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Although The Rape of the Lock displays ‘more imagination than in all his other works taken together’, Warton points out that Pope did not invent the sylphs but only ‘employed them with singular judgement and art’. He gives high praise to Eloisa to Abelard and the Elegy to an Unfortunate Young Lady as examples of the pathetic, but discovers Pope’s characteristic strength in the ‘DIDACTIC and the MORAL’ modes of An Essay on Criticism and The Rape of the Lock. At this point the first volume breaks off.

43). However, the revelation of Broome’s and Fenton’s part in the Odyssey and Lewis Theobald’s disclosure of the editorial shortcomings of Pope’s Shakespeare, exposed him to the rancour of Grub Street. The exultant Dunces accused Pope of shoddy workmanship, dishonesty, and avarice. His long-delayed decision to reply to his enemies through The Dunciad channelled Pope’s energies back to original work, and into a form which was to dominate the remainder of his writing life. The Odyssey The Odyssey, with The Dunciad, is the centre of critical interest in these years.

I like the last Dunciad for exposing more sorts of follies than the first did, which was merely upon bad poets and bad criticks’47 The Cibber-Pope pamphlet war continued vigorously, and other Dunces like John Henley (No. 94) replied as best they could. Their ineptitude and violence only lends support to Fielding’s brusque rejection of their claims for sympathy (No. 92). Pope’s death in 1744 brought the years of bitter in-fighting to an abrupt end, leaving the field in the possession of Pope’s admirers.

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