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• 'Tis true, if finest notes alone could shew
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 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 laureate,
Mr. Colley Cibber; 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 coward. ice 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. The said
Mr. Dennis and Mr. Gildon, in the most furious of all their words (the forecited Character, p. 5), do in concertt confess, ' That some men of good understanding value him for his rhymes.' And (p. 17) 'that he has got, like Mr. Bayes in the
* Cibber's Letter to Mr. Pope, p. 9. 12. + In concert] Hear how Mr. Dennis hath proved our mistake in this case: 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.
“Sir, “ The height of my ambition is to please men of the best judg
Rehearsal (that is, like Mr. Dryden), a notable knack at rhyming, and writing smooth verse.'
On 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
Bezaleel Morris :
Alike informs the soul, and charms the ear,' &c.
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 ment; and, finding that I have entertained my master agreeably, I have the extent of the reward of my labour."
“Sir, phlet 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
Dunciad, p. 50. Mr. Dennis is therefore welcome to take this piece to himself. * In a letter under his own hand, dated March 12, 1733.
the Dunciad! • A most notorious instance (quoth he) of the depravity of genius and taste, the 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 epi. demic madness of the times has given him reputation.t -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 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.'I
But it happens that this cur 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, wherevf, although owned by others, yet do they assure us he is the writer. Of this sort Mr. Dennisg 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
* Dennis, Pref. to his Reflect. on the Essay on Criticism.
Ib. p. 8.
Journal, May 11, 1728, assures us, 'He is below Tom Durfey in the drama, because (as that writer thinks) the Marriage-Hater Matched, and the Boarding School, are better than the What-d'ye-call-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 afterward 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.t [Here, gentle reader! can not I but smile at the strange blindness and positiveness of men; knowing the said treatise to appertain to none other but to me, Martinus Scriblerus.)
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.'i
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 enterprized one great work, he was taxed of boldness and madness to a prodigy :if
# Character of Mr. Pope, p. 6. + Gulliv. p. 336.
be took assistants in another, it was complained of, and represented as a great injury to the public.* The luftiest 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 can.
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 choose 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 pot.
OF THE POEM. This poem, as it celebrateth the most grave and ancient of things, Chaos, Night, and Dulness: 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, # The London and Mist's Journals, on his undertaking