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broke, deserved the lash no less than the cant of orthodoxy which prevailed in the age of Warburton. But while literary imbecility and pretension were patent to the keen glance of Pope's own intellect, in questions as to matters such as those upon which he touches in the Fourth Book, he was too apt to judge and sentence imperfect knowledge, or at best second-hand information; and the Fourth Book, though it contains passages of genuine nobility and true elevation of feeling, is unhappily not devoid of misrepresentations and perversions of which the root is to be found in ignorance rather than malice. 'I mean this new edition of the Dunciad' (containing the Fourth Book), writes Pope to Warburton, Nov. 27th, 1742, ‘as a kind of prelude or advertisement to the public, of your Commentaries on the Essays on Man, and on Criticism.... I have a particular reason to make you interest yourself in me and my writings. It will cause both them and me to make the better figure to posterity.' Posterity has judged otherwise. Dennis, Theobald and Cibber were Pope's own adversaries; but the divines and philosophers whom in the fourth Book he has held up to scorn will not permanently be judged according to the canons set up by the moral assessor of Pope's later years.]
Prefixed to the five first imperfect Editions of the DUNCIAD, in three books, printed at DUBLIN and LONDON, in octavo and duodecimo, 1727.
The PUBLISHER1 to the READER.
It will be found a true observation, tho' somewhat surprizing, that when any scandal is vented against a man of the highest distinction and character, either in the state or in literature, the public in general afford it a most quiet reception; and the larger part accept it as favourably as if it were some kindness done to themselves: whereas if a known scoundrel or blockhead but chance to be touched
The Publisher] Who he was is uncertain; but Edward Ward tells us, in his preface to Durgen, "that most judges are of opinion this "preface is not of English extraction, but Hiber"nian," &c. He means it was written by Dr. Swift, who, whether publisher or not, may be said in a sort to be author of the poem. For when he, together with Mr. Pope (for reasons specified in the preface to their Miscellanies) determined to own the most trifling pieces in which they had any hand, and to destroy all that remained in their power; the first sketch of this poem was snatched from the fire by Dr. Swift, who persuaded his friend to proceed in it, and to him it was therefore inscribed. But the occasion of printing it was as follows:
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 fury, that for half a year, or more, the common Newspapers (in most of which they had some property, as
being hired writers) were filled with the most abusive falsehoods 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 imponity, 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 slander, it sufficed to shew 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 re commend them; either the booksellers would not find their account in employing them, or the mea themselves, when discovered, want courage to proceed in so unlawful an occupation. This it was that gave birth to the Dunciad; and be thought it an happiness, that, by the late flood of slander on himself, he had acquired such a peculiar right over their Names as was necessary to his design. P.
upon, a whole legion is up in arms, and it becomes the common cause of all scribblers, booksellers, and printers whatsoever.
Not to search too deeply into the reason hereof, I 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 essays, 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 modest computation may be about a hundred thousand1 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 author of the following poem, who doubtless had either a better insight into the grounds of this clamour, or a better opinion of Mr Pope's integrity, joined 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 living3, who had not before printed, or published, some scandal against this gentleman.
How I came possest 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 must 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 distinguish or discover him: For if it bears any resemblance to that of Mr Pope, 'tis not improbable but it might be done on purpose, with a view to have it pass for his. But by the frequency of his allusions to Virgil, and a laboured (not to say affected) shortness in imitation of him, I should think him more an admirer of the Roman poet than of the Grecian, and in that not of the same taste with his friend.
I have been well informed, that this work was the labour of full six years of his life, and that he wholly retired himself from all the avocations and pleasures of the world, to attend diligently to its correction and perfection; and six years more he intended to bestow upon it, as it should seem by this verse of Statius, which was cited at the head of his manuscript,
Oh mihi bissenos multum vigilata per annos,
Hence also we learn the true title of the poem; which with the same certainty
1 about a hundred 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). "Though I grant the Dunciad a better poem of "its kind than ever was writ; yet, when I read "it with those vain-glorious encumbrances of "Notes and Remarks upon it, &c., it is amaz'ing, that you, who have writ with such mas"terly spirit upon the ruling Passion, should be so blind a slave 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). P.
the author of the following poem, &c.]
very plain irony, speaking of Mr Pope himself. P.
3 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 self-conceit, all mankind agreed to have justly entitled them to a place in the Dunciad. P.
there is certainly nothing in his style, &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 Pope. P.
5 the labour of full six years, &c.] This was also honestly and seriously believed by divers gentlemen of the Dunciad. P.
[Theb. lib. XII. v. 810.]
as we call that of Homer the Iliad, of Virgil the Æneid, of Camoens the Lusiad, we may pronounce, could have been, and can be no other than
It is styled Heroic, as being doubly so; not only with respect to its nature, which, according to the best rules of the ancients, and strictest ideas of the moderns, is critically such; but also with regard to the heroical disposition and high courage of the writer, who dared to stir up such a formidable, irritable, and implacable race of mortals.
There may arise some 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 sensible, that the poem was not made for these authors, but these authors for the poem. I should judge that they were clapped in as they rose, fresh and fresh, and changed from day to day; 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 decipher them; since when he shall have found them out, he will probably know no more of the persons than before.
Yet we judged it better to preserve them as they are, than to change them for fictitious names; by which the satire would only be multiplied, and applied to many instead of one. Had the hero, for instance, been called Codrus1, how many would have affirmed him to have been Mr T., Mr E., Sir R. B. &c. but now all that unjust scandal is saved by calling him by a name, which by good luck happens to be that of a real person.
To the FIRST EDITION with Notes, in Quarto, 1729.
It will be sufficient to say of this edition, that the reader has here a much more correct and complete copy of the DUNCIAD, than has hitherto appeared. I cannot answer but some mistakes may have slipt into it; but a vast number of others will be prevented by the names being now not only set at length, but justified by the authorities and reasons given. I make no doubt, the author's own motive to use real rather than feigned names, was his care to preserve the innocent from any false application; whereas in the former editions, which had no more than the initial letters, he was made, by keys printed here, to hurt the inoffensive; and (what was worse) to abuse his friends, by an impression at Dublin.
The commentary which attends this poem was sent me from several hands, and consequently must be unequally written; yet will have one advantage over most commentaries, that it is not made upon conjectures, or at a remote distance of time: And the reader cannot but derive one pleasure from the very Obscurity of the persons it treats of, that it partakes of the nature of a Secret, which most people love to be let into, though the men or the things be ever so inconsiderable or trivial,
Of the Persons it was judged proper to give some account: For since it is only in this monument that they must expect to survive (and here survive they will, as long as the English tongue shall remain such as it was in the reigns of Queen ANNE
1 [Codrus, a name taken from Juvenal was the designation under which Pope at an early age satirised Settle. See To the author of a Poem entitled Successio; in Miscellaneous Poems.]
and king GEORGE) it seemed but humanity to bestow a word or two upon each, just to tell what he was, what he writ, when he lived, and when he died.
If a word or two more are added upon the chief offenders, 'tis only as a paper pinned upon the breast, to mark the enormities for which they suffered; lest the correction only should be remembered, and the crime forgotten.
In some articles it was thought sufficient, barely to transcribe from Jacob, Curl, and other writers of their own rank, who were much better acquainted with them than any of the authors of this comment can pretend to be. Most of them had drawn each other's characters on certain occasions; but the few here inserted are all that could be saved from the general destruction of such works.
Of the part of Scriblerus I need say nothing; his manner is well enough known, and approved by all but those who are too much concerned to be judges.
The Imitations of the Ancients are added, to gratify those who either never read, or may have forgotten them; together with some of the parodies and allusions to the most excellent of the Moderns. If, from the frequency of the former, any man think the poem too much a Cento1, our Poet will but appear to have done the same thing in jest which Boileau did in earnest; and upon which Vida, Fracastorius, and many of the most eminent Latin poets, professedly valued themselves.
A LETTER TO THE PUBLISHER,
OCCASIONED BY THE
FIRST CORRECT EDITION OF THE DUNCIAD.
IT is with pleasure I hear, that you have procured a correct copy of the DUNCIAD, which the many surreptitious ones have rendered so necessary; and it is yet with more, that I am informed it will be attended with a COMMENTARY: a Work so requisite, that I cannot think the Author himself would have omitted it, had he approved of the first appearance of this Poem.
Such Notes as have occurred to me, I herewith send you: you will oblige me by inserting them amongst those which are, or will be, transmitted to you by others; since not only the Author's friends, but even strangers, appear engaged by humanity, to take some care of an Orphan of so much genius and spirit, which its parent seems to have abandoned from the very beginning, and suffered to step into the world naked, unguarded, and unattended.
It was upon reading some of the abusive papers lately published, that my great regard to a Person, whose Friendship I esteem as one of the chief honours of my life, and a much greater respect to Truth, than to him or any man living, engaged me in enquiries, of which the inclosed Notes are the fruit.
I perceived, that most of these authors had been (doubtless very wisely) the first aggressors. They had tried, 'till they were weary, what was to be got by railing at each other: Nobody was either concerned or surprised, if this or that scribbler was proved a dunce. But every one was curious to read what could be said to prove Mr POPE one, and was ready to pay something for such a discovery: A stratagem, which would they fairly own, it might not only reconcile them to me, but screen them from the resentment of their lawful Superiors, whom they daily abuse, only (as I charitably hope) to get that by them, which they cannot get from them.
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
' [A cento is defined by Johnson as 'a composition formed by joining scraps from other authors.']
inclination to call them bad Writers: and some had been such 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 everybody, in which not the least mention is made of any of them. And what has he done since? 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 silent, 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 secure the most innocent,-in a manner, which, though it annihilates the credit of the accusation with the just 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 act of justice to detect the Authors, not only on this account, but as many of them are the same who for several years past have made free with the greatest names in Church and State, exposed to the world the private misfortunes of Famílies, abused all, even to Women, and whose prostituted papers (for one or other party, in the unhappy divisions of their Country) have insulted the Fallen, the Friendless, the Exiled, 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 honest, open, and benefi cent man, that 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 imposing 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 sight; and as for their Writings, I have sought them (on this one occasion) in vain, in the closets and libraries of all my acquaintance. I had still 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 solemnly protest I have added nothing to the malice or absurdity of them; which it behoves me to declare, since the vouchers themselves will be so soon and so irrecoverably lost. You may in some measure prevent it, by preserving at least their Titles1, and discovering (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 persons are too obscure for satire. The persons themselves, rather than allow the objection, would forgive the satire; and if one could be tempted to afford it a serious answer, were not all assassinates, popular insurrections, the insolence of the rabble without doors, and of domestics within, most wrongfully chastised, if the Meanness of offenders indemnified them from punishment? On the contrary, Obscurity renders them more dangerous, as less thought of; Law can pronounce judgment only on open facts; Morality alone can pass censure on intentions of mischief; so that for secret calumny,
Which we have done in a List printed in the Appendix. P.