Page images



It is clear that Pope did not intend to give Motte the new poem. About a fortnight afterwards he wrote again, reminding the tardy publisher of Gay's claim, and desiring him, in the mean time, to pay 107. "to the bearer." The account was finally closed on the 1st of July, 1729. Pope allowed an abatement of 251., and signed, conjointly with Motte, on behalf of himself and Swift, a discharge of all claims for the three volumes of Miscellanies. The copyright was to last for fourteen years, with a promise of its being renewed for other fourteen years on payment of five shillings; and Motte, in consideration of the abatement of 257., relinquished all claim he might have by virtue of the agreement to the fourth volume of Miscellanies therein mentioned.

The copyright of the work thus realised a sum of 2251., of which Arbuthnot and Gay appear to have received 50%. each. Swift was the largest and most valuable contributor; but Pope's persevering attention, and sharp practice as negotiator, may have placed him on a parity with the Dean as to pecuniary right. In writing to Pulteney some years afterwards (1735), Swift said he had never got a farthing by anything he had written, except once, about eight years before, and that was by the prudent management of Mr. Pope. This declaration must refer to Gulliver's Travels, for which Lewis, as negotiator, had received 2007. Another volume of Miscellanies was added by Pope in 1732. It was hastily got up, to anticipate a collection of pieces of Swift's by Pilkington. To Pope's volume Swift gave his consent, but he had no share in its arrangement, and the whole benefit of the copyright, sold to Motte and Gilliver, seems to have been enjoyed by the poet. In a letter written to Motte in 1732, Swift says, "I can assure you, I had no advantage by any one of the four volumes, as I once hinted to you, and desire it may be a secret always." And a secret it remained, at least to the public, for more than a century.




THE mysterious poem with which Pope tantalised the publisher of the Miscellanies was unquestionably the Dunciad. He had broken off from Motte, a different publisher was selected, and the work was given to the world without the name of the author. In this instance, as in the case of the Rape of the Lock, Pope sent forth at first an imperfect or meagre sketch of his plan. The name originally fixed upon was "Dulness," or "The Progress of Dulness;" and, under the former of these titles, it is mentioned in the correspondence by Bolingbroke and Swift, to whom Pope had submitted portions of the work as it proceeded. To Swift he assigns paramount influence in the completion of the satire. Without him, he says, it certainly had never been; and "the first sketch of the poem was snatched from the fire by Dr. Swift, who persuaded his friend to proceed in it, and to him it was therefore inscribed." There are indications, however, of the poem having been contemplated or begun some years before the date of Swift's visit to England. The action of the poem in 1720, when Sir George Thorold was Mayor, and the introduction of Motteux, Centlivre, Gildon, and other sons and daughters of Dulness long dead (Gildon is enjoined to embrace Dennis), seem to point to a period anterior to 1727. In 1721 Pope had struck up a sort of treaty of amity with Dennis. There had been no fresh provocation to hostilities,



but there were, probably, some old, unprinted materials in store, and Pope was always reluctant to lose a single verse. The Fragment of a Satire, including the Addison lines, may have been part of this original sketch shown to Swift, and, by his advice and assistance, the poem was greatly extended, diversified with new incidents and characters, and enriched with prolegomena and notes. Yet Swift represents himself as only a passive spectator of the anxious labours of the poet. In that fine copy of verses addressed to Pope while he was writing the Dunciad, Swift has drawn a life-like picture of a scene which must often have occurred in the small study at Twickenham:

"Pope has the talent well to speak,
But not to reach the ear;

His loudest voice is low and weak,
The Dean too deaf to hear.

"Awhile they on each other look,
Then different studies choose;
The Dean sits plodding on a book;
Pope walks and courts the Muse.

"Now backs of letters, though design'd
For those who more will need 'em,
Are fill'd with hints and interlined,
Himself can hardly read 'em.

"Each atom by some other struck,
All turns and motions tries;
Till in a lump together stuck,
Behold a poem rise!

"Yet to the Dean his share allot,

He claims it by a canon;

That without which a thing is not,

Is causa sine quâ non.'

"Thus Pope in vain you boast your wit,
For had our deaf divine

Been for your conversation fit,
You had not writ a line.

"Of prelate thus for preaching famed,
The sexton reason'd well,

And justly half the merit claim'd,
Because he rang the bell."

Swift did more than ring the bell, and he looked for his reward. He was jealous of the position he occupied among his friends; he was covetous of praise from men whose praise was honour-in his latter years it degenerated into a love of flattery-and, in particular, he put a high value on the estimation of Pope. Before he left England he probably knew that the Dunciad was to be inscribed to him in the language of warm panegyric; he had contributed notes to the work, in conjunction with Arbuthnot and others, and he looked with impatience for the appearance of a volume in which he had so material a share and interest. Great, therefore, was his disappointment on learning, indirectly, that the poet had departed from his original plan, and that the poem was to be published divested of the inscription or dedication to himself, and of the commentary in which he had assisted. He wrote to Pope: "The Doctor (Delaney) has 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." The work appeared in May, 1728.1 Four editions, or impressions, of the poem

1 The Dunciad, an Heroic Poem, in Three Books. Dublin printed: London reprinted for A. Dodd, 1728, 12mo. It was registered at Stationers' Hall, May 80, by James Bettenham, a printer. To the volume was prefixed a frontispiece representing an owl (with a label from the beak, inscribed THE DUNCIAD) perched on a pile of books, marked "P and K Arthur" (Blackmore's epic poems of Prince Arthur, 1695, and King Arthur, 1697); Shakesp. Restor'd; Dennis's Works; Newcastle; Cibber's Plays." This first edition of the Dunciad is advertised in the Daily Post of May 18. On May 27 a quotation from Milton was added to the advertisement:

“He, as an herd

Of goats and timorous flocks together thronged,
Drove them before him thunderstruck, pursued
Into the vast abyss."

On the 29th May was advertised "A Complete Key to the Dunciad; with a character of Mr. Pope and his profane writings, by Sir Richard Blackmore, Knight, M.D." Printed for A. Dodd, and sold by E. Curll. This Key, following so close on the publication of the poem, and printed for the same publisher, Dodd, was most likely the work of Pope himself. The comments are explanatory, not depreciatory, and the use of the name of Blackmore is characteristic. All the circumstances connected with the publication of the Dunciad have been ably and fully elucidated in "Notes and Queries" for 1854.



(including a reprint by Faulkner of Dublin) were issued, in this imperfect form, during the year 1728. In the preface, Pope had said (speaking in the character of his publisher), "If it provoke the author to give us a more perfect edition, I have my end;" and the perfect edition was, of course, soon ready. On June 28th, the poet writes to Swift: "The Dunciad is going to be printed, in all pomp, with the inscription (the lines to Swift) which makes me proudest: it will be attended with proeme, prolegomena, testimonia scriptorum, index authorum, and notes variorum." Next month Swift replied, "I would be glad to know whether the quarto edition is to come out anonymously, as published by the commentator, with all the pomp of prefaces, &c., and among many complaints of spurious editions ?" Exactly as here indicated, in April, 1729, appeared the enlarged Dunciad, with the prolegomena of Scriblerus and notes variorum, and the preface said to have been prefixed to the five first imperfect editions, printed at Dublin and London. This array of multiplied editions-Irish and English, octavo and duodecimowas a shadowy progeny created by the poet; and, indeed, the figment of an original Dublin edition was disproved by Faulkner's title-page, on which were the words, "London printed: Dublin reprinted." The work, in its enlarged form, appears to have been soon pirated in London. In June, 1729, Arbuthnot writes that Pope had got an injunction in Chancery to suppress the piracy, but that it was dissolved again, as the printer could not prove any property, and the author did not appear. Such a result was obvious, and must have been foreseen by Pope. His object in resorting to the Court of Chancery was, no doubt, to increase the public interest in the work, and to add to its notoriety. Had he been in earnest, he would have put forward Beckenham, the printer, in whose name the first edition of the Dunciad had been entered at Stationers' Hall, and who had thus, nominally at least, legal power to restrain the pirates. When the object of immediate publicity had been attained, Pope vindicated his right to the copyright of the satire. In November he assigned over "The Dunciad, an Heroic Poem," to the Earls of Burlington and Oxford, and Lord Bathurst, and these in turn transferred the work, "with the sole right and liberty of printing the same," to Pope's publisher, Lawton

« PreviousContinue »