« PreviousContinue »
So when Jove's block descended from on high (As sings thy great forefather Ogilby), Loud thunder to its bottom shook the bog 329 And the hoarse nation croak’d, God save King Log !
Ver. 325. Back to the Devil] The Devil Tavern in Fleet-street, where these Odes are usually rehearsed before they are performed at Court. Upon which a Wit of those times made this epigram, “ When Laureates make Odes, Do you ask of what sort ?
Do you ask if they're good, or are evil?
W. The Epigram inserted on this Tavern, is one of the coldest and dullest that can be read. And it is not clear why the Butchers roared out the name of Colley.
Ver. 328.- Ogilby)-God save King Log !] See Ogilby's Esop's Fables, where, in the story of the Frogs and their King, this excellent hemistic is to be found.
Our author manifests here, and elsewhere, a prodigious tenderness for the bad writers. We see he selects the only good passage, perhaps, in all that ever Ogilby writ; which shews how candid and patient a reader he must have been.
But how much all indulgence is lost upon these people may appear from the just reflection made on their constant conduct and constant fate, in the following Epigram:
“Ye little Wits, that gleam'd a while,
When Pope vouchsaf'd a ray,
Phæbus' car about,
That rear'd him to the skies.
There He shall ever burn:
And must to Earth return."
THE END OF THE FIRST BOOK.
DUNCI A D.
BOOK THE SECOND. .
THE King being proclaimed, the solemnity is graced with public Games and sports of various kinds ; not instituted by the Hero, as by Æneas in Virgil, but for greater honour by the Goddess in person (in like manner as the games Pythia, Isthmia, &c. were anciently said to be ordained by the Gods, and as Thetis herself appearing, according to Homer, Odyss. xxiv. proposed the prizes in honour of her son Achilles). Hither flock the Poets and Critics, attended, as is but just, with their Patrons and Booksellers. The Goddess is first pleased, for her disport, to propose games to the Booksellers, and setteth up the phantom of a Poet, which they contend to overtake. The Races described, with their divers accidents. Next, the game for a Poetess. Then follow the Exercises for the Poets, of tickling, vociferating, diving : The first holds forth the arts and practices of Dedicators, the second of Disputants and fustian Poets, the third of profound, dark, and dirty Party-writers. Lastly, for the Critics, the Goddess proposes (with great propriety) an Exercise, not of their parts, but their patience, in hearing the works of two voluminous Authors, the one in verse, and the other in
prose, deliberately read, without sleeping: the various effects of which, with the several degrees and manners of their operation, are here set forth; till the whole number, not of Critics only, but of spectators, actors, and all present, fall fast asleep; which naturally and necessarily ends the games.
High on a gorgeous seat, that far outshone Henley's gilt tub, or Fleckno's Irish throne, Or that where on her Curls the Public pours, All-bounteous, fragrant Grains and Golden show'rs,
Two things there are, upon the supposition of which the very basis of all verbal criticism is founded and supported : The first, that an Author could never fail to use the best word on every occasion; the second, that a Critic cannot choose but know which that is. This being granted, whenever any word doth not fully content us, we take upon us to conclude, first, that the author could never have used it; and, secondly, that he must have used that very one, which we conjecture, in its stead.
We cannot, therefore, enough admire the learned Scriblerus for his alteration of the text in the two last verses of the preceding book, which in all the former editions stood thus :
“ Hoarse thunder to its bottom shook the bog,
And the loud nation croak’d, God save king Log !" He has, with great judgment, transposed these two epithets; putting hoarse to the nation, and loud to the thunder : and this being evidently the true reading, he vouchsafed not so much as to mention the former; for which assertion of the just right of a Critic, he merits the acknowledgment of all sound Commentators, W.
Ver. 2. Henley's gilt tub.] The pulpit of a Dissenter is usually called a Tub; but that of Mr. Orator Henley was covered with
Ver. 1. High on a gorgeous seat,] Parody of Milton, book ii.
“ High on a throne of royal state, that far
Great Cibber sate : the proud Parnassian sneer, 5
velvet, and adorned with gold. He had also a fair altar, and over it this extraordinary inscription, The Primitive Eucharist. See the history of this person, book iii. W.
Ibid. or Fleckno's Irish throne,] Richard Fleckno was an Irish priest, but had laid aside (as himself expressed it) the mechanic part of priesthood. He printed some plays, poems, letters, and travels. I doubt not, our author took occasion to mention him in respect to the Poem of Mr. Dryden, to which this bears some resemblance, though of a character more different from it than that of the Æneid from the Iliad, or the Lutrin of Boileau from the Defait de Bouts rimées of Sarazin. W.
Andrew Marvell wrote a satirical poem on Fleckno, with his usual spirit. There is a comedy of Fleckno, 1667, entitled Demoisselles a la Mode.
Ver. 3. Or that where on her Curls the Public pours,] Edmund Curl stood in the pillory at Charing Cross, in March 1727-8, “This (saith Edmund Curl) is a false assertion—I had indeed the corporal punishment of what the Gentlemen of the long Robe are pleased jocosely to call mounting the Rostrum for one hour: but that scene of Action was not in the month of March, but in February." (Curliad 12mo, p. 19.] And of the History of his being tust in a Blanket, he saith, “Here, Scriblerus ! thou leaseth in what thou assertest concerning the blanket : it was not a blanket but a rug.” P.25. Much in the same manner Mr. Cibber remonstrated, that his Brothers, at Bedlam, mentioned Book i. were not Brazen, but blocks ; yet our author let it pass unaltered, as a trifle that no way altered the relationship. W.
Ver. 5. Great Cibber sate :] It is observable that in this passage the lines run more into one another, than in
other part of our author's works. See lines 5.7. Perhaps it might be wished he had more frequently done so, as it would have added variety to his numbers. 'Harter and Fenton thought so.