صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

down as a wild beast. Another protests that he does not know what may happen; advises bim to ensure his person; says, he has bitter enemies, and expressly declares it will be well if he escapes with his life. One desires he would cut his own throat, or hang himself 3. But Pasquin seemed rather inclined it should be done by the government, representing him engaged in grievous designs with a lord of parliament then under prosecution". Mr. Dennis himself hath written to a minister, that he is one of the most dangerous persons in this kingdom; and assureth the public, that he is an open and mortal enemy to his country; a monster, that will, one day, show as daring a soul as a mad Indian, who runs a muck to kill the first Christian he meets". Another gives information of treason discovered in his poem '. Mr. Curl boldly supplies an imperfect verse with kings and princesses. And one Matthew Concanen, yet more impudent, publishes at length the two most sacred names in this nation, as members of the Dunciad?!

This is prodigious! yet it is almost as strange, that in the midst of these invectives his greatest enemies have (I know not how) borne testimony to some merit in him.


in censuring his Shakespeare, declares, “He has so great an esteem for Mr. Pope, and so high an opinion of his genius and excellencies; that, notwithstanding he professes a veneration almost rising to idolatry for the writings of this inimitable poet, he would be very loth even to do him justice, at the expense of that other gentleman's character 10"

MR. CHARLES GILDON, after having violently attacked him in many pieces, at last came to wish from his heart, "That Mr. Pope would be prevailed upon to give us Ovid's Epistles by his hand, for it is certain we see the original of Sappho to Phaon with much more life and likeness in his version, than in that of sir Car Scrope. And this (he adds) is the more to be wished, because in the English tongue we have scarcely any thing truly and naturally written upon love "." He also, in taxing sir Richard Blackmore for his heterodox opinions of Homer, challengeth him to answer what Mr. Pope hath said in his preface to that poet.

'Theobald, Letter in Mist's Journal, June



Smedley, Pref. to Gulliveriana, p. 14. 16. * Gulliveriana, p. 332. 4 Anno 1723. Anno 1729.



calls him a great master of our tongue; clares "the purity and perfection of the English language to be found in his Homer; and, saying there are more good verses in Dryden's Virgil than in any other work, except this of our author only '."


says, "Pope was so good a versifier [once] that, his predecessor Mr. Dryden, and his contemporary Mr. Prior excepted, the harmony of his numbers is equal to any body's. And, that he had all the merit, that a man can have that way." And

MR. THOMAS COOKE, after much blemishing our author's Homer, crieth out,

But in his other works what beauties shine, While sweetest music dwells in every line! These he admir'd, on these he stamp'd his praise, And bade them live to brighten future days '. So also one who takes the name of


the maker of certain verses to Duncan Campbell ♦, in that poem, which is wholly a satire upon Mr. Pope, confesseth,

'Tis true, if finest notes alone could show
(Tun'd justly high, or regularly low)

That we should fame to these mere vocals give;
Pope more than we can offer should receive:
For when some gliding river is his theme,
His lines run smoother than the smoothest
stream, &c.

MIST'S JOURNAL, JUNE 8, 1728. Although he says, "The smooth numbers of the Dunciad are all that recommend it, nor has it any other merit ;" yet that same paper hath these words; "The author is allowed to be a perfect master of an easy and elegant versification. In all his works we find the most happy turns, and natural similies, wonderfully short and thick


The Essay on the Dun iad also owns, p. 25. it is very full of beautiful images. But the panegyric, which crowns all that can be said on this poem, is bestowed by our laureate,


who " grants it to be a better poem of its kind than ever was writ:" but ad is, it was a victory over a parcel of poor wretches, whom it was al22,ways cowardice to conquer.-A man might as well triumph for having killed so many silly flies that offended him. Could he have let them alone, by this time, poor souls! they had all been buried in oblivion "." Here we see our excellent laureate allows the justice of the satire on every man in it, but himself; as the great Mr. Dennis did before him.

Preface to Rem. on the Rape of the Lock, p. 12. and in the last page of that treatise.

'Page 6, 7. of the Preface, by Concanen, to a book called, A Collection of all the Letters, Essays, Verses, and Advertisements, occasioned by Pope and Swift's Miscellanies. Printed for A. Moore, octavo, 1712.

Key to the Dunciad, 3d edit. p. 18.

A List of Persons, &c. at the end of the forementioned Collection of all the Letters, Essays, &c.

10 Introduction to his Shakespeare Restored, in quarto, p. 3.

11 Commentary on the duke of Buckingham's Essay, octavo, 1721. p. 97, 98.

The said

MR. DENNIS AND MR. GILDON, in the most furious of all their works (the fore

In his prose Essay on Criticism.

2 Printed by J. Roberts, 1742. p. 11.

3 Battle of the Poets, folio, p. 15.

• Printed under the title of the Progress of Dulness, duodecimo, 1728.

› Cibber's Letter to Mr. Pope, p. 9, 12.

cited character, p. 5.) do in concert confess, "That some men of good understanding value him for his rhymes." And (p. 17.) "that he has got, like Mr. Bays in the Rehearsal (that is, like Mr. Dryden), a notable knack at rhyming, and writing smooth verse."

Of his Essay on Man, numerous were the praises bestowed by his avowed enemies, in the imagination that the same was not written by him, as it was printed anonymously.

Thus sang of it even


Auspicious bard! while all admire thy strain, All but the selfish, ignorant, and vain; I, whom no bribe to servile flattery drew, Must pay the tribute to thy merit due: Thy Muse sublime, significant, and clear, Alike informs the soul and charms the ear, &c. And

MR. LEONARD WELSTED thus wrote to the unknown author, on the first publication of the said essay; I must own, after the reception which the vilest and most immoral ribaldry hath lately met with, I was surprised to see what I had long despaired, a performance deserving the name of a poet. Such, sir, is your work. It is, indeed, above all commendation, and ought to have been published in an age and country more worthy of it. If my testimony be of weight any where, you are sure to have it in the amplest manner," &c. &c. &c.

Thus we see every one of his works hath been extolled by one or other of his most inveterate enemies; and to the success of them all they do unanimously give testimony. But it is sufficient, instar omnium, to behold the great critic, Mr. Dennis, sorely lamenting it, even from the Essay on Criticism to this day of the Dunciad! "A most notorious instance (quoth he) of the depravity of genius and taste, the approbation

in concert] Hear how Mr. Dennis hath proved our mistake in this place: "As to my writing in concert with Mr. Gildon, I declare upon the honour and word of a gentleman, that I never wrote so much as one line in concert with any one man whatsoever. And these two letters from Gildon will plainly show, that we are not writers in concert with each other.

[blocks in formation]


I had not the opportunity of hearing of your excellent pamphlet till this day. I am infinitely satisfied and pleased with it, and hope you will meet with that encouragement your admirable performance deserves,' &c. 'CH. GILDON.'

"Now is it not plain that any one who sends such compliments to another, has not been used to write in partnership with him to whom he sends them?" Dennis, Remarks on the Dunciad, p. 50. Mr. Dennis is therefore welcome to take this piece to himself.

2 In a letter under his own hand, dated March 12, 1733.

this Essay meets with'.-I can safely affirm, that I never attacked any of these writings, unless they had success infinitely beyond their merit. This, though an empty, has been a popular scribbler. The epidemic madness of the times has given him reputation. 2-If, after the cruel treatment so many extraordinary men (Spenser, Lord Bacon, Ben Jonson, Milton, Butler, Otway, and others) have received from this country, for these last hundred years, I should shift the scene, and show all that penury changed at once to riot and profuseness; and more squandered away upon one object, than would have satisfied the greater part of those extraordinary men; the reader to whom this one creature should be unknown, would fancy him a prodigy of art and nature, would believe that all the great qualities of these persons were centered in him alone. But if I should venture to assure him, that the people of England had made such a choice-the reader would either believe me a malicious enemy, and slanderer; or that the reign of the last (queen Anne's) ministry was designed by fate to encourage fools."

But it happens, that this our poet never had any place, pension, or gratuity, in any shape, from the said glorious queen, or any of her ministers. All he owed, in the whole course of his life, to any court, was a subscription for his Homer, of 2001. from king George I. and 1001. from the prince and princess.

However, lest we imagine our Author's success was constant and universal, they acquaint us of certain works in a less degree of repute, whereof, although owned by others, yet do they assure us he is the writer. Of this sort Mr. Dennis* ascribes to him two farces, whose names he does not tell, but assures us that there is not one jest in them: and an imitation of Horace, whose title he does not mention, but assures us it is much more execrable than all his works'. The Daily Journal, "He is below Tom May 11, 1728, assures us, Durfey in the drama, because (as that writer thinks) the Marriage-hater matched, and the Boarding-school, are better than the What-d'yecall-it;" which is not Mr. P.'s, but Mr. Gay's. Mr. Gildon assures us, in his New Rehearsal, p. 48. "That he was writing a play of the lady Jane Grey;" but it afterwards proved to be Mr. Rowe's. We are assured by another, " He wrote a pamphlet called Dr. Andrew Tripe';" which proved to be one Dr. Wagstaff's. Mr. Theobald assures us, in Mist of the 27th of April," That the treatise of the Profound is very dull, and that Mr. Pope is the author of it." The writer of Gulliveriana is of another opinion; and says, "The whole, or greatest part, of the merit of this treatise must and can only be ascribed to Gulliver'." [Here, gentle reader! cannot I but smile at the strange blindness and positiveness of men; knowing the said treatise to appertain none other but to me, Martinus Scriblerus.]


[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

We are assured, in Mist of June 8, "That his own plays and farces would better have adorned the Dunciad, than those of Mr. Theobald; for he had neither genius for tragedy nor comedy." Which whether true or not, it is not easy to judge; in as much as he had attempted neither. Unless we will take it for granted, with Mr. Cibber, that his being once very angry at hearing a friend's play abused, was an infallible proof the play was his own; the said Mr. Cibber thinking it impossible for a man to be much concerned for any but himself: "Now let any man judge (saith he) by his concern, who was the true mother of the child '?"

But from all that hath been said, the discerning reader will collect, that it little availed our author to have any candour, since, when he declared he did not write for others, it was not credited; as little to have any modesty, since, when he declined writing in any way himself, the presumption of others was imputed to him. If he singly enterprised one great work, he was taxed of boldness and madness to a prodigy: if he took assistants in another, it was complained of, and represented as a great injury to the public. The loftiest heroics, the lowest ballads, treatises against the state or church, satires on lords and ladies, raillery on wits and authors, squabbles with booksellers, or even full and true accounts of monsters, poisons, and murders; of any hereof was there nothing so good, nothing so bad, which hath not at one or other season been to him ascribed. If it bore no author's name, then lay he concealed; if it did, he fathered it upon that author to be yet better concealed: if it resembled any of his styles, then was it evident; if it did not, then disguised he it on set purpose. Yea, even direct oppositions in religion, principles, and politics, have equally been supposed in him inherent. Surely a most rare and singular character; of which let the reader make what he


Doubtless most commentators would hence take occasion to turn all to their author's advantage, and from the testimony of his very enemies would affirm, that his capacity was boundless, as well as his imagination; that he was a perfect master of all styles, and all arguments; and that there was in those times no other writer, in any kind, of any degree of excellence, save he himself. But as this is not our own sentiment, we shall determine on nothing but leave thee, gentle reader, to steer thy judgment equally between various opinions, and to chuse whether thou wilt incline to the testimonies of authors avowed, or of authors concealed: of those who knew him, or of those who knew him not.




THIS poem, as it celebrateth the most grave and ancient of things, Chaos, Night, and Dulness :

'Cibber's Letter to Mr. P. p. 19.

2 Burnet's Homerides, p. 1. of his translation of the Iliad.

The London and Mist's Journals, on his undertaking the Odyssey,

so is it of the most grave and ancient kind, Homer (saith Aristotle) was the first who gave the form, and (saith Horace) who adapted the measure, to heroic poesy. But even before this, may be rationally presumed from what the ancients have left written, was a piece by Homer composed, of like nature and matter with this of our poet. For of epic sort it appeareth to have been, yet of matter surely not unpleasant, witness what is reported of it by the learned archbishop Eustathius, in Odyss. x. And accordingly Aristotle, in his Poetics, chap. iv. doth further set forth, that as the Iliad and Odyssey gave example to tragedy, so did this poem to comedy its first idea.

From these authors also it should seem, that the hero, or chief personage of it was no less obscure, and his understanding and sentiments no less quaint and strange (if indeed not more so) than any of the actors of our poem. Margites was the name of this personage, whom antiquity recordeth to have been Dunce the first; and surely from what we hear of him, not unworthy to be the root of so spreading a tree, and so numerous a posterity. The poem therefore celebrating him was properly and absolutely a Dunciad; which though now unhappily lost, yet is its nature sufficiently known by the infallible tokens aforesaid. And thus it doth appear that the first Dunciad was the first epic poem, written by Homer himself, and anterior even to the Iliad or Odyssey.

Now, forasmuch as our poet hath translated those two famous works of Homer which are yet left, he did conceive it in some sort his duty to imitate that also which was lost and was therefore induced to bestow on it the same form which Homer's is reported to have had, namely, that of Epic Poem; with a title also framed after the ancient Greek manner, to wit, that of Dunciad.

Wonderful it is, that so few of the moderns have been stimulated to attempt some Dunciad! since, in the opinion of the multitude, it might cost less pain and toil than an imitation of the greater epic. But possible it is also, that, on due reflection, the maker might find it easier to paint a Charlemagne, a Brute, or a Godfrey, with just pomp and dignity heroic, than a Margites, a Codrus, or a Fleckno.

We shall next declare the occasion and the cause which moved our poet to this particular work. He lived in those days, when (after Providence had permitted the invention of printing as a scourge for the sins of the learned) paper also became so cheap, and printers so numerous, that a deluge of authors covered the land: whereby not only the peace of the honest unwriting subject was daily molested, but unmerciful demands were made of his applause, yea of his money, by such as would neither earn the one, nor deserve the other. At the same time, the licence of the press was such, that it grew dangerous to refuse them either: for they would forthwith publish slanders unpunished, the authors being anonymous, and skulking under the wings of publishers, a set of men who neither scrupled to vend either calumny or blasphemy, as long as the town would call for it.

Now our author, living in those times, did

! Vide Bossu, Du Poeme Epique, chap. viii.

As for the characters, the public hath already acknowledged how justly they are drawn: the manners are so depicted, and the sentiment so peculiar to those to whom applied, that surely to transfer them to any other or wiser personages, would be exceeding difficult: and certain it is, that every person concerned, being consulted apart, hath readily owned the resemblance of every portrait, his own excepted. So Mr. Cibber calls them, a parcel of poor wretches, so many silly flies :" but adds, our author's wit is remarkably "more bare and barren, whenever it would fall foul on Cibber, than upon any other person whatever."

[ocr errors]

conceive it an endeavour well worthy an honest | fifth, the dark and dirty party-writer: and so of satirist, to dissuade the dull, and punish the the rest: assigning to each some proper name wicked, the only way that was left. In that pub- or other, such as he could find. lic spirited view he laid the plan of this poem, as the greatest service he was capable (without much hurt, or being slain) to render his dear country. First, taking things from their original, he considereth the causes creative of such authors, namely Dulness and Poverty; the one born with them, the other contracted by neglect of their proper talents, through self-conceit of greater abilities. This truth he wrappeth in an allegory' (as the construction of epic poesy requireth), and feigns that one of these goddesses had taken up her abode with the other, and that they jointly inspired all such writers and such works. He proceedeth to show the qualities they bestow on these authors, and the effects they produce3: then the materials, or stock, with which they furnish them; and (above all) that self-opinion which causeth it to seem to themselves vastly greater than it is, and is the prime motive of their setting up in this sad and sorry merchandise. The great power of these goddesses acting in alliance (whereof as the one is the mother of industry, so is the other of plodding) was to be exemplified in some one great and remarkable action: and none could be more so than which our poet hath chosen, viz. the restoration of the reign of Chaos and Night, by the ministry of Dulness their daughter, in the removal of her imperial seat from the sity to the polite world; as the action of the Eneid is the restoration of the empire of Troy, by the removal of the race from thence to La-been censured by the sound critic. How exact tium. But as Homer singeth only the wrath of Achilles, yet includes in his poem the whole history of the Trojan war, in like manner our author hath drawn into this single action the whole history of Dulness and her children.

A person must next be fixed upon to support this action. This phantom in the poet's mind must have a name : he finds it to be -: and he becomes of course the hero of the poem.

The fable being thus, according to the best example, one and entire, as contained in the proposition; the machinery is a continued chain of allegories, setting forth the whole power, ministry, and empire of Dulness, extended through her subordinate instruments, in all her various operations.

This is branched into episodes, each of which hath its moral apart, though all conducive to the main end. The crowd assembled in the second book, demonstrates the design to be more extensive than to bad poets only, and that we may expect other episodes of the patrons, encouragers, or paymasters of such authors, as occasion shall bring them forth. And the third book, if well considered, seemeth to embrace the whole world. Each of the games relateth to some or other vile class of writers: the first concerneth the plagiary, to whom he giveth the name of Moore; the second, the libellous novelist, whom he stileth Eliza; the third, the flattering dedicator; the fourth, the bawling critic, or noisy poet; the

[blocks in formation]

The descriptions are singular, the comparisons very quaint, the narration various, yet of one colour: the purity and chastity of diction is so preserved, that, in the places most suspicious, not the words but only the images have been censured, and yet are those images no other than have been sanctified by ancient and classical authority (though, as was the manner of those good times, not so curiously wrapped up), yea, and commented upon by the most grave doctors, and approved critics.

As it beareth the name of epic, it is thereby subject to such severe indispensable rules as are laid on all neoterics, a strict imitation of the ancients; insomuch that any deviation, accompanied with whatever poetic beauties, hath always

that limitation hath been in this piece, appeareth not only by its general structure, but by particular illusions infinite, many whereof have escaped both the commentator and poet himself; yea, divers by his exceeding diligence are so altered and interwoven with the rest, that several have already been, and more will be, by the ignorant abused, as altogether and originally his


In a word, the whole poem proveth itself to be the work of our author, when his faculties were in full vigour and perfection; at that exact time when years have ripened the judgment, without diminishing the imagination which, by good critics, is held to be punctually at forty. For at that season it was that Virgil finished his Georgics; and sir Richard Blackmore, at the like age, composing his Arthurs, declared the same to be the very acme and pitch of life for epic poesy: though since he hath altered it to sixty, the year in which he published his Alfred 2. True it is, that the talents for criticism, namely, smartness, quick censure, vivacity of remark, certainty of asseveration, indeed all but acerbity, seem rather the gifts of youth, than of riper age: but it is far otherwise in poetry; witness the works of Mr. Rymer and Mr. Dennis, who, beginning with criticism, becaine afterwards such poets as no age hath paralleled. With good reason therefore did our author chuse to write his essay on that subject at twenty, and reserve for his maturer years this great and wonderful work of the Dunciad.

1 Cibber's Letter to Mr. P. page 9. 12. 41. 2 See his Essays.



Or the nature of Dunciad in general, whence derived, and on what authority founded, as well as of the art and conduct of this our poem in particular, the learned and laborious Scriblerus hath, according to his manner, and with tolerable share of judgment, dissertated. But when he cometh to speak of the person of the hero fitted for such poem, in truth he miserably halts and hallucinates: for, misled by one Monsieur Bossu, a Gallic critic, he prateth of I cannot tell what phantom of a hero, only raised up to support the fable. A putid conceit! As if Homer and Virgil, like modern undertakers, who first build their house and then seek out for a tenant, had contrived the story of a war and a wandering, before they once thought either of Achilles or Eneas. We shall therefore set our good brother and the world also right in this particular, by assuring them, that, in the greater epic, the prime intention of the Muse is to exalt heroic virtue, in order to propagate the love of it among the children of men; and consequently that the poet's first thought must needs be turned upon a real subject meet for laud and celebration; not one whom he is to make, but one whom he may find, truly illustrious. This is the primum mobile of his poetic world, whence every thing is to receive life and motion. For, this subject being found, he is immediately ordained, or rather acknowledged, an hero, and put upon such action as befitteth the dignity of his character.

ancient Dunciads (as we may well term it) is come down unto us, amongst the tragedies of the poet Euripides. And what doth the reader suppose may be the subject thereof? Why in truth, and it is worthy observation, the unequal contest of an old, dull, debauched buffoon Cyclops, with the heaven-directed favourite of Minerva ; who, after having quietly borne all the monster's obscene and impious ribaldry, endeth the farce in punishing him with the mark of an indelible brand in his forehead. May we not then be excused, if, for the future, we consider the epics of Homer, Virgil, and Milton, together with this our poem, as a complete tetralogy; in which the last worthily holdeth the place or station of the satiric piece?

Proceed we therefore in our subject. It hath been long, and alas for pity! still remaineth a question, whether the hero of the greater epic should be an honest man; or as the French critics express it, un honnête homme': but it never admitted of a doubt, but that the hero of the little epic should be just the contrary. Hence, to the advantage of our Dunciad, we may observe, how much juster the moral of that poem must needs be, where so important a question is previously decided.

But then it is not every knave, nor (let me add) every fool, that is a fit subject for a Dunciad. There must still exist some analogy, if not resemblance of qualities between the heroes of the two poems; and this in order to admit what neoteric critics call the parody, one of the liveliest graces of the little epic. Thus it being agreed that the constituent qualities of the greater epic hero, are wisdom, bravery, and love, from whence springeth heroic virtue; it followeth, that those of the lesser epic hero should be vanity, assurance, and debauchery, from which assemblage resulteth heroic dulness, the neverdying subject of this our poem.

This being settled, come we now to particulars. It is the character of true wisdom, to seek its chief support and confidence within itself; and to place that support in the resources which proceed from a conscious rectitude of will.—And are the advantages of vanity, when arising to the heroic standard, at all short of this self-complacence? nay, are they not, in the opinion of the enamoured owner, far beyond it? "Let the

But the Muse ceaseth not here her eagle-flight. For sometimes, satiated with the contemplation of these suns of glory, she turneth downward on her wing, and darts with Jove's lightning on the goose and serpent kind. For we may apply to the Muse in her various moods, what an ancient master of wisdom affirmeth of the gods in general: Si Dii non irascuntur impiis et injustis, nec pios utique justosque diligunt. In rebus enim diversis, aut in utramque partem moveri necesse est aut in neutram. Itaque qui bonos diligit, et malos odit; et qui malos non odit, nec bonos diligit. Quia et diligere bonos ex odio malorum venit; et malos odisse ex bonorum caritate descendit. Which in our vernacular idiom may be thus interpreted: "If the gods be not provoked at evil men, neither are they delighted with the good and just. For contrary ob-world" (will such an one say) "impute to me what jects must either excite contrary affections, or no affections at all. So that he who loveth good men, must at the same time hate the bad; and he who hateth not bad men, cannot love the good; because to love good men proceedeth from an aversion to evil, and to hate evil men from a tenderness to the good." From this delicacy of the Muse arose the little epic (more lively and choleric than her elder sister, whose bulk and complexion incline her to the phlegmatic): and for this, some notorious vehicle of vice and folly was sought out, to make thereof an example. An early instance of which (nor could it escape the accurate Scriblerus) the father of epic poem himself affordeth us. From him the practice descended to the Greek dramatic poets, his off spring; who, in the composition of their tetralogy, or set of four pieces, were wont to make the last a satiric tragedy. Happily, one of these

folly or weakness they please; but till wisdom
can give me something that will make me more
heartily happy, I am content to be gazed at?"
This, we see, is vanity according to the heroic
gage or measure; not that low and ignoble species
which pretendeth to virtues we have not; but the
laudable ambition of being gazed at for glorying
in those vices, which every body knows we have.
"The world may ask" (says he) "why I make
my follies public? Why not?
I have passed
my life very pleasantly with them." In short,
there is no sort of vanity such a hero would
scruple, but that which might go near to degrade

Si un heros poëtique doit être un honnête
homine. Bossu, du
Poême Epique, liv. v.
ch. 5.

2 Ded. to the Life of C. C.


Life, p. 2. oct. edit.

« السابقةمتابعة »