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THE DUNCIAD.

BOOK IV.

Yet, yet a moment, one dim ray of light
Indulge, dread Chaos, and eternal Night!
Of darkness visible so much be lent,
As half to shew, half veil the deep intent.

REMARKS.

Pot

Tue Dunciad, Book IV.] This Book may properly be distinguished from the former, by the name of the GREATER DUNCIAD, not so indeed in size, but in subject; and so far, contrary to the distinction anciently made of the Greater and Lesser Iliad. But much are they mistaken who imagine this work to be in any wise inferior to the former, or of any other hand than of our poet ; of which I am much more certain than that the Iliad itself was the work of Solomon, or the Batrachomyomachia of Homer, as Barnes hath affirmed. BENTLEY.

Ver. 1. &c.] This is an invocation of much piety. The poet, willing to approve himself a genuine Son, beginneth by shewing (what is ever agreeable to Dulness) his high respect for antiquity and a great family, how dead or dark soever ; next declareth his passion for explaining Mysteries ; and lastly, his impatience to be re-united to her. SCRIBLERUS.

P. W. Ver. 2. dread Chaos, and eternal Night!] Invoked, as the restoration of their Empire is the action of the poem.

P. W. Ver. 3. Of darkness visible so much be lent,

As half to shew, half veil the deep intent.] This is modelled from Par. Lost, i. 63. as every reader of English poetry will immediately recollect :

“ No light, but rather darkness visible,

Serv'd only to discover sights of woe.” Wakefield. Ver. 4. half to shew, half veil the deep intent.] This is a great

propriety;

5

Ye Pow'rs! whose Mysteries restor'd I sing,
To whom Time bears me on his rapid wing,

REMARKS.

a

propriety; for a dull poet can never express himself otherwise than by halves, or imperfectly. SCRIBLERUS.

P. W. I understand it very differently ; the author in this work had indeed a deep intent; there were in it Mysteries, or ámó enla, which he durst not fully reveal; and doubtless in divers verses, according to Milton,

more is meant than meets the ear.” BENTLEY. P. W. Ver. 6. To whom Time bears me on his rapid wing,] Fair and softly, good Poet! (eries the gentle Scriblerus on this place.) For sure, in spite of his unusual modesty, he shall not travel so fast toward oblivion, as divers others of more confidence have done. For when I revolve in my mind the catalogue of those who have most boldly promised to themselves immortality, viz. Pindar, Luis Gongora, Ronsard, Oldham, Lyrics; Lycophron, Statius, Chapman, Blackmore, Heroics; I find the one half to be already dead, and the other in utter darkness. But it becometh not us, who have taken up the office of his commentator, to suffer our poet thus prodigally to cast away his life ; contrariwise, the more hidden and abstruse his work is, and the more remote its beauties from common understanding, the more it is our duty to draw forth and exalt the same, in the face of men and angels. Herein shall we imitate the laudable spirit of those, who have, for this very reason, delighted to comment on dark and uncouth authors, and even on their darker fragments ; have preferred Ennius to Virgil, and have chosen rather to turn the dark Lanthorn of LYCOPHRON, than to trim the everlasting Lamp of Homer. SCRIBLERUS.

P. W. Ver. 6. To whom Time bears me on his rapid wing,] had in his memory Milton's Sonnet vii.

“ How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stol'n on his wing my three and twentieth year
To that same lot, however mean or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heav'n—,"

Wakefield.

The poet

Suspend awhile your force inertly strong,
Then take at once the poet and the song.

Now flamed the Dog-star's unpropitious ray,
Smote ev'ry brain, and wither'd ev'ry bay; 10
Sick was the sun, the owl forsook his bow'r,
The moon-struck prophet felt the madding hour :
Then rose the seed of Chaos and of Night,
To blot out order, and extinguish light,
Of dull and venal a new world to mould, 15
And bring Saturnian days of Lead and Gold.

REMARKS.

stance,

Ver. 7. force inertly strong,] Alluding to the Vis inertia of Matter, which, though it really be no Power, is yet the foundation of all the qualities and attributes of that sluggish sub

P. W. Ver. 11, 12. Sick was the sun, &c.] The poet introduceth this (as all great events are supposed by sage historians to be preceded) by an Eclipse of the Sun; but with a peculiar propriety, as the Sun is the emblem of that intellectual light which dies before the face of Dulness. Very apposite likewise is it, to make this Eclipse, which is occasioned by the Moon's predominancy, at the very time when Dulness and Madness are in conjunction; whose relation and influence on each other the poet hath shewn in many places. Book I. ver. 29. Book III. ver. 5. et seq.

W. Ver. 14. To blot out order, and extinguish light,] The two great ends of her mission; the one in quality of daughter of Chaos, the other as daughter of Night, Order here is to be understood extensively, both as civil and moral ; the distinctions between high and low in society, and true and false in individuals ; Light, as intellectual only; wit, science, arts.

P. W. Ver. 15. Of dull and venal] The allegory continued ; dull referring to the extinction of light or science; venal to the destruction of order, or the truth of things.

P. W. Ibid. a new World.] In reference to the Epicurean opinion, that from the dissolution of the natural world into Night and Chaos, a new one should arise; this the poet alluding to, in the production

of

1

She mounts the throne; her head a cloud con

ceald; In broad effulgence all below reveal'd; ('Tis thus aspiring Dulness ever shines :) Soft on her lap her Laureat Son reclines. 20

REMARKS.

of a new moral world, makes it partake of its original principles.

P. W. Ver. 16. Lead and Gold] i.e. dull and venal. P. W.

Ver. 18. all below reveald;] It was the opinion of the Ancients, that the Divinities manifested themselves to men by their Backparts. Virg. Æneid. i. et avertens, roseâ cervice refulsit. But this passage may admit of another exposition.—Vet. Adag. The higher you climb, the more you show your a Verified in no instance more than in Dulness aspiring. Emblematized also by an ape climbing and exposing his posteriors. SCRIBLERUS. P. W.

Ver. 20. her Laureat Son reclines.] With great judgment is it imagined by the poet, that such a colleague as Dulness had elected, should sleep upon the Throne, and have very little share in the action of the poem. Accordingly he hath done little or nothing from the day of his anointing ; having passed through the second book without taking part in any thing that was transacted about him; and through the third, in profound sleep. Nor ought this, well considered, to seem strange in our days, when so many King-consorts have done the like. SCRIBLERUS. P. W.

This verse our excellent Laureat took so to heart that he appealed to all mankind, “ if he was not as seldom asleep as any fool ?But it is hoped the poet hath not injured him, but rather verified his prophecy (p. 243. of his own Life, 8vo. ch. ix.) where

" the reader will be as much pleased to find me a dunce in my old age, as he was to prove me a brisk blockhead in

my youth." Wherever there was any room for briskness of any sort, even in sinking, he hath had it allowed ; but here, where there is nothing for him to do but to take his natural rest, he must permit his historian to be silent. It is from their actions only that Princes have their character, and poets from their works; and if in those he be as much asleep as any fool, the poet must leave him and them to sleep to all eternity. BENTLEY.

P.t

he says,

Beneath her foot-stool, Science groans in chains, And Wit dreads exile, penalties, and pains. There foam’d rebellious Logic, gagg’d and bound, There, stripp’d, fair Rhet'ric languish'd on the

ground; His blunted arms by Sophistry are borne, 25 And shameless Billingsgate her robes adorn. Morality, by her false guardians drawn, Chicane in furs, and Casuistry in lawn,

REMARKS.

of this poet,

it as any

Ver. 20. her Laureat] “When I find my name in the satirical works

I
never look
upon

malice meant to me, but PROFIT to himself. For he considers that my face is more known than most in the nation; and therefore a Lick at the Laureat will be a sure bait ad captandum dulgus, to catch little readers.”—Life of Colly Cibber, ch. ii.

Now if it be certain, that the works of our poet have owed their success to this ingenious expedient, we hence derive an unanswerable argument, that this Fourth DUNCIAD, as well as the former thrée, hath had the author's last hand, and was by him intended for the press; or else to what purpose hath he crowned it, as we see, by this finishing stroke, the profitable Lick at the Laureat ? BENTLEY

P.T Ver. 21, 22. Beneath her foot-stool, &c.] We are next presented with the pictures of those whom the Goddess leads in captivity. Science is only depressed and confined so as to be rendered useless; but Wit or Genius, as a more dangerous and active enemy, punished, or driven away; Dulness being often reconciled in some degree with Learning, but never upon any terms with Wit. And accordingly it will be seen that she admits something like each Science, as Casuistry, Sophistry, &c. but nothing like Wit, Opera alone supplying its place.

Ver. 27. Morality, by her fulse guardians drawn,] Morality is the daughter of Astræa. This alludes to the mythology of the ancient poets, who tell us that in the golden and silver ages, or in the state of nature, the Gods cohabited with men here on earth; but when, by reason of man's degeneracy, society was forced to have recourse

P. W.

to

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