« AnteriorContinuar »
were attacked to conceal their pain and their resentment, The Dunciad might have made its way very slowly in the world'.
This, however, was not to be expected: every man is of im- 147 portance to himself, and therefore, in his own opinion, to others, and, supposing the world already acquainted with all his pleasures and his pains, is perhaps the first to publish injuries or misfortunes which had never been known unless related by himself, and at which those that hear them will only laugh; for no man sympathises with the sorrows of vanity.
The history of The Dunciad is very minutely related by Pope 148 himself in a Dedication which he wrote to Lord Middlesex in the name of Savage ?
'I will relate ... the war of the Dunces (for so it has been commonly called), which began in the year 1727, and ended in 1730.
When Dr. Swift and Mr. Pope thought it proper, for reasons specified in the Preface to their Miscellanies, to publish such (some] little pieces of theirs as had casually got abroad, there was added to them The Treatise of the Bathos, or The Art of Sinking in Poetry. It happened that in one chapter of this piece the several species of bad poets were ranged in classes, to which were prefixed almost all the letters of the alphabet (the greatest part of them at random "); but such was the number of poets eminent in that art, that some one or other took every letter to himself: all fell into so violent a fury that, for half a year or more, the common newspapers (in most of which they had some property, as being hired writers) were filled with the most abusive falsehoods and scurrilities they could possibly devise. A liberty no way to be wondered at in those people and in those papers that for many years during the uncontrouled license of the press had aspersed almost all the great characters of the age; and this with impunity, their own persons and names being utterly secret and obscure *.
For silence under attack see well known as Virgil, and Gildon will Boswell's Johnson, ii. 61; John. Misc. be as well known as you, if his name
gets into your verses.' Pope's Works Ante, SAVAGE, 107; Savage's (Elwin and Courthope), vii. 64. Works, 1777, ii. 249. See also Pope's 'Mr. Pope may indeed be said to lying account of the publication of have raked many out of the kennels
The Dunciad in a note on the first to immortality.' FIELDING, Works, line.
1806, X. 123. 3 Ante, SAVAGE, 108.
For a list of the publications against • Swift wrote to Pope in 1725 : Pope see N. & 2.5 S. xii. 36, 71,89, 'Take care the bad poets do not out- 110, 192, 335, 415, 477; 6 S. i. 341, wit you, as they have served the good 380. ones in every age. . . . Maevius is as
'This gave Mr. Pope the thought that he had now some opportunity of doing good", by detecting and dragging into light these common enemies of mankind; since to invalidate this universal slander it sufficed to shew what contemptible men were the authors of it. He was not without hopes that, by manifesting the dulness of those who had only malice to recommend them, either the booksellers would not find their account in employing them, or the men themselves, when discovered, want courage to proceed in so unlawful an occupation. This it was that gave birth to The Dunciad; and he thought it an happiness that, by the late flood of slander on himself, he had acquired such a peculiar right over their names as was necessary to this design
On the 12th of March, 17293, at St. James's, that poem was presented to the King and Queen (who had before been pleased to read it “) by the right honourable Sir Robert Walpole s; and some days after the whole impression was taken and dispersed by several noblemen and persons of the first distinction.
· Post, POPE, 357.
In a note, dated 1743, on The * In Pope's Works (Elwin and Dunciad, Bk. i. 1. 2Courthope), iv. 3, v. 213, it is shown 'The Smithfield Muses to the ear of that he had practically finished' Kings,' The Dunciad (the first three books) he writes :—' We are willing to acbefore The Art of Sinking was pub- quaint Posterity that this poem was lished. To justify the personality of presented to King George II and his the poem he made it appear that it Queen,' &c. His impudence was was 'a weapon of self-defence. To
great, if the sixth linepropagate this belief he laid a plot Still Dunce the second reigns like marked by his usual subtlety.' Chapter Dunce the first,' vi of The Art of Sinking was made was, as Mr. Courthope says, 'we grossly personal. “The enraged can scarcely doubt, meant for a reauthors rushed into print. His attack flection on the two first Georges, on them in The Dunciad seemed whose contempt for letters was nototherefore provoked by their abusive rious. Pope's Works (Elwin and falsehoods.' In reality he excited Courthope), iv. 313. this attack, so that he might meet it "" You ought not to write verses,”? with the deadly weapon which he said George II to Lord Hervey; "'tis had prepared.
beneath your rank; leave such work 3 It is strange that in 1732 he ven- to little Mr. Pope ; it is his trade.” tured to try to make it appear that it Warton, i. 282. was published in March, 1729, where- 5 Post, POPE, 196. Pope, in 1726, as it had appeared nine months mentions dining at Walpole's. Pope's earlier. The quarto of March, 1729, Works (Elwin and Courthope), ix. was what he called 'the correct edi- 107. He wrote of him : tion. It contained the Prolegomena, "Seen him I have, but in his happier &c., as well as the names, and is un- hour doubtedly the first complete edition. Of social pleasure, ill exchang'd for 16. iv. 5, 9, 303. See post, POPE, 151. power.' Epil. Sat. i. 29.
Pope, on June 17, 1728, wrote For Walpole's favourite subject of that he had been commanded to conversation see Boswell's Johnson, publish a Key to the Dunciad by the highest and most powerful person in 6 *In order to lessen the danger of the kingdom.' 16. viii. 236.
prosecution for libel, Pope prevailed
It is certainly a true observation that no people are so impatient of censure as those who are the greatest slanderers, which was wonderfully exemplified on this occasion. On the day the book was first vended a crowd of authors besieged the shop; intreaties, advices, threats of law and battery, nay cries of treason, were all employed to hinder the coming-out of The Dunciad: on the other side, the booksellers and hawkers made as great efforts to procure it'. What could a few poor authors do against so great a majority as the publick? There was no stopping a torrent with a finger, so out it came.
Many ludicrous circumstances attended it. The Dunces (for by this name they were called) held weekly clubs, to consult of hostilities against the author: one wrote a letter to a great minister, assuring him Mr. Pope was the greatest enemy the government had; and another bought his image in clay to execute him in effigy, with which sad sort of satisfaction the gentlemen were a little comforted.
'Some false editions? of the book having an owl in their frontispiece, the true one, to distinguish it, fixed in its stead an ass laden with authors. Then another surreptitious one being printed with the same ass, the new edition in octavo returned for distinction to the owl again. Hence arose a great contest of booksellers against booksellers, and advertisements against advertisements; some recommending the edition of the owl, and others the edition of the ass; by which names they came to be distinguished, to the great honour also of the gentlemen of The Dunciad:
5 S. xii. 304
on three peers ... Bathurst, Oxford, (Elwin and Courthope), iv. 9. and Burlington, to act as his nominal Arbuthnot wrote to Swift on June 9, publishers; and it was through them 1729:~Mr. Pope had got an inThat copies of the enlarged edition junction in chancery against the were at first distributed, the book- printers who had pirated his Dunciad: sellers not being allowed to sell any it was dissolved again, because the in their shops. .. As the report printer could not prove
property, spread that the poem was the property nor did the author appear.' Swift's of rich and powerful noblemen, there Works, xvii. 245. was a natural disinclination on the For the bibliography of the first part of the Dunces to take legal pro- issues of The Dunciad' see N. & l. ceedings. ... When all danger appeared to be over, the three peers 3 See Pope's Works (Elwin and assigned the edition to Gilliver the Courthope), iv. 299, for “Notes on publisher.' Pope's Works (Elwin Editions of the Dunciad, from Notes and Courthope), v. 216. See also ib. and Queries, Nos. 268–70. At the viii. 250-4.
sale of Colonel Grant's library by • This seems in contradiction to Messrs. Sotheby & Co. on May 15, what Johnson says, ante, POPE, 146; 1900, the following prices were paid:but he is speaking of the first edition • The Dunciad, 1728, earliest issue, of 1728, and Pope of the correct £75 os. od. ; second issue of first edition' of 1729.
edition, £ 50 os. od. ; second edition, * These false editions' were all 1728, £32 os. od.' Daily News, published by Pope. Pope's Works May 16, 1900.
149 Pope appears by this narrative to have contemplated his
victory over the Dunces with great exultation; and such was his delight in the tumult which he had raised, that for a while his natural sensibility was suspended, and he read reproaches and invectives without emotion, considering them only as the necessary
effects of that pain which he rejoiced in having given'. 150 It cannot, however, be concealed that, by his own confession,
he was the aggressor, for nobody believes that the letters in the Bathos were placed at random”; and it may be discovered that,
when he thinks himself concealed, he indulges the common vanity of common men, and triumphs in those distinctions which he had affected to despise. He is proud that his book was presented to the King and Queen by the right honourable Sir Robert Walpole ; he is proud that they had read it before ; he is proud that the edition was taken off by the nobility and
persons of the first distinction. 151 The edition of which he speaks was, I believe, that, which by
telling in the text the names and in the notes the characters of those whom he had satirised, was made intelligible and diverting? The criticks had now declared their approbation of the plan, and the common reader began to like it without fear; those who were strangers to petty literature, and therefore unable to decypher initials and blanks, had now names and persons brought within their view, and delighted in the visible effect of those shafts of malice, which they had hitherto contemplated as shot into the air 4.
''The lofty ideas,' writes Mr. the Prolegomena of Scriblerus, LonCourthope, 'which Pope had formed don, printed for A. Dod, 1729, 4to. of his own virtue and benevolence * Swift wrote to Wogan in 1732: were put to the rude test of experi- You judge very truly that the taste
.... The“spretae iniuria formae" of England is infamously corrupted (Aeneid, i. 27), the slanderous re- by shoals of wretches who write for ports, destructive of the ideal cha- their bread; and therefore I had racter which he had imagined for reason to put Mr. Pope on writing himself, the imputation of blasphemy the poem called The Dunciad, and to and malignity calculated to rob him hale those scoundrels out of their of the respect which he sought, must obscurity by telling their names at all be taken into account.
length, their works, their adventures, not possibly excuse Pope's conduct, sometimes their lodgings and their but we
can compassionate him.' lineage ; not with A's and B's acPope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), cording to the old way, which would
be unknown in a few years.' Swift's Ante, SAVAGE, 108.
Works, xvii. 398. See also Pope's Ante, POPE, 148. The edition Works (Elwin and Courthope), vii. was The Dunciad, Variorum with 134
Dennis, upon the fresh provocation now given him, renewed 152 the enmity which had for a time been appeased by mutual civilities, and published remarks, which he had till then suppressed, upon The Rape of the Lock'. Many more grumbled in secret, or vented their resentment in the newspapers by epigrams or invectives.
Ducket, indeed, being mentioned as loving Burnet with 'pious 153 passion,' pretended that his moral character was injured, and for some time declared his resolution to take vengeance with a cudgel. But Pope appeased him, by changing 'pious passion'to 'cordial friendship?,' and by a note, in which he vehemently disclaims the malignity of meaning imputed to the first expressions.
Aaron Hill, who was represented as diving for the prize, 154 expostulated with Pope in a manner so much superior to all mean solicitation, that Pope was reduced to sneak and shuffle, sometimes to deny and sometimes to apologize: he first endeavours to wound, and is then afraid to own that he meant a blow".
The Dunciad, in the complete edition, is addressed to 155 Dr. Swifts: of the notes, part was written by Dr. Arbuth
* Ante, POPE, 34, 60. : 'Fam'd for good nature, B- and for truth,
[youth.' D-for pious passion to the The Dunciad, first ed. iii. 137 ; ed. 1729, iii. 175.
I cannot find 'cordial friendship' in any edition of The Dunciad.
In the final edition this couplet is suppressed. It should follow l. 180. For Thomas Burnet and Ducket see ante, POPE, 122.
3 The Dunciad, iii. 179 n. " 'H- try'd the next, but hardly
snatch'd from sight Instant buoys up, and rises into
light; He bears no token of the sabler
streams, And mounts far off, among the swans of Thames.'
The Dunciad, first ed. ii. 273. In the edition of 1729 [ii. 285] the first line stood :
“Then * * tried, but,' &c. In the final edition :Then essay'd; scarce vanish'd out
of sight.' 'ii. 295.
Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope),
Pope wrote to Hill:-'Has it es-
's The first edition was published in May, 1728, without the address to Swift. He wrote to Pope on June 1, 1728:—'The doctor [Delany] told me your secret about The Dunciad, which does not please me, because it defers gratifying my vanity in the most tender point, and perhaps may wholly disappoint it.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), vii. 132. Pope replied on June 28: The Dunciad is going to be printed in all pomp