Alexander Pope (1688–1744). Complete Poetical Works. 1903.

The Dunciad

Book IV

  • Argument
  • The poet being, in this book, to declare the Completion of the Prophecies mentioned at the end of the former, makes a new Invocation; as the greater poets are wont, when some high and worthy 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, tasteless 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 observed in the progress of Education. The speech of Aristarchus on this subject. They are driven off by a band of young Gentlemen returned from travel with their tutors; one of whom delivers to the Goddess, in a polite oration, an account of the whole conduct and fruits of their travels; presenting to her at the same time a young Nobleman perfectly accomplished. She receives him graciously, and endues him with the happy quality of Want of Shame. She sees loitering about her a number of indolent persons abandoning all business and duty, and dying with laziness: to these approaches the antiquary Annius, entreating her to make them Virtuosos, and assign them over to him; but Mummius, another antiquary, complaining of his fraudulent proceeding, she finds a method to reconcile their difference. Then enter a troop of people fantastically adorned, offering her strange and exotic Presents: among them, one stands forth, and demands justice on another who had deprived him of one of the greatest curiosities in Nature; but he justifies himself so well, that the Goddess gives them both her approbation. She recommends to them to find proper employment for the Indolents before mentioned, in the study of Butterflies, Shells, Birds-nests, Moss, &c., but with particular caution not to proceed beyond trifles, to any useful or extensive views of Nature, or of the Author of Nature. Against the last of these apprehensions, she is secured by a hearty address from the Minute Philosophers and Freethinkers, one of whom speaks in the name of the rest. The Youth thus instructed and principled, are delivered to her in a body, by the hands of Silenus; and then admitted to taste the cup of the Magus, her high priest, which causes a total oblivion of all Obligations, divine, civil, moral, or rational. To these her adepts she sends Priests, Attendants, and Comforters, of various kinds; confers on them Orders and Degrees; and then dismissing them with a speech, confirming to each his privileges, and telling what she expects from each, concludes with a Yawn of extraordinary virtue: the Progress and Effects whereof on all orders of men, and the Consummation of all, in the restoration of Night and Chaos, conclude the Poem.

  • YET, yet a moment, one dim ray of light

    Indulge, dread Chaos, and eternal Night!

    Of darkness visible so much be lent,

    As half to show, half veil the deep intent.

    Ye Powers! Whose mysteries restor’d I sing,

    To whom Time bears me on his rapid wing,

    Suspend a while your force inertly strong,

    Then take at once the Poet and the Song.

    Now flamed the Dogstar’s unpropitious ray,

    Smote ev’ry brain, and wither’d ev’ry bay;

    Sick was the sun, the owl forsook his bower,

    The moon-struck prophet felt the madding hour:

    Then rose the seed of Chaos, and of Night,

    To blot out Order, and extinguish Light,

    Of dull and venal a new world to mould,

    And bring Saturnian days of Lead and Gold.

    She mounts the Throne: her head a cloud conceal’d,

    In broad effulgence all below reveal’d

    (’T is thus aspiring Dulness ever shines);

    Soft on her lap her Laureate Son reclines:

    Beneath her footstool Science groans in chains,

    And Wit dreads exile, penalties, and pains.

    There foam’d rebellious Logic, gagg’d and bound;

    There, stript, fair Rhetoric languish’d on the ground;

    His blunted arms by Sophistry are borne,

    And shameless Billingsgate her robes adorn,

    Morality, by her false guardians drawn,

    Chicane in furs, and Casuistry in lawn,

    Gasps, as they straiten at each end the cord,

    And dies when Dulness gives her Page the word.

    Mad Mathesis alone was unconfin’d,

    Too mad for mere material chains to bind,

    Now to pure Space lifts her ecstatic stare,

    Now running round the Circle, finds it square.

    But held in tenfold bonds the Muses lie,

    Watch’d both by envy’s and by flatt’ry’s eye.

    There to her heart sad Tragedy addrest

    The dagger, wont to pierce the Tyrant’s breast;

    But sober History restrain’d her rage,

    And promis’d vengeance on a barb’rous age.

    There sunk Thalia, nerveless, cold, and dead,

    Had not her sister Satire held her head:

    Nor couldst thou, Chesterfield! a tear refuse,

    Thou wept’st, and with thee wept each gentle Muse.

    When lo! a harlot form soft sliding by,

    With mincing step, small voice, and languid eye:

    Foreign her air, her robe’s discordant pride

    In patchwork flutt’ring, and her head aside;

    By singing peers upheld on either hand,

    She tripp’d and laugh’d, too pretty much to stand;

    Cast on the prostrate Nine a scornful look,

    Then thus in quaint recitativo spoke:

    ‘O cara! cara! silence all that train!

    Joy to great Chaos! let Division reign!

    Chromatic tortures soon shall drive them hence,

    Break all their nerves, and fritter all their sense:

    One Trill shall harmonize joy, grief, and rage,

    Wake the dull Church, and lull the ranting Stage;

    To the same notes thy sons shall hum, or snore,

    And all thy yawning daughters cry encore.

    Another Phœbus, thy own Phœbus, reigns,

    Joys in my jigs, and dances in my chains.

    But soon, ah, soon, rebellion will commence,

    If Music meanly borrows aid from Sense:

    Strong in new arms, lo! giant Handel stands,

    Like bold Briareus, with a hundred hands;

    To stir, to rouse, to shake the soul he comes,

    And Jove’s own thunders follow Mars’s drums.

    Arrest him, Empress, or you sleep no more’——

    She heard, and drove him to th’ Hibernian shore.

    And now had Fame’s posterior trumpet blown,

    And all the nations summon’d to the Throne:

    The young, the old, who feel her inward sway,

    One instinct seizes, and transports away.

    None need a guide, by sure attraction led,

    And strong impulsive gravity of head:

    None want a place, for all their centre found,

    Hung to the Goddess, and cohered around.

    Not closer, orb in orb, conglobed are seen

    The buzzing bees about their dusky queen.

    The gath’ring number, as it moves along,

    Involves a vast involuntary throng,

    Who gently drawn, and struggling less and less,

    Roll in her vortex, and her power confess.

    Not those alone who passive own her laws,

    But who, weak rebels, more advance her cause:

    Whate’er of Dunce in College or in Town

    Sneers at another, in toupee or gown;

    Whate’er of mongrel no one class admits,

    A Wit with Dunces, and a Dunce with Wits.

    Nor absent they, no members of her state,

    Who pay her homage in her sons, the Great;

    Who, false to Phœbus, bow the knee to Baal,

    Or impious, preach his word without a call:

    Patrons, who sneak from living worth to dead,

    Withhold the pension, and set up the head;

    Or vast dull Flatt’ry in the sacred gown,

    Or give from fool to fool the laurel crown;

    And (last and worst) with all the cant of wit,

    Without the soul, the Muse’s hypocrite.

    There march’d the Bard and Blockhead side by side,

    Who rhymed for hire, and patronized for pride.

    Narcissus, prais’d with all a parson’s power,

    Look’d a white lily sunk beneath a shower.

    There moved Montalto with superior air;

    His stretch’d-out arm display’d a volume fair;

    Courtiers and Patriots in two ranks divide,

    Thro’ both he pass’d, and bow’d from side to side;

    But as in graceful act, with awful eye,

    Composed he stood, bold Benson thrust him by:

    On two unequal crutches propt he came,

    Milton’s on this, on that one Johnston’s name.

    The decent knight retired with sober rage,

    Withdrew his hand, and closed the pompous page:

    But (happy for him as the times went then)

    Appear’d Apollo’s mayor and aldermen,

    On whom three hundred gold-capp’d youths await,

    To lug the pond’rous volume off in state.

    When Dulness, smiling—‘Thus revive the Wits!

    But murder first, and mince them all to bits;

    As erst Medea (cruel, so to save!)

    A new edition of old Æson gave;

    Let standard authors thus, like trophies borne,

    Appear more glorious as more hack’d and torn.

    And you, my Critics! in the chequer’d shade,

    Admire new light thro’ holes yourselves have made.

    Leave not a foot of verse, a foot of stone,

    A page, a grave, that they can call their own;

    But spread, my sons, your glory thin or thick,

    On passive paper, or on solid brick.

    So by each Bard an Alderman shall sit,

    A heavy Lord shall hang at every Wit,

    And while on Fame’s triumphal car they ride,

    Some slave of mine be pinion’d to their side.’

    Now crowds on crowds around the Goddess press,

    Each eager to present the first address.

    Dunce scorning Dunce beholds the next advance,

    But Fop shows Fop superior complaisance.

    When lo! a spectre rose, whose index hand

    Held forth the virtue of the dreadful wand;

    His beaver’d brow a birchen garland wears,

    Dropping with infants’ blood and mothers’ tears.

    O’er ev’ry vein a shudd’ring horror runs,

    Eton and Winton shake thro’ all their sons.

    All flesh is humbled, Westminster’s bold race

    Shrink, and confess the Genius of the place:

    The pale boy-senator yet tingling stands,

    And holds his breeches close with both his hands.

    Then thus: ‘Since man from beast by words is known,

    Words are man’s province, words we teach alone.

    When reason doubtful, like the Samian letter,

    Points him two ways, the narrower is the better.

    Placed at the door of learning, youth to guide,

    We never suffer it to stand too wide.

    To ask, to guess, to know, as they commence,

    As Fancy opens the quick springs of Sense,

    We ply the Memory, we load the Brain,

    Bind rebel wit, and double chain on chain,

    Confine the thought, to exercise the breath,

    And keep them in the pale of words till death.

    Whate’er the talents, or howe’er design’d,

    We hang one jingling padlock on the mind:

    A poet the first day he dips his quill;

    And what the last? a very poet still.

    Pity! the charm works only in our wall,

    Lost, lost too soon in yonder house or hall.

    There truant Wyndham ev’ry Muse gave o’er,

    There Talbot sunk, and was a Wit no more!

    How sweet an Ovid, Murray was our boast!

    How many Martials were in Pulteney lost!

    Else sure some bard, to our eternal praise,

    In twice ten thousand rhyming nights and days,

    Had reach’d the work, the all that mortal can,

    And South beheld that masterpiece of man.

    ‘O (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,

    ’T is in the shade of arbitrary sway.

    O! 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, may 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 stanch polemic, stubborn as a rock,

    Each fierce logician, still expelling Locke,

    Came whip and spur, and dash’d thro’ thin and thick,

    On German Crousaz, and Dutch Burgersdyck.

    As many quit the streams that murm’ring fall

    To lull the sons of Marg’ret 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;

    Plough’d was his front with many a deep remark;

    His hat, which never veil’d to human pride,

    Walker with rev’rence 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 tow’ring o’er your alphabet, like Saul,

    Stands our Digamma, and o’ertops them all.

    ’T is true, on words is still our whole debate,

    Disputes 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 Friend affect to speak as Terence spoke,

    And Alsop never but like Horace joke:

    For 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 Stobæus 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.

    ‘Ah, think not, Mistress! more true dulness lies

    In Folly’s cap, than Wisdom’s grave disguise.

    Like buoys, that never sink into the flood,

    On learning’s surface we but lie and nod.

    Thine is the genuine head of many a house,

    And much divinity without a nous.

    Nor could a Barrow work on ev’ry block,

    Nor has one Atterbury spoil’d the flock!

    See! still thy own, the heavy Canon roll,

    And metaphysic smokes involve the pole.

    For thee we dim the eyes, and stuff the head

    With all such reading as was never read:

    For thee explain a thing till all men doubt it,

    And write about it, Goddess, and about it:

    So spins the silkworm small its slender store,

    And labours till it clouds itself all o’er.

    ‘What tho’ we let some better sort of fool

    Thrid ev’ry science, run thro’ ev’ry school?

    Never by tumbler thro’ the hoops was shown

    Such skill in passing all, and touching none.

    He may indeed (if sober all this time)

    Plague with Dispute, or persecute with Rhyme.

    We only furnish what he cannot use,

    Or, wed to what he must divorce, a Muse:

    Full in the midst of Euclid dip at once,

    And petrify a Genius to a Dunce:

    Or, set on metaphysic ground to prance,

    Show all his paces, not a step advance.

    With the same cement, ever sure to bind,

    We bring to one dead level ev’ry mind:

    Then take him to develop, if you can,

    And hew the Block off, and get out the Man.

    But wherefore waste I words? I see advance

    Whore, pupil, and laced governor from France.

    Walker! our hat!’——nor more he deign’d to say,

    But stern as Ajax’ spectre strode away.

    In flow’d at once a gay embroider’d race,

    And titt’ring push’d the pedants off the place:

    Some would have spoken, but the voice was drown’d

    By the French horn or by the opening hound.

    The first came forwards with as easy mien,

    As if he saw St. James’s and the Queen.

    When thus th’ attendant orator begun:

    ‘Receive, great Empress! thy accomplish’d son;

    Thine from the birth, and sacred from the rod,

    A dauntless infant! never scared with God.

    The sire saw, one by one, his Virtues wake;

    The mother begg’d the blessing of a Rake.

    Thou gavest that ripeness, which so soon began,

    And ceas’d so soon, he ne’er was boy nor man.

    Thro’ school and college, thy kind cloud o’ercast,

    Safe and unseen the young Æneas past:

    Thence bursting glorious, all at once let down,

    Stunn’d with his giddy larum half the town.

    Intrepid then, o’er seas and lands he flew;

    Europe he saw, and Europe saw him too.

    There all thy gifts and graces we display,

    Thou, only thou, directing all our way!

    To where the Seine, obsequious as she runs,

    Pours at great Bourbon’s feet her silken sons;

    Or Tyber, now no longer Roman, rolls,

    Vain of Italian arts, Italian souls:

    To happy convents, bosom’d deep in vines,

    Where slumber abbots, purple as their wines:

    To isles of fragrance, lily-silver’d vales,

    Diffusing languor in the panting gales:

    To lands of singing, or of dancing, slaves,

    Love-whisp’ring woods, and lute-resounding waves.

    But chief her shrine where naked Venus keeps,

    And Cupids ride the lion of the deeps;

    Where, eas’d of fleets, the Adriatic main

    Wafts the smooth eunuch and enamour’d swain.

    Led by my hand, he saunter’d Europe round,

    And gather’d ev’ry vice on Christian ground;

    Saw every Court, heard every King declare

    His royal sense of Op’ras or the Fair;

    The Stews and Palace equally explored,

    Intrigued with glory, and with spirit whored;

    Tried all hors-d’œuvres, all liqueurs defined,

    Judicious drank, and greatly daring dined;

    Dropp’d the dull lumber of the Latin store,

    Spoil’d his own language, and acquired no more;

    All classic learning lost on classic ground;

    And last—turn’d Air, the Echo of a Sound!

    See now, half-cured, and perfectly well-bred,

    With nothing but a solo in his head;

    As much estate, and principle, and wit,

    As Jansen, Fleetwood, Cibber shall think fit;

    Stol’n from a Duel, follow’d by a Nun,

    And, if a borough choose him not, undone;

    See, to my country happy I restore

    This glorious youth, and add one Venus more.

    Her too receive (for her my soul adores);

    So may the sons of sons of sons of whores

    Prop thine, O Empress! like each neighbour Throne,

    And make a long posterity thy own.’

    Pleas’d, she accepts the Hero and the Dame,

    Wraps in her veil, and frees from sense of shame:

    Then look’d, and saw a lazy lolling sort,

    Unseen at Church, at Senate, or at Court,

    Of ever listless loit’rers, that attend

    No cause, no trust, no duty, and no friend.

    Thee, too, my Paridell! she mark’d thee there,

    Stretch’d on the rack of a too easy chair,

    And heard thy everlasting yawn confess

    The pains and penalties of Idleness.

    She pitied! but her pity only shed

    Benigner influence on thy nodding head.

    But Annius, crafty seer, with ebon wand,

    And well-dissembled em’rald on his hand,

    False as his gems, and canker’d as his coins,

    Came, cramm’d with capon, from where Pollio dines.

    Soft, as the wily fox is seen to creep,

    Where bask on sunny banks the simple sheep,

    Walk round and round, now prying here, now there,

    So he, but pious, whisper’d first his prayer:

    ‘Grant, gracious Goddess! grant me still to cheat!

    O may thy cloud still cover the deceit!

    Thy choicer mists on this assembly shed,

    But pour them thickest on the noble head.

    So shall each youth, assisted by our eyes,

    See other Cæsars, other Homers rise;

    Thro’ twilight ages hunt th’ Athenian fowl,

    Which Chalcis, Gods, and Mortals call an owl;

    Now see an Attys, now a Cecrops clear,

    Nay, Mahomet! the pigeon at thine ear;

    Be rich in ancient brass, tho’ not in gold,

    And keep his Lares, tho’ his House be sold;

    To heedless Phœbe his fair bride postpone,

    Honour a Syrian prince above his own;

    Lord of an Otho, if I vouch it true;

    Bless’d in one Niger, till he knows of two.’

    Mummius o’erheard him; Mummius, fool renown’d,

    Who, like his Cheops, stinks above the ground,

    Fierce as a startled adder, swell’d and said,

    Rattling an ancient Sistrum at his head:

    ‘Speak’st thou of Syrian Princes? traitor base!

    Mine, Goddess! mine is all the horned race.

    True, he had wit to make their value rise;

    From foolish Greeks to steal them was as wise;

    More glorious yet, from barb’rous hands to keep,

    When Sallee rovers chased him on the deep.

    Then taught by Hermes, and divinely bold,

    Down his own throat he risk’d the Grecian gold,

    Receiv’d each demigod, with pious care,

    Deep in his entrails—I revered them there,

    I bought them, shrouded in that living shrine,

    And, at their second birth, they issue mine.’

    ‘Witness, great Ammon! by whose horns I swore

    (Replied soft Annius), this our paunch before

    Still bears them, faithful; and that thus I eat,

    Is to refund the Medals with the Meat.

    To prove me, Goddess! clear of all design,

    Bid me with Pollio sup as well as dine:

    There all the learn’d shall at the labour stand,

    And Douglas lend his soft obstetric hand.’

    The Goddess, smiling, seem’d to give consent;

    So back to Pollio hand in hand they went.

    Then thick as locusts black’ning all the ground,

    A tribe with weeds and shells fantastic crown’d,

    Each with some wondrous gift approach’d the Power,

    A nest, a toad, a fungus, or a flower.

    By far the foremost two, with earnest zeal

    And aspect ardent, to the throne appeal.

    The first thus open’d: ‘Hear thy suppliant’s call,

    Great Queen, and common Mother of us all!

    Fair from its humble bed I rear’d this flower,

    Suckled, and cheer’d, with air, and sun, and shower.

    Soft on the paper ruff its leaves I spread,

    Bright with the gilded button tipp’d its head,

    Then throned in glass, and named it CAROLINE.

    Each maid cried, “Charming!” and each youth, “Divine!”

    Did Nature’s pencil ever blend such rays,

    Such varied light in one promiscuous blaze?

    Now prostrate! dead! behold that Caroline:

    No maid cries, “Charming!” and no youth, “Divine!”

    And lo, the wretch! whose vile, whose insect lust

    Laid this gay daughter of the spring in dust.

    O punish him, or to th’ Elysian shades

    Dismiss my soul, where no Carnation fades.’

    He ceas’d, and wept. With innocence of mien

    Th’ accused stood forth, and thus address’d the Queen:

    ‘Of all th’ enamell’d race, whose silv’ry wing

    Waves to the tepid zephyrs of the spring,

    Or swims along the fluid atmosphere,

    Once brightest shined this child of Heat and Air.

    I saw, and started from its vernal bower

    The rising game, and chased from flower to flower.

    It fled, I follow’d; now in hope, now pain;

    It stopt, I stopt; it mov’d, I mov’d again.

    At last it fix’d,’t was on what plant it pleas’d,

    And where it fix’d the beauteous bird I seiz’d:

    Rose or Carnation was below my care;

    I meddle, Goddess! only in my sphere.

    I tell the naked fact without disguise,

    And, to excuse it, need but show the prize;

    Whose spoils this paper offers to your eye,

    Fair ev’n in death, this peerless butterfly!’

    ‘My sons! (she answer’d) both have done your parts:

    Live happy both, and long promote our Arts.

    But hear a mother when she recommends

    To your fraternal care our sleeping friends.

    The common soul, of Heav’n’s more frugal make,

    Serves but to keep Fools pert, and Knaves awake;

    A drowsy watchman, that just gives a knock,

    And breaks our rest, to tell us what ’s o’clock.

    Yet by some object ev’ry brain is stirr’d;

    The dull may waken to a Humming-bird;

    The most recluse, discreetly open’d, find

    Congenial matter in the Cockle king;

    The mind, in metaphysics at a loss,

    May wander in a wilderness of Moss;

    The head that turns at superlunar things

    Pois’d with a tail, may steer on Wilkins’ wings.

    ‘O! would the sons of men once think their eyes

    And Reason giv’n them but to study flies!

    See Nature in some partial narrow shape,

    And let the Author of the whole escape:

    Learn but to trifle; or, who most observe,

    To wonder at their Maker, not to serve!’

    ‘Be that my task (replies a gloomy Clerk,

    Sworn foe to myst’ry, yet divinely dark;

    Whose pious hope aspires to see the day

    When moral evidence shall quite decay,

    And damns implicit faith, and holy lies;

    Prompt to impose, and fond to dogmatize):

    Let others creep by timid steps, and slow,

    On plain Experience lay foundations low,

    By common sense to common knowledge bred,

    And last, to Nature’s Cause thro’ Nature led.

    All-seeing in thy mists, we want no guide,

    Mother of Arrogance, and source of pride!

    We nobly take the high priori road,

    And reason downward, till we doubt of God:

    Make Nature still encroach upon his plan,

    And shove him off as far as e’er we can:

    Thrust some Mechanic Cause into his place,

    Or bind in Matter, or diffuse in Space:

    Or, at one bound o’erleaping all his laws,

    Make God man’s image; man, the final Cause;

    Find Virtue local, all Relation scorn,

    See all in self, and but for self be born:

    Of nought so certain as our Reason still,

    Of nought so doubtful as of Soul and Will.

    O hide the God still more! and make us see

    Such as Lucretius drew, a God like thee:

    Wrapt up in self, a God without a thought,

    Regardless of our merit or default.

    Or that bright image to our fancy draw,

    Which Theocles in raptured vision saw,

    While thro’ poetic scenes the Genius roves,

    Or wanders wild in academic groves;

    That Nature our society adores,

    Where Tindal dictates, and Silenus snores!’

    Rous’d at his name, up rose the bousy Sire,

    And shook from out his pipe the seeds of fire;

    Then snapt his box, and stroked his belly down;

    Rosy and rev’rend, tho’ without a gown.

    Bland and familiar to the Throne he came,

    Led up the youth, and call’d the Goddess Dame;

    Then thus: ‘From priestcraft happily set free,

    Lo! every finish’d son returns to thee:

    First slave to Words, then vassal to a Name,

    Then dupe to Party; child and man the same;

    Bounded by Nature, narrow’d still by Art,

    A trifling head, and a contracted heart.

    Thus bred, thus taught, how many have I seen,

    Smiling on all, and smil’d on by a Queen!

    Mark’d out for honours, honour’d for their birth,

    To thee the most rebellious things on earth:

    Now to thy gentle shadow all are shrunk,

    All melted down in Pension or in Punk!

    So K[ent] so B—— sneak’d into the grave,

    A monarch’s half, and half a harlot’s slave.

    Poor W[harton] nipt in Folly’s broadest bloom,

    Who praises now? his chaplain on his tomb.

    Then take them all, O take them to thy breast!

    Thy Magus, Goddess! shall perform the rest.’

    With that a wizard old his Cup extends,

    Which whoso tastes, forgets his former Friends,

    Sire, Ancestors, Himself. One casts his eyes

    Up to a star, and like Endymion dies:

    A feather, shooting from another’s head,

    Extracts his brain, and Principle is fled;

    Lost is his God, his Country, everything,

    And nothing left but homage to a King!

    The vulgar herd turn off to roll with hogs,

    To run with horses, or to hunt with dogs;

    But, sad example! never to escape

    Their infamy, still keep the human shape.

    But she, good Goddess, sent to every child

    Firm Impudence, or Stupefaction mild;

    And straight succeeded, leaving shame no room,

    Cibberian forehead, or Cimmerian gloom.

    Kind Self-conceit to some her glass applies,

    Which no one looks in with another’s eyes:

    But as the Flatt’rer or Dependant paint,

    Beholds himself a Patriot, Chief, or Saint.

    On others Int’rest her gay liv’ry flings,

    Int’rest, that waves on party-colour’d wings:

    Turn’d to the sun, she casts a thousand dyes,

    And, as she turns, the colours fall or rise.

    Others the Syren Sisters warble round,

    And empty heads console with empty sound.

    No more, alas! the voice of Fame they hear,

    The balm of Dulness trickling in their ear.

    Great C—, H—, P—, R—, K—,

    Why all your toils? your sons have learn’d to sing.

    How quick Ambition hastes to Ridicule:

    The sire is made a Peer, the son a Fool.

    On some, a priest succinct in amice white

    Attends; all flesh is nothing in his sight!

    Beeves, at his touch, at once to jelly turn,

    And the huge boar is shrunk into an urn:

    The board with specious Miracles he loads,

    Turns hares to larks, and pigeons into toads.

    Another (for in all what one can shine?)

    Explains the sève and verdeur of the Vine.

    What cannot copious sacrifice atone?

    Thy truffles, Périgord, thy hams, Bayonne,

    With French libation, and Italian strain,

    Wash Bladen white, and expiate Hays’s stain,

    Knight lifts the head; for, what are crowds undone,

    To three essential partridges in one?

    Gone ev’ry blush, and silent all reproach,

    Contending Princes mount them in their coach.

    Next bidding all draw near on bended knees,

    The Queen confers her Titles and Degrees.

    Her children first of more distinguish’d sort,

    Who study Shakespeare at the Inns of Court,

    Impale a glow-worm, or Vertù profess,

    Shine in the dignity of F. R. S.

    Some, deep Freemasons, join the silent race,

    Worthy to fill Pythagoras’s place:

    Some Botanists, or florists at the least,

    Or issue members of an annual feast.

    Nor past the meanest unregarded; one

    Rose a Gregorian, one a Gormogon.

    The last, not least in honour or applause,

    Isis and Cam made Doctors of her Laws.

    Then, blessing all, ‘Go children of my care!

    To practice now from theory repair.

    All my commands are easy, short and full:

    My sons! be proud, be selfish, and be dull.

    Guard my Prerogative, assert my Throne:

    This nod confirms each privilege your own.

    The cap and switch be sacred to His Grace;

    With staff and pumps the Marquis leads the race;

    From stage to stage the licens’d Earl may run,

    Pair’d with his fellow charioteer, the sun;

    The learned Baron butterflies design,

    Or draw to silk Arachne’s subtle line;

    The Judge to dance his brother sergeant call;

    The Senator at cricket urge the ball:

    The Bishop stow (pontific luxury!)

    A hundred souls of turkeys in a pie;

    The sturdy Squire to Gallic masters stoop,

    And drown his lands and manors in a soup.

    Others import yet nobler arts from France,

    Teach Kings to fiddle, and make Senates dance.

    Perhaps more high some daring son may soar,

    Proud to my list to add one monarch more;

    And nobly-conscious, Princes are but things

    Born for first Ministers, as slaves for Kings,

    Tyrant supreme! shall three estates command,

    And make one mighty Dunciad of the land!’

    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 Gilbert preach’d);

    Then catch’d the Schools; the Hall scarce kept awake;

    The Convocation gaped, 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 dozed 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 power.

    She comes! she comes! the sable throne behold

    Of Night primeval, 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,

    Closed 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.

    Nor 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.