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A LETTER TO THE PUBLISHER,
OCCASIONED BY THE
FIRST CORRECT EDITION
THE DUNC I A D.
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