Progress of Dulness

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John Trumbull (1750—1831) poet and judge in the United States of America


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Satirical poem in octosyllabic couplets by John Trumbull, published in three parts (1772–73).

The first part of this satire on contemporary education tells of the difficulties at college of Tom Brainless, who learns how to manage without studying and achieves a diploma that crowns him as learned. As a conservative, he is welcomed into the ministry, and becomes a pontifical fool. The second part deals with Dick Harebrain, a wealthy fop, who, though he learns nothing solid at college, manages to pick up cheap infidelity secondhand from Hume and Voltaire, and finally, running the course of coxcombery and dissipation, ends in jail, racked by disease. The third part recounts the adventures of Miss Harriet Simper, who, lacking any sensible education, becomes a coquette, modeling her life on romantic novels. After jilting her other admirers, she falls victim to Harebrain, and when discarded by that beau finally settles down to dullness by marrying Tom Brainless.

Subjects: Literature.

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