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ARGUMENT OF THE FIRST BOOK.

THE Proposition, the Invocation, and the Inscription. Then the

Original of the great Empire of Dulness, and cause of the continuance thereof. The College of the Goddess in the City, with ber private Academy for Poets in particular; the Governors of it, and the four Cardinal Virtues. Then the Poem hastes into the midst of things, presenting her on the evening of a Lord Mayor's day, revolving the long succession of ber Sons, and the glories past and to come. Sbe fixes her eye on Bays to be the instrument of that great Event which is the Subject of the Poem. He is described pensive among his Books, giving up the Cause, and apprehending the Period of ber Empire: After ebating whether to betake himself to the Church, or to Gaming, or to Partywriting, be raises un Altar of proper books, and (making first his solemn prayer and declaration) purposes thereon to sacrifice all bis unsuccessful writings. As the pile is kindled, the Goddess, beholding the frame from ber seat, flies and puts it out by casting upon it the poem of Thulé. She forthwith reveals berself to him, transports bim to her Temple, unfolds her Arts, and initiates bim into ber mysteries ; then announcing the death of Eusden the Poet Laureate, anoints bim, carries him to court, and proclaims him Successor.

BOOK I.

THE mighty mother, and her son, who brings

The Smithfield muses to the ear of kings,
I sing. Say you, her instruments the great!
Call’d to this work by Dulness, Jove, and Fate;

You

VER. I. The mighty mother, &c. In the first edit. it was thus,

Books and the man I sing, the first who brings
The Sinithfield muses to the ear of kings.
Say, great patricians! since yourselves inspire
These wond'rous works (so Jove and Fate require)
Say, for what cause, in vain decry'd and curst,

Still The Dunciad, sic MS. It may well be disputed whether this be a right reading : Ought it not rather to be spelled. Dunceia.., as the etymology evidently demands ? Dunce with an e, therefore Dunceiad with an e. That accurate and punctual man of letters, the restorer of Shakespeare, constantly ohserves the preservation of this very letter e; in spelling the name of his beloved author, and not like his common careless editors, with the omission of one, nay sometimes of two ee's (as Shakspear) which is utterly unpardonable. “ Nor is the neglect of a single letter so trivial as to some it may appear: the alteration whereof in a learned language is an atchievement that brings honour to the critic who advances it; and Dr. Bentley will be remembered to posterity for his performances of this sort, as long as the world shall have any esteeme for the remains of Menander and Philemon.”

THEOBALD. This poem was written in the year 1726. In the next year an imperfect edition was published at Dublin, and reprinted at London in twelves; another at Dublin, and another at London in octavo; and three others in twelves the same year. But there was no perfect edition before that of London in quarto; which was attended

wich

G 2

You by whose care, in vain decry'd, and curst, 5 Still Dunce the second reigns like Dunce the first;

Say,

with notes.

We are willing to acquaint posterity, that this -poem was presented to King George the Second and his Queen, by the hands of Sir Robert Walpole, on the 12th of March 1728-9.

ScHoL. VET. It was expressly confessed in the preface to the first edition, that this poem was not published by the author himself. It was

printed originally in a foreign country. And what foreign country? Why, one notorious for blunders; where finding blanks only instead of proper names, these blunderers filled them up at their pleasure.

The very bero of the poem hath been mistaken to this hour; so that we are obliged to open our notes with a discovery who he really was. We learn from the former editor, that this piece was presented by the hands of Sir Robert Walpole to King George II. Now the author directly tells us, his hero is the man

_“ who brings The Smithfield muses to the ear of kings.” And it is notorious who was the person on whom this prince conferred the honour of the laurel.

It appears as plainly from the apostrophe to the great in the third verse, that Tibbald could not be the person, who was never an author in fashion, or caressed by the great: whereas this single characteristic is sufficient to point out the true hero; who, above all other poets of his time, was the peculiar delight and chosen companion of the nobility of England ; and wrote, as he himself tells us, certain of his works at the earnest desire of persons of quality.

Lastly, The sixth verse affords full proof; this poet being the only one who was universally known to have had a son so exactly like him, in his political, theatrical, political, and moral capacities, that it could justly be said of him, “ Still Dunce the second reigns like Dunce the first."

BENTLEY. Ver. I. The mighty mother and her son, &c.] The reader ought here to be cautioned, that the mother, and not the son, is the principal agent in this poem: the latter of them is only chosen as her colleague, (as was anciently the custom in Rome before some great expedition, the main action of the poem being by no means the coronation of the laureate, which is performed in the very first book, but the restoration of the empire of Dulness in Britain, which is not accomplished till the last.

WARBURTON

Say, how the goddess bade Britannia sleep,
And pour'd her spirit o'er the land and deep.

In eldest time, ere mortals writ or read,
Ere Pallas issu'd from the thund'rer's head,

Dulness

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VER. I. ber son, who brings, &c.] Wonderful is the stupidity of all the former critics and commentators on this work! It breaks forth at the very first line. The author of the critique prefixed to Sawney, a poem, p. 5. hath been so dull as to explain the man wbo brings, &c. not of the hero of the piece, but of our poet himself, as if he vaunted that kings were to be his readers; an honour, which, though this poem hach had, yet knoweth he how to receive it with more modesty.

We remit this ignorant to the first lines of the Æneid, assuring him that Virgil there speaketh not of himself, but of Æneis :

“ Arma virumque cano, Trojae qui primus ab oris

Italiam, fato profugus, Lavinaque venit

Littora: multum ille et terris jactatus et alto,” &c. I cite the whole three verses, that I may by the way offer a con. jectural emendation, purely my own, upon each: First, oris should be read aris, it being, as we see, Æn. ii. 513. from the altar of Jupiter Hercaeus that Æneas filed as soon as he saw Priam slain. In the second line I would read flatu for fato, since it is most clear it was by winds that he arrived at the shore of Italy. Jactatus, in the third, is surely as improperly applied to terris as proper to alto; to say a man is tost on land, is much at one with saying be walks at sea : Risum teneatis, amici? Correct it, as I doubt not it ought to be, vexatus.

SCRIBLERUS. VER. 2. The Smithfield muses] Smithfield is the place where Bartholomew fair was kept, whose shews, machines, and dramatical entertainments, formerly agreeable only to the taste of the rabble, were, by the hero of this poem, and others of equal genius, brought to the theatres of Covent Garden, Lincoln's-inn-fields, and the Haymarket, to be the reigning pleasures of the court and town. This happened in the reigns of King George I. and II. See Book iii.

WARBURTON. Ver. 6.) Alluding to a verse of Mr. Dryden, not in MacFleckno (as is said ignorantly in the Key to the Dunciad, p. I.) but in his verses to Mr. Congreve,

" And Tom the second reigns like Tom the first."

15

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 restore. 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' easy chair,
Or praise the court, or magnify mankind,
Or thy griev'd country's copper chains unbind;
From thy Beotia tho' her pow'r retires,

25 Mourn not, my Swift! at ought our realm acquires.

Here

VER. 12. Daughter of Chaos, &c.] The beauty of the whole allegory being purely of the poetical kind, we think it not our proper business, as a scholiast, to meddle with it: but leave it (as we shall in general all such) to the reader; remarking only that Chaos (according to Hesiod's Osogovic) was the progenitor of all the Gods.

SCRIBLERUS. After ver. 22. in the MS.

Or in the graver gown instruct mankind,

Or silent let thy morals tell thy mind. But this was to be understood, as the poet says, ironicè, like the 23d verse.

VER. 23. Or praise the court, or magnify mankind,] Ironicè, alluding to Gulliver's representations of both. The next line relates to the papers of the Drapier against the currency of Wood's copper coin in Ireland, which, upon the great discontent of the people, His Majesty was graciously pleased to recal.

WARBURTON.

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