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Now (shame to Fortune!) an ill run at play
Blank'd his bold visage, and a thin third day:


obtained some correspondence with Mr. Wycherley and Mr. Congreve, he immediately obliged the public with their letters. He made himself known to the government by many admirable schemes and projects; which the ministry, for reasons best known to themselves, constantly kept private. For his character, as a writer, it is given us as follows: "Mr. Dennis is excellent at Pindaric writings, perfectly regular in all his performances, and a person of sound learning. That he is master of a great deal of penetration and judgment, his criticisms (particularly on Prince Arthur) do sufficiently demonstrate." From the same account it also appears that he writ Plays "more to get reputation than money." DENNIS of himself. See Giles Jacob's Lives of Dram. Poets, p. 68, 69. compared with 286. WARBURTON.

VER. 108. But chief in BAYs's, &c.] In the former Editions


But chief, in Tibbald's monster-breeding-breast;
Sees Gods with Demons in strange league engage,
And earth, and heav'n, and hell, her battles wage.
She ey'd the Bard, where supperless he sate,
And pin'd, unconscious of his rising fate;
Studious he sate, with all his books around,
Sinking from thought to thought, &c.

Var. Tibbald Author of a pamphlet intitled, Shakespear restor'd. During two whole years, while Mr. Pope was preparing his edition of Shakespear, he published advertisements, requesting assistance and promising satisfaction to any who could contribute to its greater perfection. But this Restorer, who was at that time soliciting favours of him by letters, did wholly conceal his defign, till after its publication: (which he was since not ashamed to own, in a Daily Journal of Nov. 26, 1728.) And then an outcry was made in the prints, that our Author had joined with the Bookseller to raise an extravagant subscription; in which he had no share, of which he had no knowledge, and against which he had publicly advertised in his own proposals for Homer. Probably that proceeding elevated Tibbald to the dignity he holds in this Poem, which he seems to deserve no other way better than his brethren; unless we impute it to the share he had in the Journals, cited among the Testimonies of Authors prefixed to this work.



Swearing and supperless the hero sate,
Blasphem'd his gods, the dice, and damn'd his fate.
Then gnaw'd his pen, then dash'd it on the ground,
Sinking from thought to thought, a vast profound!
Plung'd for his sense, but found no bottom there,
Yet wrote and flounder'd on, in mere despair.
Round him much embryo, much abortion lay,
Much future ode, and abdicated play;


VER. 109. Bays, form'd by nature, &c.] It is hoped the Poet here hath done full justice to his hero's character, which it were a great mistake to imagine was wholly sunk in stupidity: he is al lowed to have supported it with a wonderful mixture of vivacity. This character is heightened according to his own desire, in a letter he wrote to our author: "Pert and dull at least you might have allowed me. What am I only to be dull, and dull still, and again, and for ever?" He then solemnly appealed to his own conscience," that he could not think himself so, nor believe that our Poet did; but that he spoke worse of him than he could possibly think; and concluded it must be merely to show his wit, or for some profit or lucre to himself." Life of C. C. chap. vii. and Letter to Mr. P. pag. 15. 40. 53. And to show his claim to what the Poet was so unwilling to allow him, of being pert as well as dull, he declares he will have the last word: which occasioned the following Epigram:

Quoth Cibber to Pope, Tho' in verse you foreclose,
I'll have the last word; for, by G-, I'll write prose.
Poor Colly, thy reas'ning is none of the strongest,
For know, the last word is the word that lasts longest.


He roll'd his eyes that witness'd huge dismay,
Where yet unpawn'd, much learned lumber lay;
Volumes, whose size the space exactly fill'd,
Or which fond authors were so good to gild,
Or where, by sculpture made for ever known,
The page admires new beauties not its own.
Here swells the shelf, &c.-


VER. 121. Round him much embryo, &c.] In the former editions



Nonsense precipitate, like running lead,

That slipp'd thro' cracks and zig-zags of the head; All that on folly frenzy could beget,


Fruits of dull heat, and sooterkins of wit.
Next, o'er his books his eyes began to roll,
In pleasing memory of all he stole,


How here he sipp'd, how there he plunder'd snug,
And suck'd all o'er, like an industrious bug.
Here lay poor Fletcher's half-eat scenes, and here
The frippery of crucify'd Moliere;

There hapless Shakespear, yet of Tibbald sore,
Wish'd he had blotted for himself before.


Var. He roll'd bis eyes that witness'd huge dismay,} "round he throws his eyes,

That witness'd huge affliction and dismay."

MILT. b. i.

The progress of a bad poet in his thoughts being (like the progress of the devil in Milton) through a Chaos, might probably suggest this imitation. WARBURTON.

VER. 131. poor Fletcher's half-eat scenes,] A great number of them taken out to patch up his plays. WARBURTON.

VER. 132. The frippery] "When I fitted up an old play, it was as a good housewife will mend old linen, when she has not better employment." Life, p. 217, octavo. WARBURTON.

VER. 133. hapless Shakespear, &c.] It is not to be doubted but Bays was a subscriber to Tibbald's Shakespear. He was frequently liberal this way: and, as he tells us," subscribed to Mr. Pope's Homer, out of pure generosity and civility; but when Mr. Pope did so to his Nonjuror, he concluded it could be nothing but a joke." Letter to Mr. P. p. 24.

This Tibbald, or Theobald, published an edition of Shakespear, of which he was so proud himself as to say, in one of Mist's Journals, June 8, "That to expose any errors in it was impracticable." And in another, April 27, "That whatever care might for the future be taken by any other Editor, he would still give above five hundred emendations, that shall escape them all."


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The rest on out-side merit but presume,
Or serve (like other fools) to fill a room;
Such with their shelves as due proportion hold,
Or their fond parents drest in red and gold;
Or where the pictures for the page atone,
And Quarles is sav'd by beauties not his own.
Here swells the shelf with Ogilby the great;
There, stamp'd with arms, Newcastle shines complete:
Here all his suff'ring brotherhood retire,
And 'scape the martyrdom of jakes and fire:
A Gothic library! of Greece and Rome
Well purg'd, and worthy Settle, Banks, and Brome.





VER. 134. Wish'd he had blotted] It was a ridiculous praise which the players gave to Shakespear, "that he never blotted a line." Ben Johnson honestly wished he had blotted a thousand; and Shakespear would certainly have wished the same, if he had lived to see those alterations in his works, which, not the actors only (and especially the daring hero of this poem) have made on the stage, but the presumptuous critics of our days in their editions. WARBURTON.

VER. 135. The rest on out-side merit, &c.] This library is diided into three parts; the first consists of those authors from whom he stole, and whose works he mangled; the second, of such as fitted the shelves, or were gilded for shew, or adorned with pictures; the third class our author calls solid learning, old bodies of divinity, old commentaries, old English printers, or old English translations; all very voluminous, and fit to erect altars to dulness. WARBURTON.

VER. 141. Ogilby the great;] "John Ogilby was one who, from a late initiation into literature, made such a progress as might well style him the prodigy of his time! sending into the world so many large volumes! His translations of Homer and Virgil done to the life, and with such excellent sculptures: And (what added great grace to his works) he printed them all on special good paper, and in a very good letter." WINSTANLY, Lives of Poets.


But, high above, more solid learning shone, The classics of an age that heard of none; There Caxton slept, with Wynkyn at his side, One clasp'd in wood, and one in strong cow-hide; There,

VER. 146. In the first edit. it was,

Well purg'd, and worthy W-y, W-s, and Bl And in the following altered to Withers, Quarles, and Blome, on which was the following note:

It was printed in the surreptitious editions, Westly, Watts, who were persons eminent for good life: the one writ the life of Christ in verse, the other some valuable pieces in the lyric kind on pious subjects. The line is here restored according to its original.

George Withers was a great pretender to poetical zeal against the vices of the times, and abused the greatest personages in power, which brought upon him frequent correction. The Marshalsea and Newgate were no strangers to him." WINSTANLY.

Quarles was as dull a writer, but an honester man. Blome's books are remarkable for their cuts.

VER. 146. worthy Settle, Banks, and Broome.] The poet has mentioned these three authors in particular, as they are parallel to our hero in his three capacities: 1. Settle was his brother laureate; only indeed upon half-pay, for the city instead of the court; but equally famous for unintelligible flights in his poems on public occasions, such as shows, birth-days, &c. 2. Banks was his rival in tragedy (tho' more successful) in one of his tragedies, the Earl of Essex, which is yet alive: Anna Boleyn, the Queen of Scots, and Cyrus the Great, are dead and gone. These he drest in a sort of beggar's velvet, or a happy mixture of the thick fustian, and thin prosaic; exactly imitated in Perolla and Isidora, Casar in Egypt, and the Heroic Daughter. 3. Broome was a serving man of Ben Jonson, who once picked up a comedy from his betters, or from some cast scenes of his master, not entirely contemptible.


VER. 149. Caxton] A printer in the time of Edw. IV. Rich. III. and Hen. VII. Wynkyn de Word, his successor, in that of Hen. VII. and VIII. The former, whom Bale intitles, Vir non omnino stupidus, translated into prose, Virgil's Æneis, as a history; of which he speaks, in his Proeme, in a very singular manner, as of a book hardly known. "Happened that to my hande cam a lytyl book in frenche, whiche late was translated out of latyn by some noble clerke of fraunce, whiche booke is named Eneydos, (made in


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