We apprehend it can be deemed no injury to the author of the three first books of the Dunciad that we publish this fourth. It was found merely by accident in taking a survey of the library of a late eminent nobleman; but in so blotted a condition, and in so many detached pieces, as plainly showed it to be not only incorrect, but unfinished. That the author of the three first books had a design to extend and complete his poem in this manner appears from the dissertation prefixed to it, where it is said that the design is more extensive, and that we may expect other episodes to complete it; and from the declaration in the argument to the third book, that the accomplishment of the prophecies therein would be the theme hereafter of a greater Dunciad. But whether or no he be the author of this, we declare ourselves ignorant. If he be, we are no more to be blamed for the publication of it than Tucca and Varius for that of the last six books of the Aeneid, though perhaps inferior to the former.
If any person be possessed of a more perfect copy of this work, or of any other fragments of it, and will communicate them to the publisher, we shall make the next edition more complete: in which we also promise to insert any criticisms that shall be published (if at all to the purpose) with the names of the authors; or any letters sent us (though not to the purpose) shall yet be printed under the title of Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum; which, together with some others of the same kind formerly laid by for that end, may make no unpleasant addition to the future impressions of this poem.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:53