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! I found this was not all: Ill success in that had transported them to Personal abuse, either of himself, or (what I think he could less forgive) of his Friends. They had called Men of virtue and honour bad Men, long before he had either leisure or inclination to call them bad Writers: And some had been fuch old offenders, that he had quite forgotten their persons as well as their slanders, 'till they were pleased to revive them.
Now what had Mr. Pope done before, to incense them? He had published those works which are in the hands of every body, in which not the least mention is made of any of them. And what has he done fince? He has laughed, and written the DUNCIAD. What has that said of them? A very serious truth, which the public had said before, that they were dull: And what it had no sooner said, but they themselves were at great pains to procure, or even purchase room in the prints to testify under their hands to the truth of it.
I should still have been filent, if either I had seen any inclination in my friend to be serious with such accusers, or if they had only meddled with his Writings; since whoever publishes, puts himself on his trial by his Country. But when his Moral character was attacked, and in a manner from which neither truth nor virtue can fecure the most innocent; in a manner, which, though it annihilates the credit of the accusation with the juft and impartial, yet aggravates very much the guilt of the accusers; I mean by Authors without names; then I thought, since the danger was common to all, the concern ought to be so; and that it was an ad of justice to detect the Authors, not only on this account, but as many of them are the fame who for feveral years paft have made free with the greatest names in Church and State, expofed to the world the private misfortunes of Families, abused all, even to women, and whose proftituted papers (for one or other Party, in the unhappy divisions of their Country) have insulted the Fallen, the Friendless, the Exil'd, and the Dead.
Besides this, which I take to be a public concern, I have already confessed I had a private one. I am one of that number who have long loved and esteemed Mr. Pope; and had often declared it was
: not his capacity or writings (which we ever thought the least valuable part of his character) but the honeft, open, and beneficent man, thać we most esteemed, and loved in him. Now, if what these people say were believed, I must appear to all my friends either a fool, or a knave; either imposed on myself, or impofing on them ; so that I am, as much interested in the confutation of these calumnies, as he is himself.
I am no Author, and consequently not to be
suspected either of jealousy or resentment against any of the Men, of whom scarce one is known to me by fight; and as for their Writings, I have fought them (on this one occafion) in vain, in the clofets and libraries of all my acquaintance. I had Atill been in the dark, if a Gentleman had not procured me (I suppose from some of themselves, for they are generally much more dangerous friends than enemies) the passages I send you. I folemnly protest I have added nothing to the malice or absurdity of them; which it behoves me to declare, since the vouchers themselves will be fo soon and so irrecoverably loft. You may in fome measure prevent it, by preserving at least their Titles, and difcovering (as far as you can depend on the truth of your information) the Names of the concealed authors.
The first objection I have heard made to the Poem is, that the perfons are too obfcure for fatire. The perfons themselves, rather than allow the objection, would forgive the fatire; and if one could be tempted to afford it a serious answer, were not all assassinates, popular insurrections, the info. lence of the rabble without doors, and of domestics within, moft wrongfully chastised, if the Meanness of offenders indemnified them from punish
2 Which we have done in a Lift printed in the Appendix,
ment? On the contrary, Obscurity renders them more dangerous, as less thought of: Law can pro nounce judgment only on open facts: Morality alone can pass censure on intentions of Misch ef; fo that for secret calumny, or the arrow flying in the dark, there is no public punishment left, but what a good Writer inflicts.
The next objection is, that these sort of authors are poor.
That might be pleaded as an excuse at the Old Baily, for lesser crimes than Defamation, (for 'tis the case of almost all who are tried there) but sure it can be none here: For who will pretend that the robbing another of his Reputation supply the want of it in himself? I question not but such authors are poor, and heartily wish the objection were removed by any honest livelihood, But Poverty is here the accident, not the subject: He who describes Malice and Villainy to be pale and meagre, expresses not the least anger against Paleness or Leanness, but against Malice and Vil. lany. The Apothecary in Romeo and Juliet iş poor; but is he therefore justified in vending pois son? Not but Poverty itself becomes a just subject of satire, when it is the consequence of vice, prodigality, or neglect of one's lawful calling; for then it increases the public burden, fills the streets and highways with Robbers, and the Garrets with Clip, pers, Coiners, and Weekly Journalifts.
But admitting that two or three of thefe offend less in their morals, than in their writings ; must Poverty make nonsense sacred ? If so, the fame of bad authors would be much better consulted than that of all the good ones in the world; and not one of an hundred had ever been called by his right name.
They mistake the whole matter: It is not charity to encourage them in the way they follow, but to get them out of it; for men are not bunglers because they are poor, but they are poor because they are bunglers,
Is it not pleasant enough, to hear our authors crying out on the one hand, as if their persons and characters were too facred for fatire; and the public objecting on the other, that they are too mean even for ridicule? But whether Bread or Fame be their end, it must be allowed, our author, by and in this Poem, has mercifully given them a little of both,
There are two or three, who by their rank and fortune have no benefit from the former objections, supposing them good, and these I was sorry to fee in such company. But if, without any provocation, two or three Gentlemen will fall upon one, in an affair wherein his interest and reputation are equally embarked ; they cannot certainly, after they have been content to print themselves his enemies, complain of being put into the number of them.