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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 ourown sentiment, we shall determine on nothing; but leave thee, grntle reader, to steer thy judgement 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, •r of those who knew him not. V.
OF THE POEM.
TT1HIS 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 even before this, may be rationally presumed, from what the ancients have left written, was a piece by Homer, composed of like nature and matter with this of oor poet. For of epic sort it appeareth to have been, yet of matter aurely not unpleasant, witness what is reported of it by the learned archbishop Eustathins, in Odyss*. z. And accordingly Aristotle, in his poetics, chap, iv, doth further set forth, that as the Iliad and Odyssey gave example to tragedy, so did this poem to comedy its first idea.
From these anthors also it should seem, that the hero, or chief personage of it was no less obscure, and his understanding and sentiments no less quaint and strange (if indeed not more so) than any of the actors of our poem. Margites was the name of this personage, whom antiquity recordeth to have been Dunce the first; and surely from what we hear of him, not unworthy to be the root of so spreading a tree, and so numerous a posterity. The poem, therefore, celebrating him was properly and absolutely a Dunciad; which though now unhappily lost, yet is its nature sufficiently known by the infallible tokens aforesaid. And thus it doth appear, that the first Dunciad was the first epic poem, writ
ten by Homer himself, and anterior even to the Iliad or Odyssey.
Vow forasmuch as our poet hath translated those two famous works of Homer which are yet left, he did conceive it in some sort his duty to imitate that also which was lost: and was therefore induced to bestow on it the same form which Homer's is reported to have had, namely, that of epic poem; with a title also framed after the ancient Greek manner, to wit, that of Dunciad.
Wonderful it is, that so few of the moderns have been stimulated to attempt some Dunciad! since, in the opinion of the multitnde, it might cost leu pain and toil than an imitation of the greater epic. But possible it is also, that, on due reflection, the maker might find it easier to paint a Charlemagne, a Brute, or a Godfrey, with just pomp and dignity heroic, than a Margites, a Codrus, or a Fleck no.
We shall next declare the occasion and the cause which moved our poet to this particular work. He lived in those days, when (after Providence had permitted the invention of printing as a scourge for the sins of the learned) paper also became so cheap, and printers so numerous, that a deluge of anthors covered the land: whereby not only the peace of the honest un writing subject was daily molested, but unmerciful demands were made of his applanse, yea of his money, by such as would neither earn the one nor deserve the other. At the same time, the licence of the press was such, that it grew dangerous to refuse them either: for they would forthwith publish slanders unpunished, the anthors being anonymous, and skulking under the wings of publishers, a set of men who neither scrupled to vend either calumny or blasphemy, as long as the town would call for it.
* Now our anthor, living in those times, did conceive it an endeavour weil worthy an honest satirist,
* Vide Bossu, Du Poenie Epique, chap. viii*
to dissuade the dull, and punish the wicked, the ouly way that was left. In that public spirited vie* he laid the plan of this poem, »s the greatest service he was capable (without much hart, or being stain) to render his dear country. First, taking things from their original, he considereth the causes creative of such authors, namely, dulness and poverty; the one born with them, the other contracted by neglect of their proper talents, through self-conceit of greater abilities. This truth he wrappeth in an allegory* (as the construction of epic poesy requireth), and feigns that one of these goddesses had taken up her abode with the other, and that they jointly inspired all such writers and such works. He proceedrth to show the qualities they bestow ou these authorst, and the effects they producej: then the materials or stock, with which they furnish themj I and, above all, that self-opinionfl which canseth it to seem ta themselves vastly greater than it is, ami is thtvprime motive of their setting up in this sad and son-J merchandise. f The great power of these goddesses acting in alliance (whereof as the one is the mother of industry, so is the other of plodding^ was to be exemplified in some one great and remarkable action: and none could be more so than that which our port hath chosenf, viz. the restoration of the rri.n of Chaos and Night, by the mmistry of Dulness, their daughter, in the removal of her imperial seat from the city to the polite world; as the action of the .T.neid is the restoration of the empire of Troy, by the removal of the race from thence to Latimn. Hut *s Homer singeth only the wratlr of Achilles, yet includes in his poem the whole history of the Trojan war, in like munnerour author hath drawn mto this single action the whole history of Dulness uiid hex children.
• Rossn, chap. vii. t Book I. ver. M2, ire.
X Ver. 45 to 54. § Ver. 57 to 77.
1 Ver. 80. % Ibid. chap. vii. viii. *
A person mast next be fixed upon to support this action. This phantom in the poet's mind must have
a name*: he finds it to be —; -and lie becomes
of course the hero of the poem.
The fable being thus, according to the best example, one and entire, as contained in the proposition; tlie machinery is a continued chain of allegories. setting forth the whole power, ministry, and empire of duiness, extended through her subordinate iostru* xnents, in all hervarious operations.
This is branched into episodes, each of which hath its moral apart, though all conducive to the main end. The crowd assembled in the second book, do monstrates the design to be more exteni-ive than to bad poets only, and that we may expect other episodes of the patrons, encouragers, or paymasters of such authors, as occasion shall bring them forth. And the third book, if welt considered, seemeth to" embrace the whole world. Each of the games relateth to some or other vile class of writers: thefirst concerneth the plagiary, to whom he giveth the name of Moore; the second, the libellous novelist,' -whom he styleth EK*a; the third, the nattering dedicator; the fourth, the bawling critic, or noisy poet; the fifth, the dark and dirty party-writer: and so of the rest; assigning to each some proper name or other, such as he could find.
As for the characters, the public hath already acknowledged how justly they are drawn: the manners are so depicted, and the sentiment so peculiar to those to whom applied, that surely to transfer them to any other or wiser personages, would be exceeding difficult: and certain it is, that every person concerned, being consulted apart, hath readily owned the resemblance of every portrait, his own excepted. So Mr. Cibber calls them, 'a parcel of poor wretches, so many silly flies t;' but adds,' our
* Bossn, chap. viii. Vide Aristot. Poet. cap.ix, t Cibber's Letter to Mr. P. p. 9. 12. 41.