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THE NEW DUNCIAD.
of the work. We may admit that the splendid passages would have been better wrought into a separate moral or critical poem, leaving the Dunciad with its machinery complete in three books. In reality, however, this critical objection is not felt by the reader. The satire is dignified and correct, the subjects various, and the poem altogether greatly elevated and enriched by the addition made to it. There is good sense in Johnson's advice to Crabbe: "Never fear putting the strongest and best things you can think of into the mouth of your speaker, whatever may be his condition." That years had not dimmed the poet's fancy, or his power of painting in words, may be seen by turning to his description of the carnation and butterfly, or to that still finer passage, where he makes Dulness lead her fashionable and degenerate votary to France and Italy
"To where the Seine, obsequious as she runs,
Vain of Italian arts, Italian souls:
To happy convents, bosom'd deep in vines,
Where slumber abbots, purple as their wines:
Diffusing languor in the panting gales:
To lands of singing or of dancing slaves,
Love-whispering woods, and lute-resounding waves.
And Cupids ride the lion of the deeps;
Where, eased of fleets, the Adriatic main
Wafts the smooth eunuch and enamour'd swain."
Colley Cibber was again brought forward by his implacable satirist. He had given some show of provocation in his Apology for his Life, published in 1740, wherein be referred to Pope's hostility, but admitted that the poet could not have more pleasure in writing his verses than he had in reading them, notwithstanding that he found himself, as Shakspeare terms it, dispraisingly spoken of. "When I find my name at length in the satirical works of our most celebrated living author, I never look upon those lines as malice meant to me (for he knows I never provoked it), but profit to himself. One of his points must be to have many readers; he considers that my face and name are more known than those of many thousands of more consequence in the kingdom; that,
therefore, right or wrong, a lick at the laureate will always be a suit ad captandum vulgus to catch him little readers; and that to gratify the unlearned by now and then interposing those merry sacrifices of an old acquaintance to their taste, is a piece of quite right poetical craft." In retaliation, Pope introduced Cibber into the New Dunciad as attendant on the goddess of Dulness while she is seated on her throne:
"Soft on her lap her Laureate son reclines."
In the notes he was more personal. Cibber was soon ready with a smart reply-"A Letter from Mr. Cibber to Mr. Pope, inquiring into the motives that might induce him in his satirical works to be so frequently fond of Mr. Cibber's Name." In the Apology for his Life, Cibber says he had treated Pope like a gentleman, but finding from the New Dunciad that this course had not the desired effect, his friends insisted that it would be thought dulness, indeed, or a plain confession of being a bankrupt in wit, if he did not immediately answer those bills of discredit the poet had drawn on him. His answer is partly serious and partly ludicrous. In the former he is poor, for Cibber was no reasoner; but he relates the anecdote of Pope's enmity on occasion of the revival of the Rehearsal, when he introduced the incident of the mummy and crocodile, and he mentions the poet's dislike to his play of the Nonjuror. He then makes a general charge against Pope, on the ground of what he calls his ruling passion, that is, "a low avarice of praise, which prejudices or debases that valuable character which his works, without his own commendatory notes upon them, might have maintained." But the most galling part of Cibber's reply was a ridiculous story, accompanied with a print of a scene which occurred "when Button's coffee-house was in vogue, and so long ago as when he (Pope) had not translated above two or three books of Homer," that is in 1714 or 1715. According to the graceless Cibber, a late young nobleman [Lord Warwick] who had a good deal of wicked humour, and who, though fond of having wits in his company, was not so restrained by his conscience but that he loved to laugh at any merry mischief he could do them; this noble wag, in his usual gaieté de cœur, with another gentleman, seduced Mr. Pope as a wit, and Colley himself as a
laugher, into a house in the Haymarket, where the poet appeared in the character of a gallant; but Cibber says he snatched away the "Tom Tit," conceiving that Homer would have been too serious a sacrifice to their evening merriment. "Now, as his Homer has since been so happily completed, who can say that the world may not have been obliged to the kindly care of Colley that so great a work ever came to perfection ?" This loose and disgraceful anecdote (which Pope declared to Spence was an absolute lie as to the main point") set the laughers against Pope, and made him resolve to take the most signal vengeance. Horace Walpole predicted that it would "notably vex him ;" but who could have imagined that, for such a cause, the poet would have re-cast and altered the whole of the Dunciad, and have substituted Cibber for Theobald as hero of the poem ? To this task, however, he now bent his fading energies, and some sad and serious reflections must have stolen across his mind as he reviewed the long file of his victims. Death had been busy with dunces as with wits. Dennis, the earliest object of his hatred, was gone. Poor Corinna, sinned against and sinning, Gildon's "venal quill," Tickell's classic rivalry, James Moore's plagiarism, Blackmore's epic ambition, and Bentley's ripe scholarship, were buried in the dust. The wretched Budgell and Arnall had disappeared self-destroyed. Lord Fanny was sinking to the grave, and he died about two months after the puunication of the new edition. Lady Mary was a wanderer in foreign countries, destined to return the wreck of her former self, old and wretched. New names required to be substituted for some of the "ragged regiment" who had long been dead and forgotten-fresh bitterness had to be infused respecting such as were alive and prosperous. Welsted was happy in an appointment in the Ordnance Office, Concanen was Attorney-General in Jamaica, Namby Pamby Philips held an important office in Ireland, and sat in the Irish Parliament. For these there still burned "the vestal fire of undecaying hate." For all there was a determined and unconquerable spirit, with a passion for literary labour and fame, that was to continue till the last throb of existence. The poet again invoked the assistance of Warburton:
"A project has arisen in my head to make you, in some measure,
the Editor of this new edition of the Dunciad, if you have no scruple of owning some of the graver notes, which are now added to those of Dr. Arbuthnot. I mean it as a kind of prelude, or advertisement to the public, of your Commentaries on the Essay on Man and on Criticism, which I propose to print next in another volume proportioned to this. I only doubt whether an avowal of these notes to so ludicrous a poem be suitable to a character so established as yours for more serious studies. It was a sudden thought since we parted, and I would have you treat it as no more; and tell me if it is not to be suppressed, freely and friendlily. I have a particular reason to make you interest yourself in me and my writings. It will cause both them and me to make the better figure to posterity. A very mediocre poet, one Drayton, is yet taken some notice of, because Selden writ a few notes on some of his poems.
In another letter to the same friend (March 24, 1743) he passes an opinion, and a just one, which posterity has confirmed, with respect to his Epistles or Moral Essays: "I have lived much by myself of late, partly through ill-health, and partly to amuse myself with little improvements in my garden and house, to which possibly I shall (if I live) be soon more confined. When the Dunciad may be published I know not. I am more desirous of carrying on the best, that is, your edition of the rest of the Epistles and Essay on Criticism, &c. I know it is there I shall be seen most to ad
2 Pope to Warburton, Nov. 27, 1742. In the above notice of Drayton the old poet is placed below his real rank, considering the time in which he lived. Coleridge says of him-" Drayton is a sweet poet, and Selden's notes to the early part of the Polyolbion are well worth: perusal. There are instances of sublimity in Drayton. When deploring the cutting down of some of our old forests, he says, in language which reminds the reader of Lear, written subsequently, and also of several passages in Mr. Wordsworth's poems:
'Our trees so hacked above the ground,
That where their lofty tops the neighbouring countries crowned,
That is very fine." Southey, Campbell, and Hallam are no less zealous in commendation of the old bard; but it is only a poetical student of strong nerve and resolution that will get through the 30,000 Alexandrine verses which compose the Polyolbion. We may remark that Coleridge, or more likely the reporter of his "Table Talk," is mistaken in supposing that Lear was written subsequently to the Polyolbion. The latter was produced between 1613 and 1622; Lear was published in 1608.
ALTERATIONS IN THE DUNCIAD.
vantage. But I insist on one condition, that you never think of this when you can employ yourself in finishing that noble work of the Divine Legation (which is what, above all, iterum, iterumque monebo), or any other useful scheme of your own."
This devotion to Warburton approaches to servility. The commentator, however, did yeoman's service. He first contributed an introductory discourse of Ricardus Aristarchus, the hero of the poem, which contains some admirable grave humour, and a display of curious learning, resembling the writings of Arbuthnot. As the constituent qualities of the greater epic hero are wisdom, bravery, and love, from whence springs heroic virtue, it is assumed that those of the lesser epic hero should be vanity, assurance, and debauchery, from which happy assemblage results heroic dulness, the neverdying subject of the poem. Having laid down this position, Warburton traces all these characteristics in Cibber's character and conduct, quoting largely from the Apology for his Life, in which Colley's vanity and carelessness laid him open to ridicule and misrepresentation. There is, of course, no recognition of the merits of Cibber's "Apology," which is one of the most delightful gossiping works in the language, and exhibits no inconsiderable portion of discrimination and acuteness in the delineation of character. In altering the poem to instal Cibber as its hero, Pope had little difficulty. His first emendation was to substitute "Bayes's monsterbreeding breast" for Tibbald's, which, as both were dramatic authors, violated no rule of critical propriety. But when he described Bayes as dashing his pen on the ground, and
46 Sinking from thought to thought a vast profound,"
every reader saw that the resemblance to the gay, vivacious laureate, who was never thoughtful nor profound, nor ever affected to be so, was lost. Still more unsuitable was the description of Bayes's Gothic library, the shelves of which groaned under dry bodies of divinity, the commentaries of De Lyra, and the translations of Philemon Holland, with black-letter treatises from the presses of Caxton and Wynken de Worde. Such a library might have been collected by Theobald, a professed antiquary, but was wholly foreign to the tastes, character, and pursuits of Colley Cibber. This capital error was irredeemable. Cibber might as well have