Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Extract from the Dunciad, Book IV
By Alexander Pope (1688–1744)
 
(See full text.)

  OH (cried the goddess) for some pedant reign!
Some gentle James, to bless the land again;
To stick the doctor’s chair into the throne,
Give law to words, or war with words alone,
Senates and courts with Greek and Latin rule,        5
And turn the council to a grammar school!
For sure, if dulness sees a grateful day,
’Tis in the shade of arbitrary sway.
O! if my sons may learn one earthly thing,
Teach but that one, sufficient for a king;        10
That which my priests, and mine alone, maintain,
Which, as it dies, or lives, we fall, or reign:
May you, my Cam, and Isis, preach it long!
‘The right divine of kings to govern wrong.’
  Prompt at the call, around the goddess roll        15
Broad hats, and hoods, and caps, a sable shoal:
Thick and more thick the black blockade extends,
A hundred head of Aristotle’s friends.
Nor wert thou, Isis! wanting to the day,
(Tho’ Christ-church long kept prudishly away)        20
Each staunch polemic, stubborn as a rock,
Each fierce logician, still expelling Locke,
Came whip and spur, and dash’d through thin and thick
On German Crousaz, and Dutch Burgersdyck.
As many quit the streams that murm’ring fall        25
To lull the sons of Margaret and Clare-hall,
Where Bentley late tempestuous wont to sport
In troubled waters, but now sleeps in port.
Before them march’d that awful aristarch;
Plow’d was his front with many a deep remark:        30
His hat, which never veil’d to human pride,
Walker with reverence took, and laid aside.
Low bow’d the rest: he, kingly, did but nod;
So upright Quakers please both man and God.
Mistress! dismiss that rabble from your throne:        35
Avaunt—is Aristarchus yet unknown?
Thy 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.        40
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,        45
Dispute of me or te, of aut or at,
To sound or sink in cano, O or A,
Or give up Cicero to C or K.
Let Freind affect to speak as Terence spoke,
And Alsop never but like Horace joke:        50
From me, what Virgil, Pliny may deny,
Manilius or Solinus shall supply:
For Attic phrase in Plato let them seek,
I poach in Suidas for unlicens’d Greek.
In ancient sense if any needs will deal,        55
Be sure I give them fragments, not a meal;
What Gellius or Stobaeus hash’d before,
Or chew’d by blind old Scholiasts o’er and o’er.
The critic eye, that microscope of wit,
Sees hairs and pores, examines bit by bit;        60
How parts relate to parts, or they to whole,
The body’s harmony, the beaming soul,
Are things which Kuster, Burman, Wasse shall see,
When man’s whole frame is obvious to a flea.
 
 
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