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would have been revolted by the brutal images which Pope does not hesitate to introduce; and it is a curious phenomenon that the poet who is pre-eminently the representative of polished society should openly take such pleasure in unmixed filth. Polish is sometimes very thin. It has been suggested that Swift, who was with Pope during the composition, may have been directly responsible for some of these brutalities. At any rate, as I have said, Pope has here been working in the Swift spirit, and this gives, I think, the keynote of his Dunciad.

The geyser comparison is so far misleading that Pope is not in his most spiteful mood. There is not that infusion of personal venom which appears so strongly in the character of Sporus and similar passages. In reading them we feel that the poet is writhing under some bitter mortification, and trying with concentrated malice to sting his adversary in the tenderest places. We hear a tortured victim screaming out the shrillest taunts at his tormentor. The abuse in the Dunciad is by comparison broad and even jovial. The tone at which Pope is aiming is that suggested by the "laughing and shaking in Rabelais' easy chair." It is meant to be a boisterous guffaw from capacious lungs, an enormous explosion of superlative contempt for the mob of stupid thickskinned scribblers. They are to be overwhelmed with gigantic cachinnations, ducked in the dirtiest of drains, rolled over and over with rough horseplay, pelted with the least savoury of rotten eggs, not skilfully anatomized or pierced with dexterously directed needles. Pope has really stood by too long, watching their tiresome antics and receiving their taunts, and he must once for all speak out and give them a lesson.

Out with it Dunciad! let the secret pass,
That secret to each fool-that he's an ass!

That is his account of his feelings in the Prologue to the Satires, and he answers the probable remon


You think this cruel? Take it for a rule,
No creature smarts so little as a fool.

To reconcile us to such laughter, it should have a more genial tone than Pope could find in his nature. We ought to feel, and we certainly do not feel, that after the joke has been fired off there should be some possibility of reconciliation, or, at least, we should find some recognition of the fact that the victims are not to be hated simply because they were not such clever fellows as Pope. There is something cruel in Pope's laughter, as in Swift's. The missiles are not mere filth, but are weighted with hard materials that bruise and mangle. He professes that his enemies were the first aggressors, a plea which can be only true in part; and he defends himself, feebly enough, against the obvious charge that he has ridiculed men for being obscure, poor, and stupid faults not to be amended by satire, nor rightfully provocative of enmity. In fact, Pope knows in his better moments that a man is not necessarily wicked because he sleeps on a bulk, or writes verses in a garret; but he also knows that to mention those facts will give his enemies pain, and he cannot refrain from the use of so handy a


Such faults make one half ashamed of confessing to reading the Dunciad with pleasure; and yet it is frequently written with such force and freedom that we half pardon the cruel little persecutor, and admire the vigour with which he throws down the gauntlet to the natural

enemies of genius. The Dunciad is modelled upon the Mac Flecknoe, in which Dryden celebrates the appointment of Elkanah Shadwell to succeed Flecknoe as monarch of the realms of Dulness, and describes the coronation ceremonies. Pope imitates many passages, and adopts the general design. Though he does not equal the vigour of some of Dryden's lines, and wages war in a more ungenerous spirit, the Dunciad has a wider scope than its original, and shows Pope's command of his weapons in occasional felicitous phrases, in the vigour of the versification, and in the general sense of form and clear presentation of the scene imagined. For a successor to the great empire of dulness he chose (in the original form of the poem) the unlucky Theobald, a writer to whom the merit is attributed of having first illustrated Shakespere by a study of the contemporary literature. In doing this he had fallen foul of Pope, who could claim no such merit for his own editorial work, and Pope therefore regarded him as a grovelling antiquarian. As such, he was a fit pretender enough to the throne once occupied by Settle. The Dunciad begins by a spirited description of the goddess brooding in her cell upon the eve of a Lord Mayor's day, when the proud scene was o'er,

But lived in Settle's numbers one day more.

The predestined hero is meanwhile musing in his Gothic library, and addresses a solemn invocation to Dulness, who accepts his sacrifice-a pile of his own works-transports him to her temple, and declares him to be the legitimate successor to the former rulers of her kingdom. The second book describes the games held in honour of the new ruler. Some of them are, as a frank critic observes, "beastly;" but a brief report of the least objec

tionable may serve as a specimen of the whole performance. Dulness, with her court descends

To where Fleet Ditch with disemboguing streams
Rolls the large tribute of dead dogs to Thames,
The king of dykes than whom no sluice of mud
With deeper sable blots the silver flood.-

Here strip, my children, here at once leap in ;
Here prove who best can dash through thick and thin,
And who the most in love of dirt excel.

And, certainly by the poet's account, they all love it as well as their betters. The competitors in this contest are drawn from the unfortunates immersed in what Warburton calls "the common sink of all such writers (as Ralph)—a political newspaper." They were all hateful, partly because they were on the side of Walpole, and therefore, by Pope's logic, unprincipled hirelings, and more, because in that cause, as others, they had assaulted Pope and his friend. There is Oldmixon, a hack writer employed in compilations, who accused Atterbury of falsifying Clarendon, and was accused of himself falsifying historical documents in the interests of Whiggism; and Smedley, an Irish clergyman, a special enemy of Swift's, who had just printed a collection of assaults upon the miscellanies called Gulliveriana; and Concanen, another Irishman, an ally of Theobald's, and (it may be noted) of War burton's, who attacked the Bathos, and received of course, for the worst services-an appointment in Jamaica; and Arnall, one of Walpole's most favoured journalists, who was said to have received for himself or others near 11,0007. in four years. Each dives in a way supposed to be characteristic, Oldmixon with the pathetic exclamation,

And am I now threescore?
Ah, why, ye gods, should two and two make four ?

Concanen, "a cold, long-winded native of the deep," dives perseveringly, but without causing a ripple in the stream:

Not so bold Arnall--with a weight of skull
Furious he dives, precipitately dull,

and ultimately emerges to claim the prize, "with half the bottom on his head." But Smedley, who has been given up for lost, comes up,

Shaking the horrors of his sable brows,

and relates how he has been sucked in by the mudnymphs, and how they have shown him a branch of Styx which here pours into the Thames, and diffuses its soporific vapours over the Temple and its purlieus. He is solemnly welcomed by Milbourn (a reverend antagonist of Dryden), who tells him to "receive these robes which once were mine,"

Dulness is sacred in a sound divine.

The games are concluded in the second book; and in the third the hero, sleeping in the Temple of Dulness, meets in a vision the ghost of Settle, who reveals to him the future of his empire; tells how dulness is to overspread the world, and revive the triumphs of Goths and monks; how the hated Dennis, and Gildon, and others, are to overwhelm scorners, and set up at court, and preside over arts and sciences, though a fit of temporary sanity causes him to give a warning to the deists

But learn ye dunces! not to scorn your God —

and how posterity is to witness the decay of the stage, under a deluge of silly farce, opera, and sensation dramas; how bad architects are to deface the works of Wren and

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