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The first publication of this Epistle.
T H IS paper is a sort of bill of complaint, be
gun many years since, and drawn up by snatches,
as the several occasions offered. I had no thoughts of publishing it, till it pleased some Persons of Rank and Fortune [the Authors of Verses to the Imitator of Horace, and of an Epistle to a Doctor of Divinity from a Nobleman at Hampton Court] to attack, in a very extraordinary manner, not only my Writings (of which, being public, the Public is judge) but my Perfon, Morals, and Family, whereof, to those who know me not, a truer information may be requisite. Being divided between the necessity to say something of myfelf, and my own laziness to undertake so awkward a talk, I thought it the shortest way to put the last hand to this Epistle. If it have any thing pleasing, it will be that by which I am most desirous to please, the Truth and the Sentiment; and if any thing offensive, it will be only to those I am least forry to offend, the vicious or the ungenerous.
Many will know their own pictures in it, there being not a circumstance but what is true; but I have,
for the most part, spared their Names, and they may escape being laughed at, if they please.
I would have some of them know, it was owing to the request of the learned and candid Friend to whom it is inscribed, that I make not as free use of theirs as they have done of mine. However, I shall have this advantage, and honour, on my side, that whereas, by their proceeding, any abuse may be directed at any man, no injury can possibly be done by mine, since a nameless Character can never be found out, but by its truth and likeness.
E P I S T L E
TO Dr. ARBUTHNOT. An Apology for himself and his Writings:
Ep. to Dr. Arbuthnot.]. AT the time of publishing this Epistle, the Poet's patience was quite exhausted by the endless impertinence of Poetasters of all ranks and conditions ; as well those who courted his favour, as those who envied his reputation. So that now he had resolved to quit his hands of both together, by the publication of a DUNCIAD. This design he communicated to his excellent Friend Dr. ARBUTHNOT, who, although as a Man of Wit and Learning he might not have been displeased to see their common injuries revenged on this pernicious Tribe; yet, as our Author's Friend and Physician, was solicitous of his ease and health; and therefore unwilling he should provoke fo large and powerful a party.
Their difference of opinion, in this matter, gives occasion to the following Dialogue. Where, in a natural and familiar detail of all his Provocations, both from flatterers and slanderers, our Author has artfully interwoven an Apology for his moral and poetic Character.
For after having told his case, and humourously applied to his Physician in the manner one would ask for a Receipt to kill Vermin, he ftrait goes on, in the common Character of Alkers of advice, to tell his Doctor that he had already taken his party, and determined of his remedy. But using a preamble, and introducing it in the way of Poets) with a Simile, in which he names Kings, Queens, and Ministers of State, his Friend takes the alarm, begs him to forbear, to stick to his subject, and to be easy under lo common a calamity.
To make fo light of his disaster provokes the Poet : he breaks the thread of his difcourse, which was to lead his Friend gently, and by degrees, into his project; and abruptly tells him the application of his Simile, at once,
Out with it, Dunciad! let the secret fafs, &c.
But recollecting the humanity and tenderness of his Friend, which, he apprehends, might be a little shocked at the apparent feverity of such a proceeding, he assures him, that his goodnature is alarmed without a cause, for that nothing has less feeling than this sort of Offenders; which he illustrates in the Examples of a damn'd Poet, a detečted Slanderer, a Table-Parasite, a Church-Buffoon, and a Party-Writer (from Ý I to 100.]
But, in this enumeration, coming again to Names, his Friend once more stops him, and bids him consider what hostilities this general attack will set on foot. So much the better, replies the Poet; for, considering the strong antiphathy of bad to good, enemies they will always be, either open or secret : and it admits of no question, but a Slanderer is less hurtful than a Flatterer. For, says he (in a pleasant Simile addressed to his Friend's profeffion)
Of all mad creatures, if the learn'd are right,
It is the slaver kills, and not the bite. And how abject and exceffive the flattery of these creatures was, he shews, by observing, that they praised him even for his infirmities; his bad health, and his inconvenient shape [x 100 to 125.]
But still it might be said, that if he could bear this evil of Authorship no better, he should not have wrote at all. To this he answers, by lamenting the natural bent of his disposition, which, from his very birth, had drawn him so strongly towards Poetry, as if it were in execution of some secret decree of Heaven for crimes unknown. But though he offended in becoming an Author, he offended in nothing else. For his early verses were perfectly innocent and harmless,
Like gentle Fanny's was my flowing theme,
A painted mistress, or a purling stream. Yet even then, he tells us, two enraged and hungry Critics fell upon him, without any provocation. But this might have been borne, as the common lot of distinction. But it was his peculiar ill-fortune to create a Jealousy in One, whom not only many good offices done by our Author to him and his friends, but a fimilitude of genius and studies might have inclined to a reciprocal affection and support. On the contrary, that otherwise amiable Person, being, by nature, timorous and suspicious; by education a party-man; and, by the circumstances of fortune, beset with flatterers and pick-thanks; regarded our Author as his Rival, set up by a contrary Faction, with views destructive of public liberty, and his friend's reputation. And all this, with as