto with superior air; His stretch'd-out arm display'd a volume fair ; Courtiers and patriots in two ranks divide, Thro' both he pass'd, and bow'd from side to side:
her state, yet advance her service by flattering Dulness, cultivating mistaken talents, patronizing vile scribblers, discouraging living merit, or setting up for wits, and men of taste in arts they understand not; from ver. 91 to 101. POPE.
VER. 93. false to Phoebus,] Spoken of the ancient and true Phabus; not the French Phabus, who hath no chosen priests or poets, but equally inspires any man that pleaseth to sing or preach. SCRIBLERUS. POPE.
VER. 99, 100. And (last and worst) with all the cant of wit, Without the soul, the muse's hypocrit.] In this division are reckoned up, 1. The idolizers of Dulness in the great..—2. Il judges-3. Ill writers. - 4. Ill patrons. But the last and worst, as he justly calls him, is the muse's hypocrite, who is, as it were, the epitome of them all. He who thinks the only end of poetry is to amuse, and the only business of the poet to be witty; and consequently who cultivates only such trifling talents in himself, and encourages only such in others.