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IN FOUR BOOKS;
THE PROLEGOMENA OF SCRIBLERUS,
THE HYPERCRITICS OF ARISTARCHUS,
[The circumstances connected with the composition and publication of this most elaborate of Pope's satires have already been related in the sketch of the poet's life. In the edition of 1735 (Poet. Works, vol. ii.), Pope transferred the whole of the notes to the end of the volume. If this was deemed necessary, though but in one impression, to free the ample quarto pages, it is certainly more requisite in editions of lesser size, in which the notes overflow from one page to another, and perplex instead of illustrating the text. Indeed, in most of the popular editions, by much the larger proportion of the notes are altogether omitted. We have to some extent adopted the plan sanctioned in one instance by the poet himself. We have detached the more , general and lengthy annotations-such as could best bear transplanting (a few are better rooted out), and have printed them at the end of the poem, with the verses to which they refer, and with a title prefixed to each. In a letter to Swift, Pope has described the nature and object of the “ Notes Vari
with which the first complete edition of the Dunciad was accompanied “I desire you," he says,
to read over the text and make a few (notes) in any way you like best, whether dry raillery upon the style and way of commenting of trivial critics; or humorous, upon the authors of the poem; or historical, of persons, places, times; or explanatory; or collecting the parallel passages of the ancients.” Warburton states that Swift complied with his friend's request, but a comparison of editions subsequent to that of 1729 shows that he did little. The other associates of the Scriblerus Club-Arbuthnot and Gay, with the occasional help of Cleland—were contributors. The various learning and antiquarian lore of Arbuthnot must have been invaluable, but the assistance of all these friendly commentators was of very small amount, we suspect, compared with the
labours of the poet himself. He it was, who had wrongs, real or fanciful, to avenge, enemies to attack, and triumphs to gain. "He delighted to vex the dunces," as Johnson said ; but he had more delight in seeing how well he could vex them. He put forth all his strength in the effort, and his success was commensurate with the labour. None of his works seem to have gone so rapidly through numerous editions; and in Dublin, according to Swift, it was read as eagerly as in London. Additions and alterations were made from time to time both in the text and notes. To the fourth book, and to the poem in its completed state, Warburton gave zealous assistance, overloading the text with his curious and often far-fetched comments, and adding some of his own critical feuds and enmities to the ample store accumulated by the poet. The edition of 1743, as the last seen by the author, must always be held to be the standard.
The conclusion of the Dunciad is one of the noblest passages in the whole of Pope's poetry-grand in conception, and rapid and brilliant in execution ; and it may be interesting to show the various stages of progress through which this burst of lofty declamation passed, even after it had gone into the hands of the printer, before it arrived at its final perfection :
FROM EDITION OF 1728.
Thus when these signs declare the mighty year,
FROM EDITION OF 1729.
Signs following signs lead on the mighty year;
Philosophy, that touch'd the heavens before,
"Enough! enough !" the raptured monarch cries
FROM EDITION OF 1742.
vain-the all-composing hour
We subjoin the Prefaces and Advertisements prefixed to the different editions. It will be recollected that all the notes not included within brackets were published by Pope and written by him or his friends.]