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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 hin.
in censuring his Shakspeare, 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 expence of that other gentleman's character."
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 scarce any thing truly and naturally written upon Love§." He also, in taxing Sir Richard Blackmore for his heterodox opinions of Homer, challenges him to answer what Mr. Pope hath said in his preface to that poet.
Pages 6, 7, of the Preface, by Concanen, to a book, intitled, "A Collection of all the Letters, Essays, Verses, and Advertisements, occasioned by Pope and Swift's Miscellanies." Printed for A. Moore, 8vo. 1714.
Key to the Dunciad, 3d edition, p. 18.
A List of Persons, &c. at the end of the forementioned Collection of all the Letters, Essays, &c.
Introduction to Shakspeare Restored, 4to. p. 3
Commentary on the Duke of Buckingham's Essay, 8vo. 1721, P. 97, 98.
calls him a great master of our tongue; declares "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, excepts this of our author only *.
THE AUTHOR OF A LETTER TO MR. CIBBER
says, "Pope was so good a versifier [once] that his 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,
So also one who takes the name of
the maker of certain verses to Duncan Campbell, in that poem, which is wholly a satire on 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
In his prose Essay on Criticism.
Printed by J. Roberts, 1742, p. 11.
Battle of Poets, folio, p. 15.
Printed under the title of The Progress of Dulness, 12mo. 1728.
easy and elegant versification. In all his works we find the most happy turns, and natural similes, wonderfully short and thick sown.'
The Essay on the Dunciad 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 Laureat,
MR. COLLEY CIBEER,
who "grants it to be a better poem of its kind than ever was writ:" but adds, "it was a victory over a parcel of poor wretches, whom it was almost 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 Laureat allows the justice of the satire on every man in it but himself, as the great Mr. Dennis did before him.
MR. DENNIS AND MR. GILDON,
in the most furious of all their works, (the forecited Character, p. 5.) do in concert† confess," that some
Cibber's Letter to Mr. Pope, p. 9, 12.
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 shew that we are not writers in concert with each other:
The height of my ambition is to please men of the best judgment; and finding that I have entertained my master agreeably, I have the extent of the reward of my labour.
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,
men of good understanding value him for his rhymes." And (p. 17.) "that he has got, like Mr. Bayes 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,
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 bis most inveterate enemies; and to the success of them all, they do unanimously give testimony. But it is suficient, instur 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
In a letter under his hand, dated March 12, 1733.
approbation 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 f.-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 shew 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 hum 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
Dennis, Preface to his Reflections on the Essay on Criticism. + Preface to his Remarks on Homer. Ibid. p. 8.
Remarks on Homer, p. 8, 9.