for Epic poesy: tho’ since he hath alter’d it to sixty, the year in which he published his Alfred. l.See his Essays. True it is, that the talents for Criticism, namely smartness, quick censure, vivacity of remark, certainty of asseveration , indeed all but acerbity, seem rather the gifts of Youth than of riper age: But it is far otherwise in Poetry; witness the works of Mr. Rymer and Mr. Dennis, who beginning with Criticism, became afterwards such Poets as no age hath parallel’d. With good reason therefore did our author chuse to write his Essay on that subject at twenty, and reserve for his maturer years this great and wonderful work of the Dunciad.
DUNCIADOS PERIOCHA: OR, ARGUMENTS to the BOOKS.
BOOK the FIRST.
THE Proposition of the subject. The Invocation, and the Inscription. Then the Original of the great Empire of Dulness, and cause of the continuance thereof. The beloved seat of the Goddess is described, with her chief attendants and officers, her functions, operations, and effects. Then the poem hastes into the midst of things, presenting her on the evening of a Lord Mayor’s day, revolving the long succession of her sons, and the glories past, and to come. She fixes her eye on Tibbald to be the instrument of that great event which is the subject of the poem. He is described pensive in his study, giving up the cause, and apprehending the period of her empire from the old age of the present monarch Settle: Wherefore debating whether to betake himself to law or politicks, he raises an altar of proper books, and (making first his solemn prayer and declaration) purposes thereon to sacrifice all his unsuccessful writings. As the pile is kindled, the Goddess beholding the flame from her seat, flies in person and puts it out, by casting upon it the poem of Thule. She forthwith reveals her self to him, transports him to her Temple, unfolds her arts, and initiates him into her mysteries; then announcing the death of Settle that night, anoints, and proclaims him Successor.