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I Cannot but think it the most reasonable thing in the
world to distinguish good writers, by discouraging the bad. Nor is it an ill-natured thing, in relation even to the very persons upon whom the reflections are made. It is true, it may deprive them, a little the sooner, of a fort profit and a transitory reputation; but then it may have a good effect, and oblige them (before it be too late) to decline that for which they are so very unfit, and to have recourse to something in which they may be inore successful.
CHARACTER of Mr. P. 1716. Tue persons whom Boileau has attacked in his writings, have been for the most part authors, and most of those authors poe!s : and the censures he hath passed upon them have been confirmed by all Europe.
GILDON, Pref, to his New REHEARSAL.
It is the common cry of the Poetasters of the town, and their fautors, that it is an ill-natured thing to expose the pretenders to wit and poetry. The judges and magiftrates may with full as good reason be reproached with ill-nature for putting the laws in execution against a thief or impostor.-The'same' will hold in the republic of letters, if the critics and judges will let every ignorant pretender to scribbling pass on the world.
THEOBALD, Letter to Mift, June 22, 1728, ATTACKS may be levelled, either against failures in Genius, or against the pretensions of writing without one.
CONCANEN, Ded. to the Author of the DỤNCIAD,
A Satire upon dullness is a thing that has been used and allowed in all ages.
Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, wicked fcribbler !
TES I In
T ES I I M O N I E S
A U THORS
Our POET and his WORK S.
M. SCRIBLERUS Lectori S.
DEFORE we present thee with our exercitations on
this most delectable poem (drawn from the many volumes of our Adverfaria on modern Authors) we fhall here, according to the laudable usage of editors, collect the various judgments of the learned concerning our poet : various indeed, not only of different authors, but of the same author at different seasons. Nor shall we gather only the testimonies of such eminent wits, as would of course descend to pofterity, and consequently be read without our collection; but we fhall likewise with incredible labour seek out for divers others, which, but for this our diligence, could never at the distance of a few months appear to the eye of the most curious. Hereby thou mayst not only receive the delectation of variety, but also arrive at a more certain judgment, by a grave. and circumspect comparison of the witnesses with each other, or of each with himself. Hence also thou wilt be enabled to draw reflections, not only of a critical, but a
moral moral nature, by being let into many particulars of the person as well as genius, and of the fortune as well as merit, of our author : in which if I relate some things of little concern peradventure to thee, and some of as little éven to him, I entreat thee to consider how minutely all true critics and commentators are wont to infist upon such, and how material they seem to themselves, if to none other. Forgive me, gentle reader, if (following learned example) I ever and anon become tedious : allow me to take the same pains to find whether my author were good or bad, well or ill natured, modest or arrogant; as another, whether his author was fair or brown, ihort or tall, or whether he wore a coat or a caslock.
We proposed to begin with his life, parentage, and education ; but as to these, even his cotemporaries db exceedingly differ. One saitha, he was educated at home; another, that he was bred at St. Omer's, by Jefuits; a thirdę; not at St. Omer's, but át Oxford; a fourth', that he had no university education at all. Those who allow him to be bred at home, differ as much concerning his tutor : one faith, he was kept by his father on purpose ; a second f; that he was an itinerant priest; a third & that he was a parson; one ho calleth him a secular clergyinan of the Church of Rome ; another i, a monk. As little do they agree about his father, whoin one k supposeth, like the father of Hefiod, a tradesman or merchant; another', a husbandınan; another in, a hatter, &c. Nor has an author been wanting to give our poet luch a father as Apuleius hath to Plato, Jamblichus to Pythagoras, and divers. to Homer, namely
a Giles Jacob's Lives of the Poets, vol ii. in his Life. 6 Dennis's Reflections on the Etfay on Crit. c Dunciad diffected, p. 4. d Guardian, No. 40. e Jacob's Lives, &c vol. ii. f Dunciad diffeeted, p. 4. g Farmer P. and his fun. h Dunciad dissected. i Characters of the times, p 45. k Female Dunciad, p ult. 1 Dunciad dilloiled. m Roome, Paraphrafe on the ivih of Gen.Gs, frinted 1729.