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racter, either in the state or literature, the public in general afford it a moft quiet reception ; and the larger part accept it as favourably as if it were some kindness done to themselves: whereas if a known scound.el or blockhead but chance to be touched upon, a whole legion is
and it becomes the common cause of all scriblers, booksellers, and printers whatsoever.
Not to search too deeply into the reason hereof, I
There was published in those Miscellanies, a Treatise of the Bathos, or Art of Sinking in Poetry, in which was a chapter, where the species of bad writers were ranged in classes, and initial letters of names prefixed, for the most part at random. But such was the Number of Poets eminent in that art, that some one or other took every letter to himself. All fell into so violent a fu. ry, that for half a year, or more, the common News-papers (in most of which they had some property, as being hired writers) were filled with the most abusive falfhoods and scurrilities they could possibly devise ; a liberty no ways to be wondered at in those people, and in those papers, that, for many years, during the uncontrolled Licence of the press, had aspersed almost all the great characters of the age ; and this with impunity, their own persons and names being utterly secret and obscure. This gave Mr. Pope the thought, that he had now some opportunity of doing good, by detecting and dragging into light these common Enemies of mankind ; since to invalidate this universal Nander, it fufficed to thew what contemptible men were the authors of it. He was not without hopes, that by manifesting the dulness of those who had only malice to recommend them; either the booksellers would not find their account in employing them, or the men themselves, when discovered, want courage to proceed in so unlawful an cupation. This it was that gave birth to the Dunciad; and he thought it an happiness, that by the late Aood of Nander on him. self, he had acquired fuch a peculiar right over their Names as was necessary to his design.
will only observe as a fact, that every week for these two months past, the town has been persecuted with
pamphlets, advertisements, letters, and weekly efsays, not only against the wit and writings, but against the character and person of Mr. Pope. And that of all those men who have received pleasure from his works, which by modeft computation may be about a hundred thousand in these kingdoms of England and Ireland ; (not to mention Jersey, Guernsey, the Orcades, those in the new world, and foreigners who have translated him into their languages) of all this number not a man hath stood up to say one word in his defence.
The only exception is the d author of the fol. lowing poem, who doubtless had either a better in
b pamphlets, advertisements, &c.] See the Lift of those anonymous papers, with their dates and authors annexed, inserted before the Poem.
about a bundred thousand] It is surprising with what stupidity this preface, which is almost a continued irony, was taken by those authors. All such passages as these were understood by Curl, Cook, Cibber, and others, to be serious. Hear the Laureate (Letter to Mr. Pope, p. 9.) “ Tho'I grant the Dunciad a better poem " of its kind than ever was writ; yet, when I read it with those 6 vain-glorious encumbrances of Notes and Remarks upon it, &c.
-it is amazing, that you, who have writ with such master“ ly spirit upon the ruling Passion, should be so blind a Nave to
your own, as not to see how far a low avarice of Praise," &c. (taking it for granted that the notes of Scriblerus and others, were the author's own.)
The author of the following poem, &c.] A very plain irony, speaking of Mr. Pope himself.
sight into the grounds of this clamour, or a better opinion of Mr. Pope's integrity, join'd with a greater personal love for him, than any other of his numerous friends and admirers.
Farther, that he was in his peculiar intimacy, appears from the knowledge he manifests of the most private authors of all the anonymous pieces against him, and from his having in this poem attacked no man living, who had not before printed, or published, fome scandal against this gentleman.
How I came pofleft of it, is no concern to the reader; but it would have been a wrong to him had I detained the publication; since those names which are its chief ornaments die off daily so fast, as muft render it too soon unintelligible. If it provoke the author to give us a more perfect edition, I have my end.
Who he is I cannot say, and (which is a great pity) there is certainly nothing in his style and manner of writing, which can diftinguish or discover him: For if it bears any resemblance to that of
• The publisher in these words went a little too far; but it is certain, whatever names the reader finds that are unknown to him, are of such ; and the exception is only of two or three, whose dulness, impudent scurrility or felf-conceit, all mankind agreed to have justly entitled them to a place in the Dunciad.
f There is certainly nothing in his Ayle, &c.] This irony had small effect in concealing the author. The Dunciad, imperfect as it was, had not been published two days, but the whole Town gave it to Mr. Poje.
Mr. Pope, 'tis not improbable but it might be done
Ob mihi billenes multum vigilata per annos,
8 the labour of full fix years, &c.) This also was honestly and seriously believed by divers gentlemen of the Dunciad. J. Ralph, pref, to Sawney. • We are told it was the labour of six years, 5 with the utmott affiduity and application : It is no great com“pliment to the author's sense, to have employed so large a
part of his life,” &c. So also Ward, pref, to Durgen, “ Thç “ Dunciad, as the publisher very wisely confesses, coft the author “ fix years retirement from all the pleasures of life; though it is “ somewhat difficult to conceive, from either its bulk or beauty, “ that it could be so long in hatching, &c. But the length of « time and closenefs of application were mentioned to prepossess 66 the reader with a good opinion of it."
They just as well understood what Scriblerus said of the poem. * The prefacer to Curl's key, P. 3. took this word to be really Hence also we learn the true title of the poem ; which with the same certainty as we call that of Homer the Iliad, of Virgil the Æneid, of Camoens the Luhad, we may pronounce, could have been, and can be no other than
The DUNCIAD. It is styled Heroic, as being doubly fo; not only with respect to its nature, which, according to the best rules of the ancients, and stričest ideas of the moderns, is critically fuch; but also with regard to the heroical disposition and high courage of the writer, who dar'd to itir up such a formidable, irritable, and implacable race of mortals.
There may arise fome obscurity in chronology from the Names in the poem, by the inevitable removal of some authors, and insertion of others, in their niches. For whoever will consider the unity of the whole design, will be fenfible, that the poem nues not made for these authors, but these authors for the poem. I should judge that they were clapp'd in as they rose, fresh and fresh, and chang'd from day today ; in like manner as when the old boughs wither, we thrust new ones into a chimney.
I would not have the reader too much troubled or anxious, if he cannot decypher them; fince when
in Statius : “ By a quibble on the word Duncia, the Dunciad is • formed,” Mr. Ward also follows him in the same opinion,