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Before his sacred name flies ev'ry fault,
And each exalted stanza teems with thought!

The Vulgar thus through Imitation err;
As oft the Learn'd by being singular ; 425

COMMENTARY.

Ver. 424. The Vulgar thus-As oft the learn'd-] II. He comes in the second place (from ver. 423 to 452.] to consider the instances of partiality in the learned. 1. The first is Singularity. For, as want of principles, in the unlearned, necessitates them to rest on the common judgment, as always right: so adherence to false principles (that is, to notions of their own) mislead the learned into the other extreme of supposing the common judgment always wrong. And as, before, our Author compared those to Bigots, who made true faith to consist in believing after others; so he compares these to Schismatics, who make it to consist in believing no one ever believed before. Which folly he marks with a lively stroke of humour in the turn of the thought :

“ So Schismatics the plain believers quit,

And are but damn'd for having too much wit.” 2. The second is Novelty. And as this proceeds sometimes from fondness, sometimes from vanity; he compares the one to the passion for a mistress, and the other to the pride of being in fushion: But the excuse common to both is, the daily improvement of their Judgment :

“ Ask them the cause ; they're wiser still, they say ;

And still to-morrow's wiser than to-day." Now as this is a plausible pretence for their inconstancy; and our Author has himself afterwards approved of it, as a remedy against obstinacy and pride, where he says, ver. 573.

“But you with pleasure own your errors past,

And make each day a Critique on the last," he has been careful, by the turn of the expression in this place,

to

NOTES.

George the Second, who had little taste, to Lord Hervey,) 'tis beneath your rank ; leave such work to little Mr. Pope ; it is his trade." But this Lord Hervey wrote some that were above the level of those described here by our author.

Warton.

So much they scorn the croud, that if the throng
By chance go right, they purposely go wrong:
So Schismatics the plain believers quit,
And are but damn’d for having too much wit.
Some praise at morning what they blame at night;
But always think the last opinion right.
A Muse by these is like a mistress usd,
This hour she's idoliz'd, the next abus'd;
While their weak heads, like towns unfortify'd,
'Twixt sense and nonsense daily change their side.
Ask them the cause; they're wiser still they say;
And still to-morrow's wiser than to-day.
We think our fathers fools, so wise we grow ;
Our wiser sons, no doubt, will think us so.
Once School-divines this zealous isle o'er-spread;
Who knew most Sentences, was deepest read;

COMMENTARY.

to shew the difference between the pretence and the remedy. For Time, considered only as duration, vitiates as frequently as it improves: Therefore to expect wisdom as the necessary attendant of length of days, unrelated to long erperience, is vain and delusive. This he illustrates by a remarkable example ; where we see Time, instead of becoming wiser, destroying good letters, to substitute school divinity in their place—The genius of which kind of learning; the character of its professors; and the fate, which sooner or later, always attends whatsoever is wrong or false, the poet sums up in those four lines ;

“ Faith, Gospel, all, seem'd made to be disputed,” &c. And in conclusion, he observes, that perhaps this mischief from love of novelty, might not be so great, did it not, along with the Critic, infect the Writer likewise ; who, when he finds his readers disposed to take ready wit on the standard of current folly, never troubles himself to think of better payment.

Faith, Gospel, all, seem'd made to be disputed, And none had sense enough to be confuted : Scotists and Thomists, now, in peace remain, Amidst their kindred cobwebs in Duck-lane. 445

xotes. Ver. 444. Scotists] So denominated from Johannes Duns Scotus. Erasmus tells us, an eminent Scotist assured him, that it was impossible to understand one single proposition of this famous Duns, unless you had his whole metaphysics by heart. This hero of incomprehensible fame suffered a miserable reverse at Oxford in the time of Henry VIII. That grave antiquary, Mr. Antony Wood (in the Vindication of himself and his writings from the reproaches of the Bishop of Salisbury), sadly laments the deformation, as he calls it, of that University, by the King's Commissioners; and even records the blasphemous speeches of one of them, in his own words—“We have set Duns in Boccardo, with all his blind Glossers, fast nailed up upon posts in all common houses of easement.” Upon which our venerable Antiquary thus exclaims : “ If so be, the Commissioners had such disrespect for that most famous author, J. Duns, who was so much admired by our predecessors, and so difficult to be understood, that the Doctors of those times, namely, Dr. William Roper, Dr. John Keynton, Dr. William Mowse, &c. professed, that, in twenty-eight years study, they could not understand him rightly, what then had they for others of inferior note ?”—What indeed! But if so be, that most famous J. Duns was so difficult to be understood (for that this is a most theologic proof of his great worth, is past all doubt), I should conceive our good old Antiquary to be a little mistaken. And that the nailing up this Proteus of the Schools was done by the Commissioners in honour of the most famous Duns : There being no other way of catching the sense of so slippery and dodging an Author, who had eluded the pursuit of three of their most renowned Doctors in full cry after him, for eight and twenty years together. And this Boccardo in which he was confined, seemed very fit for the purpose ; it being observed, that men are never more serious and thoughtful than in that place of retirement. Scribl.

Warburton. Ver. 444. Thomists] From Thomas Aquinas, a truly great ge

nius,

If Faith itself has diff'rent dresses worn,
What wonder modes in Wit should take their

turn?
Oft, leaving what is natural and fit,
The current folly proves the ready wit;

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NOTES.

nius, who, in those blind ages, was the same in theology, that our Friar Bacon was in natural philosophy ; less happy than our countryman in this, that he soon became surrounded with a number of dark Glossers, who never left him till they had extinguished the radiance of that light, which had pierced through the thickest night of Monkery, the thirteenth century, when the Waldenses were suppressed, and Wickliffe not yet risen.

Warburton. The Summa summæ, &c. of Thomas Aquinas, is a treatise well deserving a most attentive perusal, and contains an admirable view of Aristotle's Ethics.

Aquinas did not understand Greek; what he knew of Aristotle he got from Averroes, an Arabian, whom the Spanish Jews first translated into Hebrew, and from Hebrew into Latin. Warton.

Ver. 445. Amidst their kindred cobwebs] Were common sense disposed to credit any of the Monkish miracles of the dark and blind ages of the Church, it would certainly be one of the seventh century, recorded by honest Bale. “In the sixth general council (says he) holden at Constantinople, Anno Dom. 680, contra Monothelitas, where the Latin Mass was first approved, and the Latin ministers deprived of their lawful wives, spiders' webbs, in wonderfull copye were seen falling down from above, upon the heads of the people, to the marvelous astonishment of many."The justest emblem and prototype of School Metaphysics, the divinity of Scotists and Thomists, which afterwards fell, in wonderfull copye on the heads of the people, in support of Transubstantiation, to the marvelous astonishment of many, as it continues to do to this day.

Warton. Ver. 445. Duck-lane.] A place where old and second-hand books were sold formerly, near Smithfield.

P. Ver. 448. Oft, leaving what is natural] Ita comparatum est humanum ingenium, ut optimarum rerum satietate, defatigetur.

Unde

And authors think their reputation safe, 450 Which lives as long as fools are pleas'd to laugh.

Some valuing those of their own side or mind, Still make themselves the measure of mankind :

COMMENTARY.

Ver. 452. Some valuing those of their own side or mind, &c.] 3. The third and last instance of partiality in the learned, is Party and Faction. Which is considered from ver. 451 to 474, where he shews how men of this turn deceive themselves, when they load

a writer

NOTES. Unde fit, artes, necessitatis vi quâdam crescere, aut decrescere semper, et ad summum fastigium evectas, ibi non diu

posse consistere. Thus music, deserting simple and pathetic expression, is taken up with tricks of execution, and a sort of slight of hand. Thus Borromini, to be new and original, has, as Mr. Walpole expresses it, twisted and curled architecture, by inverting the volutes of the Ionic order. L'ennui du Beau, amene le gout du Singulier. This will happen in every country, every art, and every age.

Warton.

Ver. 450. And authors think, &c.] This is an admirable satire on those called Authors in fashion, the men who get the laugh on their side. He shews on how pitiful a basis their reputation stands, the changeling disposition of fools to laugh, who are always carried away with the last joke.

Warburton. Ver. 451. as long as fools] “ Mirabile est (says Tully De

Oratore,
VARIATIONS.
Ver. 447. Between this and ver. 452.

The rhyming clowns that gladded Shakespear's age,
No more with crambo entertain the stage ;
Who now in anagrams their patron praise,
Or sing their mistress in acrostic lays ?
Ev'n pulpits pleas'd with merry puns of yore;
Now all are banish'd to th' Hibernian shore !
Thus leaving what was natural and fit,
The current folly prov'd their ready wit ;
And authors thought their reputation safe,
Which liv'd as long as fools were pleas'd to laugh.

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