« PreviousContinue »
Hibernian Politics, O Swift! thy fate;
VARIATIONS. Ver. 331 in the former Editions thus,
-O Swift! thy doom, And Pope's, translating ten whole years with Broome. On which was the following Note: “He concludes his irony with a stroke upon himself: for whoever imagines this a sarcasm on the other ingenious person, is surely mistaken. The opinion our Author had of him was sufficiently shewn by his joining him in the undertaking of the Odyssey ; in which Mr. Broome having engaged without any previous agreement, discharged his part so much to Mr. Pope's satisfaction, that he gratified him with the small sum of Fire hundred pounds, and a present of all those books for which his own interest could procure him subscribers, to the value of One hundred more. The author only seems tò lament, that he was employed in Translation at all.” W.
works the abundance, St. Paul's the greatest, of Sir Christopher's genius. The noblest temple, the largest palace, the most sumptuous hospital, in such a kingdom as Britain, are all works of the same hand. He restored London, and recorded its fall. I do not mean to be very minute in the account of Wren, even as an architect. Every circumstance of his story has been written and repeated. Bishop Sprat, Anthony Wood, Ward in his Lives of the Gresham Professors, the General Dictionary, and the New Description of London and its Environs, books in the hands of every body, are voluminous on the article of Sir Christopher. In 1680 he was chosen President of the Royal-Society; was in two parliaments; was twice married ; had two sons and a daughter; and died in 1723, at the age of ninety-one, having lived to see the completion of St. Paul's; a fabric, and an event, which one cannot wonder left such an impression of content on the mind of the good old man, that, being carried to see it once a year,
it seemed to recall a memory that was almost deadened to every other use.
He was buried under his own fabric, with four words that comprehend his merit and his fame : “Si quæras monumentum, circumspice !" Walpole's Anecdotes, 8vo. vol. iii.
Ver. 330. Gay dies unpension'd, &c.] See Mr. Gay's fable of
Proceed, great days ! till Learning fly the shore, Till Birch shall blush with noble blood no more,
the Hare and many friends. This gentleman was early in the friendship of our author, 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 satire which hit all tastes and degrees of men, from those of the highest quality to the very rabble : That verse of Horace,
6 Primores populi arripuit, populumque tributim," could never be so justly applied as to this. The vast success of it was unprecedented, and almost incredible: 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, at Bath and Bristol fifty, &c. It made its progress into Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, where it was performed twenty-four days together : it was at 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; hier pictures were engraved, and sold in great numbers; 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 labours and outcries of a whole life, could not overthrow, 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 constantly prefixed to all the editions of it this motto, Nos hæc novimus esse nihil. W.
The Dutchess of Queensberry was forbid to appear at Court, on account of her patronising Mr. Gay, on which occasion she sent the following reply to King George II.
Till Thames see Eton's sons for ever play,
“ Thursday, Feb. 27, 1728. « That the Dutchess of Queensberry is surprized, and well pleased, that the King hath given her so agreeable a command as to stay from Court, where she never came for diversion, but to bestow a great civility upon the King and Queen. She hopes by such an unprecedented order as this, that the King will see as few as he wishes at his court (particularly such as dare think or speak the truth). I dare not do otherwise, and ought not; nor could I have imagined that it would not have been the highest compliment that I could possibly pay the King, to endeavour to support truth and innocence in his house; particularly when the King and Queen had both told me that they had not read Mr. Gay's play. I have certainly done right then to stand to my own word, rather than his Grace of Grafton's, who hath neither made use of truth, judgment, or honour, through this whole affair, either for himself or his friends.
" C. QUEENSBERRY.” What follows was written by her Grace at the bottom of the copies of the above answer, which she gave to her particular friends.
“ This is the answer I gave in writing to the Vice Chamberlain to read to the King, in answer to the message he brought me from the King to refrain coming to court."
Ver. 331. Hibernian Politics, O Swift! thy fate ;] See book i. yer. 26. W.
Ver. 332. 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 Shakspeare (which he undertook merely because nobody else would) took up near 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. W.
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
Till Isis' Elders reel, their pupils sport,
Enough! enough! the raptur'd Monarch cries; And through the Iv'ry Gate the Vision fies. 340
After ver. 338 in the first Edit. were the following lines,
Then when these signs declare the mighty year,
REMARKS. 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 judgment of our 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, the Encouragement of our Patrons, and the Genius of our Writers in 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.
Ibid. Proceed, great days ! &c.-Till Birch shall blush, &c.] Another great prophet of Dulness, on this side Styx, promiseth those days to be near at hand. “ The Devil (saith he) licensed Bishops to license Masters of Schools to instruct youth in the knowledge of the heathen Gods, their religion, &c. The Schools and Universities will soon be tired and ashamed of Classics, and such trumpery."--Hutchinson's Use of Reason recovered. Scribl. *
Ver. 339. Enough! enough!] “ The Dunciad (says Mr. Clarke to Mr. Bowyer) is not so much the common-place, as the
common-shore of Pope's resentments, where they run off, and are like to do so, for life.” Letters, p. 562. What are the sensations of a man after reading Gray's Odes and Elegy, and after he has been reading the Dunciad?
Ver. 340. And through the Iv'ry Gate] See what the truly learned Jortin has said in his Sixth Dissertation on the subject of this Iv'ry Gate. This Sixth Dissertation very unfortunately produced a Seventh, on the Delicacy of Friendship, which it must be lamented was ever published.
“ Sunt geminæ Somni portæ; quarum altera fertur
Virg. Æneid. vi. w.
END OF THE THIRD BOOK.