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Safe where no critics damn, no duns molest,
And thou! his aid-de-camp, lead on my sons,
And I, a nursing-mother, rock the throne;
And all be sleep, as at an ode of thine!"
She ceas'd. Then swells the Chapel-royal throat; ❝ God save king Cibber!" mounts in every note. 320
v. 296. Withers was a great pretender to poetical zeal against the vices of the times, and abused the greatest personages in power, which brought upon him frequent correction, The Marshalsea and Newgate were no strangers to him. Winstanley.
v. 296. Gildon.] Charles Gildon, a writer of criticisms and libels, of the last age, bred at St. Omer's with the Jesuits; but renouncing popery, he published Blunt's books against the divinity of Christ, the oracles of reason, &c. He signalized himself as a critic, having written some very bad plays; abused Mr. P. very scandalously in an anonymous pamphlet of the Life of Mr. Wycherley, printed by Curl; in another called The New Rehearsal, printed in 1714; in a third, intitled The Complete Art of English Poetry, in two volumes; and others.
v. 297. Howard.] Hon. Edward Howard, author of the British Princes, and a great number of wonderful pieces, celebrated by the late Earls of Dorset and Rochester, Duke of Buckingham, Mr. Waller, &c.
Familiar White's, "God save king Colley!" cries;
And "Coll!" each butcher roars at Hockley-hole. So when Jove's block descended from on high (As sings thy great forefather Ogilby)
Loud thunder to its bottom shook the bog,
And the hoarse nation croak'd," God save king Log!"
v. 324. But pious Needham.] A matron of great fame, and very religious in her way; whose constant prayer it was, that she might get enough by her profession to leave it off in time, and make her peace with God." But her fate was not so happy; for being convicted and set in the pillory, she was (to the lasting shame of all her great friends and votaries) so ill-used by the populace, that it put an end to her days.
v. 325. The Devil-tavern in Fleet-street, where the court-odes were usually rehearsed.
The King being proclaimed, the solemnity is graced with public games and sports of various kinds; not instituted by the hero, as by Æneas in Virgil, but for greater honour by the goddess in person (in like manner as the games Pythia, Isthmia, &c. were anciently said to be ordained by the gods, and as Thetis herself appearing, according to Homer, Odyssey XXIV. proposed the prizes in honour of her son Achilles). Hither flock the poets and critics, attended, as is but just, with their patrons and booksellers. The goddess is first pleased, for her disport, to propose games to the booksellers, and setteth up the phantom of a poet, which they contend to overtake. The races described, with their divers accidents. Next, the game for a poetess. Then follow the exercises for the poets, of tickling, vociferating, diving; the first holds forth the arts and practices of dedicators, the second of disputants and fustian poets, the third of profound, dark, and dirty party-writers. Lastly, for the critics the goddess proposes (with great propriety) an exercise, not of their parts, but their patience, in hearing the works of two voluminous authors, the one in verse and the other in prose, deliberately read, without sleeping: the various effects of which, with the several degrees and manners of their operation, are here set forth, till the whole number, not of critics only, but of spectators, actors, and all present, fall fast asleep, which naturally and necessarily ends the games.
HIGH on a gorgeous seat, that far outshone
v. 2.or Fleckno's Irish throne.] Richard Fleckno was an Irish priest, but had laid aside (as himself expressed it) the mechanical part of priesthood. He printed some plays, poems, letters, and travels.
Or that where on her Curls the public pours,
Not with more glee, by hands pontific crown'd, With scarlet hats wide-waving circled round, Rome in her Capitol saw Querno sit, Thron'd on seven hills, the antichrist of wit.
And now the Queen, to glad her sons, proclaims By herald hawkers high heroic games.
They summon all her race: an endless band
v. 15. Rome in her Capitol saw Querno sit.] Camillo Querno was of Apulia, who, hearing the great encouragement which Leo X. gave to poets, travelled to Rome with a harp in his hand, and sung to it twenty thousand verses of a poem called Alexias. He was introduced as a buffoon to Leo, and promoted to the honour of the laurel; a jest which the court of Rome and the Pope himself entered into so far, as to cause him to ride on an elephant to the Capitol, and to hold a solemn festival on his coronation; at which, it is recorded, the poet himself was so transported, as to weep for joy*. He was ever after a constant frequenter of the Pope's table, drank abundantly, and poured forth verses without number. Paulus Jovius, Elog. Vir. Doct. cap. xxxii. Some idea of his poetry is given by Fam. Strada in his Prolusions.
0.1. High on a gorgeous seat.] Parody of Milton, Book II.
See Life of C. C. chap. vi. p. 149.
From drawing-rooms, from colleges, and garrets,
Amid that area wide they took their stand, Where the tall May-pole once o'erlook'd the Strand, But now (so Anne and piety ordain)
A church collects the saints of Drury-lane.
And empty words she gave, and sounding strain, 45
So like, that critics said, and courtiers swore,
All gaze with ardour: some a poet's name,
"This prize is mine, who tempt it are my foes;
v. 53. But lofty Lintot.] We enter here upon the episode of the Booksellers; persons, whose names being more known and famous in the learned world, than those of the authors in this Poem, do therefore need less explanation. The action of Mr. Lintot here imitates that of Dares in Virgil, rising just in this manner to lay hold of a bull. This eminent bookseller printed the Rival Modes before mentioned.
With me began this genius, and shall end."
So take the hindmost, hell," he said, and run. 60 Swift as a bard the bailiff leaves behind,
He left huge Lintot, and outstript the wind.
As when a dab-chick waddles through the copse
On feet and wings, and flies, and wades, and hops; So labouring on, with shoulders, hands, and head, 65 Wide as a windmill all his figure spread,
v. 58. Stood dauntless Curl.] We come now to a character of much respect, that of Mr. Edmund Curl. As a plain repetition of great actions is the best praise of them, we shall only say of this eminent man, that he carried the trade many lengths beyond what it ever before had arrived at; and that he was the envy and admiration of all his profession. He possessed himself of a command over all authors whatever. He was not only famous among these; he was taken notice of by the state, the church, and the law, and re ceived particular marks of distinction from each.
The tribute our author here pays him is a grateful return for several unmerited obligations: many weighty animadversions on the public affairs, and many excellent and diverting pieces on private If ever he owed two verses to persons has he given to his name.
any other, he owed Mr. Curl some thousands. He was every day extending his fame, and enlarging his writings; witness innumerable instances: but it shall suffice only to mention the Court Poems, which he meant to publish as the work of the true writer, a lady of quality; but being first threatened, and afterwards punished for it by Mr. Pope, he generously transferred it from her to him, and ever since printed it in his name. The single time that ever he spoke to C. was on that affair, and to that happy incident he owed all the favours since received from him.
v. 61, &c.] Something like this is in Homer, Iliad X. ver. 220, of Diomed. Two different manners of the same author in his similes are also imitated in the two following: the first, of the bailiff, is short, unadorned, and (as the critics well know) from familiar life: the second, of the water-fowl, more extended, picturesque, and from rural life. The 59th verse is likewise a literal translation of one in Homer.
v. 64, 65.] On feet and wings, and flies, and wades, and hops; So lab'ring on with shoulders, hands, and head.]
"So eagerly the fiend
O'er bog, o'er steep, through streight, rough, dense, or rare,
Milton, Book II,