« PreviousContinue »
If a word or two more are added upon the chief offenders, 'tis only as a paper pinned upon the breaft, to mark the enormities for which they fuffered; left the correction only should be remembered, and the crime forgotten.
In fome articles it was thought fufficient, barely to transcribe from Jacob, Curl, and other writers of their own rank, who were much better acquainted with them than any of the authors of this comment can pretend to be. Moft of them had drawn each other's characters on certain occafions; but the few here inferted are all that could be faved from the genera deftruction of such works.
Of the part of Scriblerus I need fay nothing; his manner is well enough known, and approved by all but those who are too much concerned to be judges.
The imitations of the Ancients are added, to gratify those who either never read, or may have forgotten them; together with fome of the parodies and allufions to the most excellent of the Moderns. If, from the frequency of the former, any man thinks the poem too anuch a Cento, our poet will but appear to have done the fame thing in jeft which Boileau did in earneft; and upon which Vida, Fracaftorius, and many of the moft eminent Latin poets, profeffedly value themfelves.
To the FIRST EDITION of
The FOURTH Всoк of the DUNCIAD, when printed feparately in the Year 1742.
WE apprehend it can be deemed no injury to the au
thor of the three firft books of the Dunciad, that we publish this Fourth. It was found merely by accident, in taking a furvey of the Library of a late eminent nobleman; but in fo blotted a condition, and in fo many detached pieces, as plainly fhewed it to be not only incorrect, but unfinished. That the author of the three firft books had a defign to extend and complete his poem in this manner, appears from the differtation prefixed to it, where it is faid, that the defign is more extenfive, and that we may expect other episodes to complete it: And from the declaration in the argument to the third book, that the accom plishment of the prophefies therein would be the theme hereafter of a greater Dunciad. But whether or no he be the author of this, we declare ourselves ignorant. If he be, we are no more to be blamed for the publication of it, than Tucca and Varius for that of the laft fix books of the Eneid, tho' perhaps inferior to the former.
If any person be poffeffed of a more perfect copy of this work, or of any other fragments of it, and will communicate them to the publisher, we fhall make the next edition more complete: In which we also promise to infert any Criticifms that fhall be published (if at all to the purpose) with the Names of the Authors; or any letters fent us (tho' not to the purpose) fhall yet be printed under the title of Epiftola Obfcurorum Virorum; which, together with fome others of the fame kind formerly laid by for that end, may make no unpleasant addition to the future impreffions of this poem.
To the complete EDITION of 1743.
HAVE long had a defign of giving fome fort of Notes. on the works of this poet. Before I had the happiness of his acquaintance, I had written a commentary on his Efay on Man, and have fince finished another on the Effay on Criticifm. There was one already on the Dunciad, which had met with general approbation: but I ftill thought fome additions were wanting (of a more serious kind) to the humorous notes of Scriblerus, and even to those written by Mr. Cleland, Dr. Arbuthnot, and others. I had lately the pleasure to pafs fome months with the author in the country, where 1 prevailed upon him to do what I had long defired, and favour me with his explanation of several paffages in his works. It happened, that just at that juncture was published a ridiculous book against him, full of personal Reflections, which furnish'd him with a lucky opportunity of improving This Poem, by giving it the only thing it wanted, a more confiderable Hero. He was always fenfible of its defect in that particular, and owned he had let it pass with the Hero it had, purely for want of a better, not entertaining the least expectation that such an one was reserved for this Poft, as has fince obtained the Laurel: But fince that had happened, he could no longer deny this juftice either to him or the Dunciad.
And yet 1 will venture to fay, there was another motive which had ftill more weight with our Author: This person was one, who from every Folly (not to fay Vice) of which another would be afhamed, has conftantly derived a Vanity; and therefore was the man in the world who would leaft be hurt by it.
Printed in the JOURNALS, 1730.
WHEREAS, upon occafion of certain Pieces relating
to the Gentlemen of the Dunciad, fome have been willing to fuggeft, as if they looked upon them as an abufe: we can do no less than own, it is our opinion, that to call these gentlemen bad authors is no fort of abuse, but a great truth. We cannot alter this opinion without fome reafon; but we promife to do it in refpect to every perfon who thinks it an injury to be reprefented as no Wit, or Poet, provided he procures a Certificate of his being really fuch, from any three of his companions in the Dunciad, or from Mr. Dennis fingly, who is esteemed equal to any three of the number.