1730 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Pope

Philalethes, "To the Author of the Daily Journal" The Daily Journal (23 May 1730).



SIR,

The Grubaeans are so stupidly out of Humour, in their last Journal, upon the Publication of the ONE Parnassian Epistle to Mr. Pope occasion'd by TWO of their own kind; that all the Spleen they can vent, is, by pouring out of a lying Spirit upon the Genealogy of the suppos'd Writers of it, and which, if true, would only the more expose their own Ignorance.

You must know, Sir, that they fancy this One Epistle, is wrote by Three Persons;

The First, is the Son of an Alehouse Man.
The Second, the Son of a Footman.
The Third, the Son of a W—.

Now supposing this true, as it is most notoriously false, what does it make against the Merits of the Poem?

I have before shewn, in your Paper, after what Manner Mr. Pope glean'd the Dispensary for his Dunciad; and as the One Epistle observes, in most of his other Writings, the thrice glean'd Page of Dryden, is easily to be discern'd.

O! how burlesqu'd, great Dryden, is thy Strain,
When little Alexander slays the Slain!
But, let the Rhimer, haste new Palms to seize,
His little, envious, angry Genius teize;
Let his weak wilful Head, unrein'd by Art,
Obey the Dictates of his flattering Heart;
Divide a busy, fretful, Life between
Smut, Libel, Sing-song, Vanity and Spleen;
Let bawdy Emblems, now, his House beguile,
Now, Fustian Epic, ape-ing Virgil's Stile;
To Virgil like, as Indian Clay to Delf,
Or Pult'ney, drawn by J—is, to Herself.
Let him with all his Might, and all his Will,
His unabating Thirst pursue — to scribble still.
Giv'n at his Birth! the Poetaster's Gust,
False and unsated as the Eunuch's Lust.

As you have, Sir, upon all Occasions, been inclinable to do Justice to the Gentlemen libell'd in the Dunciad, I hope you will not deny this just Character of Mr. P. a Place in your Paper; but, by inserting it, confirm your own Impartiality with relation to the present Poetical War now raging in Great-Britain, and more especially, since the Bavians desir'd some Notice might be taken of their Scurrility, in their last Grubaean Advices. The Advocates of the Dunciad are,

Such whom the Muse shall pass with just Disdain,
Nor add one Trophy to the Motly-Train:
But Quack A—t shall Oblivion blot,
That puzling, plodding, prating, pedant Scot!
The grating Scribler! whose untun'd Essays,
Blends the Scotch Thisle with the English Bays,
By either Phoebus pre-ordain'd to Ill,
The Hand prescribing, or the flattering Quill,
Who doubly plagues; and boasts, two Arts to kill.
'Midst the vain Tribe, that aid P—'s setting Ray,
The Muse shall view, but spare ill-fated G—:
Poor G—, who loses most, when most he wins,
And gives his Foes his Fame, and bears their Sins;
Who more by Fortune, than by Nature curst,
Yields his best Pieces, and must own P—'s worst.

These few Specimens will, I hope, be thought a just Reply to poor Grubby, and give a proper Account of the true Reason of their Resentment. I am, Sir, Yours, &c.

PHILALETHES.