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Dennis, Remarks on Pr. Arthur. 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 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 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, Lett. to Mist, 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 Dunciad.
A satire upon dulness 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
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 at 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 mayest 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 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 even to him, I entreat 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 illnatured, 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 these, even his cotemporaries do exceedingly differ. One saith,* he was educated at home ; another,t that he was bred at St. Omer's by Jesuits ; a third, I not at St. Omer's, but at 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 saith,|| he was kept by his father on purpose; a second, that he was an itinerant priest ; a third,** that he was a parson; one of calleth
* Giles Jacob's Lives of the Poets, vol. ii. in his Life. + Dennis's Reflections on the Essay on Criticism, p. 4. # Dunciad dissected, p. 4. & Guardian, No. 40. || Jacob's Lives, &c. vol. ii. Dunciad dissected, p. 4. ** Farmer P. and his son. tt Dunciad dissected.