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Sudden these honours shall be snatch'd away,
For lo! the board with cups and spoons is crown'd,
The silver lamp; the fiery spirits blaze:
And see through all things with his half-shut eyes)
Ver. 105. For lo! the board] It is doubtless as hard to make a coffee-pot shine in poetry, as a plough; yet our author has succeeded in giving elegance to a familiar object, as well as Virgil.
Ver. 122. and think of Scylla's fate!] Vide Ovid's Metam. viii.
Ver. 105. For lo! the board, &c.] From hence, the first Edition continues to ver. 134.
Turno tempus erit magno cum optaverit emptum
Chang'd to a bird, and sent to flit in air,
But when to Mischief mortals bend their will,
The Peer now spreads the glitt'ring Forfex wide, T' inclose the Lock; now joins it, to divide.
Ver. 134.] In the first Edition it was thus,
As o'er the fragrant stream she bends her head. Ver. 147.]
First he expands the glitt'ring Forfex wide
Ev'n then, before the fatal engine clos'd,
Fate urg'd the sheers, and cut the Sylph in twain, (But airy substance soon unites again,)
Ver. 152. But airy substance] See Milton, lib. vi. of Satan cut asunder by the Angel Michael.
This line is an admirable parody on that passage of Milton, which, perhaps oddly enough, describes Satan wounded:
"The griding sword, with discontinuous wound,
Pass'd thro' him; but th' etherial substance clos'd,
The parodies are some of the most exquisite parts of this poem. That which follows from the "Dum juga montis aper," of Virgil, contains some of the most artful strokes of satire, and the most poignant ridicule imaginable.
The introduction of frequent parodies on serious and solemn passages of Homer and Virgil, gives much life and spirit to heroicomic poetry. "Tu dors, Prelat? tu dors?" in Boileau, is the “ Euders Alge& vie” of Homer, and is full of humour. The wife of the barber talks in the language of Dido, in her expostulations to her Æneas, at the beginning of the second Canto of the Lutrin. Pope's parodies of Sarpedon in Homer, and of the description of Achilles's sceptre, together with the scales of Jupiter, from Homer, Virgil, and Milton, are judiciously introduced in their several places, are perhaps superior to those Boileau or Garth have used, and are worked up with peculiar pleasantry. The mind of the reader is engaged by novelty, when it so unexpectedly finds a thought or object it had been accustomed to survey in another form, suddenly arrayed in a ridiculous garb. A mixture also of comic and ridiculous images, with such as are serious and important, adds no small beauty to this species of poetry, when real and imaginary distresses are coupled together.
The meeting points the sacred hair dissever, From the fair head, for ever, and for ever. All that is between was added afterwards.
The meeting points the sacred hair dissever
Then flash'd the living lightning from her eyes,
As long as Atalantis shall be read,
Or the small pillow grace a Lady's bed,
While visits shall be paid on solemn days,
"Not youthful kings, in battle seiz'd alive,
Not scornful virgins who their charms survive," &c. Which is much superior to a similar passage in the Dispensary, Canto v.
Ver. 165. Atalantis] A famous book written about that time by a woman: full of Court and Party scandal; and in a loose effeminacy of style and sentiment, which well-suited the debauched taste of the better vulgar. Warburton.
Mrs. Manley, the author of it, was the daughter of Sir Roger Manley, Governor of Guernsey, and the author of the first volume of the famous Turkish Spy, published, from his papers, by Dr. Midgley. She was known and admired by all the wits of the times. She wrote three plays; Lucius, the last, 1717, was dedicated to Sir Richard Steele, with whom she had quarrelled some time before. He wrote the prologue to it, and Prior the epilogue. She was also celebrated by Lord Lansdown. She died in the house of Alderman Barber, Swift's friend; and was said to have been the mistress of the Alderman.
While nymphs take treats, or assignations give,
Ver. 163, 170.]
"Dum juga montis aper, fluvios dum piscis amabit,
"Ille quoque eversus mons est, &c.
Quid faciant crines, cum ferro talia cedant ?"
CATULL. de Com. Berenices.