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publish injuries or misfortunes, which had never been known unless related by himself, and at which those that hear them will only laugh; for no man sympathises with the sorrows of vanity.
The history of the Dunciad is very minutely related by Pope himself, in a Dedication which he wrote to Lord Middiesex in the name of Savage.
" I will relate the war of the Dunces “ (for so it has been commonly called), “ which began in the year 1727, and is ended in 1730.
When Dr. Swift and Mr. Pope thought it proper, for reasons fpeci“ fied in the Preface to their Miscella
nies, to publish such little pieces of " theirs as had casually got abroad,
“ there was added to them the Treatise “ of the Bathos, or the Art of Sinking in 66 Poetry. It happened that in one chap“ ter of this piece the several species of ** bad poets were ranged in classes, to " which were prefixed almost all the " letters of the alphabet (the greatest
part of them at random); but such
was the number of poets eminent in " that art, that fome one or other took
every letter to himself: all fell into " so violent a fury, that, for half a year
or more, the common newspapers (in - most of which they had some proper
ty, as being hired writers) were filled “ with the most abusive falfhoods and “ fcurrilities they could possibly devise. * A liberty no way to be wondered at
“ in those people, and in those papers, " that for many years, during the un66 controulcd license of the press, had
aspersed almost all the great charac“ ters of the age; and this with impu“ nity, their own persons and names “ being utterly secret and obscure.
“ This gave Mr. Pope the thought, “s that he had now some opportunity of “ doing good, by detecting and dragging “ into light these common enemies of " mankind; since, to invalidate this “ universal slander, it sufficed to thew 66 what contemptible men were the au
thors of it. He was not without
hopes, that, by manifesting the dull“ ness of those who had only malice to " recommend them, either the book
6 fellers would not find their account in
employing them, or the men them“ selves, when discovered, want courage " to proceed in so unlawful an occupa« tion. This it was that gave birth to «s the Dunciad; and he thought it an
happiness, that, by the late flood of “ fiander on himself, he had acquired “ such a peculiar right over their names “ as was neceffary to this design.
- On the 12th of March, 1729, at “ St. James's, that poem was presented “ to the King and Queen (who had be“ fore been pleased to read it) by the “ right honourable Sir Robert Wal
pole : and some days after the whole “ impreslion was taken and dispersed by I 3.
" several poblemen and persons of the “ first distinction.
“ It is certainly a true observation, “ that no people are fo impatient of “ censure as those who are the greatest “ flanderers, which was wonderfully
exemplified on this occasion. On the
day the book was first vended, a “ crowd of authors befieged the shop; " intreaties, advices, threats of law and
battery, nay cries of treason, were all
employed to hinder the coming-out " of the Dunciad: on the other side, " the booksellers and hawkers made as
great efforts to procure it. What “ could a few poor authors do against “ so great a majority as the publick?