Page images
[ocr errors]

DENNIS, Remarks on Pr. ARTHUR.

I Cannot but think it the most reasonable thing in the world to diftinguifh good writers, by difcouraging 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 fooner, of a short profit and a tranfitory reputation; but then it may have a good effect, and oblige them (before it be too late) to decline that for which they are fo very unfit, and to have recourfe to fomething in which they may be more fuccessful.

CHARACTER of Mr. P. 1716.

THE perfons whom Boileau has attacked in his writings, have been for the most part authors, and most of those authors poets: and the cenfures he hath paffed upon them have been confirmed by all Europe.

[ocr errors]


IT is the common cry of the Poetafters of the town, and their fautors, that it is an ill-natured thing to expose the pretenders to wit and poetry. The judges and magiftrates may with full as good reason be reproached with ill-nature for putting the laws in execution against a thief or impoftor.-The 'fame will hold in the republic of letters, if the critics and judges will let every ignorant pretender to fcribbling pafs on the world.


THEOBALD, Letter to Mift, June 22, 1728,

ATTACKS may be levelled, either against failures in Genius, or against the pretenfions of writing without


CONCANEN, Ded. to the Author of the DUNCIAD,

A Satire upon dullness is a thing that has been used and allowed in all ages.

Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, wicked scribbler !






Our POET and his WORK S.


BEFORE we prefent thee with our exercitations on this moft delectable poem (drawn from the many voJumes of our Adversaria on modern Authors) we fhall here, according to the laudable ufage of editors, collect the various judgments of the learned concerning our poet: various indeed, not only of different authors, but of the fame author at different feafons. Nor fhall we gather only the teftimonies of fuch eminent wits, as would of course descend to pofterity, and consequently be read without our collection; but we fhall likewife with incredible labour feek 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 mayft not only receive the delectation of variety, but also arrive at a more certain judgment, by a grave and circumfpect comparison of the witneffes with each other, or of each with himself. Hence alfo thou wilt be enabled to draw reflections, not only of a critical, but a



[ocr errors]

moral nature, by being let into many particulars of the
perfon as well as genius, and of the fortune as well as
merit, of our author in which if I relate fome things
of little concern peradventure to thee, and fome of as
little even to him, I entreat thee to confider how mi-
nutely all true critics and commentators are wont to in-
fift upon such, and how material they feem to themselves,
if to none other. Forgive me, gentle reader, if (follow-
ing learned example) I ever and anon become tedious:
allow me to take the fame pains to find whether
my au-
thor were good or bad, well or ill natured, modeft or
arrogant; as another, whether his author was fair or
brown, ihort or tall, or whether he wore a coat or a

We proposed to begin with his life, parentage, and education; but as to thefe, even his cotemporaries db exceedingly differ. One faith, he was educated at home; another, that he was bred at St. Omer's, by Jefuits; a third, not at St. Omer's, but at Oxford; a fourth, that he had no univerfity education at all. Those who allow him to be bred at home, differ as much concerning his tutor : one faith, he was kept by his father on purpose; a second, that he was an itinerant prieft; a third that he was a parfon ; one calleth him a fecular clergyman of the Church of Rome; another i, a monk. As little do they agree about his father, whom one fuppofeth, like the father of Hefiod, a tradefman or merchant; another', a husbandınan; another", a hatter, &c. Nor has an author been wanting to give our poet fuch a father as Apuleius hath to Plato, Jamblichus to Pythagoras, and divers to Homer, namely


a Giles Jacob's Lives of the Poets, vol ii. in his Life. b Dennis's Reflections on the Effay on Crit. c Dunciad diffected, p. 4. d Guardian, No. 40. e Jacob's Lives, &c vol. ii. f Dunciad diffected, p. 4. g Farmer P. and his fon. h Dunciad diffected. i Characters of the times, p 45. k Female Dunciad, p ult. 1 Dunciad difftted. m Roome, Paraphrafe on the ivth of Genefis, printed 1729.

a Dæmont

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »