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afterwards proved to be Mr. Rowe's. We are assured by another, ‘He wrote a pamphlet called Dr. Andrew Tripe;" which proved to be one Dr. Wagstaff's. Mr. Theobald assures us, in Mist of the 27th of April, “That the treatise of the Profound is very dull, and that Mr. Pope is the author of it.' The writer of Gulliveriana is of another opinion ; and says, “The whole, or greatest part, of the merit of this treatise must and can only be ascribed to Gulliver.2 [Here, gentle reader! cannot I but smile at the strange blindness and positiveness of men ? knowing the said treatise to appertain to none other but to me, Martinus Scriblerus:]
We are assured, in Mist of June 8th, "That his own plays and farces would beiter have adorned the Dunciad, than those of Mr. Theobald ; for he had neither genius for tragedy nor comedy.' Which whether true or not, it is not easy to judge; in as much as he had attempted neither. Unless we will take it for granted, with Mr. Cibber, that his being once very angry at hearing a friend's play abused, was an infallible proof the play was bis own; the said Mr. Cibber thinking it impossible for a man to be much concerned for any but himself: 'Now let any man judge (saith he) by his concern, who was the true mother of the child.'3
But from all that has been said, the discerning reader will collect, that it lille availed our author to have any candour, since, when he declared he did not write for others, it was not credited; as little to have any modesty, since, when he declined writing in any way himself, the presumption of others was imputed to him.
If he singly enterprised one great work, he was taxed of boldness and madness to a prodigy :4 if he took assistants in another, it was com
1 Ib. p. 6. 2 Gulliv. p. 336. 3 Cibber's Lettery to Mr. P. p. 19. 4 Burnet's llomerides, p. 1, of lus ranslation of the Iliad,
plained of, and represented as a great injury to the public. The loftiest heroics, the lowest ballads, treatises against the state or church, satires on lords and ladies, raillery on wits and authors, squabbles with booksellers, or even full and true accounts of monsters, poisons, and murders ; of any hereof was there nothing so good, nothing so bad, which hath not at one or other season been to him ascribed. If it bore no author's name, then lay he 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 mostrare 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 imagimation; 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 our own sentiment, we shall determine on nothing ; but leave thee, gentle reader, to steer thy judgment equally between various opinions, and to choose whether thou wilt incline to the testimony of authors avowed, or of authors concealed; of those who knew him, or of those who knew him not.
1 The London and Mist's Journals, on his undertaking the Odyssey.
OF THE POEL.
This poem, is it celebrateth the most grave and ancient of things, Chaus, Vigor, and Dulness : so is x of the rose gzare and ancient kind Homer (saith Aristotle was ihe first who gave the form, and (saith Horace wao adap:ed the measure to heroic poesy. But even before this, may be rationally presumed, from what the anciens have leii wnuen, was a piece by Homer, composed of like nature and matter with this of our poet. For of epic sort it appeareth to have been, yei of mater surely not unpleasant, witness what is reponed of it by the learned archbishop Eustatius, in Odyss. I. And accordingly Aristotle, in his Poetics, chap. iv. doth further set forth, that as the Iliad and Odyssey gare example to tragedy, so did this poem to comedy its first idea.
Prom these authors 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 atrange (it indeed no more so than any of the actors of our poem. Margites was the name of this personage, whom antiquity recordeth to hare 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, cele brating 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 Duneiad was the first epic poem, written by llomer himself, and anterior even to the Iliad or Odyssey.
Now, 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 multitude, it might cost less 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 Fleckno.
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 authors cover. ed the land; whereby not only the peace of the honest unwriting subject was daily molested, but unmerciful demands were made of his applause, 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 forth with publish slanders unpunished, the authors 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.
I Now our author, living in those times, did conceive it an endeavour well worthy an honest satirist, to dissuade the dull, and punish the wicked, the only way that was left. In that public-spirited view he laid the plan of this poem, as the greatest service he was capable (without much hart, or being slain) to
1 Vide Bossu, Du Poeme Epique, chap. viii. Vol. II
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 allegoryl (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 proceedeth to show the qualities they bestow on these authors,2 and the effects they produce :3 then the materials or stock, with which they furnish them ;4 and, above all, that self-opinions which causeth it to seem to themselves vastly greater than it is, and is the prime motive of their setting up in this sad and sorry merchandise. 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 someone great and remarkable action; and none could be more so than that which our poet hath chosen,6 viz. the restoration of the reign of Chaos and Night, by the ministry of Dulness, their daughter, in the removal of her imperial seat from the city to the polite world, as the action of the Æneid is the restoration of the empire of Troy, by the removal of the race from thence to Latium. But as Homer singeth only the wrath of Achilles, yet includes in his poem the whole history of the Trojan war, in like manner our author hath drawn into this single action the whole history of Dulness and her children.
A person must next be fixed upon to support this uction. This phantom in the poet's mind must have i name, he finds it to be
-; and he becomes of course the hero of the
As for the
1 Bossu, chap. vii.
2 Book I. ver. 32, &c. 3 Ver. 45 to 54. 4 Ver. 57 to 77. 5 Ver. 80. 6 [bid. chap. vij. viii. 7 Bossui, chap. viii. Vide Aristot. Poet, chap. ix.