1742 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Bentley

Alexander Pope, in The Dunciad (1728; 1742); Works, ed. Warton (1796-97) 5:254-57.



Mistress! dismiss that rabble from your throne:
Avaunt! — is Aristarchus yet unknown?
The mighty scholiast whose unweary'd pains
Made Horace dull, and humbled Maro'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 tow'ring o'er your Alphabet, like Saul,
Stands our Digamma, and o'ertops them all.
'Tis true, on Words is still our whole debate,
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:
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 unlicenc'd Greek.
In ancient Sense if any needs will deal,
Be sure I give them Fragments, not a Meal;
What Gellius or Strobaeus 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:
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.