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Occafioned by the first correct
EDITION OF THE DUNCIAD.
T is with pleasure I hear, that you have procured a correct copy of the DUNCIAD, which the many furreptitious ones have rendered fo neceffary; and it is yet with more, that I am informed it will be attended with a COMMENTARY: A work fo requifite, that I cannot think the Author himself would have omitted it, had he approved of the first appearance of this Poem.
Such Notes as have occurred to me I herewith fend you: You will oblige me by inserting them amongst those which are, or will be, tranfmitted to you by others; fince not only the Author's friends, but even strangers, appear engaged by humanity, to take fome care of an Orphan of fo much genius and spirit, which its parent feems to have abandoned from the very beginning, and fuffered to step into the world naked, unguarded, and unattended.
It was upon reading some of the abufive papers lately published, that my great regard to a Perfon, whofe Friendship I esteem as one of the chief honours of my life, and a much greater refpect to Truth, than to him or any man living, engaged me in inquiries, of which the inclofed Notes are the fruit.
I perceived, that most of these Authors had been (doubtless very wifely) the first aggreffors. They had tried, till they were weary, what was to be got by railing at each other: Nobody was either concerned or furprized, if this or that fcribbler was proved a dunce. But every one was curious to read what could be faid to prove Mr. POPE one, and was ready to pay fomething for fuch a discovery: A ftratagem, which would they fairly own, it might not only reconcile them to me, but fcreen them from the refentment of their lawful Superiors, whom they daily abuse, only (as I charitably hope) to get that by them, which they cannnot get from them.
I found this was not all: Ill fuccefs in that had tranfported them to perfonal abuse, either of himself, or (what I think he could less forgive) of his Friends. They had called Men of virtue and honour bad Men, long before he had either leisure or inclination to call them bad Writers: And fome had been fuch old offenders, that he had quite forgotten their persons as well as their flanders, till they were pleased to revive them.
Now what had Mr. POPE done before, to incenfe them? He had published those works which are in the hands of every body, in which not the least mention is made