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PRE FA C CE
Prefixed to the five firft imperfect Editions of the DUNCIAD, in three books, printed at DUBLIN and LONDON, in octavo and duodecimo, 1727.
The PUBLISHER' to the READER.
T will be found a true obfervation, tho' fomewhat furprizing, that when any scandal is vented against a man of the higheft diftinction and character, either in the state or literature, the public in general afford it a moft quiet reception; and the larger part accept it as favourably as if it were fome kindness done to themselves: whereas if a known fcoundrel or blockhead but chance to be touched upon, a whole legion is up in arms, and S s 2 it
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," etc. He means it was written by Dr. Swift, who, whether publisher or not, may be faid in a fort to be author of the poem. For when he, together with Mr. Pope (for reafons specified in the preface to their Mifcellanies) determined to own the moft trifling pieces in which they had any hand, and to destroy all that remained in their power; the first sketch of this poem was fnatched from the fire by Dr. Swift, who perfuaded his friend to proceed in it, and to him it was therefore inferibed. But the occafion of printing it was as follows:
There was publifhed in thofe Mifcellanies, a Treatife of the Bathos, or Art of Sinking in Poetry, in which was a chapter, where the fpecies of bad writers where ranged in claffes, and initial letters of names prefixed, for the most part at random. But fuch was the Number of Poets eminent in that
it becomes the common caufe of all fcribblers, bookfellers, and printers whatfoever.
Not to fearch too deeply into the reafon hereof I will only obferve as a fact, that every week for these two months paft, the town has been perfecuted with pamphlets, advertisements, letters, and weekly effays, not only against the wit and writings, but against the character and perfon of Mr. Pope. And that of all those men who have received pleafure from his works, which by modeft computation may be about a hundred thoufand in these kingdoms of England and Ireland; (not to mention Jersey, Guernfey, the Orcades, thofe in the new
art, that fome one or other took every letter to himself. All fell into fo violent a fury, that for half a year, or more, the common News-papers (in most of which they had fome property, as bein, hired writers) were filled with the most abufive falfhoods and fcurrilities they could poñibly devife; a liberty no ways to be wondered at in thofe people, and in those papers, that, for many years, during the uncontrolled License of the prefs, had afpersed almost all the great characters of the age; and this with impunity, their own perfons and names being utterly fecret and obfcure. This gave Mr. Pope the thought, that he had now fome opportunity of doing good, by detecting and dragging into light thefe common Enemies of mankind; fince to invalidate this univerfal flander, it fufficed to fhew what contemptible men were the authors of it. He was not without hopes, that by manifesting the dulness of thofe who had only malice to recommend them; either the bookfellers would not find their account in employing them, or the men themselves, when difcovered, want courage to proceed in fo unlawful an occupation. This it was that gave birth to the Dunciad; and he thought it an happiness, that by the late flood of flander on himself, he had acquired such a peculiar right over their Names as was neceffary to his defign.
2 See the Lift of those anonymous papers, with their dates and authors annexed, inferted before the Poem.
3 It is furprising with what ftupidity this preface, which is almost a con tinued irony, was taken by thofe authors. All fuch paffages as thefe were understood by Curl, Cook, Cibber, and others, to be ferious. Hear the Laureate (Letter to Mr. Pope, p. 9.) "Tho' I grant the Dunciad a better poem "of its kind than ever was writ; yet, when I read it with those vain-glorious " encumbrances of Notes and remarks upon it, etc.-it is amazing, that "6 you, who have writ with much mailerly fpirit upon the ruling paffion, fhould be fo blind a flave to your own, as not to fee how far a low avarice of Praife, etc." (taking it for granted that the notes of Scriblerus and others, were the author's own.)
world, and foreigners who have tranflated him into their languages) of all this number not a man hath ftood up to fay one word in his defence.
The only exception is the author 4 of the following poem, who doubtlefs had either a better infight into the grounds of this clamour, or a better opinion of Mr. Pope's integrity, join'd with a greater personal love for him, than any other of his numerous friends and admirers,
Farther, that he was in his peculiar intimacy, appears from the knowledge he manifefts of the moft private authors of all the anonymous pieces against him, and from his having in this poem attacked 5 no man living, who had not before printed, or published, some scandal against this gentleman.
How I came poffeft of it, is no concern to the reader; but it would have been a wrong to him had I detained the publication; fince those names which are its chief ornaments die off daily fo faft, as muft render it too foon unintelligible. If it provoke the author to give us a more perfect edition, I have my end.
Who he is I cannot fay, and (which is a great pity) there is certainly nothing in his ftile and manner of writing, which can distinguish or difcover him: For if it bears any resemblance to that of Mr. Pope, 'tis not improbable but it might be done on purpofe, with a view to have it pass for his. But by the frequency of his allulufions to Virgil, and a laboured (not to fay affected) fhortnefs in imitation of him, I should think him more an
4 A very plain irony, fpeaking 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 fuch; and the exception is only of two or three, whofe duinefs, impudent fcurrility or felf conceit, all mankind agreed to have justly entitled them to a place in the Dunciad.
6 This irony had small effect in concealing the author. The Dunciad, imperfect as it was, had not been published two days, but the whole Town gave it to Mr. Pope.
admirer of the Roman poet than of the Grecian, and in that not of the fame tafte with his friend.
I have been well informed, that this work was the labour of full 7 fix years of his life, and that he wholly setired himself from all the avocations and pleasures of the world, to attend diligently to its correction and perfe&tion; and fix years more he intended to beftow on it, as would feem by this verfe of Statius, which was cited at the head of his manufcript.
O mihi biffenos multum vigilata per annos,
Hence alfo we learn the true title of the poem; which with the fame certainty as we call that of Homer the Iliad, of Virgil the Æneid, of Camoens the Lufiad, we may pronounce, could have been, and can be no other than
It is ftyled Heroic, as being doubly fo; not only with respect to its nature, which, according to the best rales of the ancients, and ftricteft ideas of the moderns, is crisically fuch; but also with regard to the heroical difpotion and high courage of the writer, who dar'd to ftir up fuch a formidable, irritable, and implacable race of mortals.
There may arife fome obfcurity in chronology from the Names in the poem, by the inevitable removal of
This alfo was honestly and seriously believed by divers gentlemen of the Dunciad. J. Ralph, pref. to Sawney. "We are told it was the labour of fix years, with the utmost affiduity and application: It is no great compliment to the author's fenfe, to have employed fo large a part of his • life, etc. So alfo Ward, pref. to Durgen, "The Dunciad, as the pub* lisher very wifely confeffes, coft the author fix years retirement from all the pleafures of life; though it is fomewhat difficult to conceive, from either its bulk or beauty, that it could be fo long in hatching, etc. Bot the length of time and clofeness of application were mentioned to pre* poffefs the reader with a good opinion of it.”
They just as well understood what Scriblerus faid of the poem.
& The prefacer to Curl's key, p. 3, took this word to be really in Statias > By a quibble on the word Duncia, the Dunciad is formed." alfo follows him in the fame opinion,
Fome authors, and infertion of others, in their niches. For whoever will confider the unity of the whole defign will be fenfible, that the poem was not made for these authors, but these authors for the poem. I fhould judge that they were clapp'd in as they rose, fresh and fresh, and chang'd from day to day; in like manner as when the old boughs wither, we thruft new ones into a chimney.
I would not have the reader too much troubled or anxious, if he cannot decypher them; fince when he fhall have found them out, he will probably know no more of the persons than before.
Yet we judg'd it better to preserve them as they are, than to change them for fictitious names; by which the fatire would only be multiplied, and applied to many inftead of one. Had the hero, for inftance, been called Codrus, how many would have affirmed him to have been Mr. T. Mr. E. Sir R. B. etc. but now all that unjuft fcandal is faved by calling him a name, which by good luck happens to be that of a real person.