Графични страници
PDF файл

See under Ripley rise a new Whitehall,
While Jones' and Boyle's united labours fall:
While Wren with sorrow to the grave descends
Gay dies unpension'd, with a hundred friends'; 33

REMARKS, Jacob, 'one of the wits at Button's, and a justice of the peace:' but he hath since met with higher preferment in Ireland : and a much greater character we have of him in Mr. Gildou's Complete Art of Poetry, vol. i. p. 157. Indeed, he confesses, he dares not set him quite on the same foot with Vir. gil, lest it should seem flattery, but he is much mistaken if posterity does not afford him a greater esteem than he at present enjoys. He endeavoured to create some misunderstanding between ourauthor and Mr. Addison, whom also soon after he abused as much. His constant cry was, that Mr. P. was an enemy to the government; and in particular he was the avowed author of a report very industriously spread, that he had a hand in a party-paper called the Examiner: a falsehood well known to those yet living, who had the direction and publication of it.

Ver. 328. While Jones' and Boyle's united labours fall :) At the time when this poem was written, the banqueting-house of Whitehall, the church and piazza of Covent-garden, and the palace and chapel of Somerset-house, the works of the famous Inigo Jones, had been for many years so neglected, as to be in danger of ruin. The portico of Covent-garden church had been just then restored and beautified, at the expense of the earl of Burlington ; who, at the same time, by his publication of the designs of that great master and Palladio, as well as by many noble buildings of his own, revived the true taste of architecture in this kingdom.

Ver. 330. Gay dies unpension'd, &c.] See Mr. Gay's fable of the Hare and many Friends. This gentleman was early in the friendship of our author,

FLibernian politics, O Swift ! thy fate ; ;'. And Pope's, ten years to comment and translate.


which continued to his death. He wrote several works of humour with great success, the Shepherd's Week, Trivia, the What d'ye call it, Fables, and lastly the celebrated Beggar's Opera; a piece of sa. tire which hit all tastes and degrees of men, from those of the highest quality to the very rabble: that verse of Horace,

Primores populi arripuit, populumque tributim, could never be so justly applied as to this. The vast success of it was unprecedented, and almost incre.dible: what is related of the wonderful effects of the ancient music or tragedy hardly came up to it: Sophocles and Euripides were less followed and famous. It was acted in London sixty-three days, uninterrupted ; and renewed the next season with equal applauses. It spread into all the great towns of England, was played in many places to the thirtieth and fortieth time, and at Bath and Bristol fif. ty, &c. It made its progress into Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, where it was performed twenty-four days together: it was last acted in Minorca. The fame of it was not confined to the author only; the ladies carried about with them the favourite songs of it in fans; and houses were furnished with it in screens. The person who acted Polly, till then obscure, became all at once the favourite of the town: her pictures were engraved, and sold in great num. bers, her life written, books of letters and verses to her, published; and pamphlets made even of her sayings and jests.

Furthermore, it drove out of England, for that season, the Italian opera, which had carried all before it for ten years. That idol of the nobility and people, which the great critic Mr. Dennis by the

Proceed, great days ! till learning ty the shore, Till birch shall blush with noble blood no more, Till Thames see Eton's sons for ever play, Till Westminster's whole year be holiday, Till Isis' elders reel, their pupils sport, And Alma mater lie dissolv'd in port?

REMARKS. labours and outcries of a whole life could not opes throw, was demolished by a single stroke of this gentleman's pen. This happened in the year 1728 Yet so great was his modesty, that he constantis prefixed to all the editions of it this motto: Na hæc novimus esse nihil.

Ver. 382. And Pope's, ten years to comment and translate.] The author here plainly laments, that he was so long employed in translating and commenting. He began the Iliad in 1713, and finished it in 1719. The edition of Shakespeare (which he undertook merely because nobody else would) took up Dear two years more in the drudgery of comparing impressions, rectifying the scenery, &c. and the translation of half the Odyssey employed him from that time to 1725.

Ver. 333. Proceed, great days ! &c.] It may, perhaps, seem incredible, that so great a revolution in learning as is here prophesied, should be brought about by such weak instruments as have been [hitherto] described in our poem: but do not thou, gentle reader, rest too secure in thy contempt of these instruments. Remember what the Dutch stories somewhere relate, that a great part of their provinces was once overflowed, by a small opening made in one of their dykes by a single water-rat.

However, that such is not seriously the judge ment of the poet, but that he conceiveth better hopes from the diligence of our schools, from the regularity of our universities, the discernment of our great men, the accomplishments of our nobility,

• Enough! enough! the raptur'd monarch cries ! And through the ivory gate the vision flies. 340

REMARKS. the encouragement of our patrons, and the genius of our writers of all kinds (notwithstanding some few exceptions in each), may plainly be seen from his conclusion; where, causing all this vision to pass through the ivory gate, he expressly, in the language of poesy, declares all such imaginations to be wild, ungrounded, and fictitious. SCRIBL."



The poet being, in this book, to declare the com

pletion of the prophecies mentioned at the end of the former, makes a new invocation ; as the greater poets are wont, when some high and wor. thy matter is to be sung. He shows the goddess coming in her majesty, to destroy order and science, and to substitute the kingdom of the dull upon earth. How she leads captive the sciences, and silences the muses; and what they be who succeed in their stead. All her children, by a wonderful attraction, are drawn about her; and bear along with them divers others, who promote her empire by connivance, weak resistance, or discouragement of arts; such as half wits, taste. less admirers, vain pretenders, the flatterers of dunces, or the patrons of them. All these crowd round her; one of them, offering to approach her, is driven back by a rival, but she commends and encourages both. The first who speak in form are the geniuses of the schools, who assure her of their care to advance her cause by confining youth to words, and keeping them out of the way of real knowledge. Their address, and her gracious answer; with her charge to them and the universities. The universities appear by their proper deputies, and assure her that the same method is

« ПредишнаНапред »