Poetical Works of Pope, Vol. II
Alexander Pope

Part 5 out of 8

'Mr Addison raised this author from obscurity, obtained him the
acquaintance and friendship of the whole body of our nobility, and
transferred his powerful interests with those great men to this rising
bard, who frequently levied by that means unusual contributions on the
public.' Which surely cannot be, if, as the author of The Dunciad
Dissected reporteth, 'Mr Wycherley had before introduced him into a
familiar acquaintance with the greatest peers and brightest wits then

'No sooner (saith the same journalist) was his body lifeless, but this
author, reviving his resentment, libelled the memory of his departed
friend; and, what was still more heinous, made the scandal public.'
Grievous the accusation! unknown the accuser! the person accused no
witness in his own cause; the person, in whose regard accused, dead! But
if there be living any one nobleman whose friendship, yea, any one
gentleman whose subscription Mr Addison procured to our author, let him
stand forth that truth may appear! _Amicus Plato, amicus Socrates, sed
magis amica veritas_. In verity, the whole story of the libel is a lie.
Witness those persons of integrity, who, several years before Mr
Addison's decease, did see and approve of the said verses, in nowise a
libel but a friendly rebuke sent privately in our author's own hand to
Mr Addison himself, and never made public, till after their own journals
and Curll had printed the same. One name alone, which I am here
authorised to declare, will sufficiently evince this truth, that of the
Eight Honourable the Earl of Burlington.

Next is he taxed with a crime (in the opinion of some authors, I doubt,
more heinous than any in morality) to wit, plagiarism, from the
inventive and quaint-conceited


'Upon reading the third volume of Pope's Miscellanies, I found five
lines which I thought excellent; and happening to praise them, a
gentleman produced a modern comedy (the Rival Modes) published last
year, where were the same verses to a tittle. These gentlemen are
undoubtedly the first plagiaries that pretend to make a reputation by
stealing from a man's works in his own life-time, and out of a public
print.'[157] Let us join to this what is written by the author of the
Rival Modes, the said Mr James Moore Smith, in a letter to our author
himself, who had informed him, a month before that play was acted, Jan.
27, 1726-7, that 'these verses, which he had before given him leave to
insert in it, would be known for his, some copies being got abroad. He
desires, nevertheless, that since the lines had been read in his comedy
to several, Mr P. would not deprive it of them,' &c. Surely if we add
the testimonies of the Lord Bolingbroke, of the lady to whom the said
verses were originally addressed, of Hugh Bethel, Esq., and others, who
knew them as our author's, long before the said gentleman composed his
play, it is hoped the ingenuous that affect not error will rectify their
opinion by the suffrage of so honourable personages.

And yet followeth another charge, insinuating no less than his enmity
both to Church and State, which could come from no other informer than
the said


'The Memoirs of a Parish Clerk was a very dull and unjust abuse of a
person who wrote in defence of our religion and constitution, and who
has been dead many years.'[158] This seemeth also most untrue, it being
known to divers that these memoirs were written at the seat of the Lord
Harcourt in Oxfordshire, before that excellent person (Bishop Burnet's)
death, and many years before the appearance of that history of which
they are pretended to be an abuse. Most true it is that Mr Moore had
such a design, and was himself the man who pressed Dr Arbuthnot and Mr
Pope to assist him therein; and that he borrowed those memoirs of our
author, when that history came forth, with intent to turn them to such
abuse. But being able to obtain from our author but one single hint, and
either changing his mind, or having more mind than ability, he contented
himself to keep the said memoirs, and read them as his own to all his
acquaintance. A noble person there is, into whose company Mr Pope once
chanced to introduce him, who well remembereth the conversation of Mr
Moore to have turned upon the 'contempt he had for the work of that
reverend prelate, and how full he was of a design he declared himself to
have of exposing it.' This noble person is the Earl of Peterborough.

Here in truth should we crave pardon of all the foresaid right
honourable and worthy personages, for having mentioned them in the same
page with such weekly riff-raff railers and rhymers, but that we had
their ever-honoured commands for the same; and that they are introduced
not as witnesses in the controversy, but as witnesses that cannot be
controverted; not to dispute, but to decide.

Certain it is, that dividing our writers into two classes, of such who
were acquaintance, and of such who were strangers to our author; the
former are those who speak well, and the other those who speak evil of
him. Of the first class, the most noble


sums up his character in these lines:

'And yet so wondrous, so sublime a thing,
As the great Iliad, scarce could make me sing,
Unless I justly could at once commend
A good companion, and as firm a friend;
One moral, or a mere well-natured deed,
Can all desert in sciences exceed.'[159]

So also is he deciphered by the honourable


'Say, wondrous youth, what column wilt thou choose,
What laurell'd arch, for thy triumphant Muse?
Though each great ancient court thee to his shrine,
Though every laurel through the dome be thine.
Go to the good and just, an awful train!
Thy soul's delight.'[160]

Recorded in like manner for his virtuous disposition and gentle bearing,
by the ingenious


in this apostrophe:

'Oh! ever worthy, ever crown'd with praise!
Bless'd in thy life, and bless'd in all thy lays.
Add, that the Sisters every thought refine,
And even thy life be faultless as thy line.
Yet Envy still with fiercer rage pursues,
Obscures the virtue, and defames the Muse.
A soul like thine, in pain, in grief, resign'd,
Views with just scorn the malice of mankind.'[161]

The witty and moral satirist,


wishing some check to the corruption and evil manners of the times,
calleth out upon our poet to undertake a task so worthy of his virtue:

'Why slumbers Pope, who leads the Muses' train,
Nor hears that Virtue, which he loves, complain?'[162]


in his epistle on Verbal Criticism:

'Whose life, severely scann'd, transcends his lays;
For wit supreme is but his second praise.'


that delicate and correct imitator of Tibullus, in his Love Elegies,
Elegy xiv.:

'Now, fired by Pope and Virtue, leave the age,
In low pursuit of self-undoing wrong,
And trace the author through his moral page,
Whose blameless life still answers to his song.'


in his elegant and philosophical poem of the Seasons:

'Although not sweeter his own Homer sings,
Yet is his life the more endearing song.'

To the same tune also singeth that learned clerk of Suffolk,


'Thus, nobly rising in fair Virtue's cause,
From thy own life transcribe the unerring laws.'[163]

And to close all, hear the reverend Dean of St Patrick's:

'A soul with every virtue fraught,
By patriots, priests, and poets taught.
Whose filial piety excels
Whatever Grecian story tells.
A genius for each business fit,
Whose meanest talent is his wit,' &c.

Let us now recreate thee by turning to the other side, and showing his
character drawn by those with whom he never conversed, and whose
countenances he could not know, though turned against him: first again,
commencing with the high-voiced and never-enough quoted


who, in his 'Reflections on the Essay on Criticism,' thus describeth
him, 'A little affected hypocrite, who has nothing in his mouth but
candour, truth, friendship, good-nature, humanity, and magnanimity. He
is so great a lover of falsehood, that, whenever he has a mind to
calumniate his cotemporaries, he brands them with some defect which is
just contrary to some good quality for which all their friends and their
acquaintance commend them. He seems to have a particular pique to people
of quality, and authors of that rank. He must derive his religion from
St Omer's.' But in the character of Mr P. and his writings (printed by
S. Popping, 1716), he saith, 'Though he is a professor of the worst
religion, yet he laughs at it;' but that 'nevertheless he is a virulent
Papist; and yet a pillar for the Church of England.'

Of both which opinions


seems also to be; declaring, in Mist's Journal of June 22, 1718--'That,
if he is not shrewdly abused, he made it his practice to cackle to both
parties in their own sentiments.' But, as to his pique against people of
quality, the same journalist doth not agree, but saith (May 8, 1728)--
'He had, by some means or other, the acquaintance and friendship of the
whole body of our nobility.'

However contradictory this may appear, Mr Dennis and Gildon, in the
character last cited, make it all plain, by assuring us, 'That he is a
creature that reconciles all contradictions; he is a beast, and a man; a
Whig, and a Tory; a writer (at one and the same time) of Guardians and
Examiners;[164] an assertor of liberty, and of the dispensing power of
kings; a Jesuitical professor of truth, a base and a foul pretender to
candour.' So that, upon the whole account, we must conclude him either
to have been a great hypocrite, or a very honest man; a terrible imposer
upon both parties, or very moderate to either.

Be it as to the judicious reader shall seem good. Sure it is, he is
little favoured of certain authors, whose wrath is perilous: for one
declares he ought to have a price set on his head, and to be hunted down
as a wild beast.[165] Another protests that he does not know what may
happen; advises him to insure his person; says he has bitter enemies,
and expressly declares it will be well if he escapes with his life.[166]
One desires he would cut his own throat, or hang himself.[167]

But Pasquin seemed rather inclined it should be done by the Government,
representing him engaged in grievous designs with a lord of Parliament,
then under prosecution.[168] Mr Dennis himself hath written to a
minister, that he is one of the most dangerous persons in this
kingdom;[169] and assureth the public, that he is an open and mortal
enemy to his country; a monster, that will, one day, shew as daring a
soul as a mad Indian, who runs a-muck to kill the first Christian he
meets.[170] Another gives information of treason discovered in his
poem.[171] Mr Curll boldly supplies an imperfect verse with kings and
princesses.[172] And one Matthew Concanen, yet more impudent, publishes
at length the two most sacred names in this nation, as members of the

This is prodigious! yet it is almost as strange, that in the midst of
these invectives his greatest enemies have (I know not how) borne
testimony to some merit in him.


in censuring his Shakspeare, declares, 'He has so great an esteem for Mr
Pope, and so high an opinion of his genius and excellencies, that,
notwithstanding he professes a veneration almost rising to idolatry for
the writings of this inimitable poet, he would be very both even to do
him justice, at the expense of that other gentleman's character.'[174]


after having violently attacked him in many pieces, at last came to wish
from his heart, 'That Mr Pope would be prevailed upon to give us Ovid's
Epistles by his hand, for it is certain we see the original of Sappho to
Pliaon with much more life and likeness in his version, than in that of
Sir Car Scrope. And this,' he adds, 'is the more to be wished, because
in the English tongue we have scarce anything truly and naturally
written upon love.'[175] He also, in taxing Sir Richard Blackmore for
his heterodox opinions of Homer, challengeth him to answer what Mr Pope
hath said in his preface to that poet.


calls him a great master of our tongue; declares 'the purity and
perfection of the English language to be found in his Homer; and, saying
there are more good verses in Dryden's Virgil than in any other work,
excepts this of our author only.'[176]


says, 'Pope was so good a versifier [once], that, his predecessor, Mr
Dryden, and his cotemporary, Mr Prior, excepted, the harmony of his
numbers is equal to anybody's. And that he had all the merit that a man
can have that way.'[177] And


after much blemishing our author's Homer, crieth out--

'But in his other works what beauties shine,
While sweetest music dwells in every line!
These he admired--on these he stamp'd his praise,
And bade them live to brighten future days.'[178]

So also one who takes the name of


the maker of certain verses to Duncan Campbell,[179] in that poem, which
is wholly a satire on Mr Pope, confesseth--

''Tis true, if finest notes alone could show
(Tuned justly high, or regularly low)
That we should fame to these mere vocals give,
Pope more than we can offer should receive:
For when some gliding river is his theme,
His lines run smoother than the smoothest stream,' &c.


Although he says, 'The smooth numbers of the Dunciad are all that
recommend it, nor has it any other merit,' yet that same paper hath
these words: 'The author is allowed to be a perfect master of an easy
and elegant versification. In all his works we find the most happy turns
and natural similes, wonderfully short and thick sown.'

The Essay on the Dunciad also owns (p. 25) it is very full of beautiful
images. But the panegyric which crowns all that can be said on this poem
is bestowed by our laureate,


who 'grants it to be a better poem of its kind than ever was writ:' but
adds, 'it was a victory over a parcel of poor wretches, whom it was
almost cowardice to conquer.--A man might as well triumph for having
killed so many silly flies that offended him. Could he have let them
alone, by this time, poor souls! they had all been buried in
oblivion.'[180] Here we see our excellent laureate allows the justice of
the satire on every man in it but himself, as the great Mr Dennis did
before him.

The said


in the most furious of all their works (the forecited Character, p. 5),
do in concert confess, 'That some men of good understanding value him
for his rhymes.' And (p. 17), 'That he has got, like Mr Bayes in the
Rehearsal (that is, like Mr Dryden), a notable knack at rhyming, and
writing smooth verse.'

Of his Essay on Man, numerous were the praises bestowed by his avowed
enemies, in the imagination that the same was not written by him, as it
was printed anonymously.

Thus sang of it even


'Auspicious bard! while all admire thy strain,
All but the selfish, ignorant, and vain;
I, whom no bribe to servile flattery drew,
Must pay the tribute to thy merit due:
Thy Muse, sublime, significant, and clear,
Alike informs the soul, and charms the ear,' &c.



thus wrote[181] to the unknown author, on the first publication of the
said Essay:--'I must own, after the reception which the vilest and most
immoral ribaldry hath lately met with, I was surprised to see what I had
long despaired--a performance deserving the name of a poet. Such, sir,
is your work. It is, indeed, above all commendation, and ought to have
been published in an age and country more worthy of it. If my testimony
be of weight anywhere, you are sure to have it in the amplest manner,'

Thus we see every one of his works hath been extolled by one or other of
his most inveterate enemies; and to the success of them all, they do
unanimously give testimony. But it is sufficient, _instar omnium_, to
behold the great critic, Mr Dennis, sorely lamenting it, even from the
Essay on Criticism to this day of the Dunciad! 'A most notorious
instance,' quoth he, 'of the depravity of genius and taste, the
approbation this essay meets with.'[182] 'I can safely affirm, that I
never attacked any of these writings, unless they had success infinitely
beyond their merit. This, though an empty, has been a popular scribbler.
The epidemic madness of the times has given him reputation.'[183] 'If,
after the cruel treatment so many extraordinary men (Spencer, Lord
Bacon, Ben. Jonson, Milton, Butler, Otway, and others) have received
from this country, for these last hundred years, I should shift the
scene, and show all that penury changed at once to riot and profuseness,
and more squandered away upon one object than would have satisfied the
greater part of those extraordinary men, the reader to whom this one
creature should be unknown would fancy him a prodigy of art and nature,
would believe that all the great qualities of these persons were centred
in him alone. But if I should venture to assure him that the people of
England had made such a choice, the reader would either believe me a
malicious enemy and slanderer, or that the reign of the last (Queen
Anne's) ministry was designed by fate to encourage fools.'[184]

But it happens that this our poet never had any place, pension, or
gratuity, in any shape, from the said glorious queen, or any of her
ministers. All he owed, in the whole course of his life, to any court,
was a subscription, for his Homer, of £200 from King George I., and £100
from the Prince and Princess.

However, lest we imagine our author's success was constant and
universal, they acquaint us of certain works in a less degree of repute,
whereof, although owned by others, yet do they assure us he is the
writer. Of this sort Mr Dennis[185] ascribes to him two farces, whose
names he does not tell, but assures us that there is not one jest in
them; and an imitation of Horace, whose title he does not mention, but
assures us it is much more execrable than all his works.[186] The Daily
Journal, May 11, 1728, assures us 'He is below Tom D'Urfey in the drama,
because (as that writer thinks) the Marriage-Hater Matched, and the
Boarding School, are better than the What-d'-ye-call-it,' which is not
Mr P.'s, but Mr Gay's. Mr Gildon assures us, in his New Rehearsal, p.
48, 'That he was writing a play of the Lady Jane Grey;' but it
afterwards proved to be Mr Howe's. We are assured by another, 'He wrote
a pamphlet called Dr Andrew Tripe,'[187] which proved to be one Dr
Wagstaff's. Mr Theobald assures us in Mist of the 27th April, 'That the
Treatise of the Pro-found is very dull, and that Mr Pope is the author
of it.' The writer of Gulliveriana is of another opinion, and says, 'The
whole, or greatest part, of the merit of this treatise must and can only
be ascribed to Gulliver.'[188] (Here, gentle reader! cannot I but smile
at the strange blindness and positiveness of men, knowing the said
treatise to appertain to none other but to me, Martinus Scriblerus.) We
are assured, in _Mist_ of June 8, 'That his own plays and farces would
better have adorned the Dunciad than those of Mr Theobald, for he had
neither genius for tragedy nor comedy;' which, whether true or not, is
not easy to judge, inasmuch as he hath attempted neither--unless we will
take it for granted, with Mr Cibber, that his being once very angry at
hearing a friend's play abused was an infallible proof the play was his
own, the said Mr Cibber thinking it impossible for a man to be much
concerned for any but himself: 'Now let any man judge,' saith he, 'by
this concern, who was the true mother of the child?'[189]

But from all that hath been said, the discerning reader will collect,
that it little availed our author to have any candour, since, when he
declared he did not write for others, it was not credited; as little to
have any modesty, since, when he declined writing in any way himself,
the presumption of others was imputed to him. If he singly enterprised
one great work, he was taxed of boldness and madness to a prodigy;[190]
if he took assistants in another, it was complained of, and represented
as a great injury to the public.[191] The loftiest heroics, the lowest
ballads, treatises against the State or Church, satires on lords and
ladies, raillery on wits and authors, squabbles with booksellers, or
even full and true accounts of monsters, poisons, and murders; of any
hereof was there nothing so good, nothing so bad, which hath not at one
or other season been to him ascribed. If it bore no author's name, then
lay he concealed; if it did, he fathered it upon that author to be yet
better concealed: if it resembled any of his styles, then was it
evident; if it did not, then disguised he it on set purpose. Yea, even
direct oppositions in religion, principles, and politics, have equally
been supposed in him inherent. Surely a most rare and singular
character! Of which, let the reader make what he can.

Doubtless most commentators would hence take occasion to turn all to
their author's advantage; and, from the testimony of his very enemies,
would affirm that his capacity was boundless, as well as his
imagination; that he was a perfect master of all styles, and all
arguments; and that there was in those times no other writer, in any
kind, of any degree of excellence, save he himself. But as this is not
our own sentiment, we shall determine on nothing, but leave thee, gentle
reader, to steer thy judgment equally between various opinions, and to
choose whether thou wilt incline to the testimonies of authors avowed,
or of authors concealed--of those who knew him, or of those who knew him


* * * * *


This poem, as it celebrateth the most grave and ancient of things,
Chaos, Night, and Dulness; so is it of the most grave and ancient kind.
Homer (saith Aristotle) was the first who gave the form, and (saith
Horace) who adapted the measure, to heroic poesy. But even before this,
may be rationally presumed from what the ancients have left written, was
a piece by Homer, composed of like nature and matter with this of our
poet. For of epic sort it appeareth to have been, yet of matter surely
not unpleasant, witness what is reported of it by the learned Archbishop
Eustathius, in Odyss. x., and accordingly Aristotle, in his Poetic,
chap, iv., does further set forth, that as the Iliad and Odyssey gave
example to tragedy, so did this poem to comedy its first idea.

From these authors also it should seem that the hero or chief personage
of it was no less obscure, and his understanding and sentiments no less
quaint and strange (if indeed not more so), than any of the actors of
our poem. Margites was the name of this personage, whom antiquity
recordeth to have been Dunce the first; and surely, from what we hear of
him, not unworthy to be the root of so spreading a tree and so numerous
a posterity. The poem therefore celebrating him was properly and
absolutely a Dunciad; which, though now unhappily lost, yet is its
nature sufficiently known by the infallible tokens aforesaid. And thus
it doth appear that the first Dunciad was the first epic poem, written
by Homer himself, and anterior even to the Iliad or Odyssey.

Now, forasmuch as our poet had translated those two famous works of
Homer which are yet left, he did conceive it in some sort his duty to
imitate that also which was lost; and was therefore induced to bestow on
it the same form which Homer's is reported to have had, namely, that of
epic poem; with a title also framed after the ancient Greek manner, to
wit, that of Dunciad.

Wonderful it is that so few of the moderns have been stimulated to
attempt some Dunciad! since, in the opinion of the multitude, it might
cost less pain and oil than an imitation of the greater epic. But
possible it is also, that, on due reflection, the maker might find it
easier to paint a Charlemagne, a Brute, or a Godfrey, with just pomp and
dignity heroic, than a Margites, a Codrus, or a Flecknoe.

We shall next declare the occasion and the cause which moved our poet to
this particular work. He lived in those days, when (after Providence had
permitted the invention of printing as a scourge for the sins of the
learned) paper also became so cheap, and printers so numerous, that a
deluge of authors covered the land; whereby not only the peace of the
honest unwriting subject was daily molested, but unmerciful demands were
made of his applause, yea of his money, by such as would neither earn
the one nor deserve the other. At the same time, the licence of the
press was such, that it grew dangerous to refuse them either: for they
would forthwith publish slanders unpunished, the authors being
anonymous, and skulking under the wings of publishers, a set of men who
never scrupled to vend either calumny or blasphemy, as long as the town
would call for it.

Now our author,[192] living in those times, did conceive it an endeavour
well worthy an honest satirist to dissuade the dull and punish the
wicked, the only way that was left. In that public-spirited view he laid
the plan of this poem, as the greatest service he was capable (without
much hurt, or being slain) to render his dear country. First, taking
things from their original, he considereth the causes creative of such
authors--namely, dulness and poverty; the one born with them, the other
contracted by neglect of their proper talents, through self-conceit of
greater abilities. This truth he wrappeth in an allegory[193] (as the
construction of epic poesy requireth), and feigns that one of these
goddesses had taken up her abode with the other, and that they jointly
inspired all such writers and such works. He proceedeth to show the
qualities they bestow on these authors,[194] and the effects they
produce;[195] then the materials, or stock, with which they furnish
them;[196] and (above all) that self-opinion[197] which causeth it to
seem to themselves vastly greater than it is, and is the prime motive of
their setting up in this sad and sorry merchandise. The great power of
these goddesses acting in alliance (whereof as the one is the mother of
industry, so is the other of plodding) was to be exemplified in some one
great and remarkable action:[198] and none could be more so than that
which our poet hath chosen, viz., the restoration of the reign of Chaos
and Night, by the ministry of Dulness their daughter, in the removal of
her imperial seat from the city to the polite world; as the action of
the Æneid is the restoration of the empire of Troy, by the removal of
the race from thence to Latium. But as Homer singing only the wrath of
Achilles, yet includes in his poem the whole history of the Trojan war;
in like manner our author hath drawn into this single action the whole
history of Dulness and her children.

A person must next be fixed upon to support this action. This phantom in
the poet's mind must have a name:[199] He finds it to be ----; and he
becomes, of course, the hero of the poem.

The fable being thus, according to the best example, one and entire, as
contained in the proposition, the machinery is a continued chain of
allegories, setting forth the whole power, ministry, and empire of
Dulness, extended through her subordinate instruments, in all her
various operations.

This is branched into episodes, each of which hath its moral apart,
though all conducive to the main end. The crowd assembled in the second
book demonstrates the design to be more extensive than to bad poets
only, and that we may expect other episodes of the patrons, encouragers,
or paymasters of such authors, as occasion shall bring them forth. And
the third book, if well considered, seemeth to embrace the whole world.
Each of the games relateth to some or other vile class of writers: the
first concerneth the Plagiary, to whom he giveth the name of More; the
second the libellous Novelist, whom he styleth Eliza; the third, the
flattering Dedicator; the fourth, the bawling Critic, or noisy Poet; the
fifth, the dark and dirty Party-writer; and so of the rest; assigning to
each some proper name or other, such as he could find.

As for the characters, the public hath already acknowledged how justly
they are drawn: the manners are so depicted, and the sentiments so
peculiar to those to whom applied, that surely to transfer them to any
other or wiser personages would be exceeding difficult: and certain it
is, that every person concerned, being consulted apart, hath readily
owned the resemblance of every portrait, his own excepted. So Mr Cibber
calls them 'a parcel of poor wretches, so many silly flies;' but adds,
'our author's wit is remarkably more bare and barren whenever it would
fall foul on Cibber, than upon any other person whatever.'[200]

The descriptions are singular, the comparisons very quaint, the
narration various, yet of one colour. The purity and chastity of diction
is so preserved, that in the places most suspicious, not the words but
only the images have been censured, and yet are those images no other
than have been sanctified by ancient and classical authority (though, as
was the manner of those good times, not so curiously wrapped up), yea,
and commented upon by the most grave doctors and approved critics.

As it beareth the name of Epic, it is thereby subjected to such severe
indispensable rules as are laid on all neoterics--a strict imitation of
the ancients; insomuch that any deviation, accompanied with whatever
poetic beauties, hath always been censured by the sound critic. How
exact that imitation hath been in this piece, appeareth not only by its
general structure, but by particular allusions infinite, many whereof
have escaped both the commentator and poet himself; yea, divers by his
exceeding diligence are so altered and interwoven with the rest, that
several have already been, and more will be, by the ignorant abused, as
altogether and originally his own.

In a word, the whole poem proveth itself to be the work of our author
when his faculties were in full vigour and perfection, at that exact
time when years have ripened the judgment without diminishing the
imagination; which by good critics is held to be punctually at forty.
For at that season it was that Virgil finished his Georgics; and Sir
Richard Blackmore at the like age composing his Arthurs, declared the
same to be the very _acmè_ and pitch of life for epic poesy--though
since he hath altered it to sixty, the year in which he published his
Alfred.[201] True it is, that the talents for criticism--namely,
smartness, quick censure, vivacity of remark, certainty of asseveration,
indeed all but acerbity--seem rather the gifts of youth than of riper
age. But it is far otherwise in poetry; witness the works of Mr Rymer
and Mr Dennis, who, beginning with criticism, became afterwards such
poets as no age hath paralleled. With good reason, therefore, did our
author choose to write his essay on that subject at twenty, and reserve
for his maturer years this great and wonderful work of the Dunciad.



Of the nature of Dunciad in general, whence derived, and on what
authority founded, as well as of the art and conduct of this our poem in
particular, the learned and laborious Scriblerus hath, according to his
manner, and with tolerable share of judgment, dissertated. But when he
cometh to speak of the person of the hero fitted for such poem, in truth
he miserably halts and hallucinates. For, misled by one Monsieur Bossu,
a Gallic critic, he prateth of I cannot tell what phantom of a hero,
only raised up to support the fable. A putrid conceit! As if Homer and
Virgil, like modern undertakers, who first build their house, and then
seek out for a tenant, had contrived the story of a war and a wandering,
before they once thought either of Achilles or Æneas. We shall therefore
set our good brother and the world also right in this particular, by
assuring them, that, in the greater epic, the prime intention of the
Muse is to exalt heroic virtue, in order to propagate the love of it
among the children of men; and, consequently, that the poet's first
thought must needs be turned upon a real subject meet for laud and
celebration; not one whom he is to make, but one whom he may find, truly
illustrious. This is the _primum mobile_ of his poetic world, whence
everything is to receive life and motion. For this subject being found,
he is immediately ordained, or rather acknowledged, a hero, and put upon
such action as befitteth the dignity of his character.

But the Muse ceaseth not here her eagle-flight. For sometimes, satiated
with the contemplation of these suns of glory, she turneth downward on
her wing, and darts with Jove's lightning on the goose and serpent kind.
For we may apply to the Muse, in her various moods, what an ancient
master of wisdom affirmeth of the gods in general: 'Si Dii non
irascuntur impiis et injustis, nec pios utique justosque diligunt. In
rebusenim diversis, aut in utramque partem moveri necesse est, aut in
neutram. Itaque qui bonos diligit, et malos odit; et qui malos non odit,
nec bonos diligit. Quia et diligere bonos ex odio malorum venit; et
malos odisse ex bonorum caritate descendit.' Which, in our vernacular
idiom, may be thus interpreted: 'If the gods be not provoked at evil
men, neither are they delighted with the good and just. For contrary
objects must either excite contrary affections, or no affections at all.
So that he who loveth good men must at the same time hate the bad; and
he who hateth not bad men cannot love the good; because to love good men
proceedeth from an aversion to evil, and to hate evil men from a
tenderness to the good.' From this delicacy of the Muse arose the little
epic, (more lively and choleric than her elder sister, whose bulk and
complexion incline her to the phlegmatic), and for this some notorious
vehicle of vice and folly was sought out, to make thereof an example. An
early instance of which (nor could it escape the accurate Scriblerus)
the father of epic poem himself affordeth us. From him the practice
descended to the Greek dramatic poets, his offspring, who, in the
composition of their tetralogy, or set of four pieces, were wont to make
the last a satiric tragedy. Happily one of these ancient Dunciads (as we
may well term it) is come down unto us amongst the tragedies of the poet
Euripides. And what doth the reader suppose may be the subject thereof?
Why, in truth, and it is worthy observation, the unequal contention of
an old, dull, debauched buffoon Cyclops, with the heaven-directed
favourite of Minerva; who, after having quietly borne all the monster's
obscene and impious ribaldry, endeth the farce in punishing him with the
mark of an indelible brand in his forehead. May we not then be excused,
if for the future we consider the epics of Homer, Virgil, and Milton,
together with this our poem, as a complete tetralogy, in which the last
worthily holdeth the place or station of the satiric piece?

Proceed we therefore in our subject. It hath been long, and, alas for
pity! still remaineth a question, whether the hero of the greater epic
should be an honest man? or, as the French critics express it, _un
honnête homme_:[202] but it never admitted of any doubt, but that the
hero of the little epic should be just the contrary. Hence, to the
advantage of our Dunciad, we may observe how much juster the moral of
that poem must needs be, where so important a question is previously

But then it is not every knave, nor (let me add) every fool, that is a
fit subject for a Dunciad. There must still exist some analogy, if not
resemblance of qualities, between the heroes of the two poems, and this
in order to admit what neoteric critics call the parody, one of the
liveliest graces of the little epic. Thus, it being agreed that the
constituent qualities of the greater epic hero are wisdom, bravery, and
love, from whence springeth heroic virtue; it followeth that those of
the lesser epic hero should be vanity, impudence, and debauchery, from
which happy assemblage resulteth heroic dulness, the never-dying subject
of this our poem.

This being confessed, come we now to particulars. It is the character of
true wisdom to seek its chief support and confidence within itself, and
to place that support in the resources which proceed from a conscious
rectitude of will. And are the advantages of vanity, when arising to the
heroic standard, at all short of this self-complacence? Nay, are they
not, in the opinion of the enamoured owner, far beyond it? 'Let the
world (will such an one say) impute to me what folly or weakness they
please; but till wisdom can give me something that will make me more
heartily happy, I am content to be gazed at.'[203] This, we see, is
vanity according to the heroic gauge or measure; not that low and
ignoble species which pretendeth to virtues we have not, but the
laudable ambition of being gazed at for glorying in those vices which
everybody knows we have. 'The world may ask (says he) why I make my
follies public? Why not? I have passed my time very pleasantly with
them.'[204] In short, there is no sort of vanity such a hero would
scruple, but that which might go near to degrade him from his high
station in this our Dunciad--namely, 'Whether it would not be vanity in
him to take shame to himself for not being a wise man?'[205]

Bravery, the second attribute of the true hero, is courage manifesting
itself in every limb; while its correspondent virtue in the mock hero is
that same courage all collected into the face. And as power when drawn
together must needs have more force and spirit than when dispersed, we
generally find this kind of courage in so high and heroic a degree, that
it insults not only men, but gods. Mezentius is, without doubt, the
bravest character in all the Æneis. But how? His bravery, we know, was a
high courage of blasphemy. And can we say less of this brave man's, who,
having told us that he placed 'his _summum bonum_ in those follies,
which he was not content barely to possess, but would likewise glory
in,' adds, 'If I am misguided, 'tis nature's fault, and I follow
her.'[206] Nor can we be mistaken in making this happy quality a species
of courage, when we consider those illustrious marks of it which made
his face 'more known (as he justly boasteth) than most in the kingdom,'
and his language to consist of what we must allow to be the most daring
figure of speech, that which is taken from the name of God.

Gentle love, the next ingredient in the true hero's composition, is a
mere bird of passage, or (as Shakspeare calls it) summer-teeming lust,
and evaporates in the heat of youth; doubtless, by that refinement, it
suffers in passing through those certain strainers which our poet
somewhere speaketh of. But when it is let alone to work upon the lees,
it acquireth strength by old age, and becometh a lasting ornament to the
little epic. It is true, indeed, there is one objection to its fitness
for such a use: for not only the ignorant may think it common, but it is
admitted to be so, even by him who best knoweth its value. 'Don't you
think,' argueth he, 'to say only a man has his whore,[207] ought to go
for little or nothing? Because _defendit numerus_; take the first ten
thousand men you meet, and I believe you would be no loser if you betted
ten to one that every single sinner of them, one with another, had been
guilty of the same frailty.'[208] But here he seemeth not to have done
justice to himself: the man is sure enough a hero who hath his lady at
fourscore. How doth his modesty herein lessen the merit of a whole
well-spent life: not taking to himself the commendation (which Horace
accounted the greatest in a theatrical character) of continuing to the
very dregs the same he was from the beginning,

... 'Servetur ad imum
Qualis ab incepto processerat' ...

But here, in justice both to the poet and the hero, let us further
remark, that the calling her his whore implieth she was his own, and not
his neighbour's. Truly a commendable continence! and such as Scipio
himself must have applauded. For how much self-denial was exerted not to
covet his neighbour's whore? and what disorders must the coveting her
have occasioned in that society where (according to this political
calculator) nine in ten of all ages have their concubines!

We have now, as briefly as we could devise, gone through the three
constituent qualities of either hero. But it is not in any, or in all of
these, that heroism properly or essentially resideth. It is a lucky
result rather from the collision of these lively qualities against one
another. Thus, as from wisdom, bravery, and love, ariseth magnanimity,
the object of admiration, which is the aim of the greater epic; so from
vanity, impudence, and debauchery, springeth buffoonery, the source of
ridicule, that 'laughing ornament,' as he well termeth it,[209] of the
little epic.

He is not ashamed (God forbid he ever should be ashamed!) of this
character, who deemeth that not reason, but risibility, distinguisheth
the human species from the brutal. 'As nature,' saith this profound
philosopher, 'distinguished our species from the mute creation by our
risibility, her design must have been by that faculty as evidently to
raise our happiness, as by our _os sublime_ (our erected faces) to lift
the dignity of our form above them.'[210] All this considered, how
complete a hero must he be, as well as how happy a man, whose risibility
lieth not barely in his muscles, as in the common sort, but (as himself
informeth us) in his very spirits! and whose _os sublime_ is not simply
an erect face, but a brazen head, as should seem by his preferring it to
one of iron, said to belong to the late king of Sweden![211]

But whatever personal qualities a hero may have, the examples of
Achilles and Aeneas show us, that all those are of small avail without
the constant assistance of the gods--for the subversion and erection of
empires have never been adjudged the work of man. How greatly soever,
then, we may esteem of his high talents, we can hardly conceive his
personal prowess alone sufficient to restore the decayed empire of
Dulness. So weighty an achievement must require the particular favour
and protection of the great--who, being the natural patrons and
supporters of letters, as the ancient gods were of Troy, must first be
drawn off and engaged in another interest, before the total subversion
of them can be accomplished. To surmount, therefore, this last and
greatest difficulty, we have, in this excellent man, a professed
favourite and intimado of the great. And look, of what force ancient
piety was to draw the gods into the party of Aeneas, that, and much
stronger, is modern incense, to engage the great in the party of

Thus have we essayed to portray or shadow out this noble imp of fame.
But now the impatient reader will be apt to say, if so many and various
graces go to the making up a hero, what mortal shall suffice to bear his
character? Ill hath he read who seeth not, in every trace of this
picture, that individual, all-accomplished person, in whom these rare
virtues and lucky circumstances have agreed to meet and concentre with
the strongest lustre and fullest harmony.

The good Scriblerus indeed--nay, the world itself--might be imposed on,
in the late spurious editions, by I can't tell what sham hero or
phantom; but it was not so easy to impose on him whom this egregious
error most of all concerned. For no sooner had the fourth book laid open
the high and swelling scene, but he recognised his own heroic acts; and
when he came to the words--

'Soft on her lap her laureate son reclines,'

(though laureate imply no more than one crowned with laurel, as
befitteth any associate or consort in empire), he loudly resented this
indignity to violated majesty--indeed, not without cause, he being there
represented as fast asleep; so misbeseeming the eye of empire, which,
like that of Providence, should never doze nor slumber. 'Hah!' saith he,
'fast asleep, it seems! that's a little too strong. Pert and dull at
least you might have allowed me, but as seldom asleep as any fool.'[212]
However, the injured hero may comfort himself with this reflection, that
though it be a sleep, yet it is not the sleep of death, but of
immortality. Here he will live[213] at least, though not awake; and in
no worse condition than many an enchanted warrior before him. The famous
Durandarte, for instance, was, like him, cast into a long slumber by
Merlin, the British bard and necromancer; and his example, for
submitting to it with a good grace, might be of use to our hero. For
that disastrous knight being sorely pressed or driven to make his answer
by several persons of quality, only replied with a sigh--'Patience, and
shuffle the cards.'[214]

But now, as nothing in this world, no, not the most sacred or perfect
things either of religion or government, can escape the sting of envy,
methinks I already hear these carpers objecting to the clearness of our
hero's title.

It would never (say they) have been esteemed sufficient to make an hero
for the Iliad or Aeneis, that Achilles was brave enough to overturn one
empire, or Aeneas pious enough to raise another, had they not been
goddess-born, and princes bred. What, then, did this author mean by
erecting a player instead of one of his patrons (a person 'never a hero
even on the stage,'[215]) to this dignity of colleague in the empire of
Dulness, and achiever of a work that neither old Omar, Attila, nor John
of Leyden could entirely bring to pass?

To all this we have, as we conceive, a sufficient answer from the Roman
historian, _Fabrum esse suae quemque fortunae_: That every man is the
smith of his own fortune. The politic Florentine, Nicholas Machiavel,
goeth still further, and affirmeth that a man needeth but to believe
himself a hero to be one of the worthiest. 'Let him (saith he) but fancy
himself capable of the highest things, and he will of course be able to
achieve them.' From this principle it follows, that nothing can exceed
our hero's prowess; as nothing ever equalled the greatness of his
conceptions. Hear how he constantly paragons himself; at one time to
Alexander the Great and Charles XII of Sweden, for the excess and
delicacy of his ambition;[216] to Henry IV of France for honest
policy;[217] to the first Brutus, for love of liberty;[218] and to Sir
Robert Walpole, for good government while in power.[219] At another
time, to the godlike Socrates, for his diversions and amusements;[220]
to Horace, Montaigne, and Sir William Temple for an elegant vanity that
maketh them for ever read and admired;[221] to two Lord Chancellors, for
law, from whom, when confederate against him at the bar, he carried away
the prize of eloquence;[222] and, to say all in a word, to the right
reverend the Lord Bishop of London himself, in the art of writing
pastoral letters.[223]

Nor did his actions fall short of the sublimity of his conceit. In his
early youth he met the Revolution[224] face to face in Nottingham, at a
time when his betters contented themselves with following her. It was
here he got acquainted with old Battle-array, of whom he hath made so
honourable mention in one of his immortal odes. But he shone in courts
as well as camps. He was called up when the nation fell in labour of
this Revolution;[225] and was a gossip at her christening, with the
bishop and the ladies.[226]

As to his birth, it is true he pretended no relation either to heathen
god or goddess; but, what is as good, he was descended from a maker of
both.[227] And that he did not pass himself on the world for a hero as
well by birth as education was his own fault: for his lineage he
bringeth into his life as an anecdote, and is sensible he had it in his
power to be thought he was nobody's son at all:[228] And what is that
but coming into the world a hero?

But be it (the punctilious laws of epic poesy so requiring) that a hero
of more than mortal birth must needs be had, even for this we have a
remedy. We can easily derive our hero's pedigree from a goddess of no
small power and authority amongst men, and legitimate and install him
after the right classical and authentic fashion: for like as the ancient
sages found a son of Mars in a mighty warrior, a son of Neptune in a
skilful seaman, a son of Phoebus in a harmonious poet, so have we here,
if need be, a son of Fortune in an artful gamester. And who fitter than
the offspring of Chance to assist in restoring the empire of Night and

There is, in truth, another objection, of greater weight, namely, 'That
this hero still existeth, and hath not yet finished his earthly course.
For if Solon said well, that no man could be called happy till his
death, surely much less can any one, till then, be pronounced a hero,
this species of men being far more subject than others to the caprices
of fortune and humour.' But to this also we have an answer, that will
(we hope) be deemed decisive. It cometh from himself, who, to cut this
matter short, hath solemnly protested that he will never change or

With regard to his vanity, he declareth that nothing shall ever part
them. 'Nature (saith he) hath amply supplied me in vanity--a pleasure
which neither the pertness of wit nor the gravity of wisdom will ever
persuade me to part with.'[229] Our poet had charitably endeavoured to
administer a cure to it: but he telleth us plainly, 'My superiors
perhaps may be mended by him; but for my part I own myself incorrigible.
I look upon my follies as the best part of my fortune.'[230] And with
good reason: we see to what they have brought him!

Secondly, as to buffoonery, 'Is it (saith he) a time of day for me to
leave off these fooleries, and set up a new character? I can no more put
off my follies than my skin; I have often tried, but they stick too
close to me; nor am I sure my friends are displeased with them, for in
this light I afford them frequent matter of mirth, &c., &c.'[231] Having
then so publicly declared himself incorrigible, he is become dead in law
(I mean the law Epopoeian), and devolveth upon the poet as his property,
who may take him and deal with him as if he had been dead as long as an
old Egyptian hero; that is to say, embowel and embalm him for posterity.

Nothing therefore (we conceive) remaineth to hinder his own prophecy of
himself from taking immediate effect. A rare felicity! and what few
prophets have had the satisfaction to see alive! Nor can we conclude
better than with that extraordinary one of his, which is conceived in
these oraculous words, 'My dulness will find somebody to do it

'Tandem Phoebus adest, morsusque inferre parantem
Congelat, et patulos, ut erant, indurat hiatus.'[233]


By virtue of the Authority in Us vested by the Act for subjecting poets
to the power of a licenser, we have revised this piece; where finding
the style and appellation of King to have been given to a certain
pretender, pseudo-poet, or phantom, of the name of Tibbald; and
apprehending the same may be deemed in some sort a reflection on
Majesty, or at least an insult on that Legal Authority which has
bestowed on another person the crown of poesy: We have ordered the said
pretender, pseudo-poet, or phantom, utterly to vanish and evaporate out
of this work: And do declare the said Throne of Poesy from henceforth to
be abdicated and vacant, unless duly and lawfully supplied by the
Laureate himself. And it is hereby enacted, that no other person do
presume to fill the same.





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 her 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 her
sons, and the glories past and to come. She fixes her eye on Bayes 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 her empire: after debating whether to betake
himself to the Church, or to gaming, or to party-writing, he 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
her seat, flies and puts it out by casting upon it the poem of Thulè.
She forthwith reveals herself to him, transports him to her temple,
unfolds her arts, and initiates him into her mysteries; then announcing
the death of Eusden the poet laureate, anoints him, carries him to
court, and proclaims him successor.

The mighty mother, and her son, who brings[235]
The Smithfield Muses[236] to the ear of kings,
I sing. Say you, her instruments, the great!
Called to this work by Dulness, Jove, and Fate;[237]
You by whose care, in vain decried and cursed,
Still Dunce the second reigns like Dunce the first:
Say, how the goddess[238] bade Britannia sleep,
And pour'd her spirit o'er the land and deep.

In eldest time, ere mortals writ or read,
Ere Pallas issued from the Thunderer's head, 10
Dulness o'er all possess'd her ancient right,
Daughter of Chaos[239] and Eternal Night:
Fate in their dotage this fair idiot gave,
Gross as her sire, and as her mother grave,
Laborious, heavy, busy, bold, and blind,[240]
She ruled, in native anarchy, the mind.

Still her old empire[241] to restore she tries,
For, born a goddess, Dulness never dies.
O thou! whatever title please thine ear,
Dean, Drapier, Bickerstaff, or Gulliver![242] 20
Whether thou choose Cervantes' serious air,
Or laugh and shake in Rabelais' easy-chair,
Or praise the court, or magnify mankind,[243]
Or thy grieved country's copper chains unbind;
From thy Boeotia though her power retires,
Mourn not, my Swift, at ought our realm acquires.
Here pleased behold her mighty wings outspread
To hatch a new Saturnian age of lead.

Close to those walls where Folly holds her throne,
And laughs to think Monro would take her down, 30
Where o'er the gates, by his famed father's hand,[244]
Great Cibber's brazen, brainless brothers stand,
One cell there is, conceal'd from vulgar eye,
The cave of Poverty and Poetry.
Keen, hollow winds howl through the bleak recess,
Emblem of music caused by emptiness.
Hence bards, like Proteus long in vain tied down,
Escape in monsters, and amaze the town.
Hence Miscellanies spring, the weekly boast
Of Curll's chaste press, and Lintot's rubric post:[247] 40
Hence hymning Tyburn's elegiac lines,[248]
Hence Journals, Medleys, Merc'ries, Magazines:
Sepulchral lies,[249] our holy walls to grace,
And new-year odes,[250] and all the Grub Street race.

In clouded majesty here Dulness 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 scribbling sake: 50
Prudence, whose glass presents the approaching jail:
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,[251] 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, 60
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 similes unlike.
She sees a mob of metaphors advance,
Pleased with the madness of the mazy dance;
How Tragedy and Comedy embrace;
How Farce and Epic[252] get a jumbled race; 70
How Time himself stands still at her command,
Realms shift their place, and ocean turns to land.
Here gay Description Egypt glads with showers,
Or gives to Zembla fruits, to Barca flowers;
Glittering with ice here hoary hills are seen,
There painted valleys of eternal green;
In cold December fragrant chaplets blow,
And heavy harvests nod beneath the snow.

All these, and more, the cloud-compelling queen
Beholds through fogs that magnify the scene. 80
She, tinsell'd o'er in robes of varying hues,
With self-applause her wild creation views;
Sees momentary monsters rise and fall,
And with her own fools-colours gilds them all.

'Twas on the day,[253] when Thorold rich and grave,
Like Cimon, triumphed both on land and wave:
(Pomps without guilt, of bloodless swords and maces,
Glad chains,[254] warm furs, broad banners, and broad faces.)
Now night descending, the proud scene was o'er,
But lived, in Settle's numbers, one day more.[255] 90
Now mayors and shrieves all hushed and satiate lay,
Yet eat, in dreams, the custard of the day;
While pensive poets painful vigils keep,
Sleepless themselves, to give their readers sleep.
Much to the mindful queen the feast recalls
What city swans once sung within the walls;
Much she revolves their arts, their ancient praise,
And sure succession down from Heywood's[256] days.
She saw, with joy, the line immortal run,
Each sire impress'd and glaring in his son: 100
So watchful Bruin forms, with plastic care,
Each growing lump, and brings it to a bear.
She saw old Pryn in restless Daniel[257] shine,
And Eusden[258] eke out Blackmore's endless line;
She saw slow Philips creep like Tate's[259] poor page,
And all the mighty mad in Dennis rage.[260]

In each she marks her image full express'd,
But chief in Bayes's monster-breeding breast;
Bayes formed by nature stage and town to bless,
And act, and be, a coxcomb with success. 110
Dulness with transport eyes the lively dunce,
Remembering she herself was pertness once.
Now (shame to Fortune![261]) an ill run at play
Blank'd his bold visage, and a thin third day;
Swearing and supperless the hero sate,
Blasphemed 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!
Plunged for his sense, but found no bottom there,
Yet wrote and floundered on, in mere despair. 120
Round him much embryo, much abortion lay,
Much future ode, and abdicated play;
Nonsense precipitate, like running lead,
That slipp'd through 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. 130
Here lay poor Fletcher's half-eat scenes,[262] and here
The frippery of crucified Molière;
There hapless Shakspeare, yet of Tibbald[263] sore,
Wish'd he had blotted[264] for himself before.
The rest on outside merit but presume,
Or serve (like other fools) to fill a room;
Such with their shelves as due proportion hold,
Or their fond parents dress'd in red and gold;
Or where the pictures for the page atone,
And Quarles is saved by beauties not his own. 140
Here swells the shelf with Ogilby the great;[265]
There, stamp'd with arms, Newcastle shines complete:[266]
Here all his suffering brotherhood retire,
And 'scape the martyrdom of Jakes and fire:
A Gothic library! of Greece and Rome
Well purged, and worthy Settle, Banks, and Broome.[267]

But, high above, more solid learning shone,
The classics of an age that heard of none;
There Caxton[268] slept, with Wynkyn at his side,
One clasp'd in wood, and one in strong cow-hide; 150
There, saved by spice, like mummies, many a year,
Dry bodies of divinity appear:
De Lyra[269] there a dreadful front extends,
And here the groaning shelves Philemon[270] bends.

Of these, twelve volumes, twelve of amplest size,
Redeem'd from tapers and defrauded pies,
Inspired he seizes: these an altar raise:
An hecatomb of pure, unsullied lays
That altar crowns: a folio common-place
Founds the whole pile, of all his works the base: 160
Quartos, octavos, shape the lessening pyre:
A twisted birth-day ode completes the spire.

Then he: Great tamer of all human art!
First in my care, and ever at my heart;
Dulness! whose good old cause I yet defend,
With whom my Muse began, with whom shall end,
E'er since Sir Fopling's periwig[271] was praise,
To the last honours of the butt and bays:
O thou! of business the directing soul;
To this our head, like bias to the bowl, 170
Which, as more ponderous, made its aim more true,
Obliquely waddling to the mark in view;
Oh, ever gracious to perplexed mankind,
Still spread a healing mist before the mind;
And, lest we err by wit's wild dancing light,
Secure us kindly in our native night.
Or, if to wit a coxcomb make pretence,
Guard the sure barrier between that and sense;
Or quite unravel all the reasoning thread,
And hang some curious cobweb in its stead! 180
As, forced from wind-guns, lead itself can fly,
And ponderous slugs cut swiftly through the sky;
As clocks to weight their nimble motion owe,
The wheels above urged by the load below:
Me Emptiness and Dulness could inspire,
And were my elasticity and fire.
Some demon stole my pen (forgive the offence)
And once betrayed me into common sense:
Else all my prose and verse were much the same;
This, prose on stilts; that, poetry fallen lame. 190
Did on the stage my fops appear confined?
My life gave ampler lessons to mankind.
Did the dead letter unsuccessful prove?
The brisk example never fail'd to move.
Yet sure, had Heaven decreed to save the state,
Heaven had decreed these works a longer date.
Could Troy be saved by any single hand,
This gray-goose weapon must have made her stand.
What can I now my Fletcher cast aside,
Take up the Bible, once my better guide? 200
Or tread the path by venturous heroes trod,
This box my thunder, this right hand my god?
Or chair'd at White's amidst the doctors sit,
Teach oaths to gamesters, and to nobles wit?
Or bidst thou rather party to embrace?
(A friend to party thou, and all her race;
'Tis the same rope at different ends they twist;
To Dulness Ridpath is as dear as Mist.[272])
Shall I, like Curtins, desperate in my zeal,
O'er head and ears plunge for the common weal? 210
Or rob Rome's ancient geese[273] of all their glories,
And, cackling, save the monarchy of Tories?
Hold--to the minister I more incline;
To serve his cause, O queen! is serving thine.
And see! thy very gazetteers give o'er,
Ev'n Ralph repents, and Henley writes no more.
What then remains? Ourself. Still, still remain
Cibberian forehead, and Cibberian brain.
This brazen brightness, to the squire so dear;
This polish'd hardness, that reflects the peer: 220
This arch absurd, that wit and fool delights;
This mess, tossed up of Hockley-hole and White's;
Where dukes and butchers join to wreathe my crown,
At once the bear and fiddle[274] of the town.

O born in sin, and forth in folly brought!
Works damn'd, or to be damn'd (your father's fault)!
Go, purified by flames, ascend the sky,
My better and more Christian progeny!
Unstain'd, untouch'd, and yet in maiden sheets;
While all your smutty sisters walk the streets. 230
Ye shall not beg, like gratis-given Bland,[275]
Sent with a pass, and vagrant through the land;
Nor sail with Ward[276] to ape-and-monkey climes,
Where vile Mundungus trucks for viler rhymes:
Not sulphur-tipp'd, emblaze an ale-house fire;
Not wrap up oranges, to pelt your sire!
Oh, pass more innocent, in infant state,
To the mild limbo of our father Tate:[277]
Or peaceably forgot, at once be blest
In Shadwell's bosom with eternal rest! 240
Soon to that mass of nonsense to return,
Where things destroyed are swept to things unborn.

With that, a tear (portentous sign of grace!)
Stole from the master of the sevenfold face:
And thrice he lifted high the birth-day brand,
And thrice he dropp'd it from his quivering hand;
Then lights the structure with averted eyes:
The rolling smoke involves the sacrifice.
The opening clouds disclose each work by turns,
Now flames the Cid, and now Perolla burns; 250
Great Caesar roars, and hisses in the fires;
King John in silence modestly expires:
No merit now the dear Nonjuror claims,
Moliere's[278] old stubble in a moment flames.
Tears gush'd again, as from pale Priam's eyes
When the last blaze sent Ilion to the skies.

Roused by the light, old Dulness heaved the head,
Then snatch'd a sheet of Thulè[279] from her bed,
Sudden she flies, and whelms it o'er the pyre;
Down sink the flames, and with a hiss expire. 260

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 mayors
She looks, and breathes herself into their airs.
She bids him wait her to her sacred dome:
Well pleased he enter'd, and confessed his home.
So, spirits ending their terrestrial race,
Ascend, and recognise their native place.
This the great mother dearer held than all
The clubs of quidnuncs, or her own Guildhall: 270
Here stood her opium, here she nursed her owls,
And here she plann'd the imperial seat of fools.

Here to her chosen all her works she shows;
Prose swell'd to verse, verse loitering into prose:
How random thoughts now meaning chance to find,
Now leave all memory of sense behind:
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: 280
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, revived, new piece,
'Twixt Plautus, Fletcher, Shakspeare, and Corneille,
Can make a Cibber, Tibbald,[280] or Ozell.[281]

The goddess then o'er his anointed head,
With mystic words, the sacred opium shed.
And, lo! her bird (a monster of a fowl,
Something betwixt a Heidegger[282] and owl,) 290
Perch'd on his crown. 'All hail! and hail again,
My son! the promised land expects thy reign.
Know, Eusden thirsts no more for sack or praise;
He sleeps among the dull of ancient days;
Safe, where no critics damn, no duns molest,
Where wretched Withers, Ward, and Gildon[283] rest,
And high-born Howard,[284] more majestic sire,
With fool of quality completes the quire,
Thou, Cibber! thou, his laurel shalt support,
Folly, my son, has still a friend at Court. 300
Lift up your gates, ye princes, see him come!
Sound, sound, ye viols, be the cat-call dumb!
Bring, bring the madding bay, the drunken vine;
The creeping, dirty, courtly ivy join.
And thou! his aide-de-camp, lead on my sons,
Light-arm'd with points, antitheses, and puns.
Let Bawdry, Billingsgate, my daughters dear,
Support his front, and Oaths bring up the rear:
And under his, and under Archer's wing,
Gaming[285] and Grub Street, skulk behind the king. 310
Oh! when shall rise a monarch all our own,
And I, a nursing mother, rock the throne;
'Twixt prince and people close the curtain draw,
Shade him from light, and cover him from law;
Fatten the courtier, starve the learnèd band,
And suckle armies, and dry-nurse the land:
Till senates nod to lullabies divine,
And all be sleep, as at an ode of thine.'

She ceased. Then swells the chapel-royal[286] throat:
God save King Cibber! mounts in every note. 320
Familiar White's, God save King Colley! cries;
God save King Colley! Drury lane replies:
To Needham's quick the voice triumphal rode,
But pious Needham[287] dropp'd the name of God;
Back to the Devil[288] the last echoes roll,
And Coll! each butcher roars at Hockley-hole.

So when Jove's block descended from on high
(As sings thy great forefather Ogilby[289]),
Loud thunder to its bottom shook the bog,
And the hoarse nation croak'd, God save King Log!


VER. 1. The mighty mother, &c. In the first edition it was thus--

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 wondrous works (so Jove and Fate require)
Say, for what cause, in vain decried and cursed,

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

VER. 29. Close to those walls, &c. In the former edition thus--

Where wave the tatter'd ensigns of Rag-fair,[245]
A yawning ruin hangs and nods in air;[246]
Keen hollow winds howl through the bleak recess,
Emblem of music caused by emptiness;
Here in one bed two shivering sisters lie,
The cave of Poverty and Poetry.

VER. 41 in the former lines--

Hence hymning Tyburn's elegiac lay,
Hence the soft sing-song on Cecilia's day.

VER. 42 alludes to the annual songs composed to music on St Cecilia's

VER. 85 in the former editions--

'Twas on the day--when Thorald,[290] rich and grave.

VER. 108. But chief in Bayes's, &e. In the former edition thus--

But chief, in Tibbald's monster-breeding breast;
Sees gods with demons in strange league engage,
And earth, and heaven, and hell her battles wage.
She eyed the bard, where supperless he sate,
And pined, unconscious of his rising fate;
Studious he sate, with all his books around,
Sinking from thought to thought, &c--

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

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. 146. In the first edition it was--

Well-purged, and worthy W--y, W--s, and Bl---.

VER. 162. A twisted, &c. In the former edition--

And last, a little Ajax[291] tips the spire.

VER. 177. Or, if to wit, &c. In the former edition--

Ah! still o'er Britain stretch that peaceful wand,
Which lulls th' Helvetian and Batavian land;
Where rebel to thy throne if science rise,
She does but show her coward face, and dies:
There thy good scholiasts with unwearied pains
Make Horace flat, and humble Maro's strains:
Here studious I unlucky moderns save,
Nor sleeps one error in its father's grave,
Old puns restore, lost blunders nicely seek,
And crucify poor Shakspeare once a week.
For thee supplying, in the worst of days.
Notes to dull books, and prologues to dull plays;
Not that my quill to critics was confined,
My verse gave ampler lessons to mankind;
So gravest precepts may successless prove.
But sad examples never fail to move.
As, forced from wind-guns, &c.

VER. 195. Yet sure had Heaven, &c. In the former edition--

Had Heaven decreed such works a longer date,
Heaven had decreed to spare the Grub Street state.
But see great Settle to the dust descend,
And all thy cause and empire at an end!
Could Troy be saved, &c.--

VER. 213. Hold--to the minister. In the former edition--

Yes, to my country I my pen consign
Yes, from this moment, mighty Mist! am thine.

VER. 225. O born in sin, &c. In the former edition--

Adieu, my children! better thus expire
Unstall'd, unsold; thus glorious mount in fire,
Fair without spot; than greased by grocer's hands,
Or shipp'd with Ward to ape-and-monkey lands,
Or wafting ginger, round the streets to run,
And visit ale-house, where ye first begun,
With that he lifted thrice the sparkling brand,
And thrice he dropp'd it, &c.--

VER. 250. Now flames the Cid, &c. In the former edition--

Now flames old Memnon, now Rodrigo burns,
In one quick flash see Proserpine expire,
And last, his own cold Aeschylus took fire.
Then gushed the tears, as from the Trojan's eyes,
When the last blaze, &c.

After VER. 268, in the former edition, followed these two lines--

Raptured, he gazes round the dear retreat,
And in sweet numbers celebrates the seat.

VER. 293. Know, Eusden, &c. In the former edition--

Know, Settle, cloy'd with custard and with praise,
Is gather'd to the dull of ancient days,
Safe where no critics damn, no duns molest,
Where Gildon, Banks, and high-born Howard rest.
I see a king! who leads my chosen sons
To lands that flow with clenches and with puns:
Till each famed theatre my empire own;
Till Albion, as Hibernia, bless my throne!
I see! I see!--Then rapt she spoke no more.
God save King Tibbald! Grub Street alleys roar.
So when Jove's block, &c.



The king being proclaimed, the solemnity is graced with public games and
sports of various kinds; not instituted by the hero, as by Aeneas in
Virgil, but for greater honour by the goddess in person (in like manner
as the games Pythia, Isthmia, &c., were anciently said to be ordained by
the gods, and as Thetis herself appearing, according to Homer, Odyss.
xxiv., proposed the prizes in honour of her son Achilles). Hither flock
the poets and critics, attended, as is but just, with their patrons and
booksellers. The goddess is first pleased, for her disport, to propose
games to the booksellers, and setteth up the phantom of a poet, which
they contend to overtake. The races described, with their divers
accidents. Next, the game for a poetess. Then follow the exercises for
the poets, of tickling, vociferating, diving: The first holds forth the
arts and practices of dedicators; the second of disputants and fustian
poets; the third of profound, dark, and dirty party-writers. Lastly, for
the critics, the goddess proposes (with great propriety) an exercise,
not of their parts, but their patience, in hearing the works of two
voluminous authors, one in verse, and the other in prose, deliberately
read, without sleeping: the various effects of which, with the several
degrees and manners of their operation, are here set forth; till the
whole number, not of critics only, but of spectators, actors, and all
present, fall fast asleep; which naturally and necessarily ends the

High on a gorgeous seat, that far out-shone
Henley's gilt tub,[292] or Flecknoe's Irish throne,[293]
Or that where on her Curlls the public pours,[294]
All-bounteous, fragrant grains and golden showers,
Great Cibber sate: the proud Parnassian sneer,
The conscious simper, and the jealous leer,
Mix on his look: all eyes direct their rays
On him, and crowds turn coxcombs as they gaze.
His peers shine round him with reflected grace,
New edge their dulness, and new bronze their face. 10
So from the sun's broad beam, in shallow urns
Heaven's twinkling sparks draw light, and point their horns.

Not with more glee, by hands Pontific crown'd,
With scarlet hats wide-waving circled round,
Rome in her Capitol saw Querno sit,[295]
Throned on seven hills, the Antichrist of wit.

And now the queen, to glad her sons, proclaims
By herald hawkers, high heroic games.
They summon all her race: an endless band
Pours forth, and leaves unpeopled half the land. 20
A motley mixture! in long wigs, in bags,
In silks, in crapes, in garters, and in rags,
From drawing-rooms, from colleges, from garrets,
On horse, on foot, in hacks, and gilded chariots:
All who true dunces in her cause appear'd,
And all who knew those dunces to reward.

Amid that area wide they took their stand,
Where the tall maypole once o'er-looked the Strand,
But now (so Anne and piety ordain)
A church collects the saints of Drury Lane. 30

With authors, stationers obey'd the call,
(The field of glory is a field for all).
Glory and gain the industrious tribe provoke;
And gentle Dulness ever loves a joke.
A poet's form she placed before their eyes,
And bade the nimblest racer seize the prize;
No meagre, muse-rid mope, adust and thin,
In a dun night-gown of his own loose skin;
But such a bulk as no twelve bards could raise,
Twelve starveling bards of these degenerate days. 40
All as a partridge plump, full-fed, and fair,
She form'd this image of well-bodied air;
With pert flat eyes she window'd well its head;
A brain of feathers, and a heart of lead;
And empty words she gave, and sounding strain,
But senseless, lifeless! idol void and vain!
Never was dash'd out, at one lucky hit,[297]
A fool, so just a copy of a wit;
So like, that critics said, and courtiers swore,
A wit it was, and call'd the phantom More.[298] 50

All gaze with ardour: some a poet's name,
Others a sword-knot and laced suit inflame.
But lofty Lintot[299] in the circle rose:
'This prize is mine; who tempt it are my foes;
With me began this genius, and shall end.'
He spoke: and who with Lintot shall contend?
Fear held them mute. Alone, untaught to fear,
Stood dauntless Curll:[300] 'Behold that rival here!
The race by vigour, not by vaunts is won;
So take the hindmost Hell.' He said, and run. 60
Swift as a bard the bailiff leaves behind,
He left huge Lintot, and out-stripp'd the wind.
As when a dab-chick waddles through the copse
On feet and wings, and flies, and wades, and hops:
So labouring on, with shoulders, hands, and head,
Wide as a wind-mill all his figure spread,
With arms expanded Bernard rows his state,
And left-legg'd Jacob[301] seems to emulate.
Full in the middle way there stood a lake,
Which Curll's Corinna[302] chanced that morn to make: 70
(Such was her wont, at early dawn to drop
Her evening cates before his neighbour's shop,)
Here fortuned Curll to slide; loud shout the band,
And Bernard! Bernard! rings through all the Strand.
Obscene with filth the miscreant lies bewray'd,
Fallen in the plash his wickedness had laid:
Then first (if poets aught of truth declare)
The caitiff vaticide conceived a prayer:
'Hear, Jove! whose name my bards and I adore,
As much at least as any god's, or more; 80
And him and his if more devotion warms,
Down with the Bible, up with the Pope's arms.'[303]

A place there is, betwixt earth, air, and seas,[304]
Where, from Ambrosia, Jove retires for ease.
There in his seat two spacious vents appear,
On this he sits, to that he leans his ear,
And hears the various vows of fond mankind;
Some beg an eastern, some a western wind:
All vain petitions, mounting to the sky,
With reams abundant this abode supply; 90
Amused he reads, and then returns the bills
Sign'd with that ichor which from gods distils.

In office here fair Cloacina stands,
And ministers to Jove with purest hands.
Forth from the heap she pick'd her votary's prayer,
And placed it next him, a distinction rare!
Oft had the goddess heard her servant's call,
From her black grottos near the Temple-wall,
Listening delighted to the jest unclean
Of link-boys vile, and watermen obscene; 100
Where as he fish'd her nether realms for wit,
She oft had favour'd him, and favours yet.
Renew'd by ordure's sympathetic force,
As oil'd with magic juices for the course,
Vigorous he rises; from the effluvia strong
Imbibes new life, and scours and stinks along;
Repasses Lintot, vindicates the race,
Nor heeds the brown dishonours of his face.

And now the victor stretch'd his eager hand
Where the tall Nothing stood, or seem'd to stand; 110
A shapeless shade, it melted from his sight,
Like forms in clouds, or visions of the night.
To seize his papers, Curll, was next thy care;
His papers light, fly diverse, toss'd in air;
Songs, sonnets, epigrams the winds uplift,
And whisk them back to Evans, Young, and Swift.[305]
The embroider'd suit at least he deem'd his prey,
That suit an unpaid tailor snatch'd away.
No rag, no scrap, of all the beau, or wit,
That once so flutter'd, and that once so writ. 120

Heaven rings with laughter: of the laughter vain,
Dulness, good queen, repeats the jest again.
Three wicked imps, of her own Grub Street choir,
She deck'd like Congreve, Addison, and Prior;
Mears, Warner, Wilkins run: delusive thought!
Breval, Bond, Bezaleel,[306] the varlets caught.
Curll stretches after Gay, but Gay is gone,
He grasps an empty Joseph[307] for a John:
So Proteus, hunted in a nobler shape,
Became, when seized, a puppy, or an ape. 130

To him the goddess: 'Son! thy grief lay down,
And turn this whole illusion on the town:[308]
As the sage dame, experienced in her trade,
By names of toasts retails each batter'd jade;
(Whence hapless Monsieur much complains at Paris
Of wrongs from duchesses and Lady Maries;)
Be thine, my stationer! this magic gift;
Cook shall be Prior,[309] and Concanen, Swift:
So shall each hostile name become our own,
And we too boast our Garth and Addison.' 140

With that she gave him (piteous of his case,
Yet smiling at his rueful length of face[310])
A shaggy tapestry, worthy to be spread
On Codrus' old, or Dunton's modern bed;[311]
Instructive work! whose wry-mouth'd portraiture
Display'd the fates her confessors endure.
Earless on high, stood unabash'd Defoe,
And Tutchin flagrant from the scourge below.[312]
There Ridpath, Roper,[313] cudgell'd might ye view,
The very worsted still look'd black and blue. 150
Himself among the storied chiefs he spies,[314]
As, from the blanket, high in air he flies,
And oh! (he cried) what street, what lane but knows
Our purgings, pumpings, blanketings, and blows?
In every loom our labours shall be seen,
And the fresh vomit run for ever green!

See in the circle next, Eliza[315] placed,
Two babes of love close clinging to her waist;
Fair as before her works she stands confess'd, 159
In flowers and pearls by bounteous Kirkall[316] dress'd.
The goddess then: 'Who best can send on high
The salient spout, far-streaming to the sky;
His be yon Juno of majestic size,
With cow-like udders, and with ox-like eyes.
This China Jordan let the chief o'ercome
Replenish, not ingloriously, at home.'

Osborne[317] and Curll accept the glorious strife,
(Though this his son dissuades, and that his wife;)
One on his manly confidence relies,
One on his vigour and superior size. 170
First Osborne lean'd against his letter'd post;
It rose, and labour'd to a curve at most.
So Jove's bright bow displays its watery round
(Sure sign, that no spectator shall be drown'd),
A second effort brought but new disgrace,
The wild meander wash'd the artist's face:
Thus the small jet, which hasty hands unlock,
Spurts in the gardener's eyes who turns the cock.
Not so from shameless Curll; impetuous spread
The stream, and smoking flourish'd o'er his head. 180
So (famed like thee for turbulence and horns)
Eridanus his humble fountain scorns;
Through half the heavens he pours the exalted urn;
His rapid waters in their passage burn.

Swift as it mounts, all follow with their eyes:
Still happy impudence obtains the prize.
Thou triumph'st, victor of the high-wrought day,
And the pleased dame, soft-smiling, lead'st away.
Osborne, through perfect modesty o'ercome,
Crown'd with the Jordan, walks contented home. 190

But now for authors nobler palms remain;
Room for my lord! three jockeys in his train;
Six huntsmen with a shout precede his chair:
He grins, and looks broad nonsense with a stare.
His honour's meaning Dulness thus express'd,
'He wins this patron, who can tickle best.'

He chinks his purse, and takes his seat of state:
With ready quills the dedicators wait;
Now at his head the dext'rous task commence,
And, instant, fancy feels the imputed sense; 200
Now gentle touches wanton o'er his face,
He struts Adonis, and affects grimace:
Rolli[318] the feather to his ear conveys,
Then his nice taste directs our operas:
Bentley[319] his mouth with classic flattery opes,
And the puff'd orator bursts out in tropes.
But Welsted[320] most the poet's healing balm
Strives to extract from his soft, giving palm;
Unlucky Welsted! thy unfeeling master,
The more thou ticklest, gripes his fist the faster. 210

While thus each hand promotes the pleasing pain,
And quick sensations skip from vein to vein;
A youth unknown to Phoebus, in despair,
Puts his last refuge all in Heaven and prayer.
What force have pious vows! The Queen of Love
Her sister sends, her votaress, from above.
As taught by Venus, Paris learn'd the art
To touch Achilles' only tender part;
Secure, through her, the noble prize to carry,
He marches off, his Grace's secretary. 220

'Now turn to different sports (the goddess cries),
And learn, my sons, the wondrous power of noise.
To move, to raise, to ravish every heart,
With Shakspeare's nature, or with Jonson's art,
Let others aim: 'tis yours to shake the soul
With thunder rumbling from the mustard bowl,[321]
With horns and trumpets now to madness swell,
Now sink in sorrows with a tolling bell;
Such happy arts attention can command,
When fancy flags, and sense is at a stand. 230
Improve we these. Three cat-calls be the bribe
Of him whose chattering shames the monkey tribe:
And his this drum whose hoarse heroic bass
Drowns the loud clarion of the braying ass.'

Now thousand tongues are heard in one loud din:
The monkey-mimics rush discordant in;
'Twas chattering, grinning, mouthing, jabbering all,
And noise and Norton, brangling and Breval,[322]
Dennis and dissonance, and captious art,
And snip-snap short, and interruption smart, 240
And demonstration thin, and theses thick,
And major, minor, and conclusion quick.
'Hold' (cried the queen) 'a cat-call each shall win;
Equal your merits! equal is your din!
But that this well-disputed game may end,
Sound forth, nay brayers, and the welkin rend.'

As when the long-ear'd milky mothers wait
At some sick miser's triple-bolted gate,
For their defrauded, absent foals they make
A moan so loud, that all the guild awake; 250
Sore sighs Sir Gilbert, starting at the bray,
From dreams of millions, and three groats to pay.
So swells each windpipe; ass intones to ass,
Harmonic twang! of leather, horn, and brass;
Such as from labouring lungs the enthusiast blows,
High sound, attemper'd to the vocal nose,
Or such as bellow from the deep divine;
There, Webster![323] peal'd thy voice, and, Whitfield![324] thine.
But far o'er all, sonorous Blackmore's strain;
Walls, steeples, skies, bray back to him again. 260
In Tottenham fields, the brethren, with amaze,
Prick all their ears up, and forget to graze;
'Long Chancery Lane retentive rolls the sound,
And courts to courts return it round and round;
Thames wafts it thence to Rufus' roaring hall,
And Hungerford re-echoes bawl for bawl.
All hail him victor in both gifts of song,
Who sings so loudly, and who sings so long.

This labour past, by Bridewell all descend,
(As morning prayer, and flagellation end)[325] 270
To where Fleet-ditch with disemboguing streams
Rolls the large tribute of dead dogs to Thames,
The king of dikes! than whom no sluice of mud
With deeper sable blots the silver flood.
'Here strip, my children! here at once leap in,
Here prove who best can dash through thick and thin,[326]
And who the most in love of dirt excel,
Or dark dexterity of groping well.
Who flings most filth, and wide pollutes around
The stream, be his the weekly journals[327] bound; 280
A pig of lead to him who dives the best;
A peck of coals a-piece[328] shall glad the rest.'

In naked majesty Oldmixon stands,[329]
And, Milo-like, surveys his arms and hands;
Then sighing, thus, 'And am I now threescore?
Ah why, ye gods! should two and two make four?'
He said, and climb'd a stranded lighter's height,
Shot to the black abyss, and plunged downright.
The senior's judgment all the crowd admire,
Who but to sink the deeper, rose the higher. 290

Next Smedley dived;[330] slow circles dimpled o'er
The quaking mud, that closed, and oped no more.
All look, all sigh, and call on Smedley lost;
'Smedley!' in vain, resounds through all the coast.

Then Hill[331] essay'd; scarce vanish'd out of sight,
He buoys up instant, and returns to light:
He bears no token of the sable streams,
And mounts far off among the swans of Thames.

True to the bottom, see Concanen creep,
A cold, long-winded, native of the deep: 300
If perseverance gain the diver's prize,
Not everlasting Blackmore this denies:
No noise, no stir, no motion can'st thou make,
The unconscious stream sleeps o'er thee like a lake.

Next plunged a feeble, but a desperate pack,
With each a sickly brother at his back:[332]
Sons of a day! just buoyant on the flood,
Then number'd with the puppies in the mud.
Ask ye their names? I could as soon disclose
The names of these blind puppies as of those. 310
Fast by, like Niobe (her children gone)
Sits Mother Osborne,[333] stupified to stone!
And monumental brass this record bears,
'These are,--ah no! these were, the gazetteers!'[334]

Not so bold Arnall;[335] with a weight of skull,
Furious he dives, precipitately dull.
Whirlpools and storms his circling arm invest,
With all the might of gravitation bless'd.
No crab more active in the dirty dance,
Downward to climb, and backward to advance. 320
He brings up half the bottom on his head,
And loudly claims the journals and the lead.

The plunging Prelate,[336] and his ponderous Grace,
With holy envy gave one layman place.
When, lo! a burst of thunder shook the flood,
Slow rose a form, in majesty of mud:
Shaking the horrors of his sable brows,
And each ferocious feature grim with ooze.
Greater he looks, and more than mortal stares:
Then thus the wonders of the deep declares. 330

First he relates, how sinking to the chin,
Smit with his mien, the mud-nymphs suck'd him in:
How young Lutetia, softer than the down,
Nigrina black, and Merdamante brown,
Vied for his love in jetty bowers below,
As Hylas fair was ravish'd long ago.
Then sung, how, shown him by the nut-brown maids;
A branch of Styx here rises from the shades,
That, tinctured as it runs with Lethe's streams,
And wafting vapours from the land of dreams, 340
(As under seas Alpheus' secret sluice
Bears Pisa's offerings to his Arethuse,)
Pours into Thames: and hence the mingled wave
Intoxicates the pert, and lulls the grave:
Here brisker vapours o'er the Temple creep,
There, all from Paul's to Aldgate drink and sleep.

Thence to the banks where reverend bards repose,
They led him soft; each reverend bard arose;
And Milbourn[337] chief, deputed by the rest,
Gave him the cassock, surcingle, and vest. 350
'Receive (he said) these robes which once were mine,
Dulness is sacred in a sound divine.'

He ceased, and spread the robe; the crowd confess
The reverend Flamen in his lengthen'd dress.
Around him wide a sable army stand,
A low-born, cell-bred, selfish, servile band,
Prompt or to guard or stab, to saint or damn,
Heaven's Swiss, who fight for any god, or man.
Through Lud's famed gates,[338] along the well-known Fleet
Rolls the black troop, and overshades the street, 360
Till showers of sermons, characters, essays,
In circling fleeces whiten all the ways:
So clouds replenish'd from some bog below,
Mount in dark volumes, and descend in snow.
Here stopp'd the goddess; and in pomp proclaims
A gentler exercise to close the games.

'Ye critics! in whose heads, as equal scales,
I weigh what author's heaviness prevails,
Which most conduce to soothe the soul in slumbers,
My Henley's periods, or my Blackmore's numbers, 370
Attend the trial we propose to make:
If there be man, who o'er such works can wake,
Sleep's all-subduing charms who dares defy,
And boasts Ulysses' ear with Argus' eye;
To him we grant our amplest powers to sit
Judge of all present, past, and future wit;
To cavil, censure, dictate, right or wrong,
Full and eternal privilege of tongue.'

Three college Sophs, and three pert Templars came,
The same their talents, and their tastes the same; 380
Each prompt to query, answer, and debate,
And smit with love of poesy and prate.
The ponderous books two gentle readers bring;
The heroes sit, the vulgar form a ring.
The clamorous crowd is hush'd with mugs of mum,
Till all, tuned equal, send a general hum.
Then mount the clerks, and in one lazy tone
Through the long, heavy, painful page drawl on;
Soft creeping, words on words, the sense compose,
At every line they stretch, they yawn, they doze. 390
As to soft gales top-heavy pines bow low
Their heads, and lift them as they cease to blow,
Thus oft they rear, and oft the head decline,
As breathe, or pause, by fits, the airs divine;
And now to this side, now to that they nod,
As verse or prose infuse the drowsy god.
Thrice Budgell aim'd to speak,[339] but thrice suppress'd
By potent Arthur, knock'd his chin and breast.
Toland and Tindal,[340] prompt at priests to jeer,
Yet silent bow'd to Christ's no kingdom here.[341] 400
Who sate the nearest, by the words o'ercome,
Slept first; the distant nodded to the hum.
Then down are roll'd the books; stretch'd o'er 'em lies
Each gentle clerk, and, muttering, seals his eyes,
As what a Dutchman plumps into the lakes,
One circle first, and then a second makes;
What Dulness dropp'd among her sons impress'd
Like motion from one circle to the rest;
So from the midmost the nutation spreads
Round and more round, o'er all the sea of heads. 410
At last Centlivre[342] felt her voice to fail,
Motteux[343] himself unfinished left his tale,
Boyer the state, and Law the stage gave o'er,[344]
Morgan[345] and Mandeville[346] could prate no more;
Norton,[347] from Daniel and Ostroea sprung,
Bless'd with his father's front and mother's tongue,
Hung silent down his never-blushing head;
And all was hush'd, as Polly's self lay dead.

Thus the soft gifts of sleep conclude the day,
And stretch'd on bulks, as usual, poets lay. 420
Why should I sing what bards the nightly Muse
Did slumbering visit, and convey to stews;
Who prouder march'd, with magistrates in state,
To some famed round-house, ever open gate!
How Henley lay inspired beside a sink,
And to mere mortals seem'd a priest in drink;
While others, timely, to the neighbouring Fleet
(Haunt of the Muses!) made their safe retreat?


VER. 207 in the first edition--

But Oldmixon the poet's healing balm, &c.

After VER. 298 in the first edition, followed these--

Far worse unhappy D---r succeeds,
He searched for coral, but he gather'd weeds.

VER. 399. In the first edition it was--

Collins and Tindal, prompt at priests to jeer.

VER. 413. In the first edition it was--

T---s and T---- the Church and State gave o'er,
Nor ---- talk'd nor S---- whisper'd more.



After the other persons are disposed in their proper places of rest, the
goddess transports the king to her temple, and there lays him to slumber
with his head on her lap; a position of marvellous virtue, which causes
all the visions of wild enthusiasts, projectors, politicians,
inamoratos, castle-builders, chemists, and poets. He is immediately
carried on the wings of Fancy, and led by a mad poetical Sibyl, to the
Elysian shade; where, on the banks of Lethe, the souls of the dull are
dipped by Bavius, before their entrance into this world. There he is met
by the ghost of Settle, and by him made acquainted with the wonders of
the place, and with those which he himself is destined to perform. He


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