Dullness "rul'd, in native Anarchy, the mind"

— Pope, Alexander (1688-1744)

Place of Publication
Printed for M. Cooper
Dullness "rul'd, in native Anarchy, the mind"
Metaphor in Context
In eldest time, e'er mortals writ or read,
E'er Pallas issu'd from the Thund'rer's head,
Dulness o'er all possess'd her ancient right,
Daughter of Chaos and eternal Night:
Fate in their dotage this fair Ideot gave,
Gross as her sire, and as her mother grave,
Laborious, heavy, busy, bold, and blind,
She rul'd, in native Anarchy, the mind.


Ver. 16. She rul'd, in native Anarchy, the mind .]The native Anarchy of the mind is that state which precedes the time of Reason's assuming the rule of the Passions. But in that state, the uncontrolled violence of the Passions would soon bring things to confusion, were it not for the intervention of Dulness in this absence of Reason; who, though she cannot regulate them like Reason, yet blunts and deadens their Vigour, and, indeed, produces some of the good effects of it: Hence it is that Dulness has often the appearance of Reason. This is the only good she ever did; and the Poet takes particular care to tell it in the very introduction of his Poem. It is to be observed indeed, that this is spoken of the universal rule of Dulness in ancient days, but we may form an idea of it from her partial Government in later times.
At least 19 entries in the ESTC (1742, 1743, 1744, 1749, 1756, 1776, 1777).

The Dunciad, in Four Books. Printed According to the Complete Copy Found in the Year 1742. With the Prolegomena of Scriblerus, and Notes Variorum. to Which Are Added, Several Notes Now First Publish'd, the Hypercritics of Aristarchus, and His Dissertation on the Hero of the Poem. (London: Printed for M. Cooper at the Globe in Pater-noster-row, 1743). [2 issues in 1743] <Link to ESTC><Link to ESTC><Link to ECCO>

Reading The Dunciad in Four Books, ed. Valerie Rumbold (New York: Pearson Longman, 2009).
Date of Entry
Date of Review

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.