« AnteriorContinua »
PICTURE OF THE SCHOOLS AND THE UNIVERSITIES. The Third Book of the Dunciad closes with a prophetic vision of the Progress of Dullness over the land, and a glimpse of her sons' ascendant in the seats of Arts and Sciences.
Proceed, great days! till learning fly the shore,
Till Birch shall blush with noble blood no more:
Till Thames see Eton's sons for ever play,
Till Westminster's whole year be holiday;
Till Isis elders reel, their pupils sport,
And Alma Mater lie dissolved in port!
The Fourth Book announces the completion of the prophecies by introducing the advent of 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 discouragements of arts; such as halfwits, tasteless admirers, vain pretenders, the flatterers of dunces, or the patrons of them. All these crowd around here; 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 youths to words, and keeping them out 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, 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 endures 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 whom she recommends proper employments—to this the amusement of the an. tiquary, to that, of the virtuoso, and to others, the study of butterflies, shells, &c., with special caution not to proceed beyond trifles to any useful or extensive view of nature, or the Author of nature.
The youths thus instructed are oblivious of all obligations divine. civil, moral or rational.
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 lol a spectre rose, whose index hand
Held forth the virtue of the dreadful wand;
His beaver'd brow a birchen garland wears,
Dropping with infauts' blood and mothers' tears.
O'er every vein a shuddering horror runs,
Eton and Winton shake through all their song.
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 knowo,
Words are man's province, words we teach alone.
When reason doubtful, like the Samian letter,
Points him two ways (Y), the narrower is the better
Plac'd 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 every muse gave o'er
There Talbot sunk, and was a wit no more!
How sweet an Ovid, Murray was our boast !
How many marshals were in Pulteney lost !
Else sure some bard, to our eternal praise,
In twice ten thousand rhyming nights and days,
Had reached the work, the all that mortal can,
And South beheld that masterpiece of man.'t
'O, (cried the goddess) for some pedant reiga 1
Some gentle James, to bless the land again :
To stick the doctor's chair into the throne,
• Parliament House and Westminster Hall.
| Dr. South, who declared that a perfect epigram was as difficult performance as an epic poem.
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 Dullness sees a grateful day,
'Tis in the shade of arbitrary sway.
01 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 bats, and boods, 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:
[Though 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 through thin and thick,
On German Crousaz,t and Dutch Burgersdyck.
As many quit the streams that murmuring fall
To lull the sons of Margaret and Clare Hall,
Where Bentley late tempestous 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 t 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 grammariang! 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.
• In the year 1703 there was a meeting of the bends of the University of Oxford, to censun Mr. Locke's Eseny on the Human Understanding, and to forbid the reading of it.
t Author of the commentary on Pope's Essay on Man. 1 Bentley's constant friend in college.
. Let Freind * effect to speak as Terrence 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 veeds 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.
• Ah, think not, mistress! more true dullness 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. (Noos)
Nor could a Barrow work ou every block,
Nor has one Atterbury spoiled the flock.
Seel still thy own, the heavy cannon ron,
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 labors till it clouds itself all o'er.
What though we let some better sort of fool
Thrid every science, run through every school?
Never by tumbler through 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 can not 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 every mind :
Then take him to develop, if you can,
And hew the block off, and get out the man.
* Dr. Robert Freind, Master of Westminster School.
Walker! our hat-nor more he deign'd to say,
But, stern as Ajax' specter, strode away.
The sire saw, one by one, his virtues wake:
The mother begg'd the blessing of a rake.
Thou gav'st that ripeness, which so soon began,
And ceased so soon, he neer 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.
Led by my hand, he saunter'd Europe round,
And gather'd ev'ry vice on Christian ground;
Saw ev'ry court, heard ev'ry King declare
His royal sense, of op'ra's or the fair;
The stews and palace equally explor'd,
Intrigu'd with glory, and with spirit whord;
Try'd all hors-do-xuvers, all liqueurs defin'd,
Judicious drank, and greatly-daring din'd;
Dropt the dull lumber of the Latin store,
Spoil'd bis own language, and acquir'd no more;
All classic learning lost on classic-ground;
And last turn'd Air, the echo of a sound !
Then thick as locusts black'ning all the ground,
A tribe, with weeds and shells fantastic crown'd
Each with some wondrous gift approachi'd the pow'r,
A nest, a toad, a fungus, or a flow'r.
But 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 flow'r,
Suckled, and cheer'd, with air, and sun, and show'r.
Soft on the paper ruff its leaves I spread,
Bright with the gilded button tipt its head.
Then thron'd in glass, and nam'd it CAROLINE:
Each maid cry's Charming! and each youth, Divine!
My sons! (she answerd), 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 Heaven's most 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 a-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 kind;
The mind, in metaphysics at a loss,
May wander in a wilderness of moss;
The head that turns at super-lunar things,
Poiz'd with a tail, may steer on Wilkins' wings.
0! 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.
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.