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Him close she curtains round with vapours blue,
He hears loud oracles, and talks with gods;
And now, on Fancy's easy wing convey'd,
In lofty madness meditating song; Her tresses staring from poetic dreams, And never wash'd but in Castalia's streams. Taylor, their better Charon, lends an oar 19 (Once swan of Thames, though now he sings no more);
19 Taylor.] John Taylor the Water-poet, an honest man, who owns he learned not so much as the accidence; a rare example of modesty in a poet!
I must confess I do want eloquence,
And never scarce did learn my accidence;
I there was gravel'd, could no farther get.'
He wrote fourscore books in the reign of James I. and Charles I. and afterwards (like Edward Ward) kept an alehouse in Long-acre. He died in 1654.
78 Hence from the straw where Bedlam's prophet nods,
He hears loud oracles, and talks with gods.]
'Et varias audit voces, fruiturque deorum
15 A slip-shod sibyl, &c.]
-Furens antro se immisit aperto.
VIRG. Æn. VII.
VIRG. Æn. VI.
Benlowes, propitious still to blockheads, bows; 21
And blunt the sense, and fit it for a skull
Instant, when dipp'd, away they wing their flight, Where Browne and Mears unbar the gates of light,28
21 Benlowes.] A country gentleman, famous for his own bad poetry, and for patronizing bad poets, as may be seen from many dedications of Quarles and others to him. Some of these anagramed his name Benlowes into Benevolus; to verify which he spent his whole estate upon them.
22 And Shadwell nods, the poppy, &c.] Shadwell took opium for many years, and died of too large a dose, in the year 1692.
24 Old Bavius si Bavius was an ancient poet, celebrated by Virgil for the like cause as Bayes by our author, though not in so Christianlike a manner: for heathenishly it is declared by Virgil of Bavius, that he ought to be hated and detested for his evil works: Qui Barium non odit? whereas we have often had occasion to observe our poet's great good nature and mercifulness through the whole course of this SCRIB.
1 28 -Browne and Mears.] Booksellers, printers for any body.- -The allegory of the souls of the dull coming forth in the form of books dressed in calf's leather, and being let abroad in vast numbers by booksellers, is sufficiently intelligible. W.
23 Here in a dusky vale, &c.
-Videt Eneas in valle reducta
VIRG. Æn. VI.
Lethæumque domos placidas qui prænatat amnem, Hunc circum innumeræ gentes,' &c. VIRG. En. VI.
24 Old Bavius sits to dip poetic souls.]
'At pater Anchises penitus convalle virenti
Inclusas animas, superumque ad lumen ituras,
VIRG. Æn. VI.
unbar the gates of light.] An hemistich of Milton.
Demand new bodies, and in calf's array
Rush to the world, impatient for the day.
Millions and millions on these banks he views, 31
Wondering he gazed, when, lo! a sage appears,
'Oh! born to see what none can see awake!
What mortal knows his pre-existent state?
How many Dutchmen she vouchsafed to thrid ?
34 John Ward, of Hackney, Esq. member of parliament, being convicted of forgery, was first expelled the House, and then sentenced to the pillory, on the 17th of February, 1727.
31 32 Millions and millions-Thick as the stars, &c.]
'Quam multa in sylvis autumni frigore primo
VIRG. En. VI.
And all who since, in mild benighted days,
Roll all their tides, then back their circles bring;
'Ascend this hill, whose cloudy point commands Her boundless empire over seas and lands. See, round the poles where keener spangles shine, Where spices smoke beneath the burning line, (Earth's wide extremes) her sable flag display'd, And all the nations cover'd in her shade!
Fareastward cast thine eye, from whence the sun And orient science their bright course begun :
54 Mix'd the owl's ivy with the poet's bays.] Sine tempora circum
Inter victrices ederam tibi serpere lauros.'
VIRG. Ecl. VIII.
61 62 For this our queen unfolds to vision true
Thy mental eye, for thou hast much to view.]
This has a resemblance to that passage in Milton, Book XI. where the angel
To noble sights from Adam's eye removed
The film; then purged with euphrasie and rue
The visual nerve-For he had much to see.'
There is a general allusion in what follows to that whole episode.
One godlike monarch all that pride confounds, He whose long wall the wandering Tartar bounds: Heavens! what a pile! whole ages perish there, And one bright blaze turns learning into air.
"Thence to the south extend thy gladden'd eyes; There rival flames with equal glory rise; From shelves to shelves see greedy Vulcan roll, And lick up all their physic of the soul.
How little, mark! that portion of the ball, Where, faint at best, the beams of science fall: Soon as they dawn, from hyperborean skies Embodied dark, what clouds of Vandals rise! Lo! where Mæotis sleeps, and hardly flows The freezing Tanais through a waste of snows, The north by myriads pours her mighty sons, Great nurse of Goths, of Alans, and of Huns! See Alaric's stern port! the martial frame Of Genseric! and Attila's dread name! See the bold Ostrogoths on Latium fall; See the fierce Visigoths on Spain and Gaul! See where the morning gilds the palmy shore (The soil that arts and infant letters bore) His conquering tribes the' Arabian prophet draws, And saving Ignorance enthrones by laws! See Christians, Jews, one heavy sabbath keep, And all the western world believe and sleep!
'Lo! Rome herself, proud mistress now no more Of arts, but thundering against heathen lore; Her gray-hair'd synods damning books unread, And Bacon trembling for his brazen head. Padua, with sighs, beholds her Livy burn, And e'en the' Antipodes Virgilius mourn. See the Cirque falls, the' unpillar'd temple nods, Streets paved with heroes, Tyber choked with gods;