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· THE DUNCIAD.
BOOK I. . The Mighty Mother, and her Son, who brings The Smithfield Muses to the ear of Kings, I sing. Say you, her instruments, the Great! Calld to this work by Dulness, Jove, and Fate;
REMARKS. The Dunciad, sic MS. It may well be disputed whether this be a right reading. Ought it not rather to be spelled Dunceiad, as the etymology evidently demands ? Dunce with an e, therefore Dunceiad with an e. That accurate and punctual man of letters, the restorer of Shakespeare, constantly observes the preservation of this very letter e, in spelling the name of his beloved author, and not like his common careless Editors, with the omission of one, nay sometimes of two ee's (as Shakspear) which is utterly unpardonable. “ Nor is the neglect of a single letter so trivial as to some it may appear; the alteration whereof in a learned language is an achievement that brings honour to the critic who advances it; and Dr. Bentley will be remembered to posterity for
his VARIATIONS. Ver. 1. The Mighty Mother. &c.] In the first Edit. it was
Books and the Man I sing, the first who brings
These wondrous works
Ovid. Met. 1.
You, by whose care, in vain decried and curst, 5 Still Dunce the second reigns like Dunce the first;
REMARKS. his performances of this sort, as long as the world shall have any esteem for the remains of Menander and Philemon."
THEOBALD. P.** I have a just value for the letter E, and the same affection for the name of this poem as the fore-cited critic for that of his author; yet cannot it induce me to agree with those who would add yet another e to it, and call it the Duncciade; which being a French and foreign termination, is no way proper to a word entirely English and vernacular. One e therefore in this case is right, and two ee's wrong. Yet, upon the whole, I shall follow the manuscript and print it without any e at all; moved thereto by authority (at all times with critics equal, if not superior to reason). In which method of proceeding, I can never enough praise my good friend, the exact Mr. Thomas Hearne ; who, if any word occur, which to him and all mankind is evidently wrong, yet keeps he it in the text with due reverence, and only remarks in the margin sic MS. In like manner, we shall not amend this error in the Title itself, but only note it obiter, to evince to the learned that it was not our fault, nor any effect of our ignorance or inattention.-SCRIBL. P.
This poem was written in the year 1726. In the next year an imperfect edition was published at Dublin, and reprinted in 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 the Second and his Queen, by the hands of Sir Robert Walpole, on the 12th of March 1728-9.–Schol. Ver. .
Pot It was expressly confessed in the preface to the first edition, that this poem was not published by the author himself. It was printed 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
Say, how the Goddess bade Britannia sleep,
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
"who brings 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 justly be said of him, “ Still Dunce the second reigns like Dunce the first.”
BENTL. P.t Ver. 1. The Mighty Mother and her Son, &c.] The reader ought here to be cautioned, that the Mother, and not the Son, is the principal agent in this poem. The latter of them is only chosen as her colleague, as was anciently the custom in Rome before some great expedition ; the main action of the poem being by no means the Coronation of the Laureate, which is performed in the very first book, but the Restoration of the Empire of Dulness in Britain, which is not accomplished till the last.
W. Ver. 1. her Son who brings, &c.] Wonderful is the stupidity of all the former Critics and Commentators on this work! It breaks forth at the very first line. The author of the Critique prefixed to Sawney, a Poem, p. 5. hath been so dull as to explain the Man who brings, &c. not of the Hero of the piece, but of our Poet him
In eldest time, ere mortals writ or read,
self, as if he vaunted that Kings were to be his readers ; an honour which though this Poem hath had, yet knoweth he how to receive it with more modesty.
We remit this Ignorant to the lines of the Æneid, assuring him that Virgil there speaketh not of himself, but of Æneas :
“ Arma virumque cano, Trojae qui primus ab oris
Italiam, fato profugus, Lavinaque venit
Littora: multum ille et terris jactatus et alto,” &c. I cite the whole three verses, that I may by the way offer a Conjectural Emendation, purely my own, upon each : First, oris should be read aris, it being, as we see, Æn. ii. 513. from the altar of Jupiter Hercæus that Æneas fled, as soon as he saw Priam slain. In the second line I would read flatu for fato, since it is most clear it was by winds that he arrived at the shore of Italy. Jactatus, in the third, is surely as improperly applied to terris as proper to alto ; to say a man is toss'd on land, is much at one with saying he walks at sea : Risum teneatis, amici ? Correct it, as I doubt not it ought to be, vexatus.--SCRIBLERUS.
P. · Ver. 2. The Smithfield Muses] Smithfield is the place where Bartholomew Fair was kept, whose shews, machines, and dramatical entertainments, formerly agreeable only to the taste of the rabble, were, by the Hero of this Poem, and others of equal genius, brought to the Theatres of Covent Garden, Lincolns-innfields, and the Haymarket, to be the reigning pleasures of the Court and Town. This happened in the reigns of King George I. and II. See Book iii.
P. Ver. 6. Still Dunce the second] Alluding to a verse of Mr. Dryden, not in Mac Fleckno, (as is said ignorantly in the Key to the Dunciad, p. 1.) but in his verses to Mr. Congreve,
“ And Tom the second reigns like Tom the first." P. Ver. 6. Still Dunce the second reigns. like Dunce the first.). A satirical dash at the reigning monarch, George the Second.
Wakefield. This construction seems at least to be very doubtful.
Dulness o'er all possess'd her ancient right,
REMARKS. Ver. 12. Daughter of Chaos, &c.] The beauty of the whole Allegory being purely of the poetical kind, we think it not our proper business, ás a Scholiast, to meddle with it: but leave it (as we shall in general all such) to the reader ; remarking only that Chaos (according to Hesiod's soyovíc) was the Progenitor of all the Gods.
SCRIBLERUS. P. Ver. 12. Daughter of Chaos and eternal Night:] Conformably to Milton's doctrine, Par. Lost, ii. 894 and 960.
" where eldest Night And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold Eternal anarchy :
when strait behold the throne Of Chaos, and his dark pavilion spread
Wide on the wasteful deep: with him enthron'd i Sat sable-vested Night, eldeșt of things, The consort of his reign.”
Wakefield. Ver. 14. Gross as her sire, and as her mother grave.] A parody on a verse of Dryden, Æn. vii. 1044.
“ Fam'd as his sire, and as his mother fair.” Wakefield. Ver. 15. Laborious, heuty, busy, bold, and blind.] I wonder the learned Scriblerus has omitted to advertize the reader at the opening of this poem, that Dulness here is not to be taken contractedly for mere stupidity, but in the enlarged sense of the word, for all slowness of apprehension, shortness of sight, or imperfect sense of things. It includes (as we see by the poet's own words) labour, industry, and some degree of activity and boldness; a ruling principle not inert, but turning topsy-turvy the understanding, and inducing an anarchy or confused state of mind. This remark ought to be carried along with the reader throughout the work; and without this caution he will be apt to mistake the
. si importance · VOL. IV.