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THE general reader is apt to pass lightly over the "Dunciad," as if it were merely the poetical record of a literary quarrel between Pope and a number of obscure writers, of whom little is known, and less deserves to be remembered. And, from a moral point of view, this judgment is sound enough, but it requires to be considerably qualified. Those who look beneath the surface will find in this Satire a very remarkable picture of human nature, exhibiting, as it does, the friendships, the hatreds, the sensibilities, the deceptions, no less than the art, of a great poet, and throwing, at the same time, a strong light on an interesting epoch in our political, social, and literary history. Pope's workmanship is here even more than usually minute; his slightest touches are intended to heighten his general effects; and if we would do him full justice, we must give to understanding his work something of the pains which he spent on producing it.
An attempt has accordingly been made in this volume to restore, as far as possible, their old vitality to the details of the "Dunciad," which have been hitherto passed over by the commentators as insignificant or inexplicable. The task has involved considerable labour, but it has been lightened by the generous support I have met with from numerous admirers of Pope's poetry. I wish especially to acknowledge the kindness of Mr. W. J. Thoms, who has allowed me to reprint his valuable Notes on the Editions of the "Dunciad;" and of Colonel Grant, whose further investigations on the same ground have probably supplied all that was required to make the treatment of the subject exhaustive. Whatever success has attended my efforts to discover the meaning of the veiled allusions in verses 585-596 of the Fourth Book of the "Dunciad" is largely due to the liberal assistance I have received from Mr. E. Ford, of Old Park, Enfield, whose wide antiquarian knowledge has greatly aided my researches. Mr. R. Garnett has also again shown unfailing patience and courtesy in facilitating my access to the resources of the British Museum.
In natural connection with these acknowledgments, I take the opportunity of thanking the many critics of the volume last issued-and among these more particularly the Rector of Lincoln