Tải bản đầy đủ - 0trang
Objections to Pope’s obscenity and character assassination
his own House, rather than not enjoy the pitiful Pleasure of aspersing with
Impunity, Persons, all of them better Members of the Community than himself,
and many of them of a much higher Rank in Life than he must ever pretend to; who
can only derive a Mock Title, not from his Ancestors, but his Shoulders. In his
first Edition he had traduc’d certain Characters, for which every one has always
had the utmost Veneration, and thinks now, by leaving out the Names of some,
and falsly filling up the Blanks of others, as well as by absconding for a Time, to
escape the Stripes that ought to be the just Reward of such Writings. How
monstrous therefore has it been, to insinuate, that they have reach’d a Presence,
where Good Nature, Truth, and Humanity only can be graciously receiv’d or
encourag’d; the Reverse whereof are the Characteristicks of the Dunciad?
I am sensible that the Retailers in Scandal have always endeavour’d to pass
upon the World by the laudable Appellation of Satyrists, and would take Shelter
under the great Names of Horace, Juvenal, and Boileau. Not considering, that
these Precedents will never be to their Purpose; those generous Correctors of
Vice, never attack’d Persons, but Errors, nor ever expos’d the private Character,
but the publick Appearance of Men, at the same Time taking especial Care to pay
the strictest Regard to Truth, even while the Scourge was in their Hands; and
therefore, Boileau, in his own Vindication, speaking of Chapelain, who was a
bad Poet, says,
En blamant ses ecrits, ai je d’un Style Affreux
Distillé sur sa Vie un Venin Dangereux.1
I must likewise inform this half-learned Tribe, that the Codrus of Juvenal, which
these abusive Writers so often quote for their Justifica-tion, was no real Person,
but a Name design’d in general to signify any bad Poet.
True and just Satyr will always have its Weight; Scandal will always be
condemn’d: The one is beneficial to Society, the other is detrimental to it.
Whensoever a Man has taken upon himself the Profession of any Art of Science,
by Writing, or otherwise, he has certainly submitted his Talents therein to the
Judgment of the World. A Writer therefore, who in that Art or Science, consistent
with good Manners, exposes the Defects of his Fellow Writer, be it by Ridicule
or Argument, is guilty of nothing that is blameable, but rather does a Praiseworthy Action, by endeavouring to rectify the Judgments of Men, and prevent
Pretenders to Science from imposing on the Publick. The censuring an Author
then, only as such, is what every Man has a Right to do, from the Moment he
appears in Print, Hanc Veniam petimusq; Damusq; vicissim.2 But under this
Pretext to attack his private Reputation, as a Member of Society, must be the
Result of the same villainous Principles, as would lead a Man to be guilty of
Robbery or Murder, had he Courage enough for the Road. The Civil Magistrate
alone has a Right to enquire into Mens Personal Characters, and if they deserve
it, to expose and punish them: And it seems but just, that this Authority should
THE CRITICAL HERITAGE 223
be vested solely in him, since no one else can, with any Certainty, be inform’d of
what passes in private Life.
The Predecessors of the Writer of the Dunciad, the elaborate Authors of
Grubstreet, have frequently transgress’d this equitable Rule, and finding too
general a Propensity towards enquiring into the Blemishes of (otherwise) Great
Characters, have sometimes been pretty liberal of their Personal Reflections, in
order to render their several Dunciads the more Saleable: Yet these Men had at
least so much Decency, as to do this under feign’d Names, or by pointing at
Persons only by their initial Letters, which were lyable to various Readings.
Thus, whilst the Obscurity of their Scandal screen’d them from Punishment,
their very Proceeding was a tacit Confession of the Guilt of such Invectives. But
it was doubtless reserv’d for the Modest Author of the Dunciad to invent the Ne
plus ultra of Scandal, by calling Men, every Way his Superiors, Rogues,
Blockheads, Drunkards, and Liars, in Print, with their Names at length, whilst he
suppresses his own, that he may be exempt from the Fear of a very low
Punishment, but to which his Ears seem to be legally intitled.
[Satire, ix. 209–10: ‘In censuring his writings, have I used a hideous style to exude a
dangerous poison onto his life?’]
2 [Horace, Ars Poetica, l. 11: ‘this licence we [poets] claim, and in our turn we grant the
Dennis on The Dunciad
John Dennis, extract from Remarks upon Several Passages in the
Preliminaries to the Dunciad…(1729), Critical Works, ii. 358–62.
Dennis’s pamphlet was published on 7 July 1729. After the
publication of The Dunciad (1728) Pope believed (mistakenly) that
Dennis had a hand in the letter to Mist’s Weekly Journal, published 8
June 1728 (No. 52). His response was to attack Dennis in the
‘Testimonies of Authors’ and in the notes of The Dunciad Variorum.
Dennis’s attempt at self-defence, of which only a brief portion is
given here, was his last assault on Pope and his last piece of literary
criticism. He survived, suffering from age and poverty, until 6
I hope [my arguments] will convince his Patrons and his Admirers, who have
purchas’d Scurrility and Nonsense at so dear a Rate, that nothing is more easy
than to give foul Language, but that ’tis Ten times more excusable in Me than it
is in Him; first, because lœsit prior [he attacked first], I only retort the Language
he gave; secondly, because in the Remarks which I formerly made upon the
several Things he has publish’d, I have given such Reasons, why this Language
is his Due, as have convinc’d every sensible impartial Reader, that there is not in
any of those Trifles the least Degree of that Solidity, that Morality, and that good
Sense, which are the Principles and Fountain of all good Writing in Poetry: I
shall pursue the same Method in the Animadversions, which from time to time I
shall send you upon the brutal Duciad; and before I have done with this first
Preliminary, I shall take one Occasion from it, to convince the Reader, that this
bouncing Bully of Parnassus, is nothing but a false Brave, a mere bragging
pretending Empirick, and utterly ignorant of the first Rudiments of an Art which
he has more than Twenty Years professed, and in which he has nothing but
Impudence and Ignorance, and Falshood to support him.
In order to shew this, let us see the Account1 that P[ope] himself gives of his
Duciad. It is stil’d, says he, Heroick, as being doubly so, not only with respect to
its Nature, which according to the best Rules of the Antients, and strictest Ideas
of the Moderns, is critically such; but also with regard to the heroical
Disposition, and high Courage of the Writer, who dar’d to stir up such a
formidable, irritable, and implacable Race of Mortals.
Thus P[ope] all at once makes himself the Hero of his wonderful Rhapsody,
and stiles his Folly, his Impudence, his Insolence, and his want of Capacity to
discern and to distinguish, high Courage; for want of which Capacity, he must be
told, that a Bully is of all Mortals, the most Foolish, the most Impudent, and the
most Insolent, but at the same time Cowardly. And here, Sir, give me leave to
observe what the scandalous Chronicle reports, That as soon as the Rhapsody was
publish’d, P[ope] never dar’d to appear without a tall Irishman attending him,
who is so inseparable from him, that one would swear that he owes his Wit as
well as his Courage to him.
But there is now a Necessity for going back a little: The Duciad, says P[ope],
is stiled Heroick with respect to its Nature, which, according to the best Rules of
the Antients, and strictest Ideas of the Moderns, is critically such. Here then let us
see what the Proposition of every Epick Poem, whether Serious and Real, or
Mock and Ridiculous, ought to be; and then whether P[ope]’s Proposition is
agreeable to it.
The Proposition of an Epick Poem, says Bossu, is that first Part of the Poem,
in which the Author proposes briefly, and in general, what he designs to say in
the Body of his Work; in which there are two Things to be considered, the one is
what the Poet proposes, and the other is the Manner of his proposing it.
The Proposition, continues he, ought to contain the Matter of the Poem only;
that is to say, the Action of it, and the Persons who execute that Action, whether
those Persons are Divine or Human: We find all that in the Iliad, in the Odysses,
and in the Ỉneid.
The Action that Homer proposes to sing in the Iliad, is the Revenge that
Achilles takes for the Affront that is offered him; that of the Odysses is the
Return of Ulysses to Ithaca; and that of the Ỉneid, is the Empire of Troy
transferred by Ỉneas to Italy.
We ought not to suffer ourselves to be surprized by the Expression o/Homer in
the Beginning of his Iliad, where he says that he sings the pernicious Wrath of
Achilles, nor believe that he proposes that Wrath as the Subject of his Poem: At
that rate he could not relate an Action to his Reader, but a Passion; We ought not
to stop there, since he himself has not stopp’d there. He tells us, that he sings the
Wrath which caus’d the Greeks to suffer such mighty Losses, and was the Death
of so many Heroes. He proposes then an Action, and not a simple Passion for the
Matter of his Poem; and that Action is, as we said before, the Revenge that
Achilles takes for the Affront that is offered him.
Thus in the other two Poems, they propose at first a Man; but the Propositions
stop not there; they add, that Ulysses suffered very much in his Endeavour to
return into his Country, or that the Design of Ỉea’s Voyage was to establish
[The ‘Account’ is part of the preface to the ‘imperfect’ editions of the 1728 Dunciad]
226 THE CRITICAL HERITAGE
himself in Italy. Both the one and the other, then, of the two Poets proposes to
sing an Action.1
But so much for serious and real Epick or Heroick Poems. Let us now come to
the Mock and the Comick ones, and we shall find, that this Poem, by changing
its Nature, does not change its Manner. Boileau, who was one of the greatest of
the French Poets, and one of the most judicious of their Criticks, calls his Lutrin,
Poeme Heroique, an Heroical or Epick Poem; and yet in the Proposition to this
Poem, which was designed purely for Pleasantry, he proposes to sing an Action,
as appears by the Proposition itself.
Je Chante les combats, et ce Prelat terrible,
Qui par ses longs Travaux et sa Force invincible,
Dans un illustre Eglise exercant son grand cœur
Fit placer a la fin un Lutrin dans le Chœur.
C’est en vain que le Chantre appuié d’un vain Titre,
Deux fois l’en fit oter par les mains du Chapitre;
De Prelat sur le Banc de son Rival altier
Deux fois le rapportant l’en couvrit tout entier.2
Which in English Prose is thus,
I sing the Combats, and that terrible Prelate, who, by his long Labours, and
his invincible Courage, causing his great Soul to be seen by his Actions, in an
illustrious Church, caused at length a stately Pulpit to be erected in the Choir. In
vain did the Chanter, supported by an empty Title, twice cause it to be taken down
by the Hands of the Chapter; and twice did the Prelate, causing it to be carried
back again, fix it before the Seat of his proud Rival, and covering him, and
hiding him from the Congregation, mortify him severely.
Thus Boileau, in the Proposition to a mock Epick, or Heroick Poem, proposes
to sing an Action; and accordingly entertains the Reader with it…1
Now let us take a short View of P[ope]’s Proposition to his Dunciad; and
after that you will easily judge how far ‘tis Heroick with respect to its Nature,
and how far it is critically such, according to the best Rules of the Antients, and
strictest Ideas of the Moderns.
Books, and the Man, I sing, the first who brings
The Smithfield Muses to the Ears of Kings.
Let us divest it of its Jingle, since Rhyme is of no use to the Nonsense of such
Prose as this, but to render it more ridiculous, and more unintelligible.
[Traité du pöeme epique, III. iii (Paris, 1693), pp. 190–91]
[Le Lutrin, ll. 1–8]
I sing Books, and I sing the Man, the first Man, who carries the Muses
Smithfield to the Ear of Kings.
Thus P[ope] sings Books, and not an Action; and the Author who pretends in
an Epick Poem to sing Books instead of singing an Action, is only qualified to
sing Ballads. And as Nature has begun to qualify him for that melodious
Vocation, by giving him that Face, that Shape, and that Stature; so if Fortune
would but finish what Nature has begun, he would be a Nonpareillo in that
Employment. As he has for several Months last past, been bringing down a
wooden Tempest upon his Carcass, if one Eye and one Leg should suffer
severely by the Storm, which may very well happen, do not you think, Sir, that
his rare Figure would proclaim him the Prince of Ballad Singers, as, by justly
deposing you, he has made himself the King of Dunces?
P[ope] is so far from singing an Action, that there is no such Thing as Action
in his whimsical Rhapsody, unless what proceeds from Dulness, that is, from
Privation; a very pretty Principle of Action, and very worthy of P[ope]’s
Invention! The Thing is divided into Three Books. In the First, instead of Action
there is Description and Declamation. In the Third, instead of Action we have
nothing but a feverish Dream. The Second is made up of Nastiness, Obscenity,
and Absurdity; and is so far from being Part of an Action, that it runs counter to
the Design of the whole Thing, if there could be any Design in it; for Vigour of
Action can never proceed from Dulness, though it may from Madness. The Hero
of the Piece does nothing at all, and never speaks but once, unless it be half a
Line in the Third Book. In the First Book, indeed, he offers to burn his Works,
but is hinder’d by the Goddess: Now those Works are either Good or Bad; if they
are Good, they render him incapable of being King of the Dunces; if they are
Bad, the Offer to burn them shews his Judgment, and Judgment must be always
contrary to Dulness, otherwise P[ope] would be the brightest Creature that ever
Whether an Epick Poem, is grave or mock Epick, the Action must have
Probability in all its Parts: Both antient and modern Criticks agree in this.
Ficta voluptatis causâ sint proxima veris,1
says Horace; Let every Thing that is invented to give the Reader Pleasure, be
attended with Probability: Nay, Boileau makes Probability more necessary than
Truth itself, as several of the Antients and Moderns have likewise done.
Jamais au spectateur n’offrez rien d’incroyable,
Le vrai peut quelque fois n’etre pas vraisemblable.
Une merveille absurde est pour moy sans appas,
L’esprit n’est point emu de ce qu’il ne croit pas.2
[Dennis has a paragraph here to show that Butler’s Hudibras also ‘kings’ an ‘action’]
228 THE CRITICAL HERITAGE
Never offer any thing that is incredible either to the Reader or the
Spectator. Truth sometimes may not have Probability. That which is
absurd, at the same Time that ‘tis wonderful, has no Charms for me. The
Soul is never mov’d with that which it does not believe.
And the Reason that he gives for this is very solid, viz. Truth may sometimes
have the Appearance of a Lye, but Probability has always the Appearance of
Truth. And this mock Probability, Butler in his Hudibras, and Boileau in his
Lutrin, have preserved inviolably. But what Probability is there in P[ope]’s
Rhapsody? What Probability in the Games which take up a third Part of the
Piece? Is it not monstrous to imagine any Thing like that in the Master Street of a
populous City; a Street eternally crowded with Carriages, Carts, Coaches,
Chairs, and Men passing in the greatest Hurry about Private and Publick Affairs?
What Probability in that noble Invention of Fleet Ditch, which, besides its
Extravagancy, and its Stupidity, shews the nasty Soul of the Author?
Immodest Words admit of no Defence,
For want of Decency, is want of Sense.
For all that is said there, must be excessively shocking to all Men of common
Sense, as shewing want of Respect to the Reader, as much as to the Authors
mentioned there. Every Man of good Breeding, as well as good Sense, must be
mov’d with Indignation,
At bawling Infamy, with Language base.1
[Horace, Ars Poetica, 1. 338: ‘Fictions meant to please should be close to the real.’]
[Boileau, Art poétique, iii. 47–50]
The Dunciad beneath Pope’s dignity
Francis Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, extract from a letter to his
son-in-law, William Morice, 3–14 August, The Epistolary
Correspondence…of…Francis Atterbury, D.D., ed. J.Nichol (1783–
7), iv. 136–8.
I find many are of my sentiment with regard to the Dunciad, and think the writer
has engaged himself in a very improper and troublesome scuffle, not worthy of
his pen at all, which was designed for greater purposes. Nor can all the good
poetry in those three cantos make amends for the trouble and teasing they will
occasion to him. Tell him so, directly, in my name; and tell him, that what I say
proceeds from tender regard I have for every thing that concerns him. I find by Mist,
2 that Pope will be pursued with all the little spite of which that set of poor creatures
is capable;—and that they will endeavour to hurt him chiefly upon the head of
good-nature and probity; allowing him all kind of advantages in poetry.
[Wentworth Dillon, Earl of Roscommon, Essay on Translated Verse (1684), ll. 113–14]
[That is, the attacks on Pope in Mist’ s Weekly Journal. For an example see No. 52]
Jacob supports Dennis
Giles Jacob, extract from a letter to John Dennis, 18 December 1729,
printed in The Mirrour: or, Letters Satyrical, Panegyrical, Serious,
and Humorous, on the Present Times…(1733), pp. 7–9. For Jacob’s
earlier praise of Pope, see No. 6a.
…SINCE the famous Mr. Pope’s malevolent Treatment of other Persons arises
from his Vanity, I’ll endeavour to lay open and discover to him and his Readers
what it is he has to be vain of. As to his Person, there can be nothing seen there
in the most flattering Mirror to highten his Self-Opinion, but, on the contrary, to
humble and mortify him: So that it is from his Mind alone, whence this Source
of Vanity essentially springs; and as his Body is so very unpromising a Figure,
his Mind should be rare and excellent indeed to lift him to that Pitch of Pride
which he hath lately so eminently display’d.
Now I am come to the Mind of this Poet, or rather his Productions which shew
it. Is there in his Windsor Forest, Temple of Fame, Rape of the Lock, Essay on
Criticism, or any of his other Poems, on a strict Examination, the least
Appearance of that—
Mens Divinior atque Os—Magna Sonaturum1
described by Horace, and which Spenser, Milton, Cowley, Dryden, Prior, and
some others of our famous Countrymen, have, in great Measure, come up to? Or
is there any Thing appears in the Poetry of Mr. Pope, but either the most trifling
Imitation of celebrated Poets; or smooth flowing Words and jingling Rhime,
adapted to the Ear only? Or, in short, is there in his Poems any Thing but
sinnewless Versification, and sonorous Nonsense? If this be the Truth of the
Case, that he hath not the Sublimity of a great Writer; pray what hath he to boast
of? I fear little else but his Impudence!
[Sat., I. iv. 43–4: ‘soul divine and tongue of noble utterance’]
AND I know of no Instance of his Mens Divinior, &c. unless he has luckily hit
upon it in the following Lines in Book the Second of his Dunciad:
As oil’d with magick Juices for the Course,
Renew d by Ordure’s sympathetick Force,
Vigorous he rises, from th’ Effluvia strong
Imbibes new Life, and scours and stinks along.
[The Dunciad (A):ii. 95–8]1
These inimitable Verses on one of his Booksellers in the filthy Race after John Gay
and divers other Authors, are a sufficient Example and Testimony of the
Sublimity of this Poet’s Genius, his Fire, and his Judgment.
IF Mr. Pope has nothing that is excellent in his Qualifications, but hath an
evident Deficiency of good Sense and Judgment, he must inevitably submit to
the glorious Character which he so liberally confers on others. For that Poet, be his
Numbers ever so flowing, who shews an Impotency of Sense in every Thing he
does, can certainly, at best, be no other than a bright Son of his Goddess of
Dulness: And in his Defence of himself, and his Notes to his Dunciad, he is so
intollerably dull that he is writing to Children, or his Readers must infallibly take
him for a Child.
ALL this and more you have prov’d upon Pope in your excellent Remarks
[upon…the Dunciad],2 in which you have likewise, with the utmost Justice,
defended your Reputation against the extraordinary Efforts of his impotent
Malice. As for my self, notwithstanding the Abuse of me by this Poet, I doubt
not but it will be confess’d that my Writings in their Way are more useful and
beneficial to the World, and of consequence more likely to last longer, than the
idle nonsensical Poems and maim’d Translations of Mr. Alexander Pope: And if
so, I shall stand justified in the Opinion of all Men of Sense.
[Jacob has transposed the first two lines]
[See No. 56 above]
Walter Harte defends Pope’s satire
Walter Harte, extracts from An Essay on Satire, Particularly on the
Dunciad (1730), pp. 5–23, 37. Reprinted Augustan Reprint Society,
no. 132 (Los Angeles, 1968), ed. T.B.Gilmore. The poem was
actually published 7–14 January 1731.
Harte (1709–74), who was only twenty-one, had already published
his Poems on Several Occasions (1727), which Pope himself had
corrected (Corresp., ii. 430n.). He was a friend of the Rev. Joseph
Spence, who had praised Pope’s Odyssey (Nos 49–50). Harte’s Essay
is an important statement of a neoclassical theory of satire
sympathetic to Pope’s practice (see Introduction, p. 6). It begins with
an account of the history and development of satire, and culminates
in a defence of The Dunciad. For a further piece by Harte, see No.
T’Exalt the Soul, or make the Heart sincere,
To arm our Lives with honesty severe,
To shake the wretch beyond the reach of Law,
Deter the young, and touch the bold with awe,
To raise the fal’n, to hear the sufferer’s cries,
And sanctify the virtues of the wise,
Old Satire rose from Probity of mind,
The noblest Ethicks to reform mankind.
As Cynthia’s Orb excels the gems of night:
So Epic Satire shines distinctly bright.
Here Genius lives, and strength in every part,
And lights and shades, and fancy fix’d by art.
A second beauty in its nature lies,
It gives not Things, but Beings to our eyes,
Life, Substance, Spirit animate the whole;
Fiction and Fable are the Sense and Soul.