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Two Poems Against Pope One Epistle to Mr. A. Pope and the Blatant Beast   By: (1688-1747)

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First Page:

The Augustan Reprint Society



Leonard Welsted (1730)


Anonymous (1740)



Publication Number 114 William Andrews Clark Memorial Library University of California, Los Angeles 1965


Earl R. Miner, University of California, Los Angeles Maximillian E. Novak, University of California, Los Angeles Lawrence Clark Powell, Wm. Andrews Clark Memorial Library


Richard C. Boys, University of Michigan John Butt, University of Edinburgh James L. Clifford, Columbia University Ralph Cohen, University of California, Los Angeles Vinton A. Dearing, University of California, Los Angeles Arthur Friedman, University of Chicago Louis A. Landa, Princeton University Samuel H. Monk, University of Minnesota Everett T. Moore, University of California, Los Angeles James Sutherland, University College, London H. T. Swedenberg, Jr., University of California, Los Angeles


Edna C. Davis, Clark Memorial Library



One Epistle To Mr. Pope , complained Pope to Bethel, "contains as many Lyes as Lines." But just for that reason it is not, as Pope also says in the same letter, "below all notice."[1] The Blatant Beast , published twelve years later, is another attack on Pope almost as compendious and quite as virulent. They are here presented to the modern student of Pope as good examples of their kind. The importance of the pamphlet attacks on Pope for a full understanding of his satiric art is universally admitted, but the pamphlets themselves were cheap and ephemeral, and copies are now rare and not easily come by. Both in the comprehensiveness of their charges and in the slashing hatred which informs them (however feeble the verse), One Epistle and The Blatant Beast offer as fair a sample as any two such pamphlets can of the calumny, detraction, and critical misunderstanding Pope endured, for the most part patiently, from the publication of his Essay on Criticism to the year of his death. "Welcome for thee, fair Virtue! all the past," ( Epistle to Arbuthnot , l. 358) he exclaimed in his role as Satirist.

It was this public proclamation of Virtue that confused and enraged the Dunces. We have again learned to read satire as something quite other than an expression of personal malice and misanthropy. What the present pamphlets amply testify to is that most of the Dunces were no more able to read satire properly than were Pope's nineteenth century critics. They were, as Pope quite properly kept pointing out, very bad writers and very dull men. The ethos of the satiric persona was something they could not understand. Although some of the Dunces knew their classics well and although all of them, we may presume, read the Roman satirists, one did not, typically, in Grub Street consult one's Horace with diurnal hand; one consulted the public. Literature to them was sold. They were not deeply concerned about absolute standards of right and wrong, about works of imagination which justify an entire civilization, about the problem of tradition and the individual talent. Accordingly, they explained satire, with the only vocabulary they had, as the expression of ingratitude, purely personal malice, and demonic pride, the product of a diseased heart and a misshapen body.

It would be misleading to suggest a narrow definition of Pope's Dunces. Some were critics of worth, such as Dennis and Gildon; some were not despicable minor poets, such as Welsted and Cooke... Continue reading book >>

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