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O ever gracious to perplex'd mankind !
, Old puns restore, lost blunders nicely seek, And crucify poor Shakspeare once a week. For thee I dim these eyes, and stuff this head, 165 With all such reading as was never read; For thee supplying, in the worst of days, Notes to dull books, and prologues to dull plays; For thee explain a thing till all men doubt it, And write about it, Goddess, and about it; 170 So spins the silk-worm small its slender store, And labours, till it clouds itself all o’er. Not that my quill to Critiques was confin'd, My Verse gave ampler lessons to mankind; So gravest precepts may successless prove, 175 But sad examples never fail to move. As, forc'd from wind-guns, lead itself can fly,' And pond'rous slugs cut swiftly thro’ the sky : As clocks to weight their nimble motion owe, The wheels above urg'd by the load below; 180 Me, emptiness and dulness could inspire, And were my elasticity and fire.
Had Heav'n decreed such works a longer date,
gray-goose weapon must have made her stand. But what can I? my Flaccus cast aside, Take
up th’ Attorney's (once my better) guide ? 190 Or rob the Roman geese of all their glories, And save the state by cackling to the Tories ? Yes, to my Country I my pen consign, Yes, from this moment, mighty Mist ! am thine, And rival, Curtius ! of thy fame and zeal, 195 O'er head and ears plunge for the public weal. Adieu, my children ! better thus expire Unstall’d, unsold, thus glorious mount in fire, Fair without spot; than greas'd by grocers' hands, Or ship'd with Ward to ape and monkey lands, 200 Or wafting ginger, round the streets to go, And visit alehouse where
ye With that, he lifted thrice the sparkling brand, And thrice he dropt it from his quiv’ring hand : Then lights the structure, with averted eyes ; 205 The rolling smokes involve the sacrifice. The op’ning clouds disclose each work by turns, Now flames old Memnon, now Rodrigo burns, In one quick flash see Proserpine expire, And last, his own cold Æschylus took fire. 210 Then gush'd the tears, as from the Trojan's eyes When the last blaze sent Ilion to the skies.
Rous’d by the light, old Dulness heav'd the head; Then snatch'd a sheet of Thule from her bed,
first did grow.
Sudden she flies, and whelms it o'er the pyre, 215 Down sink the flames, and with a hiss expire.
Her ample presence fills up all the place; A veil of fogs dilates her awful face : Great in her charms! as when on Shrieves and May’rs She looks, and breathes herself into their airs. 220 She bids him wait her to the sacred Dome; Well-pleas'd he enter'd, and confess'd his home : So Spirits ending their terrestrial race, Ascend and recognise their native place. Raptur'd, he gazes round the dear retreat, 225 And in sweet numbers celebrates the seat.
Here to her Chosen all her works she shews; Prose swell’d to verse, Verse loitring into prose; How random thoughts now meaning chance to find, Now leave all memory of sense behind : 230 How prologues into prefaces decay, And these to notes are fritter'd quite away. How index-learning turns no student pale, Yet holds the eel of science by the tail. 234 How, with less reading than makes felons 'scape, Less human genius than God gives an ape, Small thanks to France, and none to Rome or Greece, A past, vamp’d, future, old, reviv'd, new piece, 'Twixt Plautus, Fletcher, Congreve, and Corneille, Can make a Cibber, Johnson, or Ozell.
240 The Goddess then, o'er his anointed head, With mystic words, the sacred Opium shed; And lo! her bird, a 'monster of a fowl !
a Something betwixt a Heideggre and owl, Perch'd on his crown. All hail! and hail again, My son ! the promis’d land expects thy reign. 246
Know, Settle cloy'd with custard, and with praise,
grace the quire.
laws obey, Till Albion, as Hibernia, bless my sway. She ceas'd : her owls responsive clap the wing, And Grub-street garrets roar, God save the king. 260 So when Jove’s block descended from on high (As sings thy great forefather, Ogilby), Loud thunder to its bottom shook the bog, And the hoarse nation croak’d, God save King Log.
END OF THE FIRST BOOK.