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Prefixed to the five first imperfect Editions of the
DUNCIAD, in three books, printed at DUBLÍN and LONDON, in octavo and duodecimo, 1727.
The PUBLISHER : to the READER.
It will be found a true observation, though some
what surprizing, that when any scandal is vented against a man of the highest distinction and character, either in the state or literature, the public in general
". á The Publisher] Who he was is uncertain; but Edward Ward tells us, in his preface to Durgen, “ that most judges are of opinion this preface is not of English extraction, but Hibernian," &c. He means it was written by Dr. Swift, who, whether the publisher or not, may be said in a sort to be author of the Poem. For when he, together with Mr. Pope (for reasons specified in the preface to their Miscellanies) determined to own the most trilling pieces in which they had any hand, and to destroy all that remained in their power; the first sketch of this poem was snatched from the fire by Dr. Swift, who persuaded his friend to proceed in it, and to him it was therefore inscribed. But the occasion of printing it was as follows:
There was published in those Miscellanies, a Treatise of the Bathos, or Art of Sinking in Poetry, in which was a chapter, where the species of bad writers were ranged in classes, and initial letters of names prefixed, for the most part at Random. But
afford it a most quiet reception; and the large part accept it as favourably as if it were some kindness done to themselves : whereas if a known scoundrel or blockhead but chance to be touched upon, a whole legion is up in arms, and it becomes the common cause of all scriblers, booksellers, and printers whatsoever.
Not to search too deeply into the reason hereof, I will only observe as a fact, that every week for these two months past, the town has been persecuted with pamphlets, advertisements, letters, and weekly
such was the Number of poets eminent in that art, that fome one or other took every letter to himself. All fell into fo violent a fury, that for half a year, or more, the common Newspapers (in most of which they had fome property, as being hired writers) were filled with the most abusive falsehoods and scurrilities they could possibly devise ; a liberty no ways to be wondered at in thofe people, and in those papers, that, for many years, during the uncontrouled Licence of the press, had aspersed almost all the great characters of the age; and this with impunity, their own persons and names being utterly secret and obscure. This gave Mr. Pope the thought, that he had now some opportunity of doing good, by detecting and dragging into light these common enemies of mankind; since to invalidate this universal Nander, it fufficed to Thew what contemptible men were the authors of it. He was not without hopes, that by manifesting the dulness of those who had only malice to recommend them; either the book. sellers would not find their account in employing them, or the men themselves, when discovered, want courage to proceed in so unlawful an occupation. This it was that gave birth to the Dunciad; and he thought it an happiness, that by the late flood of flander on himself, he had acquired such a peculiar right over their Names as was necessary to his design.
W. o Pamphlets, advertisements, &c.] See the list of those anonymous papers, with their dates and authors annexed, inserted be: fore the Poem.