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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
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 Dialogiie. Where, in a natural and familiar detail of all his Provocations, both from flatterers and fanderers, 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 strait goes on, in the common Character of Askers of advice, to tell his Doctor that he had already taken his party, and determined of his remedy. But ufing 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 to 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 pafs, &c.
But recollecting the humanity and tenderness of his Friend, which, he apprehends, might be a little shocked at the apparent severity 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 detected Slanderer, a Table-Parasite, a Church-Buffoon, and a Party-Writer (from y 1 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 flaver kills, and not the bite. And how abject and excessive 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 difpofition, 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, fet up by a contrary Faction, with views destructive of public liberty, and his friend's reputation. And all this, with as
little provocation from Mr. Pope's conduct in his poetic, as in his civil character.
For though he had got a Namë (the reputation of which he agreeably rallies in the description he gives of it) yet he never, even when most in fashion, set up for a Patron, or a Dictator amongst the Wits; but still kept in his usual privacy; leaving the whole Caftalian ftate, as he calls it, to a Mock-Mecenas, whom he next describes [Ý 125 to 261.]
And, ftruck with the sense of that dignity and felicity inseparable from the character of a true Poet, he breaks out into a passionate vow for a continuance of the full Liberty attendant on it. And to fhew how well he deserves it, and how fafely he might be trusted with it, he concludes his wish with a description of his temper and disposition [x 261 to 271.]
This naturally leads him to complain of his Friends, when they consider him in no other view than that of an Author: as if he had neither the same right to the enjoyments of life, the same concern for his highest interests, or the same difpofitions of benevolence, with other people.
Besides, he now admonishes them, in his turn, that they do not consider to what they expose him, when they urge him to write on; namely, to the suspicions and the displeasure of a Court; who are made to believe, he is always writing; or at least to the foolish criticisms of court sycophants, who pretend to find him, by his style, in the immoral libels of every idle fcribler : though he, in the mean time, be so far from countenancing fuch worthless trash in others, that he would be ready to execrate even his own best vein of poetry, if made at the expence
of Truth or Innocence.
Or from the soft-ey'd virgin steal a téar. (Sentiments, which no efforts of genius, without the concúra rence of the heart, could have expressed in strains so exquisitely
, sublime) that the fole object of his refentment was vice and baseness. In the detection of which, he artfully takes occasion to speak of that by which he himself had been injured and ofm fended : and concludes with the character of one who had wantonly outraged him, and in the moft fenfible manner [ x 271 to 334.)
And here, moved again with fresh indignation at his flanderers, he takes the advice of Horace, fume fuperbiam quæsitam. meritis, and draws a fine picture of his moral and poetic conduct through life. In which he shews that not fame, but VIRTUE was the constant object of his ambition: that for this he opposed himself to all the violence of Cabals, and the treacheries of Courts: the various iniquities of which having distinctly specified, he sums them up in that most atrocious and senGble of all, [V 334 to 359.)
The whisper, that to greatness still too near,
For thee, fair Virtue! welcome ev'n the last. But here again his Friend interrupts the strains of his divine enthusiasm, and defires him to clear up an objection made to his conduct, at Court. " That it was inhumane to insult the “ Poor, and ill-breeding to affront the Great.” To which he replies, That indeed, in his pursuit of Vice, he rarely confidered how Knavery was circumstanced; but followed it, with his Vengeance, indifferently, whether it led to the Pillory, or the Drawing-Room [× 359 to 368.]
But left this should give his Reader the idea of a favage intractable Virtue, which could bear with nothing, and would pardon nothing, he takes to himself the shame of owning that he was of so easy a nature, as to be duped by the slenderest anpearances, a pretence to Virtue in a witty Woman: so forgiving, that he had fought out the object of his beneficence in a perfonal Enemy: so humble, that he had submitted to the converfation of bad Poets: and so forbearing, that he had curbed in his resentment under the most shocking of all calumnies, abuses on his Father and Mother [x 368 to 388.]
This naturally leads him to give a short account of their births, fortunes, and dispositions ; which ends with the tenderest wishes for the happiness of his Friend; intermixed with the most pathetic defcription of that filial Piety, in the exercise of which he makes his own happiness to confift.
Me let the tender office long engage