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PERSONS CELEBRATED IN THIS POEM.
(The first number shows the Book, the second the Verse.)
De Foe, Daniel, i. 103; ii. 147.
Scholiasts, iv. 231.
by our author, ii. 314.
NOTES TO THE DUNCIAD.
TITLE, SUBJECT, AND HERO OF THE POEM.
The DUNCIAD, sic MS. It may well be disputed whether this be a right reading: Ought it not rather to be spelled Dunceiad, as the etymology evidently demands? Dunce with an e, therefore Dunceiad with an e. That accurate and punctual man of letters, the restorer of Shakespear, constantly observes the preservation of this very letter e, in spelling the name of his beloved author, and not like his common careless editors, with the omission of one, nay sometimes of two ee's (as Shakspear) which is utterly un pardon. able. “Nor is the neglect of a single letter so trivial as to some it may appear; the alteration whereof in a learned language is an achievement that brings honour to the critic who advances it; and Dr. Bentley will be remembered to posterity for his performances of this sort, as long as the world shall have any esteem for the remains of Menander and Philemon.”—THEOBALD.
This is surely a slip in the learned author of the foregoing note; there having been since produced by an accurate antiquary, an autograph of Shakspeare himself, whereby it appears that he spelled his own name without the first e. And upon this authority it was, that those most critical curators of his monument in Westminster Abbey erased the former wrong reading, and restored the true spelling on a new piece of old Egyptian granite. Nor for this only do they deserve our thanks, but for exhibiting on the same monument the first specimen of an edition of an author in marble; where (as may be seen on comparing the tomb with the book), in the space of five lines, two words and a whole verse are changed, and it is to be hoped will there stand, and outlast whatever hath been hitherto done in paper; as for the future, our learned sister University (the other eye of England) is taking care to perpetuate a total new Shakespear at the Clarendon press.-BENTL.
It is to be noted, that this great critic also has omitted one circumstance; which is, that the inscription with the name of Shakspeare was intended to be placed on the marble scroll to which he points with his hand; instead of which it is now placed behind his back, and that specimen of an edition is put on the scroll, which indeed Shakspeare hath great reason to point at.
ANON. Though I have as just a value for the letter e as any grammarian living, and the same affection for the name of this poem as any criti, for that of his author, yet cannot it induce me to agree with those who would add yet another e to it, and call it the Dunceiade ; which being a French and foreign termination, is no way proper to a word entirely English and vernacular. One e therefore in this case is right, and two e's wrong. Yet upon the whole I shall follow the manuscript, and print it without any e at all; moved thereto by authority (at all times, with critics, equal, if not superior to reason). In which method of proceeding I can never enough praise my good friend, the exact Mr. Thomas Hearne, who, if any word occur which to him and all man. kind is evidently wrong, yet keeps he it in the text with due reverence, and only remarks in the margin, sic MS. In like manner we shall not amend this error in the title itself, but only note it obiter, to evince to the learned that it was not our fault, nor any effect of our ignorance or inattention.-Scriblerus.
This poem was written in the year 1726. In the next year an imperfect edition was published at Dublin, and reprinted at London in twelves; another at Dublin, and another at London in octavo ; and three others in twelves the same year. But there was no perfect edition before that of London in quarto, which was attended with notes. -SCHOL. VET.
It was expressly confessed in the preface to the first edition that this poem was not published by the author himself. It was printed originally in a foreign country: and what foreign country? Why, one notorious for blunders: whel finding blanks only instead of proper names, these blunderers filled them up at their pleasure.
The very hero of the poem hath been mistaken to this hour, so that we are obliged to open our notes with a discovery who he really was. We learn from the former editor, that this piece was presented by the hands of Sir Robert Walpole to King George II. Now the author directly tells us, his hero is the man
who brings The Smithfield muses to the ear of kings. And it is notorious who was the person on whom this prince conferred the honour of the laurel.
It appears as plainly from the apostrophe to the great in the third verse, that Tibbald could not be the person, who was never an author in fashion, or caressed by the great; whereas this single characteristic is sufficient to point out the true hero; who, above all other poets of his time, was the peculiar delight and chosen companion of the nobility of England ; and wrote, as he himself tells us, certain of his works at the earnest desire of persons of quality.
Lastly, the sixth verse afiords full proof; this poet being the only one who was universally known to have had a son so exactly like him in his poetical, theatrical, political, and moral capacities, that it could justly be said of him,
Still Dunce the second reign'd like Dunce the first.-Bent.1
1 Alluding to a verse of Mr. Dryden, not in Mac Fleckno (as is ignorantly said in the Key to the Danciad, p. 1, [Curli's satirical work] but in his verses to Mr. Congreve,
And Tom the second reigns like Tom the first."-POPE. [Wakefield conjectured that this allusion to Dunce the Second was a “satirical dash” at the reigning sovereign, George the Second. Pope was always making satirical dashes at the court, yet he seems to have been pleased at Walpole's presenting the Dunciad to George the Second, who was as unable to enter into the spirit of the poem as Pope's own gardener, John Serle.]