« ZurückWeiter »
to him, transports him to her temple, unfolds her arts, and initiates him into her mysteries; then announcing the death of Eusden, the poet laureate, anoints him, carries him to court, and proclaims him successor.
THE mighty mother, and her son, who brings
The Dunciad, sic MS ] It may well be disputed whether this be a right reading: Ought it not rather to be spelled Dunceiad, as the etymology evidently demands? Dunce with an e, therefore Dunceiad with an e. That accurate and punctual man of letters, the restorer of Shakespeare, constantly observes tl>e preservation of this very letter e, in spelling the name of his beloved author, and not like his common careless editors, with the omission of one, nay, sometimes of two ee's (as Shakspear), which is utterly unpardonable. * Nor is the neglect of a single letter so trivial as to some it may appear; the alteration whereof in a learned language is an achievement that brings honour to the critic who advances it; and Dr. Bentley will be remembered to>posterity for his performances of this sort, as long as the world shall have any esteem for the remains of Menander and Philemon.' THEOBALD.
This is surely a slip in the learned author of the foregoing note; there having been since produced by an accurate antiquary, an autograph of Shakespeare himself, whereby it appears that he spelled Im
Yon, by whose care, in vain decried and curst,
own name without the first e. And upon this authority it was, that those most critical curators of hi* monument in Westminster Abbey erased the former wrong reading, and restored the new spelling on a new piece of old Egyptian granite. Nor for this only do they deserve our thanks, but for exhibiting on the same monument the first specimen of as edition of an author in marble; where (as mayhe seen on comparing the tomb with the book) in the space of five lines, two words and a whole verse are changed, and it is to be hoped will there stand, and outlast whatever hath been hitherto done in paper; as for the future, our learned sister university (the other eye of England) is taking care to perpetuates total new Shakespeare at the Clarendon press.
It is to be noted, that this great critic also has omitted one circumstance; which is, that the inscription with the name of Shakespeare was fnteodes to be placed on the marble scroti to which he points with his hand; instead of which it is now placed behind his bark, and that specimen of an edition is put on the scroll, which indeed Shakespeare hath great reason to point at. ANON.
Though I have as just a value for the letter E, at any grammarian living, and the same affection for the name of tins poem as any critic for that of kti author, yet cannot it induce me to agree with those who would add yet another e to it, and call it the Dunceiade; which being a French and foreign termination, is no way proper to a word entirely English, and vernacular. One e therefore in this cassis right, and two ess wrong. Yet, upon tha whole, I
In eldest time, ere mortals writ or read. Ere Pallas issn'd from the thund'rer's head, 10 Dulness o'er all possess'd her ancient right, Daughter of Chaos and eternal Night:
shall follow the manuscript, and print it without any e at all; moved thereto by authority (at all times, with critics, equal, if not superior to reason). In which method of proceeding, I can never enough praise my good, friend, the exact Mr. Tho. Hearne; who, if any word occur, which to him and all mankind is evidently wrong, yet keeps he it in the text with due reverence, and only remarks in the margin, sic MS. In like manner we shall not amend this error in the title itself, but only note it obiter, to evince to the learned that it was not our fault, nor any effect of our ignorance or inattention. SCRIBL.
This poem was written in the year 1726. In the next year an imperfect edition was published at Dublin, and reprinted at London in twelves; another at Dublin, and another at London, in octavo; and three others in twelves the same year. But there was no perfect edition before that of London, in quarto; which was attended with notes. We are willing to acquaint posterity, that this poem was presented to king George the second and his queen, by the hands of sir Robert Walpole, on the 12th of March, 1728-9- SCHOL. VET.
It was expressly confessed in the preface to the first edition, that this poem was not published by the author himself. It was printed originally in a foreign country: and what foreign country? Why, one notorious for blunders; where finding blanks only instead of proper names, these blunderers filled them up at their pleasure.
The very hero of the poem hath been mistaken to this hour; so that we are obliged to open our notes with a discovery who he really was. We learn from
Fate in their dotage this fair idiot gave,
the former editor, that this piece was presented by the hands of sir Robert Walpole to king George JL Now the anthor directly tells us, his hero is the man
—-who tarings The Smithfield muses to the ear of kings. And it is notorious who was the person on whom this prince conferred the honour of the lunrel.
It appears as plainly from the apostrophe to the great in the third verse, that Tibbald could not be the person, who was never an anthor in fashion, or caressed by the great; whereas this single characteristic is sufficient to point out the true hero: who, above all other poets of his time, was the peculiar delight and chosen companion of the nobility of England; and wrote, as he himself telle us, certaia of his works at the earnest desire of persons of equality.
Lastly, the sixth verse affords full proof; this poet being the only one who was universally know* to have had a sou so exactly like him, in his -poetU cal, theatrical, political, and moral capacities, that it could justly be said of him, Still Dunce the second reigns like Dunce the first.
Ver. 1. The mighty mother, and her son, &c.] The reader ought here to be cantioned, that t1i« mother, and not the son, is the principal agent of this poem; the latter of them is only chosen as her colleague (as was anciently the cue tom in Rome before some great expedition), the main-action of the poeri being by no means the coronation of the laureate, which is performed in the very first hook, but
Still her old empire to restore she tries, For, born a goddess, Dulness never dies.
Oh thou! whatever title please thine ear, Dean, Drapier, Bickerstaff, or Gulliver! 20
the restoration of the empire of dulness in Britain, which is not accomplished till the last.
Ver. 2. The Smithfield Muses]. Smith field is the place where Bartholomew-fair was kept, whose shows, machines, and dramatical entertainments, formerly agreeable only to the taste of the rabble, were, by the hero of this poem, and others of equal genins, brought to the theatres of Covent-garden, Ltncoln-i no-fields, and the Hay-market, to be the reigning pleasures of the court and town. This .happened in the reigns of king George I. and II. £ee Book iii.
Ver. 4. By Dulness, Jove, and Fate:] i.e. by their jndgements, their interests, and their inclinations.
Ver. 10. Laborious, heavy, busy, bold, Sec.] I wonder the learned Scribierus has omitted to advertise the reader, at the opening of this poem, that dulness here is not be taken contractedly for mere stupidity, but in the enlarged sense of the word, for all slowness of apprehension, shortness of sight, or imperfect sense of things. It inclndes (as we see .by the poet's own words) labour, industry, and some degrees of activity and boldness; a ruling principle not inert, but turningtopsy-turvy the understanding, .and Inducing an anarchy or confused state of mind. This remark ought to be carried along with the .reader throughout the work; and without this cantion he will be apt to mistake the importance of many of the characters, as well as of the design of the poet. Hence it is, that some have complained he chooses too mean a subject, and imagined he employs himself like Domitian in killing flies j where