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The sturdy Squire to Gallic masters stoop,
595 And drown his lands and Manors in a Soup. Others import yet nobler arts from France, Teach Kings to fiddle, and make Senates dance. Perhaps more high some daring son may soar, Proud to my list to add one Monarch more ; 600 And nobly conscious, Princes are but things Born for First Ministers, as slaves for Kings, Tyrant supreme! shall three Estates command, And MAKE ONE MIGHTY DUNCIAD OF THE LAND!
More she had spoke, but yawn'd-All Nature nods: What mortal can resist the Yawn of Gods? 606
Ver. 562. Teach Kings to fiddle,] An ancient amusement of Sovereign Princes, (viz.) Achilles, Alexander, Nero; though despised by Themistocles, who was a Republican.-- Make Senates dance, either after their Prince, or to Pontoise, or Siberia.
P. * Ibid. made Senates dance.] Alludes to the frequent banishments of the parliaments of France, when they exerted, a noble spirit of opposition to despotic power. In the Annual Registers of those times, are many spirited remarks on these banishments by a man of great genius.
Ver. 602. Princes are, but things] The making ministers of more real importance than princes, is admirably severe.
Ver. 606. What Mortal can resist the yawn of Gods ?] This verse is truly Homerical; as is the conclusion of the Action, where the great Mother composes all, in the same manner as Minerva at the period of the OdysseyIt may indeed seem a very singular Epitasis of a Poem, to end as this dges, withjat Great Yawn; but we must consider it as the Yawn of a God, and of powerful effects. Nor is it out of nature; most long and grave counsels concluding in this very manner: nor yet without authority, the incomparable Spenser having ended one of the most considerable of his works with a Roar; but then it is the Roar óf á Lion, the effects whereof (as here of the Yawn) are de . scribed as the Catastrophe of the Poem, P...
Churches and Chapels instantly it reach'd
610 Lost was the Nation's Sense, nor could be found, While the long solemn Unison went round :
Ver. 607. Churches and Chapels, &c.] The Progress of this Yawn is judicious, natural, and worthy to be noted. First it seizeth the Churches and Chapels; then catcheth the Schools, where, though the boys be unwilling to sleep, the Masters are not : next Westminster-hall, much more hard indeed to subdue, and not totally put to silence even by the Goddess: then the Convocation, which though extremely desirous to speak, yet can. not; even in the House of Commons, justly called the Sense of the Nation, is lost (that is to say suspended) during the Yawn; (far be it from our Author to suggest it could be lost any longer!) but it spreadeth at large over all the rest of the Kingdom, to such a degree, that Palinurus himself (though as incapable of sleeping as Jupiter himself) yet noddeth for a moment: the effect of which, though ever so momentary, could not but cause some relaxation, for the time, in all public affairs. Scribl.
Ver. 608. for leaden G-] He meant Dr. Gilbert, Bishop of Salisbury. He had never given Pope any particular offence : but he had attacked Dr. King of Oxford, whom Pope much respected. And this attack was made in a rude and rough manner.
Ver. 612. The Convocation gap'd, but could not speak:] Imply. ing a great desire so to do, as the learned Scholiast on the place rightly observes. Therefore, beware, Reader, lest thou take this Gape for a Yawn, which is attended with no desire, but to go to rest; by no means the disposition of the Convocation : whose melancholy case is this : She was, as is reported, infected with the general influence of the Goddess; and while she was yawning carelessly at her ease, a wanton Courtier took her at advantage, and in the very nick, clapped a Gag into her mouth. Well therefore may we know her meaning by her gaping; and this distressful posture which our poet here describes, is just as she stands at this day, a sad example of the effects of Dulness and Malice unchecked and despised. Bentl.
Wide, and more wide, it spread o'er all the realm;
O Muse! relate (for you can tell alone,
Ver. 615. 618. These Verses were written many years ago, and
may be found in the State Poems of that time. So that Scriblerus is mistaken, or whoever else have imagined this Poem of a fresher date. P.
Ver. 619. O Muse! relate] Mr. Gray's opinion of this fourth book was as follows: “ The genii of operas, and schools, with their attendants, the pleas of the virtuosos and florists, and the yawn of Dulness in the end, are as fine as any thing he has written. The metaphysician's part is to me the worst; and here and there a few ill-expressed lines, and some hardly intelligible.”
Ver. 620. Wits have short Memories,] This seemeth to be the reason why the Poets, whenever they give us a Catalogue, constantly call for help on the Muses, who, as the Daughters of Memory, are obliged not to forget any thing. So Homer, Iliad ii. (ver. 488.)
Πληθυν δ' ουκ αν εγώ μυθήσομαι, ουδ' όνομήνω-
θυγατέρες, μνησαίαθ' And Virg. Æneid. vii.
“ Et meministis enim, Divæ, et memorare potestis: ..
Ad nos vix tenuis famæ perlabitur aura." But our Poet had yet another reason for putting this task upon the Muse, that, all besides being asleep, she only could relate what passed. Scribl. P. *
What Charms could Faction, what Ambition, lull,
625 O sing, and hush the Nations with thy Song !
In vain, in vain,—the all-composing Hour Resistless falls: the Muse obeys the Pow'r. She comes ! she comes ! the sable throne behold Of Night Primeval, and of Chaos old !
630 Before her, Fancy's gilded clouds decay, And all its varying Rainbows die away. Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires, The meteor drops, and in a flash expires. As one by one, at dread Medea's strain, 635 The sick’ning stars fade off th' ethereal plain; As Argus' eyes, by Hermes' wand opprest, Clos’d one by one to everlasting rest; Thus at her felt approach, and secret might, Art after Art goes out, and all is Night. 640 See skulking Truth to her old cavern fled, Mountains of Casuistry heap'd o'er her head !
Ver. 621. Relate, who first, who last, resign'd to rest ;
Whose heads she partly, whose completely blest.] “Quem telo primum, quein postremum aspera Virgo Dejicis ? aut quot humi morientia copora fundis ?"
Virg. W. Ver. 637. As Argus' eyes, &c.]
“Et quamvis sopor est oculorum parte receptus,
Vidit Cyllenius omnes
Ovid. Met. ï. W.
Philosophy, that lean’d on Heav'n before,
Philosophy, that reach'd the Heav'ns before,
Ver. 643. Philosophy, that lean'd on Heav'n] Philosophy has at length brought things to that pass, as to have it esteemed unphilosophical to rest in the first cause; as if its business were an endless indagation of cause after cause, without ever coming to the First. So that to avoid this unlearned disgrace, some of the propagators of our best philosophy have had recourse to the contrivance here hinted at. For this philosophy, which is founded on the principle of Gravitation, first considered that property in matter as something extrinsical to it, and impressed by God upon it. Which fairly and modestly coming up to the first Cause, was pushing natural inquiries as far as they should go. But this stopping, though at the extent of our ideas, and on the maxim of the great founder of this Philosophy, Bacon, who says, Circa ultimates rerum frustranea est inquisitio, was mistaken by foreign philosophers as recurring to the occult qualities of the Peripatetics; whose sense is thus delivered by a great Poet, whom, indeed, it more became than a Philosopher.
“Sed gravitas, etiam crescat, dum corpora centro
Anti-Lucr. To avoid which imaginary discredit to the new theory, it was thought proper to seek for the cause of gravitation in a certain subtile matter or elastic
fluid, which pervaded all body. By this means, instead of really advancing in natural inquiries, we were brought back again, by this ingenious expedient, to an unsatisfactory second cause :
Philosophy, that lean'd on Heav'n before,
Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more.” For it might still, by the same kind of objection, be asked, what was the cause of that elasticity ? See this folly censured, ver. 475, VOL. V.