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Still her old empire to restore she tries,
Oh thou! whatever title please thine ear-
Close to those walls where Folly holds her throne, And laughs to think Monroe would take her down, 30 Where o'er the gates, by his famed father's hand, Great Cibber's brazen, brainless brothers stand;
design of the poet. Hence it is that some have complained he chooses too mean a subject, and imagined he employs himself like Domitian, in killing flies; whereas those who have the true key will find he sports with nobler quarry, and embraces a larger compass; or (as one saith on a like occasion,)
"Will see his work, like Jacob's ladder rise, Its foot in dirt, its head amid the skies.' Bentl. Ver. 17. Still her old empire to restore.] This restoration makes the completion of the poem. Vide Book iv.
Ver. 22. Laugh and shake in Rabelais' easy chair.] The imagery is exquisite; and the equivoque in the last words, gives a peculiar elegance to the whole expression. The easy chair suits his age: Rabelais' easy chair marks his character; and he filled and possessed it as the right heir and successor of that original genius.
Ver. 23. Or praise the court, or magnify mankind.] Ironice, alluding to Gulliver's representations of both The next line relates to the papers of the Draper against the cur rency of Wood's copper coin in Ireland, which, upon the great discontent of the people, his majesty was most graciously pleased to recall.
Ver. 26. Mourn not, my Swift, at aught our realm acquires.] Ironice iterum. The politics of England and Ireland were at this time by some thought to be opposite, or interfering with each other. Dr. Swift of course was in the interest of the latter, our author of the former.
Ver. 31. By his famed father's hand.] Mr. Caius Gabrie
One cell there is, conceal'd from vulgar eye,
Keen, hollow winds howl through the bleak recess,
Hence bards, like Proteus, long in vain tied down,
And new-year odes, and all the Grub-street race.
Cibber, father of the poet-laureate. The two statues of the lunatics over the gates of Bedlam-hospital were done by lim, and (as the son justly says of them) are no ill monuments of his fame as an artist.
Ver. 34. Poverty and poetry.] 1 cannot here omit a remark that will greatly endear our author to every one, who shall attentively observe that humanity and candour, which every where appears in him towards those unhappy objects of the ridicule of all mankind, the bad poets. He there imputes all scandalous rhymes, scurrilous weekly papers, base flatteries, wretched elegies, songs, and verses (even from those sung at court, to ballads in the street,) not so much to malice or servility as to dulness, and not so much to dulness as to necessity. And thus, at the very commencement of his satire, makes an apology for all that are to be satirized.
Ver. 40. Curll's chaste press, and Lintot's rubric post:] Two booksellers, of whom see Book ii. The former was fined by the Court of King's Bench for publishing obscene books; the latter usually adorned his shop with titles in red letters.
Ver. 41. Hence hymning Tyburn's elegiac lines.] It is an ancient English custom for the malefactors to sing a psalm at their execution at Tyburn; and no less customary to print elegies on their deaths, at the same time, or before.
Ver. 43. Sepulchral lies,] is a just satire on the flatteries and falsehoods admitted to be inscribed on the walle of churches, in epitaphs; which occasioned the following pigram:
'Friend! in your epitaphs, I'm grieved
So very much is said;
One half will never be believed,
The other never read.'
Ver. 44. New-year odes; Made by the poet-laureatc
In clouded majesty here Dulness shone;
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,
How hints, like spawn, scarce quick in embryo lie;
Here one poor word a hundred clenches makes,
She sees a mob of metaphors advance,
Pleased with the madness of the mazy dance;
for the time being, to be sung at court on every new-year's day, the words of which are happily drowned in the voices and instruments. The new-year odes of the hero of this work were of a cast distinguished from all that preceded him, and made a conspicuous part of his character as a writer, which doubtless induced our author to mention them here so particularly.
Ver. 45. In clouded majesty here Dulness shone.] See this cloud removed or rolled back, or gathered up to her head, Book iv. ver. 17, 18. It is worth while to compare his description of the majesty of Dulness in a state of peace and tranquillity, with that more busy scene where she mounts the throne in triumph, and is not so much supported by her own virtues, as by the princely consciousness of having destroyed all other."
Ver. 57. Genial Jacob] Tonson. The famous race of booksellers of that name.
How tragedy and comedy embrace;
How farce and epic get a jumbled race;
How Time himself stands still at her command,
All these, and more, the cloud-compelling queen Beholds through fogs, that magnify the scene. She, tinsel'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, when ** rich and grave, Like Cimon triumph'd both on land and wave: (Pomps without guilt, of bloodless swords and maces, Glad chains, warm furs, broad banners, and broad
Now night descending, the proud scene was o'er,
Ver. 85, 86. "Twas on the day, when** rich and grave -Like Cimon triumph'd] Viz. a lord mayor's day; his name the author had left in blanks, but most certainly could never be that which the editor foisted in formerly, and which no way agrees with the chronology of the poem.
The procession of a lord mayor is made partly by land and partly by water. Cimon, the famous Athenian general, obtained a victory by sea, and another by land on the same day, over the Persians and Barbarians.
Ver. 90. But lived, in Settle's numbers, one day more A beautiful manne of speaking, usual with poets, in pra of poetry.
Much to the mindful queen the feast recalls
Ibid. But lived, in Settle's numbers, one day more.] Settle was poet to the city of London. His office was to compose yearly panegyrics upon the lord mayors, and verses to be spoken in the pageants: but that part of the shows being at length frugally abolished, the employment of City-poet ceased; so that upon Settle's demise, there was no successor to that place.
Ver. 98. John Heywood, whose interludes were printed in the time of Henry VIII.
Ver. 103. Old Pryn in restless Daniel.] The first edition had it,
'She saw in Norton all his father shine:'
a great mistake! for Daniel de Foe had parts, but Norton de Foe was a wretched writer, and never attempted poetry. Much more justly is Daniel himself, made successor to W. Pryn, both of whom wrote verses as well as Politics; as appears by the poem de Jure Divino, &e. of De Foe, and by some lines in Cowley's Miscellanies on the other. And both these authors had a resemblance in their fates as well as their writings, having been alike sentenced to the pillory. Ver. 104. And Eusden eke out, &c.] Lawrence Eusden, poet laureate. Mr. Jacob gives a catalogue of some few only of his works, which were very numerous. Mr. Cooke, in his Battle of Poets, saith of him,
'Eusden, a laurel'd bard by fortune rais'd,
By very few was read, by fewer praised.'
Mr. Oldmixon, in his Arts of Logic and Rhetoric, p. 413, 414, affirms, That of all the Galimatias he ever met with, none comes up to some verses of this poet, which have as much of the ridiculum and the fustian in them as can well be jumbled together, and are of that sort of nonsense, which so perfectly confounds all ideas, that there is no distinct one loft in the mind. Farther he says of him, 'That he hath prophesied his own poetry shall be sweeter than Catullus,