The potboilers of the ridiculous creatures whom Dulness
never fails to reward are the vehicles through which sense is lulled asleep.
I forgive him his inordinate dulness
, for he was not a diplomatist and it was not his business to lie, but he might once in a way have forgotten Mount Vernon.
In the mid-eighteenth century, Gray can solemnly describe 'The Progress of Poetry' in terms of the migration of the Nine from Greece to Rome to 'Albion'; but Pope's satiric tone in The Dunciad is perhaps more typical, depicting 'the prostrate Nine' grovelling before the empress Dulness
, or snidely speculating on 'what bards the nightly Muse / Did slumbering visit, and convey to stews' (i.
But how happy were it, if, what the shortness of his sight, the dulness
of mens minds could have the same effect, to object to them continually their own Image, and make it unnecessary for others to represent them.
To his good friend and rather more successful courtier Henry Goodyer, he complained that "All shadows are of one colour, if you respect the body from which they are cast (for our shadows upon clay will be dirty, and in a garden green and flowery) so all retirings into a shadowy life are alike from all causes, and alike subjet to the barbarousness and insipid dulness
of the country" (1974, 63).
While the body often serves in Pope's and Swift's poetry to manifest the decayed, debased, or debauched (one thinks of the grotesque body of the Goddess Dulness
in the Dunciad, or Swift's dressing-room poems), here, in its role as science's foil, the body takes on positive connotations--suggesting an ethical imperative in regard to reading practices; that is, the object of the Critic's Eye (the text) is figured not simply as a dead lump of tissue that can be dissected, but as a living presence--a body with an innate "harmony" of parts, which perfectly reflects and directs the beams of its "soul.
Then follows: "if Habit is the Goddess of Dulness
, voluntary memory is Shadwell, and of Irish extraction" (20).
He reiterates the theme of dulness
until it becomes a judgment on theology by human history.
Leonard Welsted's 'Of Dulness
and Scandal' (1732), for example, eagerly anticipates a future in which Pope's poetic voice, particularly the grating precocity of the Essay on Criticism, will have faded from memory:
In this stratum there appears to be an unduly high incidence of mental defect, insanity, intellectual dulness
[sic], epilepsy, as well as tuberculosis and other physical defects.
In another letter she writes that "The dulness
of the book is such that any indecency may lurk there--one simply can't keep one's eyes on the page" (Letters 556); in her diary at the same time she calls the novel "the pale tepid vapid book which lay damp and slab all about the [magistrate's] court" (Diary 207).
Or merely the lackey of Dulness
, striving for certain wages [.