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and accusing him, frequently in gross and illiberal terms, of hav. ing“ been guilty of personal abuse in the first place, and making an outcry, when what he measured to others was measured to him again"-of disingenuousness, cant, and meanness, and “ of having directed his abuse against Dennis, a man,” we are told, “ whose learning, talents, and pleasant manners, have been acknowledged by Dryden and Congreve." (v. Bowles's ed. vol. v. p. 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, &c.) That these critics have a right to entertain and avow their opinions no one will deny; but that they should be spread over the pages of Pope, to accompany his works, to counteract their object, and asperse and degrade his character, is more than can reasonably be allowed. In this respect such critics seem to resemble a species of gad-fly, which by a singular instinct is taught to insert its young into the flesh of the living animal; being the only situation, where, by the course of nature, it can be preserved from destruction.
It is very remarkable, that in the preceding editions of Dr. Warton and Mr. Bowles, the greater part of the notes of Pope on the Dunciad are erroneously attributed to Warburton : in the former by being marked with a W.- in the latter, by the name of WARBURTON at length. This mistake is the more extraordinary, as Warburton has, in his editions, precisely defined the marks by which the notes were to be distinguished ;—those marked with an asterisk (*) being Warburton's; those marked with a P. and an asterisk being written by Pope and Warburton in conjunction ; and all the rest being Pope's. Of the reality of this important error, which deprives Pope of a great share of his own work, and frequently weakens the effect, by attributing to the commentator what ought to be received on the higher authority of the poet, any one may be convinced who will take the trouble of comparing the editions of Warton or of Bowles, with any of the editions of 1729– long before Warburton undertook to comment upon the Dunciad; -where he will find the very notes which in the two last editions are almost uniformly attributed to Warburton. So extensive is this error, that it leads one to suppose that in Warton's edition the editor had taken it for granted, that the notes in the former editions without a mark were all by Warburton, in contradiction to the information of Warburton himself; an error which seems to
have been adopted without examination in the subsequent edition of Mr. Bowles.
It is further observable, that this mistake has, in all probability, been the cause of the omission, in the two last editions, of many remarks on the Dunciad, which were, perhaps, supposed by the editors to be Warburton's, and are therefore discarded ; but which are, in fact, the original notes of Pope, and are necessary to complete the work, as he gave it. In the present edition these notes are carefully restored from the second edition of the Dunciad, with additional notes, in 1729, which Pope considered as the best, and which was the standard of all that followed it, until the complete edition in four books, published in quarto in 1743. In these notes Pope had the assistance of several of his friends, particularly of Cleland, Arbuthnot, and Gay; but as their contributions have never been appropriated to their different authors, they are here given as the remarks of Pope. The reader is therefore requested to observe, that in this edition,
The Notes marked with the letter P. are those published by Pope, in the octavo edition of 1729.
The subsequent Notes of Pope, as they appeared in the joint edition of Pope and Warburton, in 1743, are marked P.
The Notes with the letters P. W. were written by Pope and Warburton in conjunction.
Those marked W. are by Warburton, as they appeared in the edition of 1743, and were consequently approved by Pope; and those marked W.F did not appear till after the death of Pope, in the general edition of his works by Warburton, in 1751.
To the remainder, the names of the authors are affixed; except to the few by the present editor.
A LETTER TO THE PUBLISHER,
THE FIRST CORRECT EDITION
It is with pleasure I hear, that you have procured a correct copy of the DUNCIAD, which the many surreptitious ones have rendered so necessary; and it is yet with more, that I am informed it will be attended with a COMMENTARY: a work so requisite, that I cannot think the author himself would have omitted it, had he approved of the first appearance of this poem.
Such notes as have occurred to me I herewith send you . you will oblige me by inserting them amongst those which are, or will be transmitted to you by others; since not only the author's friends, but even strangers, appear engaged by humanity, to take some care of an orphan of so much genius and spirit, which its parent seems to have abandoned from the very beginning, and suffered to step into the world naked, unguarded, and unattended.
It was upon reading some of the abusive papers lately published, that my great regard to a person,
whose friendship I esteem as one of the chief honours of my life, and a much greater respect to truth, than to him or any man living, engaged me in inquiries, of which the enclosed notes are the fruit.
I perceived that most of these authors had been (doubtless very wisely) the first aggressors. They had tried, till they were weary, what was to be got by railing at each other. Nobody was either concerned or surprised if this or that scribbler was proved a dunce: but every one was curious to read what could be said to prove Mr. Pope one, and was ready to pay something for such a discovery: a stratagem, which, would they fairly own it, might not only reconcile them to me, but screen them from the resentment of their lawful superiors, whom they daily abuse, only (as I charitably hope) to get that by them, which they cannot get from them.
I found this was not all : ill success in that had transported them to personal abuse, either of himself, or (what I think he could less forgive) of his friends. They had called men of virtue and honour bad men, long before he had either leisure or inclination to call them bad writers; and some had been such old offenders, that he had quite forgotten their persons as well as their slanders, till they were pleased to revive them.
Now what had Mr. Pope done before, to incense them? He had published those works which are in the hands of every body, in which not the least
mention is made of any of them. And what has he done since? He has laughed, and written the DUNCIAD. What has that said of them? A very serious truth, which the public had said before, that they were dull; and what it had no sooner said, but they themselves were at great pains to procure, or even purchase room in the prints, to testify under their hands to the truth of it.
I should still have been silent, if either I had seen any inclination in my friend to be serious with such accusers, or if they had only meddled with his writings; since whoever publishes, puts himself on his trial by his country. But when his moral character was attacked, and in a manner from which neither truth nor virtue can secure the most innocent; in a manner, which though it annihilates the credit of the accusation with the just and impartial, yet aggravates very much the guilt of the accusers; I mean by authors without names; then I thought, since the danger was common to all, the concern ought to be so; and that it was an act of justice to detect the authors, not only on this account, but as many of them are the same who for several years past have made free with the greatest names in Church and State, exposed to the world the private misfortunes of families, abused all, even to women, and whose prostituted papers (for one or other party, in the unhappy divisions of their country) have insulted the fallen, the friendless, the exiled, and the dead. Besides this, which I take to be a public con