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FIRST PUBLICATION OF THIS EPISTLE.
THIS paper is a fort of bill of complaint, begun
many years since, and drawn up by snatches, as the feveral occafions offered. I had no thoughts of publishing it, till it pleafed fome Perfons of Rank and Fortune [the Authors of Verfes to the Imitator of Horace, and of an Epistle to a Doctor of Divinity from a Nobleman at Hampton-Court] to attack, in a very extraordinary manner, not only my Writings (of which, being public, the Public is judge) but my Perfon, Morals, and Family, whereof, to those who know me not, a truer information may be requifite. Being divided between the neceffity to fay fomething of myself, and my own lazinefs to undertake fo aukward a task, I thought it the shortest way to put the laft hand to this Epiftle. If it have any thing pleafing, it will be that by which I am moft defirous to please, the Truth, and the Sentiment; and if any thing offenfive, it will be only to those I am leaft forry to offend, the vicious, or the ungenerous.
Many will know their own pictures in it, there being not a circumstance but what is true; but I have for the most part spared their Names, and they may escape being laughed at, if they please.
I would have fome of them know, it was owing to the request of the learned and candid Friend to whom it is infcribed, that I make not as free use of theirs, as they have done of mine. However, I fhall have this advantage, and honour, on my fide, that whereas, by their proceeding, any abuse may be directed at any man, no injury can poffibly be done by mine, fince a nameless Character can never be found out, but by its truth and likeness.
Lady Wortley Montagu begins her Address to Mr. Pope, on his Imitation of the 1ft Satire of the Second Book of Horace, in thefe words:
"In two large columns, on thy motley page,
Where Roman wit is ftrip'd with English rage;
Who can believe, who view the bad and good,
Than heretofore the Greek he did translate ?
Horace can laugh, is delicate, is clear;
Wound with a touch that's fcarely felt or feen.
But if thou fee'ft a great and gen'rous heart,
Nor only justice vainly we demand,
But even benefits can't rein thy hand:
To this or that alike in vain we truft,
EPISTLE TO DR. ARBUTHNOT.
An Apology for Himself and his Writings.
Ep. to Dr. Arbuthnot.] Ar the time of publishing this Epistle, the Poet's patience was exhaufted by the endless impertinence of Poetafters of all ranks and conditions; as well thofe who courted his favour, as thofe who envied his reputation. So that now he had refolved to quit his hands of both together, by the publication of a DUNCIAD. This defign he communicated to his excellent friend Dr. ARBUTHNOT; who, although as a man of Wit and Learning he might not have been difpleafed to fee their common injuries revenged on this pernicious Tribe; yet, as our Author's friend and phyfician, he was folicitous of his eafe and health; and therefore unwilling he should provoke fo large and powerful a party.
Their difference of opinion, in this matter, gives occafion to the following Dialogue. Where, in a natural and familiar detail of all his Provocations, both from flatterers and flanderers, our Author has artfully interwoven an Apology for his moral and poetic Character.
For after having told his case, and humorously applied to his Physician in the manner one would ask for a receipt to kill Vermin, he ftraight goes on, in the common character of askers of advice, to tell his Doctor, that he had already taken his party, and determined of his remedy. But ufing a preamble, and introducing it (in the way of Poets), with a fimile, in which the names of Kings, Queens, and Minifiers of State happen to be mentioned, his Friend takes the alarm, and begs him to forbear; advises him to stick to his subject, and to be eafy under fo com. mon a calamity.
To make fo light of his disaster provokes the Poet: he breaks. the thread of his difcourfe, which was to lead his Friend gently, and by degrees, into his project; and abruptly tells him the application of his fimile at once,
"Out with it, DUNCIAD! let the fecret pass," &c. But recollecting the humanity and tenderness of his Friend, which, he apprehends, might be a little shocked at the apparent
severity of fuch a proceeding, he affures him, that his good-nature is alarmed without caufe; for that nothing has lefs feeling than this fort of offenders; which he illuftrates in the Examples of a damn'd Poet, a detected Slanderer, a Table-Parafite, a ChurchBuffoon, and a Party-Writer (from ver. 1. to 101.)
But, in this enumeration, coming again to Names, his Friend once more ftops him; and bids him confider what hoftilities this general attack would fet on foot. So much the better, replies the Poet; for, confidering the firong antipathy of bad to good, enemies they will always be, either open or fecret: and it admits of no queftion, but a Slanderer is lefs hurtful than a Flatterer. For, fays he, (in a pleasant Simile addressed to his Friend's profeffion)
"Of all mad creatures, if the learn'd are right,
It is the flaver kills, and not the bite."
And how abject and exceffive the flattery of these creatures was, he fhews, by obferving, that they praised him even for his infir mities; his bad health, and his inconvenient fhape (ver. 100 to 125.)
But ftill it might be faid, that if he could bear this evil annexed to Authorship no better, he fhould not have written at all. To this he answers, by lamenting the natural bent of his difpofition; which, from his very birth, had drawn him towards Poetry so ftrongly, as if it were in execution of fome fecret decree of Heaven for crimes unknown. But though he offended in becoming an Author, he offended in nothing else. For his early verses were perfectly innocent and harmless,
"Like gentle Fanny's was my flowing theme,
A painted mistress, or a purling ftream."
Yet even then, he tells us, two enraged and hungry Critics fell upon him without any provocation. But this might have been borne, as the common lot of diftinction. But it was his peculiar illfortune to create a jealoufy in One; whom, not only many good offices done by our Author to him and his friends, but a fimilitude of genius and ftudies might have inclined to a reciprocal affection and support: On the contrary, that otherwife amiable person, being, by nature, timorous and fufpicious; by education, a partyman; and, by circumstances of fortune, befet with flatterers and pick-thanks; regarded our Author as his Rival, fet up by a contrary Faction, with views deftructive of public liberty, and