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ARGUMENT TO BOOK THE FIRST.
THE Proposition, the Invocation, and the Inscription. Then the Original of the great Empire of Dulness, and cause of the continuance thereof. The beloved seat of the Goddess is described, with ber chief attendants and officers, her functions, operations, and effects. Then the Poem bastes into the midst of things, presenting ber on the evening of a Lord Mayor's day, revolving the long succession of ber sons, and the glories past and to come. She fixes ber eye on Tibbald to be the instrument of that great event which is the subject of the Poem. He is described pensive in his study, giving up the cause, and apprehending the period of her empire from the old age of the present monarch Settle: Wherefore debating whether to betake himself to Law or Politicks, be raises an altar of proper books, and (making first his solemn prayer and declaration) purposes thereon to sacrifice all his unsuccessful writings. As the pile is kindled, the Goddess beholding the flame from ber seat, flies in person, and puts it out, by casting upon it the poem of Thule. She forthwith reveals herself to him,transports him to her Temple, unfolds ber arts, and initiates him into her mysteries; then announcing the death of Settle that night, anoints, and proclaims him Successor.
BOOKS and the Man I sing, the first who brings
The Smithfield muses to the ear of kings.
Say, great Patricians! (since yourselves inspire
These wond'rous works: so Jove and Fate require)
Say from what cause, in vain decry'd and curst,
Still Dunce the second reigns like Dunce the first.
In eldest time, e'er mortals writ or read,
E'er Pallas issu'd from the Thund'rer's head,
Dulness o'er all possess'd her ancient right,
Daughter of Chaos and eternal Night:
Fate in their dotage this fair ideot gave,
Gross as her sire, and as her mother grave,
Laborious, heavy, busy, bold, and blind,
She rul❜d in native anarchy, the mind.
Still her old empire to confirm, she tries,
For born a goddess, Dulness never dies.
O THOU! whatever title please thine ear,
Dean, Drapier, Bickerstaff, or Gulliver,
Whether thou chuse Cervantes' serious air,
Or laugh and shake in Rab❜lais chair,
Or praise the court, or magnify mankind,
Or thy griev'd country's copper chains unbind;
From thy Boeotia tho' her pow'r retires,
Grieve not, my SWIFT! at ought our realm acquires, Here pleas'd behold her mighty wings outspread 25 To hatch a new Saturnian age of lead.
Where wave the tatter'd ensigns of Rag-fair,
A yawning ruin hangs and nods in air;
Keen, hollow winds howl thro' the bleak recess,
Emblem of music caus'd by emptiness.
Here in one bed two shiv'ring sisters lye,
The cave of Poverty and Poetry.
This, the great mother dearer held than all
The clubs of Quidnunc's, or her own Guild-hall.
Here stood her opium, here she nurs'd her owls, 35
And destin❜d here the imperial seat of fools.
Hence springs each weekly muse, the living boast
Of Curl's chaste press, and Lintot's rubric post,
Hence hymning Tyburn's elegiac lay,
Hence the soft sing-song on Cecilia's day,
Sepulchral lyes, our holy walls to grace,
And New-year odes, and all the Grub-street race.
'Twas here in clouded majesty she shone ;
Four guardian virtues, round, support her throne;
Fierce champion Fortitude, that knows no fears
Of hisses, blows, or want, or loss of ears:
Calm Temperance, whose blessings those partake
Who hunger, and who thirst, for scribling sake:
Prudence, whose glass presents th' approaching jayl:
Poetic Justice, with her lifted scale;
Where, in nice balance, truth with gold she weighs, And solid pudding against empty praise.
Here she beholds the chaos dark and deep,
Where nameless somethings in their causes sleep,
Till genial Jacob, or a warm third-day
Call forth each mass, a poem, or a play :
How hints, like spawn, scarce quick in embryo lie,
How new-born nonsense first is taught to cry,
Maggots half-form'd in rhyme exactly meet,
And learn to crawl upon poetic feet.
Here one poor word an hundred clenches makes,
And ductile Dulness new meanders takes;
There motley images her fancy strike,
Figures ill-pair'd, and similies unlike.
She sees a mob of metaphors advance,
Pleas'd with the madness of the mazy dance:
How Tragedy and Comedy embrace;
How Farce and Epic get a jumbled race;
How Time himself stands still at her command,
Realms shift their place, and ocean turns to land. 70
Here gay Description Ægypt glads with show'rs,
Or gives to Zembla fruits, to Barca flow'rs;
Glitt'ring with ice here hoary hills are seen,
There painted vallies of eternal green,
On cold December fragrant chaplets blow,
And heavy harvests nod beneath the snow.
All these and more, the cloud-compelling Queen Beholds thro' fogs, that magnify the scene :