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parity is so remarkable, I hope it will continue to the last; and if ever he should give us an edition of this Poem himself, I may see some of them treated as gently, on their repentance or better merit, as Perrault and Quinault were at last by Boileau.
In one point I must be allowed to think the character of our English poet the more amiable. He has not been a follower of fortune or success; he has lived with the great without flattery; been a friend to men in power without pensions, from whom, as he asked, so he received, no favour, but what was done him in his friends. As his Satires were the more just for being delayed, so were his Panegyrics; bestowed only on such persons as he had familiarly known, only for such virtues as he had long observed in them, and only at such times as others cease to praise, if not begin to calumniate them---I mean when out of power, or out of fashion*. A satire, therefore, on writers so notorious for the contrary practice, became no man so well as himself; as none, it is plain, was so little in their friendships, or so much in that of those whom they had most abused, namely, the greatest and best of all parties. Let me add a further reason, that, though
* As Mr. Wycherley, at the time the Town disclaimed against his book of Poems; Mr. Walsh, atter his death; Sir William Trumbail, when he had resigned the office of secretary of state ; Lord Bollingbroke, at his leaving England, after the Queen's death; Lord Oxford, in his last decline of life; Mr. Secretary Craggs, at the end of the South-sea year, and aiter h. death : others only in Epitaphs.
engaged in their friendships, he never espoused their animosities; and can almost singly challenge this honour, not to have written a line of any man which, through guilt, through shame, or through fear, through variety of fortune, or change of interests, he was ever unwilling to own.
I shall conclude with remarking, what a pleasure it must be to every reader of humanity to see all along that our Author, in his very laughter, is not indulging his own ill-nature, but only punishing that of others. As to his Poem, those alone are capable of doing it justice who, to use the words of a great writer, know how hard it is (with regard both to his subject and his manner) vetustis dare novitatem, obsoletis nitorem, obscuris lucem, fastiditis gratia I am
Your most humble servant,
HIS PROLEGOMENA AND ILLUSTRATIONS
TO THE DUNCIAD.
WITH THE HYPERCRITICS OF ARSSTARCHUS.
Dennis, Remarks on Pr. Arthur. 1
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 short 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 more successful,
Character of Mr. P. 1716. The persons whom Boileau has attacked in his writings, have been for the most part authors, and most of those authors, poets : and the censures he hath passed upon them have been confirmed by all Europe.
Gildon, Pref. to his New Rebearsal. 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 magistrates may with full as good reason be reproached with ill-nature for putting the
laws in exécution 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 MIST, June 22, 1728. Attacks may be levelled either against failures in genius, or against the pretentions of writing without
Coscaney, Ded. to the Author of the Dunciad. A Satire upon dullness is a thing that has been used and allowed in all ages.
Out of thine own mouth will I judge tbee, wicked Scribbler!
TESTIMONIES OF AUTHORS
CONCERNING OUR POET AND HIS WORKS.
M. SCRIBLERUS LECTORI S. Before we present thee with our Exercitations on this most delectable Poem (drawn from the many volumes of our adversaria on modern Authors), we shall 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 of different seasons. Nor shall we gather only the Testimonies of such eminent wits as would of course descend to posterity, and consequently be read without our collection; but we shall 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 nature, by being let into many particulars of the persons 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 even to him, I intreat thee to consider how minutely all true critics and commentators are wont to insist 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 10 find whether my Author were good or bad, well or ill-natured, modest or arrogant; as another, whether his author was fair or brown, short or tall, or whether he wore a coat or a cassock.
We purposed to begin with his life, parentage, and education; but as to those even his contemporaries