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HIS PROLEGOMENA AND ILLUSTRATIONS
TO THE DUNCIAD.
WITH THE HYPERCRITICS OF ARSSTARCHUS,
Dennis, Remarks on Pr. Artbur. 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 thein 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 Eurcpe.
Gildon, Pref. to bis 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 magistrates 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 MIST, Jure 22, 1728. Attacks may be levelled either against failures in genius, or against the pretentions of writing without
Concanen, 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 thee, 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 likewis, 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 eve of the inost 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 liitle 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 to find whether my Author were good or bad, well or ill-natuied, 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
do exceedingly differ. One saith * he was educated at home; anothert, that he was bred at St. Omer's by Jesuits; a third I, not at St. Omer's, but at Oxford; a fourthll, that he had no university education at all. Those who allow him to be bred at home differ as much concerning his tutor: one saithế he was kept by his father on purpose; a second **, that he was an itinerant priest; a third it, that he was a parson: one II calleth him a secular clergyman of the church of Rome; another |II, a monk. As little do they agree about his father, whom t one supposeth, like the father of Hesiod, a tradesman or merchant; anothert, a husbandman; another in a hatter, &c. Nor has an author been wanting to give our Poet such a father as Apuleius hath 10 Plało, Jamblichus to Pathagoras, and divers to Homer, namely, a dæmon: for thus Mr. Gildon Il ; “ Certain it is that his original is not from Adam,
* Giles Jacob's Lives of the Poets, vol. II. in his life. † Dennis's Renections on the Essay or Criticism, p. 4, | Dunciad Dissected, p.4. || Guardian, No. 40. $ Jacub's Lives, &c. vol. II. ** Lunc.ad Dissected, p. 4. It Farmer P. a:d his son. 11 Durcad Dissected, Will Characters of the Times, p. 45. t Female Dunc:ad, p. ult. † Dunc ad Diss:cted. I Rcome Paraphrase on the 4th of Genes.s, printed 1729. || Character ct Mr.P. and his writings, in a litter to a frierd, printed tor S. Popping, 1716, p. 10. Curl, in his key to ihe Dunciad, (first edit. said to be printed for A. Dodd) in the tenth page, declared Gildon to be author of that lb.l; though in the subsequent ed.tions of his Key he leit cut this assertion, and affirmed (in ihe Curlaid, p. 4. and %.) that it was written by Dennis only,
“ but the devil ? and that he wanteih nothing but “ horns and tail to be the exact resemblance of his “ infernal father.” Finding, therefore, such contrariety of opinions, and (wha:ever be ours of this sort of generation) not being fond to enter into controversy, we shall defer writing the Life of our Poet till authors can determine among themselves what parents or education he had, or whether he had any education or parents at all.
Proceed we to wliat is more certain, his Works; though not less uncertain the judgments concerning them; beginning with his Essay on Criticism, of which hear first the most ancient of critics,
MR. JOHN DENNIS.
“ His precepts are false or trivial, or both; his “ thoughts are crude and abortive; his expressions “ absurd, his numbers harsh and unmusical, his “ rhymes trivial, and common.---Instead of ma
jesty we have something that is very mean; in“ stead of gravity, something that is very boyish ; " and instead of perspicuity and lucid order, we “have but too often obscurity and confusion.” Ard in another place; " What rare Numbers are “ here! would not one swear that this youngster “had espoused some antiquated Muse, who had « sued out a divorce from some superanuated sin
ner, upon account of impotence, and who beirg pored by the former spouse, las got the gout in