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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. Solon said well,
Expectanda dies homini: dicique beatus
Ante obitum nemo supremaque funera debet:'
'That no man could be callled 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 31? 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 32, And with good reason: we see to what they have brought him!
Secondly, as to buffoonery,
31 C. Cibber's Life, p. 424.
'Is it (saith he) a
32 lb. p. 19.
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 33. Having then so publicly declared himself incorrigible, he is become dead in law, (I mean the law Epopeian) and devolveth upon the poet as his property; who may take him and deal with him like 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 some
body to do it right 34'
Tandem Phoebus adest, morsusque inferre parentem
33 C. Cibber's Life, p. 17. 34 Ib. p. 243, octavo edit.
35 Ovid, of the serpent biting at Orpheus's head.
TO THE FIVE FIRST IMPERFECT EDITIONS
In Three Books.
PRINTED AT DUBLIN AND LONDON, IN OCTAVO AND
THE PUBLISHER' TO THE READER.
IT will be found a true observation, though somewhat surprising, that when any scandal is vented against a man of the highest distinction and character, either in the state or literature, the public
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 Hibernian,' &c. He means it was written by Dr. Swift, who, whether the 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 emi nent 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,
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 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 2, 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
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 impunity, their own persons and names being utterly secret and obscure. This gave Mr. Pope the thought, that he had now some opportunity of doing good, by detecting and dragging into light these common enemies of mankind; since, to invalidate this universal slander, it sufficed to show what contemptible men were the authors of it. He was not without hopes that, by manifesting the dulness of those who had only malice to recommend them, either the booksellers would not find their account in employing them, or the men themselves, when discovered, want courage to proceed in so unlawful an occupation. This it was that gave birth to the Dunciad; and he 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. W.
2 See the list of those anonymous papers, with their dates, and authors annexed, inserted before the poem.
computation may be about a hundred thousand3 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 follow`ing 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.
Further, 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 poems attacked no man living who had not before printed or published some scandal against this gentleman.
3 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, Cooke, Cibber, and others, to be serious. Hear the Laureat (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 incumbrances of notes and remarks upon it, &c.—it is amazing that you, who have writ with such masterly 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.) W.
A very plain irony, speaking of Mr. Pope himself.
5 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 scurrilities, or selfconceit, all mankind agreed to have justly entitled them to a place in the Dunciad. W.