The Poetry Corner

The Dunciad: Preface, letters and Notes

By Alexander Pope

The Dunciad. IN FOUR BOOKS. 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 inquiries, of which the enclosed 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 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 families, 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 beneficent 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 titles, 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, 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 Bailey for lesser crimes than defamation (for 'tis the case of almost all who are tried there), but sure it can be none: for who will pretend that the robbing another of his reputation supplies 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 villany to be pale and meagre, expresses not the least anger against paleness or leanness, but against malice and villany. The apothecary in Romeo and Juliet is poor; but is he therefore justified in vending poison? 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 clippers, coiners, and weekly journalists. But admitting that two or three of these 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 a 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 sacred for satire; 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 see 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. Others, I am told, pretend to have been once his friends. Surely they are their enemies who say so, since nothing can be more odious than to treat a friend as they have done. But of this I cannot persuade myself, when I consider the constant and eternal aversion of all bad writers to a good one. Such as claim a merit from being his admirers, I would gladly ask, if it lays him under a personal obligation? At that rate, he would be the most obliged humble servant in the world. I dare swear for these in particular, he never desired them to be his admirers, nor promised in return to be theirs: that had truly been a sign he was of their acquaintance; but would not the malicious world have suspected such an approbation of some motive worse than ignorance in the author of the Essay on Criticism? Be it as it will, the reasons of their admiration and of his contempt are equally subsisting, for his works and theirs are the very same that they were. One, therefore, of their assertions I believe may be true--'That he has a contempt for their writings.' And there is another, which would probably be sooner allowed by himself than by any good judge beside-- 'That his own have found too much success with the public.' But as it cannot consist with his modesty to claim this as justice, it lies not on him, but entirely on the public, to defend its own judgment. There remains what in my opinion might seem a better plea for these people than any they have made use of. If obscurity or poverty were to exempt a man from satire, much more should folly or dulness, which are still more involuntary; nay, as much so as personal deformity. But even this will not help them: deformity becomes an object of ridicule when a man sets up for being handsome; and so must dulness when he sets up for a wit. They are not ridiculed because ridicule in itself is, or ought to be, a pleasure, but because it is just to undeceive and vindicate the honest and unpretending part of mankind from imposition, because particular interest ought to yield to general, and a great number who are not naturally fools ought never to be made so, in complaisance to a few who are. Accordingly we find that in all ages, all vain pretenders, were they ever so poor or ever so dull, have been constantly the topics of the most candid satirists, from the Codrus of Juvenal to the Damon of Boileau. Having mentioned Boileau, the greatest poet and most judicious critic of his age and country, admirable for his talents, and yet perhaps more admirable for his judgment in the proper application of them, I cannot help remarking the resemblance betwixt him and our author, in qualities, fame, and fortune, in the distinctions shown them by their superiors, in the general esteem of their equals, and in their extended reputation amongst foreigners; in the latter of which ours has met with the better fate, as he has had for his translators persons of the most eminent rank and abilities in their respective nations. But the resemblance holds in nothing more than in their being equally abused by the ignorant pretenders to poetry of their times, of which not the least memory will remain but in their own writings, and in the notes made upon them. What Boileau has done in almost all his poems, our author has only in this: I dare answer for him he will do it in no more; and on this principle, of attacking few but who had slandered him, he could not have done it at all, had he been confined from censuring obscure and worthless persons, for scarce any other were his enemies. However, as the parity is so remarkable, I hope it will continue to the last; and if ever he shall give us an edition of this poem himself, I may see some of them treated as gently, on their repentance or better merit, as Perrault and Quinault were at last by Boileau. In one point I must be allowed to think the character of our English poet the more amiable. He has not been a follower of fortune or success; he has lived with the great without flattery--been a friend to men in power, without pensions, from whom, as he asked, so he received no favour but what was done him in his friends. As his satires were the more just for being delayed, so were his panegyrics; bestowed only on such persons as he had familiarly known, only for such virtues as he had long observed in them, and only at such times as others cease to praise, if not begin to calumniate them--I mean, when out of power or out of fashion. A satire, therefore, on writers so notorious for the contrary practice, became no man so well as himself; as none, it is plain, was so little in their friendships, or so much in that of those whom they had most abused--namely, the greatest and best of all parties. Let me add a further reason, that, though engaged in their friendships, he never espoused their animosities; and can almost singly challenge this honour, not to have written a line of any man, which, through guilt, through shame, or through fear, through variety of fortune, or change of interests, he was ever unwilling to own. I shall conclude with remarking, what a pleasure it must be to every reader of humanity to see all along, that our author in his very laughter is not indulging his own ill-nature, but only punishing that of others. As to his poem, those alone are capable of doing it justice, who, to use the words of a great writer, know how hard it is (with regard both to his subject and his manner) vetustis dare novitatem, obsoletis nitorem, obscuris lucem, fastiditis gratiam.--I am Your most humble servant, WILLIAM CLELAND.[133] ST JAMES'S, Dec. 22, 1728. MARTINUS SCRIBLERUS HIS PROLEGOMENA AND ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE DUNCIAD: WITH THE HYPERCRITICS OF ARISTARCHUS. DENNIS, REMARKS ON PR. ARTHUR. I cannot but think it the most reasonable thing in the world to distinguish good writers, by discouraging the bad. Nor is it an ill-natured thing, in relation even to the very persons upon whom the reflections are made. It is true, it may deprive them, a little the sooner, of a short profit and a transitory reputation; but then it may have a good effect, and oblige them (before it be too late) to decline that for which they are so very unfit, and to have recourse to something in which they may be more successful. CHARACTER OF MR P., 1716. The persons whom Boileau has attacked in his writings have been for the most part authors, and most of those authors, poets: and the censures he hath passed upon them have been confirmed by all Europe. GILDON, PREF. TO HIS NEW REHEARSAL. It is the common cry of the poetasters of the town, and their fautors, that it is an ill-natured thing to expose the pretenders to wit and poetry. The judges and magistrates may, with full as good reason, be reproached with ill-nature for putting the laws in execution against a thief or impostor. The same will hold in the republic of letters, if the critics and judges will let every ignorant pretender to scribbling pass on the world. THEOBALD, LETTER TO MIST, JUNE 22, 1728. Attacks may be levelled either against failures in genius, or against the pretensions of writing without one. CONCANEN, DED. TO THE AUTHOR OF THE DUNCIAD. A satire upon dulness is a thing that has been used and allowed in all ages. Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, wicked scribbler. TESTIMONIES OF AUTHORS CONCERNING OUR POET AND HIS WORKS. M. SCRIBLERUS LECTORI S. Before we present thee with our exercitations on this most delectable poem (drawn from the many volumes of our Adversaria on modern authors) we shall here, according to the laudable usage of editors, collect the various judgments of the learned concerning our Poet: various indeed, not only of different authors, but of the same author at different seasons. Nor shall we gather only the testimonies of such eminent wits as would of course descend to posterity, and consequently be read without our collection; but we shall likewise, with incredible labour, seek out for divers others, which, but for this our diligence, could never, at the distance of a few months, appear to the eye of the most curious. Hereby thou may'st not only receive the delectation of variety, but also arrive at a more certain judgment, by a grave and circumspect comparison of the witnesses with each other, or of each with himself. Hence also, thou wilt be enabled to draw reflections, not only of a critical, but a moral nature, by being let into many particulars of the person as well as genius, and of the fortune as well as merit, of our author: in which, if I relate some things of little concern peradventure to thee, and some of as little even to him, I entreat thee to consider how minutely all true critics and commentators are wont to insist upon such, and how material they seem to themselves, if to none other. Forgive me, gentle reader, if (following learned example) I ever and anon become tedious: allow me to take the same pains to find whether my author were good or bad, well or ill-natured, modest or arrogant; as another, whether his author was fair or brown, short or tall, or whether he wore a coat or a cassock. We purposed to begin with his life, parentage, and education: but as to these, even his cotemporaries do exceedingly differ. One saith,[134] he was educated at home; another,[135] that he was bred at St Omer's by Jesuits; a third,[136] not at St Omer's, but at Oxford; a fourth,[137] that he had no University education at all. Those who allow him to be bred at home differ as much concerning his tutor: one saith,[138] he was kept by his father on purpose; a second,[139] that he was an itinerant priest; a third,[140] that he was a parson; one[141] calleth him a secular clergyman of the Church of Rome; another,[142] a monk. As little do they agree about his father, whom one[143] supposeth, like the father of Hesiod, a tradesman or merchant; another,[144] a husbandman; another,[145] a hatter, &c. Nor has an author been wanting to give our Poet such a father as Apuleius hath to Plato, Jamblichus to Pythagoras, and divers to Homer, namely, a demon: For thus Mr Gildon[146]: 'Certain it is, that his original is not from Adam, but the Devil; and that he wanteth nothing but horns and tail to be the exact resemblance of his infernal Father.' Finding, therefore, such contrariety of opinions, and (whatever be ours of this sort of generation) not being fond to enter into controversy, we shall defer writing the life of our Poet, till authors can determine among themselves what parents or education he had, or whether he had any education or parents at all. Proceed we to what is more certain, his Works, though not less uncertain the judgments concerning them; beginning with his Essay on Criticism, of which hear first the most ancient of critics-- MR JOHN DENNIS. 'His precepts are false or trivial, or both; his thoughts are crude and abortive, his expressions absurd, his numbers harsh and unmusical, his rhymes trivial and common:--instead of majesty, we have something that is very mean; instead of gravity, something that is very boyish; and instead of perspicuity and lucid order, we have but too often obscurity and confusion.' And in another place: 'What rare numbers are here! Would not one swear that this youngster had espoused some antiquated Muse, who had sued out a divorce from some superannuated sinner, upon account of impotence, and who, being poxed by her former spouse, has got the gout in her decrepid age, which makes her hobble so damnably.'[147] No less peremptory is the censure of our hypercritical historian, MR OLDMIXON. 'I dare not say anything of the Essay on Criticism in verse; but if any more curious reader has discovered in it something new which is not in Dryden's prefaces, dedications, and his Essay on Dramatic Poetry, not to mention the French critics, I should be very glad to have the benefit of the discovery.'[148] He is followed (as in fame, so in judgment) by the modest and simple-minded MR LEONARD WELSTED, who, out of great respect to our poet not naming him, doth yet glance at his essay, together with the Duke of Buckingham's, and the criticisms of Dryden, and of Horace, which he more openly taxeth: 'As to the numerous treatises, essays, arts, &c., both in verse and prose, that have been written by the moderns on this ground-work, they do but hackney the same thoughts over again, making them still more trite. Most of their pieces are nothing but a pert, insipid heap of common-place. Horace has even, in his Art of Poetry, thrown out several things which plainly shew he thought an Art of Poetry was of no use, even while he was writing one.'[149] To all which great authorities, we can only oppose that of MR ADDISON. 'The Art of Criticism (saith he), which was published some months since, is a master-piece in its kind. The observations follow one another, like those in Horace's Art of Poetry, without that methodical regularity which would have been requisite in a prose writer. They are some of them uncommon, but such as the reader must assent to, when he sees them explained with that ease and perspicuity in which they are delivered. As for those which are the most known and the most received, they are placed in so beautiful a light, and illustrated with such apt allusions, that they have in them all the graces of novelty, and make the reader, who was before acquainted with them, still more convinced of their truth and solidity. And here give me leave to mention what Monsieur Boileau has so well enlarged upon in the preface to his works--that wit and fine writing doth not consist so much in advancing things that are new, as in giving things that are known an agreeable turn. It is impossible for us, who live in the latter ages of the world, to make observations in criticism, morality, or any art or science, which have not been touched upon by others; we have little else left us but to represent the common sense of mankind in more strong, more beautiful, or more uncommon lights. If a reader examines Horace's Art of Poetry, he will find but few precepts in it which he may not meet with in Aristotle, and which were not commonly known by all the poets of the Augustan age. His way of expressing and applying them, not his invention of them, is what we are chiefly to admire.' 'Longinus, in his Reflections, has given us the same kind of sublime which he observes in the several passages that occasioned them: I cannot but take notice that our English author has, after the same manner, exemplified several of the precepts in the very precepts themselves.' He then produces some instances of a particular beauty in the numbers, and concludes with saying, 'that there are three poems in our tongue of the same nature, and each a master-piece in its kind--the Essay on Translated Verse, the Essay on the Art of Poetry, and the Essay on Criticism.'[150] Of WINDSOR FOREST, positive is the judgment of the affirmative MR JOHN DENNIS, 'That it is a wretched rhapsody, impudently writ in emulation of the Cooper's Hill of Sir John Denham.[151] The author of it is obscure, is ambiguous, is affected, is temerarious, is barbarous.'[152] But the author of the Dispensary, DR GARTH, in the preface to his poem of Claremont, differs from this opinion: 'Those who have seen these two excellent poems of Cooper's Hill and Windsor Forest--the one written by Sir John Denham, the other by Mr Pope--will shew a great deal of candour if they approve of this.' Of the Epistle of ELOISA, we are told by the obscure writer of a poem called Sawney, 'That because Prior's Henry and Emma charmed the finest tastes, our author writ his Eloise in opposition to it, but forgot innocence and virtue: if you take away her tender thoughts and her fierce desires, all the rest is of no value.' In which, methinks, his judgment resembleth that of a French tailor on a villa and gardens by the Thames: 'All this is very fine, but take away the river and it is good for nothing.' But very contrary hereunto was the opinion of MR PRIOR himself, saying in his Alma-- 'O Abelard! ill-fated youth, Thy tale will justify this truth. But well I weet thy cruel wrong Adorns a nobler poet's song: Dan Pope, for thy misfortune grieved, With kind concern and skill has weaved A silken web; and ne'er shall fade Its colours: gently has he laid The mantle o'er thy sad distress, And Venus shall the texture bless,'[153] &c. Come we now to his translation of the ILIAD, celebrated by numerous pens, yet shall it suffice to mention the indefatigable SIR RICHARD BLACKMORE, KT., who (though otherwise a severe censurer of our author) yet styleth this a 'laudable translation.'[154] That ready writer, MR OLDMIXON, in his forementioned essay, frequently commends the same. And the painful MR LEWIS THEOBALD thus extols it: 'The spirit of Homer breathes all through this translation.--I am in doubt whether I should most admire the justness to the original, or the force and beauty of the language, or the sounding variety of the numbers: but when I find all these meet, it puts me in mind of what the poet says of one of his heroes, that he alone raised and flung with ease a weighty stone, that two common men could not lift from the ground; just so, one single person has performed in this translation what I once despaired to have seen done by the force of several masterly hands.'[155] Indeed, the same gentleman appears to have changed his sentiment in his Essay on the Art of Sinking in Reputation (printed in Mist's Journal, March 30, 1728,) where he says thus:--'In order to sink in reputation, let him take into his head to descend into Homer (let the world wonder, as it will, how the devil he got there), and pretend to do him into English, so his version denote his neglect of the manner how.' Strange variation! We are told in MIST'S JOURNAL, JUNE 8, 'That this translation of the Iliad was not in all respects conformable to the fine taste of his friend, Mr Addison; insomuch that he employed a younger Muse in an undertaking of this kind, which he supervised himself.' Whether Mr Addison did find it conformable to his taste or not, best appears from his own testimony the year following its publication, in these words: MR ADDISON, FREEHOLDER, NO. 40. 'When I consider myself as a British freeholder, I am in a particular manner pleased with the labours of those who have improved our language with the translations of old Greek and Latin authors.--We have already most of their historians in our own tongue, and what is more for the honour of our language, it has been taught to express with elegance the greatest of their poets in each nation. The illiterate among our own countrymen may learn to judge from Dryden's Virgil of the most perfect epic performance. And those parts of Homer which have been published already by Mr Pope, give us reason to think that the Iliad will appear in English with as little disadvantage to that immortal poem.' As to the rest, there is a slight mistake, for this younger Muse was an elder: nor was the gentleman (who is a friend of our author) employed by Mr Addison to translate it after him, since he saith himself that he did it before.[156] Contrariwise that Mr Addison engaged our author in this work appeareth by declaration thereof in the preface to the Iliad, printed some time before his death, and by his own letters of October 26, and November 2, 1713, where he declares it his opinion that no other person was equal to it. Next comes his Shakspeare on the stage: 'Let him (quoth one, whom I take to be MR THEOBALD, MIST'S JOURNAL, JUNE 8, 1728,) publish such an author as he has least studied, and forget to discharge even the dull duty of an editor. In this project let him lend the bookseller his name (for a competent sum of money) to promote the credit of an exorbitant subscription.' Gentle reader, be pleased to cast thine eye on the proposal below quoted, and on what follows (some months after the former assertion) in the same journalist of June 8. 'The bookseller proposed the book by subscription, and raised some thousands of pounds for the same: I believe the gentleman did not share in the profits of this extravagant subscription. 'After the Iliad, he undertook (saith MIST'S JOURNAL, JUNE 8, 1728,) the sequel of that work, the Odyssey; and having secured the success by a numerous subscription, he employed some underlings to perform what, according to his proposals, should come from his own hands.' To which heavy charge we can in truth oppose nothing but the words of MR POPE'S PROPOSAL FOR THE ODYSSEY, (PRINTED BY J. WATTS, JAN. 10, 1724.) 'I take this occasion to declare that the subscription for Shakspeare belongs wholly to Mr Tonson: And that the benefit of this proposal is not solely for my own use, but for that of two of my friends, who have assisted me in this work.' But these very gentlemen are extolled above our poet himself in another of Mist's Journals, March 30, 1728, saying, 'That he would not advise Mr Pope to try the experiment again of getting a great part of a book done by assistants, lest those extraneous parts should unhappily ascend to the sublime, and retard the declension of the whole.' Behold! these underlings are become good writers! If any say, that before the said proposals were printed, the subscription was begun without declaration of such assistance, verily those who set it on foot, or (as their term is) secured it, to wit, the Right Honourable the Lord Viscount Harcourt, were he living, would testify, and the Right Honourable the Lord Bathurst, now living, doth testify the same is a falsehood. Sorry I am, that persons professing to be learned, or of whatever rank of authors, should either falsely tax, or be falsely taxed. Yet let us, who are only reporters, be impartial in our citations, and proceed. MIST'S JOURNAL, JUNE 8, 1728. 'Mr Addison raised this author from obscurity, obtained him the acquaintance and friendship of the whole body of our nobility, and transferred his powerful interests with those great men to this rising bard, who frequently levied by that means unusual contributions on the public.' Which surely cannot be, if, as the author of The Dunciad Dissected reporteth, 'Mr Wycherley had before introduced him into a familiar acquaintance with the greatest peers and brightest wits then living.' 'No sooner (saith the same journalist) was his body lifeless, but this author, reviving his resentment, libelled the memory of his departed friend; and, what was still more heinous, made the scandal public.' Grievous the accusation! unknown the accuser! the person accused no witness in his own cause; the person, in whose regard accused, dead! But if there be living any one nobleman whose friendship, yea, any one gentleman whose subscription Mr Addison procured to our author, let him stand forth that truth may appear! Amicus Plato, amicus Socrates, sed magis amica veritas. In verity, the whole story of the libel is a lie. Witness those persons of integrity, who, several years before Mr Addison's decease, did see and approve of the said verses, in nowise a libel but a friendly rebuke sent privately in our author's own hand to Mr Addison himself, and never made public, till after their own journals and Curll had printed the same. One name alone, which I am here authorised to declare, will sufficiently evince this truth, that of the Eight Honourable the Earl of Burlington. Next is he taxed with a crime (in the opinion of some authors, I doubt, more heinous than any in morality) to wit, plagiarism, from the inventive and quaint-conceited JAMES MOORE SMITH, GENT. 'Upon reading the third volume of Pope's Miscellanies, I found five lines which I thought excellent; and happening to praise them, a gentleman produced a modern comedy (the Rival Modes) published last year, where were the same verses to a tittle. These gentlemen are undoubtedly the first plagiaries that pretend to make a reputation by stealing from a man's works in his own life-time, and out of a public print.'[157] Let us join to this what is written by the author of the Rival Modes, the said Mr James Moore Smith, in a letter to our author himself, who had informed him, a month before that play was acted, Jan. 27, 1726-7, that 'these verses, which he had before given him leave to insert in it, would be known for his, some copies being got abroad. He desires, nevertheless, that since the lines had been read in his comedy to several, Mr P. would not deprive it of them,' &c. Surely if we add the testimonies of the Lord Bolingbroke, of the lady to whom the said verses were originally addressed, of Hugh Bethel, Esq., and others, who knew them as our author's, long before the said gentleman composed his play, it is hoped the ingenuous that affect not error will rectify their opinion by the suffrage of so honourable personages. And yet followeth another charge, insinuating no less than his enmity both to Church and State, which could come from no other informer than the said MR JAMES MOORE SMITH. 'The Memoirs of a Parish Clerk was a very dull and unjust abuse of a person who wrote in defence of our religion and constitution, and who has been dead many years.'[158] This seemeth also most untrue, it being known to divers that these memoirs were written at the seat of the Lord Harcourt in Oxfordshire, before that excellent person (Bishop Burnet's) death, and many years before the appearance of that history of which they are pretended to be an abuse. Most true it is that Mr Moore had such a design, and was himself the man who pressed Dr Arbuthnot and Mr Pope to assist him therein; and that he borrowed those memoirs of our author, when that history came forth, with intent to turn them to such abuse. But being able to obtain from our author but one single hint, and either changing his mind, or having more mind than ability, he contented himself to keep the said memoirs, and read them as his own to all his acquaintance. A noble person there is, into whose company Mr Pope once chanced to introduce him, who well remembereth the conversation of Mr Moore to have turned upon the 'contempt he had for the work of that reverend prelate, and how full he was of a design he declared himself to have of exposing it.' This noble person is the Earl of Peterborough. Here in truth should we crave pardon of all the foresaid right honourable and worthy personages, for having mentioned them in the same page with such weekly riff-raff railers and rhymers, but that we had their ever-honoured commands for the same; and that they are introduced not as witnesses in the controversy, but as witnesses that cannot be controverted; not to dispute, but to decide. Certain it is, that dividing our writers into two classes, of such who were acquaintance, and of such who were strangers to our author; the former are those who speak well, and the other those who speak evil of him. Of the first class, the most noble JOHN DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM sums up his character in these lines: 'And yet so wondrous, so sublime a thing, As the great Iliad, scarce could make me sing, Unless I justly could at once commend A good companion, and as firm a friend; One moral, or a mere well-natured deed, Can all desert in sciences exceed.'[159] So also is he deciphered by the honourable SIMON HARCOURT. 'Say, wondrous youth, what column wilt thou choose, What laurell'd arch, for thy triumphant Muse? Though each great ancient court thee to his shrine, Though every laurel through the dome be thine. Go to the good and just, an awful train! Thy soul's delight.'[160] Recorded in like manner for his virtuous disposition and gentle bearing, by the ingenious MR WALTER HART, in this apostrophe: 'Oh! ever worthy, ever crown'd with praise! Bless'd in thy life, and bless'd in all thy lays. Add, that the Sisters every thought refine, And even thy life be faultless as thy line. Yet Envy still with fiercer rage pursues, Obscures the virtue, and defames the Muse. A soul like thine, in pain, in grief, resign'd, Views with just scorn the malice of mankind.'[161] The witty and moral satirist, DR EDWARD YOUNG, wishing some check to the corruption and evil manners of the times, calleth out upon our poet to undertake a task so worthy of his virtue: 'Why slumbers Pope, who leads the Muses' train, Nor hears that Virtue, which he loves, complain?'[162] MR MALLET, in his epistle on Verbal Criticism: 'Whose life, severely scann'd, transcends his lays; For wit supreme is but his second praise.' MR HAMMOND, that delicate and correct imitator of Tibullus, in his Love Elegies, Elegy xiv.: 'Now, fired by Pope and Virtue, leave the age, In low pursuit of self-undoing wrong, And trace the author through his moral page, Whose blameless life still answers to his song.' MR THOMSON, in his elegant and philosophical poem of the Seasons: 'Although not sweeter his own Homer sings, Yet is his life the more endearing song.' To the same tune also singeth that learned clerk of Suffolk, MR WILLIAM BROOME. 'Thus, nobly rising in fair Virtue's cause, From thy own life transcribe the unerring laws.'[163] And to close all, hear the reverend Dean of St Patrick's: 'A soul with every virtue fraught, By patriots, priests, and poets taught. Whose filial piety excels Whatever Grecian story tells. A genius for each business fit, Whose meanest talent is his wit,' &c. Let us now recreate thee by turning to the other side, and showing his character drawn by those with whom he never conversed, and whose countenances he could not know, though turned against him: first again, commencing with the high-voiced and never-enough quoted MR JOHN DENNIS, who, in his 'Reflections on the Essay on Criticism,' thus describeth him, 'A little affected hypocrite, who has nothing in his mouth but candour, truth, friendship, good-nature, humanity, and magnanimity. He is so great a lover of falsehood, that, whenever he has a mind to calumniate his cotemporaries, he brands them with some defect which is just contrary to some good quality for which all their friends and their acquaintance commend them. He seems to have a particular pique to people of quality, and authors of that rank. He must derive his religion from St Omer's.' But in the character of Mr P. and his writings (printed by S. Popping, 1716), he saith, 'Though he is a professor of the worst religion, yet he laughs at it;' but that 'nevertheless he is a virulent Papist; and yet a pillar for the Church of England.' Of both which opinions MR LEWIS THEOBALD seems also to be; declaring, in Mist's Journal of June 22, 1718--'That, if he is not shrewdly abused, he made it his practice to cackle to both parties in their own sentiments.' But, as to his pique against people of quality, the same journalist doth not agree, but saith (May 8, 1728)-- 'He had, by some means or other, the acquaintance and friendship of the whole body of our nobility.' However contradictory this may appear, Mr Dennis and Gildon, in the character last cited, make it all plain, by assuring us, 'That he is a creature that reconciles all contradictions; he is a beast, and a man; a Whig, and a Tory; a writer (at one and the same time) of Guardians and Examiners;[164] an assertor of liberty, and of the dispensing power of kings; a Jesuitical professor of truth, a base and a foul pretender to candour.' So that, upon the whole account, we must conclude him either to have been a great hypocrite, or a very honest man; a terrible imposer upon both parties, or very moderate to either. Be it as to the judicious reader shall seem good. Sure it is, he is little favoured of certain authors, whose wrath is perilous: for one declares he ought to have a price set on his head, and to be hunted down as a wild beast.[165] Another protests that he does not know what may happen; advises him to insure his person; says he has bitter enemies, and expressly declares it will be well if he escapes with his life.[166] One desires he would cut his own throat, or hang himself.[167] But Pasquin seemed rather inclined it should be done by the Government, representing him engaged in grievous designs with a lord of Parliament, then under prosecution.[168] Mr Dennis himself hath written to a minister, that he is one of the most dangerous persons in this kingdom;[169] and assureth the public, that he is an open and mortal enemy to his country; a monster, that will, one day, shew as daring a soul as a mad Indian, who runs a-muck to kill the first Christian he meets.[170] Another gives information of treason discovered in his poem.[171] Mr Curll boldly supplies an imperfect verse with kings and princesses.[172] And one Matthew Concanen, yet more impudent, publishes at length the two most sacred names in this nation, as members of the Dunciad.[173] This is prodigious! yet it is almost as strange, that in the midst of these invectives his greatest enemies have (I know not how) borne testimony to some merit in him. MR THEOBALD, in censuring his Shakspeare, declares, 'He has so great an esteem for Mr Pope, and so high an opinion of his genius and excellencies, that, notwithstanding he professes a veneration almost rising to idolatry for the writings of this inimitable poet, he would be very both even to do him justice, at the expense of that other gentleman's character.'[174] MR CHARLES GILDON, after having violently attacked him in many pieces, at last came to wish from his heart, 'That Mr Pope would be prevailed upon to give us Ovid's Epistles by his hand, for it is certain we see the original of Sappho to Pliaon with much more life and likeness in his version, than in that of Sir Car Scrope. And this,' he adds, 'is the more to be wished, because in the English tongue we have scarce anything truly and naturally written upon love.'[175] He also, in taxing Sir Richard Blackmore for his heterodox opinions of Homer, challengeth him to answer what Mr Pope hath said in his preface to that poet. MR OLDMIXON calls him a great master of our tongue; declares 'the purity and perfection of the English language to be found in his Homer; and, saying there are more good verses in Dryden's Virgil than in any other work, excepts this of our author only.'[176] THE AUTHOR OF A LETTER TO MR CIBBER says, 'Pope was so good a versifier [once], that, his predecessor, Mr Dryden, and his cotemporary, Mr Prior, excepted, the harmony of his numbers is equal to anybody's. And that he had all the merit that a man can have that way.'[177] And MR THOMAS COOKE, after much blemishing our author's Homer, crieth out-- 'But in his other works what beauties shine, While sweetest music dwells in every line! These he admired--on these he stamp'd his praise, And bade them live to brighten future days.'[178] So also one who takes the name of H. STANHOPE, the maker of certain verses to Duncan Campbell,[179] in that poem, which is wholly a satire on Mr Pope, confesseth-- ''Tis true, if finest notes alone could show (Tuned justly high, or regularly low) That we should fame to these mere vocals give, Pope more than we can offer should receive: For when some gliding river is his theme, His lines run smoother than the smoothest stream,' &c. MIST'S JOURNAL, JUNE 8, 1728. Although he says, 'The smooth numbers of the Dunciad are all that recommend it, nor has it any other merit,' yet that same paper hath these words: 'The author is allowed to be a perfect master of an easy and elegant versification. In all his works we find the most happy turns and natural similes, wonderfully short and thick sown.' The Essay on the Dunciad also owns (p. 25) it is very full of beautiful images. But the panegyric which crowns all that can be said on this poem is bestowed by our laureate, MR COLLEY CIBBER, who 'grants it to be a better poem of its kind than ever was writ:' but adds, 'it was a victory over a parcel of poor wretches, whom it was almost cowardice to conquer.--A man might as well triumph for having killed so many silly flies that offended him. Could he have let them alone, by this time, poor souls! they had all been buried in oblivion.'[180] Here we see our excellent laureate allows the justice of the satire on every man in it but himself, as the great Mr Dennis did before him. The said MR DENNIS AND MR GILDON, in the most furious of all their works (the forecited Character, p. 5), do in concert confess, 'That some men of good understanding value him for his rhymes.' And (p. 17), 'That he has got, like Mr Bayes in the Rehearsal (that is, like Mr Dryden), a notable knack at rhyming, and writing smooth verse.' Of his Essay on Man, numerous were the praises bestowed by his avowed enemies, in the imagination that the same was not written by him, as it was printed anonymously. Thus sang of it even BEZALEEL MORRIS. 'Auspicious bard! while all admire thy strain, All but the selfish, ignorant, and vain; I, whom no bribe to servile flattery drew, Must pay the tribute to thy merit due: Thy Muse, sublime, significant, and clear, Alike informs the soul, and charms the ear,' &c. And MR LEONARD WELSTED thus wrote[181] to the unknown author, on the first publication of the said Essay:--'I must own, after the reception which the vilest and most immoral ribaldry hath lately met with, I was surprised to see what I had long despaired--a performance deserving the name of a poet. Such, sir, is your work. It is, indeed, above all commendation, and ought to have been published in an age and country more worthy of it. If my testimony be of weight anywhere, you are sure to have it in the amplest manner,' &c. Thus we see every one of his works hath been extolled by one or other of his most inveterate enemies; and to the success of them all, they do unanimously give testimony. But it is sufficient, instar omnium, to behold the great critic, Mr Dennis, sorely lamenting it, even from the Essay on Criticism to this day of the Dunciad! 'A most notorious instance,' quoth he, 'of the depravity of genius and taste, the approbation this essay meets with.'[182] 'I can safely affirm, that I never attacked any of these writings, unless they had success infinitely beyond their merit. This, though an empty, has been a popular scribbler. The epidemic madness of the times has given him reputation.'[183] 'If, after the cruel treatment so many extraordinary men (Spencer, Lord Bacon, Ben. Jonson, Milton, Butler, Otway, and others) have received from this country, for these last hundred years, I should shift the scene, and show all that penury changed at once to riot and profuseness, and more squandered away upon one object than would have satisfied the greater part of those extraordinary men, the reader to whom this one creature should be unknown would fancy him a prodigy of art and nature, would believe that all the great qualities of these persons were centred in him alone. But if I should venture to assure him that the people of England had made such a choice, the reader would either believe me a malicious enemy and slanderer, or that the reign of the last (Queen Anne's) ministry was designed by fate to encourage fools.'[184] But it happens that this our poet never had any place, pension, or gratuity, in any shape, from the said glorious queen, or any of her ministers. All he owed, in the whole course of his life, to any court, was a subscription, for his Homer, of 200 from King George I., and 100 from the Prince and Princess. However, lest we imagine our author's success was constant and universal, they acquaint us of certain works in a less degree of repute, whereof, although owned by others, yet do they assure us he is the writer. Of this sort Mr Dennis[185] ascribes to him two farces, whose names he does not tell, but assures us that there is not one jest in them; and an imitation of Horace, whose title he does not mention, but assures us it is much more execrable than all his works.[186] The Daily Journal, May 11, 1728, assures us 'He is below Tom D'Urfey in the drama, because (as that writer thinks) the Marriage-Hater Matched, and the Boarding School, are better than the What-d'-ye-call-it,' which is not Mr P.'s, but Mr Gay's. Mr Gildon assures us, in his New Rehearsal, p. 48, 'That he was writing a play of the Lady Jane Grey;' but it afterwards proved to be Mr Howe's. We are assured by another, 'He wrote a pamphlet called Dr Andrew Tripe,'[187] which proved to be one Dr Wagstaff's. Mr Theobald assures us in Mist of the 27th April, 'That the Treatise of the Pro-found is very dull, and that Mr Pope is the author of it.' The writer of Gulliveriana is of another opinion, and says, 'The whole, or greatest part, of the merit of this treatise must and can only be ascribed to Gulliver.'[188] (Here, gentle reader! cannot I but smile at the strange blindness and positiveness of men, knowing the said treatise to appertain to none other but to me, Martinus Scriblerus.) We are assured, in Mist of June 8, 'That his own plays and farces would better have adorned the Dunciad than those of Mr Theobald, for he had neither genius for tragedy nor comedy;' which, whether true or not, is not easy to judge, inasmuch as he hath attempted neither--unless we will take it for granted, with Mr Cibber, that his being once very angry at hearing a friend's play abused was an infallible proof the play was his own, the said Mr Cibber thinking it impossible for a man to be much concerned for any but himself: 'Now let any man judge,' saith he, 'by this concern, who was the true mother of the child?'[189] But from all that hath been said, the discerning reader will collect, that it little availed our author to have any candour, since, when he declared he did not write for others, it was not credited; as little to have any modesty, since, when he declined writing in any way himself, the presumption of others was imputed to him. If he singly enterprised one great work, he was taxed of boldness and madness to a prodigy;[190] if he took assistants in another, it was complained of, and represented as a great injury to the public.[191] The loftiest heroics, the lowest ballads, treatises against the State or Church, satires on lords and ladies, raillery on wits and authors, squabbles with booksellers, or even full and true accounts of monsters, poisons, and murders; of any hereof was there nothing so good, nothing so bad, which hath not at one or other season been to him ascribed. If it bore no author's name, then lay he concealed; if it did, he fathered it upon that author to be yet better concealed: if it resembled any of his styles, then was it evident; if it did not, then disguised he it on set purpose. Yea, even direct oppositions in religion, principles, and politics, have equally been supposed in him inherent. Surely a most rare and singular character! Of which, let the reader make what he can. Doubtless most commentators would hence take occasion to turn all to their author's advantage; and, from the testimony of his very enemies, would affirm that his capacity was boundless, as well as his imagination; that he was a perfect master of all styles, and all arguments; and that there was in those times no other writer, in any kind, of any degree of excellence, save he himself. But as this is not our own sentiment, we shall determine on nothing, but leave thee, gentle reader, to steer thy judgment equally between various opinions, and to choose whether thou wilt incline to the testimonies of authors avowed, or of authors concealed--of those who knew him, or of those who knew him not. P. * * * * * MARTINUS SCRIBLERUS OF THE POEM. This poem, as it celebrateth the most grave and ancient of things, Chaos, Night, and Dulness; so is it of the most grave and ancient kind. Homer (saith Aristotle) was the first who gave the form, and (saith Horace) who adapted the measure, to heroic poesy. But even before this, may be rationally presumed from what the ancients have left written, was a piece by Homer, composed of like nature and matter with this of our poet. For of epic sort it appeareth to have been, yet of matter surely not unpleasant, witness what is reported of it by the learned Archbishop Eustathius, in Odyss. x., and accordingly Aristotle, in his Poetic, chap, iv., does further set forth, that as the Iliad and Odyssey gave example to tragedy, so did this poem to comedy its first idea. From these authors also it should seem that the hero or chief personage of it was no less obscure, and his understanding and sentiments no less quaint and strange (if indeed not more so), than any of the actors of our poem. Margites was the name of this personage, whom antiquity recordeth to have been Dunce the first; and surely, from what we hear of him, not unworthy to be the root of so spreading a tree and so numerous a posterity. The poem therefore celebrating him was properly and absolutely a Dunciad; which, though now unhappily lost, yet is its nature sufficiently known by the infallible tokens aforesaid. And thus it doth appear that the first Dunciad was the first epic poem, written by Homer himself, and anterior even to the Iliad or Odyssey. Now, forasmuch as our poet had translated those two famous works of Homer which are yet left, he did conceive it in some sort his duty to imitate that also which was lost; and was therefore induced to bestow on it the same form which Homer's is reported to have had, namely, that of epic poem; with a title also framed after the ancient Greek manner, to wit, that of Dunciad. Wonderful it is that so few of the moderns have been stimulated to attempt some Dunciad! since, in the opinion of the multitude, it might cost less pain and oil than an imitation of the greater epic. But possible it is also, that, on due reflection, the maker might find it easier to paint a Charlemagne, a Brute, or a Godfrey, with just pomp and dignity heroic, than a Margites, a Codrus, or a Flecknoe. We shall next declare the occasion and the cause which moved our poet to this particular work. He lived in those days, when (after Providence had permitted the invention of printing as a scourge for the sins of the learned) paper also became so cheap, and printers so numerous, that a deluge of authors covered the land; whereby not only the peace of the honest unwriting subject was daily molested, but unmerciful demands were made of his applause, yea of his money, by such as would neither earn the one nor deserve the other. At the same time, the licence of the press was such, that it grew dangerous to refuse them either: for they would forthwith publish slanders unpunished, the authors being anonymous, and skulking under the wings of publishers, a set of men who never scrupled to vend either calumny or blasphemy, as long as the town would call for it. Now our author,[192] living in those times, did conceive it an endeavour well worthy an honest satirist to dissuade the dull and punish the wicked, the only way that was left. In that public-spirited view he laid the plan of this poem, as the greatest service he was capable (without much hurt, or being slain) to render his dear country. First, taking things from their original, he considereth the causes creative of such authors--namely, dulness and poverty; the one born with them, the other contracted by neglect of their proper talents, through self-conceit of greater abilities. This truth he wrappeth in an allegory[193] (as the construction of epic poesy requireth), and feigns that one of these goddesses had taken up her abode with the other, and that they jointly inspired all such writers and such works. He proceedeth to show the qualities they bestow on these authors,[194] and the effects they produce;[195] then the materials, or stock, with which they furnish them;[196] and (above all) that self-opinion[197] which causeth it to seem to themselves vastly greater than it is, and is the prime motive of their setting up in this sad and sorry merchandise. The great power of these goddesses acting in alliance (whereof as the one is the mother of industry, so is the other of plodding) was to be exemplified in some one great and remarkable action:[198] and none could be more so than that which our poet hath chosen, viz., the restoration of the reign of Chaos and Night, by the ministry of Dulness their daughter, in the removal of her imperial seat from the city to the polite world; as the action of the neid is the restoration of the empire of Troy, by the removal of the race from thence to Latium. But as Homer singing only the wrath of Achilles, yet includes in his poem the whole history of the Trojan war; in like manner our author hath drawn into this single action the whole history of Dulness and her children. A person must next be fixed upon to support this action. This phantom in the poet's mind must have a name:[199] He finds it to be ----; and he becomes, of course, the hero of the poem. The fable being thus, according to the best example, one and entire, as contained in the proposition, the machinery is a continued chain of allegories, setting forth the whole power, ministry, and empire of Dulness, extended through her subordinate instruments, in all her various operations. This is branched into episodes, each of which hath its moral apart, though all conducive to the main end. The crowd assembled in the second book demonstrates the design to be more extensive than to bad poets only, and that we may expect other episodes of the patrons, encouragers, or paymasters of such authors, as occasion shall bring them forth. And the third book, if well considered, seemeth to embrace the whole world. Each of the games relateth to some or other vile class of writers: the first concerneth the Plagiary, to whom he giveth the name of More; the second the libellous Novelist, whom he styleth Eliza; the third, the flattering Dedicator; the fourth, the bawling Critic, or noisy Poet; the fifth, the dark and dirty Party-writer; and so of the rest; assigning to each some proper name or other, such as he could find. As for the characters, the public hath already acknowledged how justly they are drawn: the manners are so depicted, and the sentiments so peculiar to those to whom applied, that surely to transfer them to any other or wiser personages would be exceeding difficult: and certain it is, that every person concerned, being consulted apart, hath readily owned the resemblance of every portrait, his own excepted. So Mr Cibber calls them 'a parcel of poor wretches, so many silly flies;' but adds, 'our author's wit is remarkably more bare and barren whenever it would fall foul on Cibber, than upon any other person whatever.'[200] The descriptions are singular, the comparisons very quaint, the narration various, yet of one colour. The purity and chastity of diction is so preserved, that in the places most suspicious, not the words but only the images have been censured, and yet are those images no other than have been sanctified by ancient and classical authority (though, as was the manner of those good times, not so curiously wrapped up), yea, and commented upon by the most grave doctors and approved critics. As it beareth the name of Epic, it is thereby subjected to such severe indispensable rules as are laid on all neoterics--a strict imitation of the ancients; insomuch that any deviation, accompanied with whatever poetic beauties, hath always been censured by the sound critic. How exact that imitation hath been in this piece, appeareth not only by its general structure, but by particular allusions infinite, many whereof have escaped both the commentator and poet himself; yea, divers by his exceeding diligence are so altered and interwoven with the rest, that several have already been, and more will be, by the ignorant abused, as altogether and originally his own. In a word, the whole poem proveth itself to be the work of our author when his faculties were in full vigour and perfection, at that exact time when years have ripened the judgment without diminishing the imagination; which by good critics is held to be punctually at forty. For at that season it was that Virgil finished his Georgics; and Sir Richard Blackmore at the like age composing his Arthurs, declared the same to be the very acm and pitch of life for epic poesy--though since he hath altered it to sixty, the year in which he published his Alfred.[201] True it is, that the talents for criticism--namely, smartness, quick censure, vivacity of remark, certainty of asseveration, indeed all but acerbity--seem rather the gifts of youth than of riper age. But it is far otherwise in poetry; witness the works of Mr Rymer and Mr Dennis, who, beginning with criticism, became afterwards such poets as no age hath paralleled. With good reason, therefore, did our author choose to write his essay on that subject at twenty, and reserve for his maturer years this great and wonderful work of the Dunciad. P. RICARDUS ARISTARCHUS OF THE HERO OF THE POEM. Of the nature of Dunciad in general, whence derived, and on what authority founded, as well as of the art and conduct of this our poem in particular, the learned and laborious Scriblerus hath, according to his manner, and with tolerable share of judgment, dissertated. But when he cometh to speak of the person of the hero fitted for such poem, in truth he miserably halts and hallucinates. For, misled by one Monsieur Bossu, a Gallic critic, he prateth of I cannot tell what phantom of a hero, only raised up to support the fable. A putrid conceit! As if Homer and Virgil, like modern undertakers, who first build their house, and then seek out for a tenant, had contrived the story of a war and a wandering, before they once thought either of Achilles or neas. We shall therefore set our good brother and the world also right in this particular, by assuring them, that, in the greater epic, the prime intention of the Muse is to exalt heroic virtue, in order to propagate the love of it among the children of men; and, consequently, that the poet's first thought must needs be turned upon a real subject meet for laud and celebration; not one whom he is to make, but one whom he may find, truly illustrious. This is the primum mobile of his poetic world, whence everything is to receive life and motion. For this subject being found, he is immediately ordained, or rather acknowledged, a hero, and put upon such action as befitteth the dignity of his character. But the Muse ceaseth not here her eagle-flight. For sometimes, satiated with the contemplation of these suns of glory, she turneth downward on her wing, and darts with Jove's lightning on the goose and serpent kind. For we may apply to the Muse, in her various moods, what an ancient master of wisdom affirmeth of the gods in general: 'Si Dii non irascuntur impiis et injustis, nec pios utique justosque diligunt. In rebusenim diversis, aut in utramque partem moveri necesse est, aut in neutram. Itaque qui bonos diligit, et malos odit; et qui malos non odit, nec bonos diligit. Quia et diligere bonos ex odio malorum venit; et malos odisse ex bonorum caritate descendit.' Which, in our vernacular idiom, may be thus interpreted: 'If the gods be not provoked at evil men, neither are they delighted with the good and just. For contrary objects must either excite contrary affections, or no affections at all. So that he who loveth good men must at the same time hate the bad; and he who hateth not bad men cannot love the good; because to love good men proceedeth from an aversion to evil, and to hate evil men from a tenderness to the good.' From this delicacy of the Muse arose the little epic, (more lively and choleric than her elder sister, whose bulk and complexion incline her to the phlegmatic), and for this some notorious vehicle of vice and folly was sought out, to make thereof an example. An early instance of which (nor could it escape the accurate Scriblerus) the father of epic poem himself affordeth us. From him the practice descended to the Greek dramatic poets, his offspring, who, in the composition of their tetralogy, or set of four pieces, were wont to make the last a satiric tragedy. Happily one of these ancient Dunciads (as we may well term it) is come down unto us amongst the tragedies of the poet Euripides. And what doth the reader suppose may be the subject thereof? Why, in truth, and it is worthy observation, the unequal contention of an old, dull, debauched buffoon Cyclops, with the heaven-directed favourite of Minerva; who, after having quietly borne all the monster's obscene and impious ribaldry, endeth the farce in punishing him with the mark of an indelible brand in his forehead. May we not then be excused, if for the future we consider the epics of Homer, Virgil, and Milton, together with this our poem, as a complete tetralogy, in which the last worthily holdeth the place or station of the satiric piece? Proceed we therefore in our subject. It hath been long, and, alas for pity! still remaineth a question, whether the hero of the greater epic should be an honest man? or, as the French critics express it, un honnte homme:[202] but it never admitted of any doubt, but that the hero of the little epic should be just the contrary. Hence, to the advantage of our Dunciad, we may observe how much juster the moral of that poem must needs be, where so important a question is previously decided. But then it is not every knave, nor (let me add) every fool, that is a fit subject for a Dunciad. There must still exist some analogy, if not resemblance of qualities, between the heroes of the two poems, and this in order to admit what neoteric critics call the parody, one of the liveliest graces of the little epic. Thus, it being agreed that the constituent qualities of the greater epic hero are wisdom, bravery, and love, from whence springeth heroic virtue; it followeth that those of the lesser epic hero should be vanity, impudence, and debauchery, from which happy assemblage resulteth heroic dulness, the never-dying subject of this our poem. This being confessed, come we now to particulars. It is the character of true wisdom to seek its chief support and confidence within itself, and to place that support in the resources which proceed from a conscious rectitude of will. And are the advantages of vanity, when arising to the heroic standard, at all short of this self-complacence? Nay, are they not, in the opinion of the enamoured owner, far beyond it? 'Let the world (will such an one say) impute to me what folly or weakness they please; but till wisdom can give me something that will make me more heartily happy, I am content to be gazed at.'[203] This, we see, is vanity according to the heroic gauge or measure; not that low and ignoble species which pretendeth to virtues we have not, but the laudable ambition of being gazed at for glorying in those vices which everybody knows we have. 'The world may ask (says he) why I make my follies public? Why not? I have passed my time very pleasantly with them.'[204] In short, there is no sort of vanity such a hero would scruple, but that which might go near to degrade him from his high station in this our Dunciad--namely, 'Whether it would not be vanity in him to take shame to himself for not being a wise man?'[205] Bravery, the second attribute of the true hero, is courage manifesting itself in every limb; while its correspondent virtue in the mock hero is that same courage all collected into the face. And as power when drawn together must needs have more force and spirit than when dispersed, we generally find this kind of courage in so high and heroic a degree, that it insults not only men, but gods. Mezentius is, without doubt, the bravest character in all the neis. But how? His bravery, we know, was a high courage of blasphemy. And can we say less of this brave man's, who, having told us that he placed 'his summum bonum in those follies, which he was not content barely to possess, but would likewise glory in,' adds, 'If I am misguided, 'tis nature's fault, and I follow her.'[206] Nor can we be mistaken in making this happy quality a species of courage, when we consider those illustrious marks of it which made his face 'more known (as he justly boasteth) than most in the kingdom,' and his language to consist of what we must allow to be the most daring figure of speech, that which is taken from the name of God. Gentle love, the next ingredient in the true hero's composition, is a mere bird of passage, or (as Shakspeare calls it) summer-teeming lust, and evaporates in the heat of youth; doubtless, by that refinement, it suffers in passing through those certain strainers which our poet somewhere speaketh of. But when it is let alone to work upon the lees, it acquireth strength by old age, and becometh a lasting ornament to the little epic. It is true, indeed, there is one objection to its fitness for such a use: for not only the ignorant may think it common, but it is admitted to be so, even by him who best knoweth its value. 'Don't you think,' argueth he, 'to say only a man has his whore,[207] ought to go for little or nothing? Because defendit numerus; take the first ten thousand men you meet, and I believe you would be no loser if you betted ten to one that every single sinner of them, one with another, had been guilty of the same frailty.'[208] But here he seemeth not to have done justice to himself: the man is sure enough a hero who hath his lady at fourscore. How doth his modesty herein lessen the merit of a whole well-spent life: not taking to himself the commendation (which Horace accounted the greatest in a theatrical character) of continuing to the very dregs the same he was from the beginning, ... 'Servetur ad imum Qualis ab incepto processerat' ... But here, in justice both to the poet and the hero, let us further remark, that the calling her his whore implieth she was his own, and not his neighbour's. Truly a commendable continence! and such as Scipio himself must have applauded. For how much self-denial was exerted not to covet his neighbour's whore? and what disorders must the coveting her have occasioned in that society where (according to this political calculator) nine in ten of all ages have their concubines! We have now, as briefly as we could devise, gone through the three constituent qualities of either hero. But it is not in any, or in all of these, that heroism properly or essentially resideth. It is a lucky result rather from the collision of these lively qualities against one another. Thus, as from wisdom, bravery, and love, ariseth magnanimity, the object of admiration, which is the aim of the greater epic; so from vanity, impudence, and debauchery, springeth buffoonery, the source of ridicule, that 'laughing ornament,' as he well termeth it,[209] of the little epic. He is not ashamed (God forbid he ever should be ashamed!) of this character, who deemeth that not reason, but risibility, distinguisheth the human species from the brutal. 'As nature,' saith this profound philosopher, 'distinguished our species from the mute creation by our risibility, her design must have been by that faculty as evidently to raise our happiness, as by our os sublime (our erected faces) to lift the dignity of our form above them.'[210] All this considered, how complete a hero must he be, as well as how happy a man, whose risibility lieth not barely in his muscles, as in the common sort, but (as himself informeth us) in his very spirits! and whose os sublime is not simply an erect face, but a brazen head, as should seem by his preferring it to one of iron, said to belong to the late king of Sweden![211] But whatever personal qualities a hero may have, the examples of Achilles and Aeneas show us, that all those are of small avail without the constant assistance of the gods--for the subversion and erection of empires have never been adjudged the work of man. How greatly soever, then, we may esteem of his high talents, we can hardly conceive his personal prowess alone sufficient to restore the decayed empire of Dulness. So weighty an achievement must require the particular favour and protection of the great--who, being the natural patrons and supporters of letters, as the ancient gods were of Troy, must first be drawn off and engaged in another interest, before the total subversion of them can be accomplished. To surmount, therefore, this last and greatest difficulty, we have, in this excellent man, a professed favourite and intimado of the great. And look, of what force ancient piety was to draw the gods into the party of Aeneas, that, and much stronger, is modern incense, to engage the great in the party of Dulness. Thus have we essayed to portray or shadow out this noble imp of fame. But now the impatient reader will be apt to say, if so many and various graces go to the making up a hero, what mortal shall suffice to bear his character? Ill hath he read who seeth not, in every trace of this picture, that individual, all-accomplished person, in whom these rare virtues and lucky circumstances have agreed to meet and concentre with the strongest lustre and fullest harmony. The good Scriblerus indeed--nay, the world itself--might be imposed on, in the late spurious editions, by I can't tell what sham hero or phantom; but it was not so easy to impose on him whom this egregious error most of all concerned. For no sooner had the fourth book laid open the high and swelling scene, but he recognised his own heroic acts; and when he came to the words-- 'Soft on her lap her laureate son reclines,' (though laureate imply no more than one crowned with laurel, as befitteth any associate or consort in empire), he loudly resented this indignity to violated majesty--indeed, not without cause, he being there represented as fast asleep; so misbeseeming the eye of empire, which, like that of Providence, should never doze nor slumber. 'Hah!' saith he, 'fast asleep, it seems! that's a little too strong. Pert and dull at least you might have allowed me, but as seldom asleep as any fool.'[212] However, the injured hero may comfort himself with this reflection, that though it be a sleep, yet it is not the sleep of death, but of immortality. Here he will live[213] at least, though not awake; and in no worse condition than many an enchanted warrior before him. The famous Durandarte, for instance, was, like him, cast into a long slumber by Merlin, the British bard and necromancer; and his example, for submitting to it with a good grace, might be of use to our hero. For that disastrous knight being sorely pressed or driven to make his answer by several persons of quality, only replied with a sigh--'Patience, and shuffle the cards.'[214] But now, as nothing in this world, no, not the most sacred or perfect things either of religion or government, can escape the sting of envy, methinks I already hear these carpers objecting to the clearness of our hero's title. It would never (say they) have been esteemed sufficient to make an hero for the Iliad or Aeneis, that Achilles was brave enough to overturn one empire, or Aeneas pious enough to raise another, had they not been goddess-born, and princes bred. What, then, did this author mean by erecting a player instead of one of his patrons (a person 'never a hero even on the stage,'[215]) to this dignity of colleague in the empire of Dulness, and achiever of a work that neither old Omar, Attila, nor John of Leyden could entirely bring to pass? To all this we have, as we conceive, a sufficient answer from the Roman historian, Fabrum esse suae quemque fortunae: That every man is the smith of his own fortune. The politic Florentine, Nicholas Machiavel, goeth still further, and affirmeth that a man needeth but to believe himself a hero to be one of the worthiest. 'Let him (saith he) but fancy himself capable of the highest things, and he will of course be able to achieve them.' From this principle it follows, that nothing can exceed our hero's prowess; as nothing ever equalled the greatness of his conceptions. Hear how he constantly paragons himself; at one time to Alexander the Great and Charles XII of Sweden, for the excess and delicacy of his ambition;[216] to Henry IV of France for honest policy;[217] to the first Brutus, for love of liberty;[218] and to Sir Robert Walpole, for good government while in power.[219] At another time, to the godlike Socrates, for his diversions and amusements;[220] to Horace, Montaigne, and Sir William Temple for an elegant vanity that maketh them for ever read and admired;[221] to two Lord Chancellors, for law, from whom, when confederate against him at the bar, he carried away the prize of eloquence;[222] and, to say all in a word, to the right reverend the Lord Bishop of London himself, in the art of writing pastoral letters.[223] Nor did his actions fall short of the sublimity of his conceit. In his early youth he met the Revolution[224] face to face in Nottingham, at a time when his betters contented themselves with following her. It was here he got acquainted with old Battle-array, of whom he hath made so honourable mention in one of his immortal odes. But he shone in courts as well as camps. He was called up when the nation fell in labour of this Revolution;[225] and was a gossip at her christening, with the bishop and the ladies.[226] As to his birth, it is true he pretended no relation either to heathen god or goddess; but, what is as good, he was descended from a maker of both.[227] And that he did not pass himself on the world for a hero as well by birth as education was his own fault: for his lineage he bringeth into his life as an anecdote, and is sensible he had it in his power to be thought he was nobody's son at all:[228] And what is that but coming into the world a hero? But be it (the punctilious laws of epic poesy so requiring) that a hero of more than mortal birth must needs be had, even for this we have a remedy. We can easily derive our hero's pedigree from a goddess of no small power and authority amongst men, and legitimate and install him after the right classical and authentic fashion: for like as the ancient sages found a son of Mars in a mighty warrior, a son of Neptune in a skilful seaman, a son of Phoebus in a harmonious poet, so have we here, if need be, a son of Fortune in an artful gamester. And who fitter than the offspring of Chance to assist in restoring the empire of Night and Chaos? There is, in truth, another objection, of greater weight, namely, 'That this hero still existeth, and hath not yet finished his earthly course. For if Solon said well, that no man could be called happy till his death, surely much less can any one, till then, be pronounced a hero, this species of men being far more subject than others to the caprices of fortune and humour.' But to this also we have an answer, that will (we hope) be deemed decisive. It cometh from himself, who, to cut this matter short, hath solemnly protested that he will never change or amend. With regard to his vanity, he declareth that nothing shall ever part them. 'Nature (saith he) hath amply supplied me in vanity--a pleasure which neither the pertness of wit nor the gravity of wisdom will ever persuade me to part with.'[229] Our poet had charitably endeavoured to administer a cure to it: but he telleth us plainly, 'My superiors perhaps may be mended by him; but for my part I own myself incorrigible. I look upon my follies as the best part of my fortune.'[230] And with good reason: we see to what they have brought him! Secondly, as to buffoonery, 'Is it (saith he) a time of day for me to leave off these fooleries, and set up a new character? I can no more put off my follies than my skin; I have often tried, but they stick too close to me; nor am I sure my friends are displeased with them, for in this light I afford them frequent matter of mirth, &c., &c.'[231] Having then so publicly declared himself incorrigible, he is become dead in law (I mean the law Epopoeian), and devolveth upon the poet as his property, who may take him and deal with him as if he had been dead as long as an old Egyptian hero; that is to say, embowel and embalm him for posterity. Nothing therefore (we conceive) remaineth to hinder his own prophecy of himself from taking immediate effect. A rare felicity! and what few prophets have had the satisfaction to see alive! Nor can we conclude better than with that extraordinary one of his, which is conceived in these oraculous words, 'My dulness will find somebody to do it right.'[232] 'Tandem Phoebus adest, morsusque inferre parantem Congelat, et patulos, ut erant, indurat hiatus.'[233] BY AUTHORITY. By virtue of the Authority in Us vested by the Act for subjecting poets to the power of a licenser, we have revised this piece; where finding the style and appellation of King to have been given to a certain pretender, pseudo-poet, or phantom, of the name of Tibbald; and apprehending the same may be deemed in some sort a reflection on Majesty, or at least an insult on that Legal Authority which has bestowed on another person the crown of poesy: We have ordered the said pretender, pseudo-poet, or phantom, utterly to vanish and evaporate out of this work: And do declare the said Throne of Poesy from henceforth to be abdicated and vacant, unless duly and lawfully supplied by the Laureate himself. And it is hereby enacted, that no other person do presume to fill the same.