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Low bow'd the rest: he, kingly, did but nod:
Mistress! dismiss that rabble from your throne:
210 The 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, Disputes of Me or Te, or Aut or At,
REMARKS. Ver. 210. -Aristarchus-) A famous commentator and correcter of Homer, whose name has been frequently used to signify a complete critic. The compliment paid by our author to this eminent professor, in applying to him so great a name, was the reason that he hath omitted to comment on this part which contains his own praises. We shall, therefore, supply that loss to our best ability.Scribl.
Ver. 214, Critics like me-) Alluding to two famous editions of Horace and Milton; whose richest veins of poetry he had prodigally reduced to the poorest and most beggarly prose.-Verily the learned scholiast is grievously mistakeu. Aristarchus is not boasting here of the wonders of his art in annihilating the sublime; but of the usefulness of it, in reducing the turgid to its proper class; the words 'make it prose again, plainly shewing that prose it was, though ashamed of its original, and therefore to prose it should return. Indeed, much it is to be lamented that Dulness doth not confine her critics to this useful task; and commission them to dismount what Aristophanes calls Pnual' ITTOBápova, all prose on horse-back.–Scribl.
Ver. 216. Author of something yet more great than letter ;) Alluding to those grammarians, such as Palamedes and Simonides, who invented single letters. But Aristarchus, who had found out a double one, was therefore, worthy of double honour.Scribl.
Ver. 217, 218. While towering o'er your alphabet, like Saul,Stands, our digamma,) Alludes to the boasted restoration of the Æolic digamma, in his long projected edition of Homer. He calls it something more than letter, from the enormous figure it would make among the other letters, being one gamma set upon the shoulders of another.
Ver. 220.-of Me.or Te,] It was a serious dispute, about which the learned were much divided, and some treatises written: had it been about meum and tuum it could not be more contested, than whether at the end of the first Ode of Horace, to read, Me doctarum hedere præmia frontium, or Te doctarum hedere By this the learned scholiast would seem to insinuate that the dispute was not about meum or tuum, which is a mistake: For, as a venerable sage observeth, words are the counters of wise
In flow'd at once a gay embroider'd race, And tittering 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.
280 When thus th' attendant orator begun, * Receive, great empress, thy accomplished 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 ceased so soon, he ne'er was boy nor man. Through school and college, thy kind cloud o'ercast, Safe and unseen the young Æneas pass'd: 290
REMARKS. pupil placed first, he might be supposed to lead the governor to her. But our impartial poet, as he is drawing their picture, represents them in the order in which they are generally seen; namely, the pupil between the whore and the governor; but placeth the whore first, as she usually governs both the other.
Ver. 280. As if he saw St. James's Reflecting on the disrespectful and indecent behaviour of several forward young persons in the presence, so offensive to all serious men, and to none more than the good Scriblerus.
Ver. 281.--th' attendant orator -] The governor above-said. The poet gives him no particular name; being unwilling, 1 presume, to offend or to do injustice to any, by celebrating one only with whom this character agrees, in preference to so many who equally deserve it.-Scribl.
Ver. 284. A dauntless infant! never scared with God.) i.e. Brought up in the enlarged principles of modern education; whose great point is, to keep the infant mind free from the prejudices of opinion, and the growing spirit unbroken by terrifying names. Amongst the happy consequences of this reformed dischpline, it is not the least that we have never afterward any occasion for the priest, whose trade, as a modern wit informs us, is only to finish what the nurse began.--Scribl.
Ver. 286. --the blessing of a rake.) Scriblerus is bere much at a loss to find out what this blessing should be. He is sometimes tempted to imagine it might be the marrying a great fortune: but this again, for the vulgarity of it, he rejects, as something uncommon seemed to be prayed for and after many strange conceits, not at all to the honour of the fair sex, he at length rests in this, that it was, that her son might pass for a wit; in which opinion he fortifies himself by ver. 316, where the orator, speaking of his pupil, says, that he
Intrigued with glory, and with spirit whored, which seems to insinuate that her prayer was heard. Here the good scholiast, as, indeed, every where else, lays open the very soul of modern criticism, while he makes his own ignorance of a learned conjecture : the blessing of a rake signifying no more poetical expression hold open the door to much erudition and
Thence bursting glorious, all at once let down,
REMARKS. than that he might be a rake; the effects of a thing for the thing itself, a common figure. The careful mother only wished her son might be a rake, as well knowing that its attendant blessings would follow of course.
Ver. 307. But chief, &c.] These two lines, in their force of imagery and colouring, emulate and equal the pencil of Rubens.
Ver. 308. And Cupids ride the lion of the deeps;] The winged lion, the arms of Venice. This republic, heretofore the most considerable in Europe, for her naval force and the extent of her commerce; now illustrious for her carnivals.
Ver. 318.-greatly-daring dined ;] It being, indeed, no small risque to eat through those extraordinary compositions, whose disguised ingredients are generally unknown to the guests, and highly inflammatory and unwholesome.
To sound or sink in cano 0 or A,
Ah, think not, mistress! more true Dulness lies
REMARKS. men, but the money of fools; so that we see their property was indeed concerned.-Scribl.
Ver. 222. Or give up Cicero to C or K. Grammatical disputes about the manner of pronouncing Cicero's name in Greek. It is a dispute whether in Latin the name of Hermagoras should end in as or a. Quintilian quotes Cicero as writing it Hermagora,which Bentley rejects, and says Quintilian must be mistaken, Cicero could not write it so, and that in this case he would not believe Cicero himself. These are his very words: Ego vero Ciceronem ita scripsisse ne Ciceroni quidem affirmanti crediderim. Epist. ad Mill. in fin. Frag. Menand. et Phil.
Ver. 223, 224.-Freind-Alsop-] Dr. Robert Freind, master of Westminster-school, and canon of Christ-church-Dr. Anthony Alsop, a happy imitator of the Horatian style.
Ver. 226. Manilins or Solinus-], Some critics having had it in their choice to comment either on Virgil or Manilius, Pliny or Solinus, have chosen the worse author, the more freely to display their critical capacity.
Ver. 228, &c. -Suidas --Gellius-Stobæus-] The first a dictionary-writer, a collecter of impertinent facts and barbarous words, the second a minute critic; the third an author, who gave his common-place book to the public, where we happen to find much mince-meat of old books.
Nor could a Barrow work on every block,
REMARKS. Ver. 245, 246. --Barrow-Atterbury-1 Isaac Barrow, master of Trinity, Francis Atterbury, dean of Christ-church, both great geniuses and eloquent preachers; one more conversant in the sublime geometry, the other in classical learning; but who equally made it their care to advance the polite arts in their several societies.
Ver. 272. -laced governor,] Why laced! Because gold and silver are necessary trimming to denote the dress of a person of rank, and the governot must be supposed so in foreign countries, to be admitted into courts and other places of fair reception. But how comes Aristarchus to know at sight that this governor came from France! Knuw? Why, by the laced coat.-- Scribl.
ibid. Whore, pupil and laced governor,] Some critics have objected to the order here, being of opinion that the governor should have the precedence before the whore, if not before the pupil. But were he so placed, it might be thought to insinuate that the governor led the pupil to the whore; and were the