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FROM THE DUNCIAD, BOOK IV.
Oh (cried the goddess) for some pedant reign!
Some gentle James, to bless the land again ;
To stick the doctor's chair into the throne,
Give law to words, or war with words alone,
Senates and courts with Greek and Latin rule,
And turn the council to a grammar school !
For sure, if dulness sees a grateful day,
'Tis in the shade of arbitrary sway.
0! if my sons may learn one earthly thing,
Teach but that one, sufficient for a king;
That which my priests, and mine alone, maintain,
Which, as it dies, or lives, we fall, or reign :
May you, my Cam, and Isis, preach it long!
“The right divine of kings to govern wrong.'
Prompt at the call, around the goddess roll.
Broad hats, and hoods, and caps, a sable shoal :
Thick and more thick the black blockade extends,
A hundred head of Aristotle's friends.
Nor wert thou, Isis ! wanting to the day,
(Tho’ Christ-church long kept prudishly away) .
Each staunch polemic, stubborn as a rock,
Each fierce logician, still expelling Locke,
Came whip and spur, and dash'd through thin and thick
On German Crousaz, and Dutch Burgersdyck.
As many quit the streams that murm’ring fall
To lull the sons of Margaret and Clare-hall,
Where Bentley late tempestuous wont to sport
In troubled waters, but now sleeps in port.
Before them march'd that awful aristarch;
Plow'd was his front with many a deep remark:
His hat, which never veild to human pride,
Walker with reverence took, and laid aside.
Low bow'd the rest : he, kingly, did but nod;
So upright Quakers please both man and God.
Mistress! dismiss that rabble from your throne :
Avaunt–is Aristarchus yet unknown?
Thy mighty Scholiast, whose unwearied pains
Made Horace dull, and humbled Milton's strains,
Turn what they will to verse, their toil is vain,
Critics like me shall make it prose again.
Roman and Greek grammarians ! know your better ;
Author of something yet more great than letter :
While towering o'er your alphabet like Saul
Stands our digamma, and o’ertops them all.
'Tis true, on words is still our whole debate,
Dispute of me or te, of aut or at,
To sound or sink in cano, O or A,
Or give up Cicero to C or K.
Let Freind affect to speak as Terence spoke,
And Alsop never but like Horace joke :
From me, what Virgil, Pliny may deny,
Manilius or Solinus shall supply:
For Attic phrase in Plato let them seek,
I poach in Suidas for unlicens'd Greek.
In ancient sense if any needs will deal,
Be sure I give them fragments, not a meal ;
What Gellius or Stobaeus hash'd before,
Or chew'd by blind old Scholiasts o'er and o'er.
The critic eye, that microscope of wit,
Sees hairs and pores, examines bit by bit ;
How parts relate to parts, or they to whole,
The body's harmony, the beaming' soul,
Are things which Kuster, Burman, Wasse shall see,
When man's whole frame is obvious to a flea.
CONCLUSION OF THE DUNCIAD. More she had spoke, but yawn'd-all nature nods : What mortal can resist the yawn of gods? Churches and chapels instantly it reach'd ; (St James's first, for leaden G-- preach'd) Then catch'd the schools ; the hall scarce kept awake; The convocation gap'd, but could not speak :
Lost was the nation's sense, nor could be found,
While the long solemn unison went round:
Wide, and more wide, it spread o'er all the realm ;
Ev'n Palinurus nodded at the helm :
The vapour mild o'er each committee crept ;
Unfinish'd treaties in each office slept ;
And chiefless armies doz'd out the campaign ;
And navies yawn'd for orders on the main.
O Muse! relate (for you can tell alone,
Wits have short memories, and dunces none),
Relate, who first, who last resign'd to rest ;
Whose heads she partly, whose completely, blest ;
What charms could faction, what ambition lull,
The venal quiet, and entrance the dull;
'Till drown'd was sense, and shame, and right, and wrong-
O sing, and hush the nations with thy song!
In vain, in vain--the all-composing hour
Resistless falls : the muse obeys the pow'r.
She comes ! she comes ! the sable throne behold
Of Night primæval and of Chaos old!
Before her, Fancy's gilded clouds decay,
And all its varying rainbows die away.
Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires,
The meteor drops, and in a flash expires.
As one by one, at dread Medea's strain,
The sick’ning stars fade off th’ ethereal plain ;
As Argus' eyes by Hermes' wand opprest,
Clos’d one by one to everlasting rest;
Thus at her felt approach, and secret might,
Art after Art goes out, and all is night,
See skulking Truth to her old cavern fled,
Mountains of casuistry heap'd o'er her head !
Philosophy, that lean'd on heaven before,
Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more.
Physic of Metaphysic begs defence,
And Metaphysic calls for aid on Sense !
See Mystery to Mathematics fly!
In vain! they gaze, turn giddy, rave, and die.
Religion blushing veils her sacred fires,
And unawares Morality expires.
For public flame, nor private, dares to shine ;
Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine !
Lo! thy dread empire, CHAOS! is restor’d;
Light dies before thy uncreating word ;
Thy hand, great Anarch ! lets the curtain fall,
And universal darkness buries all.
[AMBROSE PHILIPS was born in Leicestershire in 1671, and died in his house at Vauxhall on the 18th of June, 1749. His Pastorals were published in 1709.)
The reputation of Ambrose Philips has undergone some curious reverses. His Epistle to the Earl of Dorset, which Steele pronounced as fine a piece as we ever had,' and Goldsmith 'incomparably fine,' seems to us as frigid and as ephemeral as its theme; the Distressed Mother, in which he made Racine speak with the voice of Rowe, no longer holds a place, even in memory, on the tragic stage ; his translations of Sappho, once thought so brilliant and so affecting, seems to modern readers ludicrously mean, nor is criticism any longer concerned to decide whether the pastorals of Philips or of Pope are the more insipid. But while all these works, on which his contemporary reputation was founded, are forgotten, his odes to private persons, and in particular to children, which won him ridicule from his own age, and from Henry Carey the immortal name of Namby-Pamby, have a simplicity of versification and a genuine play of fancy which are now recognised as rare gifts in the artificial school of Addison in which he was trained. Ambrose Philips is moreover to be praised, not in these odes only, but in his poems generally, for an affectionate observation of natural beauty.
EDMUND W. GOSSE.