it seem’d but humanity to bestow a word or two upon each, just to tell what he was, what he writ, when he liv’d, or when he dy’d.
If a word or two more are added upon the chief Offenders; ’tis only as a paper pinn’d upon the breast, to mark the Enormities for which they suffer’d; lest the Correction only should be remember’d, and the Crime forgotten.
In some Articles, it was thought sufficient barely to transcribe from Jacob, Curl, and other writers of their own rank, who were much better acquainted with them than any of the Authors of this Comment can pretend to be. Most of them had drawn each other’s Characters on certain occasions; but the few here inserted, are all that could be saved from the general destruction of such Works.
Of the part of Scriblerus I need say nothing: his Manner is well enough known, and approv’d by all but those who are too much concern’d to be judges.
The Imitations of the Ancients are added, to gratify those who either never read, or may have forgotten them; together with some of the Parodies, and Allusions to the most excellent of the Moderns. If any man from the frequency of the former, may think the Poem too much a Cento; our Poet will but appear to have done the same thing in jest, which Boileau did in earnest; and upon which Vida, Fracastorius, and many of the most eminent Latin Poets, professedly valued themselves.
Occasioned by the present
Edition of the DUNCIAD.
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 approv’d of the first appearance of this Poem.
Such Notes as have occurr’d 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;