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the man, who is fo unfeeling as to laugh on occasions which should command a blush, will always find senseless grinners to keep him in countenance, yet he will appear despicable in the eyes of every one of discernment and decorum; and his vices and follies will disgrace his memory, while the talents which shaded and difguised them, are no longer remembered.
Indeed we have too much reason to conclude, that the good purpose intended by this satire was, to the herd in general, of less efficacy than our poet hoped. For fcriblers have not the common sense of other vermin, who usually abstain from mischief, when they see any of their kind gibbetted or nailed up, as terrible examples.
It will not be immaterial to observe, that Mr. Pope laid the plan of the fourth book at the request of the learned editor of his works, who reminded him that it was a pity fo fine a poem as the Dunciad, should remain disgraced by the meanness of its subjcct; and that he ought to raise and ennoble it by pointing his fatire against minute philosophers and free-thinkers *.
The editor of his works obferves, that he imagined it was for the interest of religion to have it known, that fo great a genius had a due abhorrence of those peits of virtue
It was to advance the same ends of virtue and religion, that the editor prevailed on bim to alter every thing in his
Such a recommendation does honour to him who gave it; but still it is to be wished, that the admirable contents of the fourth book had been totally detached, from the poem of which they constitute a part. The weight and importance of the fubjects treated of in this book, seem to have required such a separation : and they would perhaps, if possible, have appeared with still greater dignity, had they not been blended with the levities * in other parts of this poem.
Moral Writings, that might be suspected to have the leaft glance towards Fate or Naturalism, and to add what was proper to convince the world that he was warmly on the side of Moral Government and a REVEALED Will: and the editor assures us, that it would be great injustice to Mr. Pope's memory not to declare that he embraced these occasions with unfeigned pleasure.
Mr. Pope himself acknowledges the influence of the editor's re ommendation, in a letter addressed to him, the 28th December, 1742, where he says----" The encouragement
you gave me to add ihe fourth book, first determined me to “ do so ; and the approbation you seemed to give it, was “ what fingly determined me to print it.”
* Our author himself seems to apologize for the levity of thi piece, in the following letter, addresied to the learned annotator. ks I have just received yours, and as I have no words to express
, “ farther than you already know, my fincere desire to mețit your friendship, I will not employ any.
for “ what you for freedily have done, and shall put it to the ” press with all hatte, the rest of the book being ready.
“ If any thing more can be done for the Dunciad, it must " be to acquaint the public, that you have thought it worth ss your care, by beftr.wing some notes upon it, to make it " more important and serious.”
I thank you
“ This fourth book was published long after • the first three, and the author pleasantly pre“ fixed an advertisement to the first edition of “ it, which made its appearance separately in « the year 1749 *, intimating that it was by a “ different hand from the other, and found in “ detached pieces, incorrect and unfinished.”
The editor of his works objected to him the affectation of using so unpromising an attempt to mislead his reader. He replied, very shrewdly, that the editor thought too highly of the public taste; that, most commonly, it was formed on that of half a dozen people in fashion who took the lead, and sometimes intruded the dullest performances on the town, for works of wit: while at the same time, some true efforts of genius, without name or recommendation, have passed unobserved or neglected, by the
* We find, by a letter above quoted from our author to Mr. Bethel, that he expected to raise a storm against him by the publication of the fourth book of the Dunciad ; and it appears, by the following letter, that his friend entertained apprehensions on his account, which he thus facetiously removes.
“ To give you ease, in relation to the event of my poem, “which dealing much in general, not particular satire, has “ stirred up little or no resentment, though it be levelled “ much higher than the former ; yet men not being singled Sout from the herd, bear chastisement better, like galley* Naves, for being all linked in a string, and on the lampe
He added many other just reflections on this occasion, and the event shewed that he was not mistaken. The fourth book, the most studied and highly finished of all his poems, was esteemed obscure t, (a name which, in excess of modesty, the reader gives to what he does not understand) and but a faint imitation, by some common hand, of the other three. He had himself the malicious pleasure of hearing this judgment passed on his favourite work, by several of his acquaintance; a pleasure more to his taste than the flatteries they used to entertain him with, and were then intentionally paying him
The Dunciad, it is said, was presented to the King * and Queen, by Sir Robert Walpole, who,
+ To prove, among other instances, how industriously Lord Bolingbroke concealed his licentious principles from Mr. Pope, and how much he affected before him to dislike Freethinkers, it may be material to observe, that when the fourth book of the Dunciad was published, Lord Bolingbroke was abroad ; but on the change of the miniftry, he returned to England. At his first interview with Mr. Pope, he faid—“ It seems you have written a fourth book; but it so was represented to me as so cbfcure by every body, that I “ nad no inclination to read it till the other day, when I u found it to be the best and most finished of all your writssings. The satire on Freethinkers, is most just and useful; " and ennobles a work of wit, which only wanted that ads vantage.”
* When the new edition of the Dunciad was published, with notes, Mr. Pope regained by it the good opinion of the court. The King declared that he was a very bonefi man. Perhaps the court esteemed bad Poets a more legitimate object of satire, than bad Politicians.
about this time, it is thought, offered to procure him a pension, which he refused with the same noble spirit with which he had formerly declined offers of this nature. This proposal of Sir Robert's, is probably hinted at in a passage of one of our author's letters to Dean Swift, which the reader may see in the note underneath t.
Mr. Pope observed, that he was wholly obliged to the whig ministry, for thoughts of this nature. His friend Lord Oxford, he assures us, never made fuch a proposal to him : though he often ufed to talk with great kindness to him, and frequently expressed his concern, that he should be incapable of a place without giving inquietude to his father and mother- Such concern, said our pious poet, as I would not have given to either, for all the places which the ministry could have bestowed on me.. Lord Oxford, however, never made him any offer of a pension.
+ “ I was once before displeased at you for complaining " to Mr. -- of my not having a pension. I am lo again, “ at your naming it to a certain Lord. I have given proof, $" in the course of my life, from the time that I was in the for friendship of Lord Bolingbroke and Mr. Craggs, even to " this time, when I am civilly treated by Sir Robert Wal“pole, that I never thought myself fo warm in any party's
cause, as to deserve their money, and therefore would “ never have accepted it. I defire you to take off any im. "presions which that dialogue may have left upon his Lorde
ihip’s mind, as if I ever had any thoughts of being be"hollen to him, or any other, in that way.”