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Cleland, Dr. Arbuthnot, and others. I had lately the pleasure to pass some months with the author in the country, where I prevailed upon him to do what I had long desired, and favour me with his explanation of several passages in his works. It happened, that just at that juncture was published a ridiculous book against him, full of personal reflections, which furnished him with a lucky opportunity of improving this poem, by giving it the only thing it wanted, a more considerable hero. He was always sensible of its defect in that particular, and owned he had let it pass with the hero it had, purely for want of a better, not entertaining the least expectation that such an one was reserved for this post as had since obtained the laurel: but since that had happened, he could no longer deny this justice either to him or the Dunciad.
And yet I will venture to say, there was another motive which had still more weight with our author: this person was one who, from every folly (not to say vice) of which another would be ashamed, has constantly derived a vanity; and therefore was the man in the world who would least be hurt by it. W.W.
PRINTED IN THE JOURNALS, 1730.
WHEREAS, upon occasion of certain pieces relating to the gentlemen of the Dunciad, some have been willing to suggest, as if they had looked upon them as an abuse; we can do no less than own it is our opinion, that to call these gentlemen bad authors is no sort of abuse, but a great truth. We cannot alter this opinion without some reason; but we promise to do it in respect to every person who thinks it an injury to be represented as no wit, or poet, provided he procures a certificate of his being really such from any three of his companions in the Dunciad, or from Mr. Dennis singly, who is esteemed equal to any three of the number.
By virtue of the Authority in Us vested by the Act for subjecting Poets to the Power of a Licenser, We have revised this Piece; where finding the style and appellation of KING to have been given to a certain Pretender, Pseudo-Poet, or Phantom, of the name of TIBBALD; and apprehending the same may be deemed in some sort a Reflection on Majesty, or at least an insult on that Legal Authority which has bestowed on another Person the Crown of Poesy: We have ordered the said Pretender, Pseudo-Poet, or Phantom, utterly to vanish and evaporate out of this Work; and do declare the said Throne of Poesy from henceforth to be abdicated and vacant, unless duly and lawfully supplied by the Laureate himself. And it is hereby enacted, that no other person do presume to fill the
* A stroke of satire on the act for licensing plays, which was opposed with equal wit and vehemence by many of our author's friends.
WHEREAS certain Haberdashers of Points and Particles, being instigated by the Spirit of Pride, and assuming to themselves the name of Critics and Restorers, have taken upon them to adulterate the common and current sense of our Glorious Ancestors, Poets of this Realm, by clipping, coining, defucing the images, mixing their own base allay, or otherwise falsifying the same; which they publish, utter, and vend as genuine; the said Haberdashers having no right thereto, as neither heirs, executors, administrators, assigns, or in any sort related to such Poets, to all or any of them: Now We, having carefully revised this our Dunciad, * beginning with the words The mighty Mother, and ending with the words buries All, containing the entire Sum of One thousand seven hundred and fifty-four verses, declare every word, figure, point, and comma, of this impression to be authentic and do therefore strictly enjoin and forbid any person or persons whatsoever to erase, reverse, put between hooks, or by any other means, directly or indirectly, change or mangle any of them. And we do hereby earnestly exhort all our brethren to follow this our example, which we heartily wish our great Predecessors had heretofore set, as a remedy and prevention of all such abuses. Provided always, that nothing in this Declaration shall be construed to limit the lawful and undoubted right of every subject of this Realm to judge, censure, or condemn, in the whole, or in part, any Poem or Poet whatsoever.
Given under our hand at London, this third Day of January, in the year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred thirty and two.
Declarat' cor' me,
JOHN BARBER, Mayor.
* Read thus confidently, instead of "beginning with the word Books, and ending with the word Flies," as formerly it stood: read also,"containing the entire sum of One thousand seven hundred and fifty-four verses," instead of "One thousand and twelve lines;" such being the initials and final words, and such the true and entire contents of this poem..
TO DR. JONATHAN SWIFT.
The Proposition, the Invocation, and the Inscription. Then the original of the great Empire of Dulness, and cause of the continuance thereof. The College of the Goddess in the City, with her private academy for poets in particular; the governors of it, and the four cardinal virtues. Then the poem hastes into the midst of things, presenting her, on the evening of a Lord Mayor's day, revolving the long succession of her sons, and the glories past and to come. She fixes her eye on Bayes, to be the instrument of that great event which is to be the subject of the Poem. He is described pensive among his books, giving up the cause, and apprehending the period of her empire. After debating whether to betake himself to the church, or to gaming, or to party-writing, he raises an altar of proper books, and (making first his solemn prayer and declaration) purposes thereon to sacrifice all his unsuccessful writings. As the pile is kindled, the Goddess beholding the flame from her seat, flies and puts it out, by casting upon it the Poem of Thule. She forthwith reveals herself to him, transports him to her Temple, unfolds her arts, and initiates him into her mysteries; then announcing the death of Eusden the Poet-Laureat, anoints him, carries him to Court, and proclaims him successor.
THE mighty mother, and her son, who brings
The Dunciad.] It is an inconvenience to which writers of reputation are subject, that the justice of their resentment is not always rightly understood: for the calumnies of dull authors, being soon forgotten, and those whom they aimed to injure not caring to recall to memory the particulars of false and scandalous abuse, their necessary correction is suspected of severity unprovoked. But in this case it would be but candid to estimate the chastisement on the general character of the offender, compared with that of the person injured. Let this serve with the candid reader, in justification of the poet, and, on occasion, of the editor.
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 II. 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
You by whose care, in vain decry'd and curst,
In eldest time, ere mortals writ or read,
Still her old empire to restore she tries,
O thou! whatever title please thine ear,
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 the former editor, that this piece was presented by the hands of Sir Robert Walpole to King George II. Now the author directly tells us, his hero is the man
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 laurel.
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 author 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 tells us, certain of his works at the earnest desire of persons of quality.
Lastly, the sixth verse affords full proof; this poet being the only one who was universally known to have had a son so exactly like him, in his poetical, theatrical, political, and moral capacities, that it could be justly said of him,
Still Dunce the second reigns like Dunce the first.