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DUNCI A D.
ARGUMENT TO BOOK THE THIRD.
AFTER the other persons are disposed in their proper places
of rest, the Goddess transports the King to her Temple, and there lays him to slumber with his head on her lap; a position of marvellous virtue, which causes all the Visions of wild enthusiasts, projectors, politicians, inamoratos, castlebuilders, chemists, and poets. He is immediately carried on the wings of Fancy to the Elysian shade ; where on the banks of Lethe, the souls of the dull are dipped by Bavius, before their entrance into this world. There he is met by the ghost of Settle, and by him made acquainted with the wonders of the place, and with those which he is himself destined to perform. He takes him to a Mount of Vision, from whence he shews him the past triumphs of the Empire of Dulness, then the present, and lastly the future: how small a part of the world was ever conquered by Science, how soon those conquests were stopped, and those very nations again reduced to her dominion. Then distinguishing the Island of Great Britain, shews by what aids, and by what persons, it shall be forthwith brought to her empire. These he causes to pass in review before his eyes, describing each by his proper figure, character, and qualifications. On a sudden the scene shifts, and a vast number of miracles and prodigies appear, utterly surprising and unknown to the King himself, till they are explained to be the wonders of his own reign now commencing. On this subject Settle breaks
into a congratulation, yet not unmixed with concern, that his own times were but the types of these. He prophesies how first the nation shall be overrun with Farces, Operas, and Shows ; and the throne of Dulness advanced over both the Theatres ; then how her sons shall preside in the seats of Arts and Sciences, till in conclusion all shall return to their original Chaos : a scene, of which the present Action of the Dunciad is but a Type or Foretaste, giving a Glimpse, or Pisgah-sight, of the promised Fulness of her Glory; the accomplishment whereof will, in all probability, hereafter be the Theme of many other and greater Dunciads.
BO O K III.
But in her Temple's last recess inclos'd, On Dulness' lap th’Anointed head repos’d. Him close she curtain'd round with vapours blue, And soft besprinkled with Cimmerian dew. Then raptures high the seat of sense o'erflow, 5 Which only heads refin'd from reason know. Hence, from the straw where Bedlam's Prophet nods, He hears loud Oracles, and talks with Gods : Hence the Fool's paradise, the Statesman's scheme, The air-built Castle, and the golden Dream, 10 The Maid's romantic wish, the Chemist's flame, And Poet's vision of eternal fame.
And now, on Fancy's easy wing convey'd, The King descended to th’ Elysian Shade. There, in a dusky vale where Lethe rolls, 15 Old Bavius sits, to dip poetic Souls, And blunt the sense, and fit it for a scull Of solid proof, impenetrably dull : Instant when dipt, away they wing their flight, Where Brown and Mears unbar the gates of Light, Demand new bodies, and in Calf's array, 21 Rush to the world, impatient for the day. Millions and millions on these banks he views, Thick as the stars of night, and morning dews, As thick as bees o'er vernal blossoms fly, 25 As thick as eggs at Ward in Pillory.
Wond’ring he gaz'd: when lo! a Sage appears, By his broad shoulders known, and length of ears, Known by the band and suit which Settle wore, (His only suit) for twice three
before : 30 All as the vest, appear’d the wearer's frame, Old in new state, another yet the same. . Bland and familiar as in life, begun Thus the great Father to the greater Son.
Oh born to see what none can see awake! 35 Behold the wonders of th' oblivious Lake. Thou, yet unborn, hast touch'd this sacred shore; The hand of Bavius drench'd thee o'er and o'er. But blind to former, as to future Fate, What mortal knows his pre-existent state ? 40 Who knows how long, thy transmigrating soul Might from Boeotian to Bæotian roll! How many Dutchmen she vouchsaf'd to thrid ? How many stages thro' old Monks she rid? And all who since, in mild benighted days,
45 Mix'd the Owl's ivy with the Poet's bays? As man's meanders to the vital spring Roll all their tides, then back their circles bring; Or whirligigs, twirl'd round by skilful swain, Suck the thread in, then yield it out again :
50 All nonsense thus, of old or modern date, Shall in thee centre, from thee circulate. For this, our Queen unfolds to vision true Thy mental eye, for thou hast much to view : Old scenes of glory, times long cast behind 55 Shall first recallid, rush forward to thy mind; Then stretch thy sight o'er all her rising reign, And let the past and future fire thy brain.