[POPE, Alexander]. The Narrative of Dr. Robert Norris, concerning the strange and deplorable frenzy of Mr. John Denn --- an officer of the custom-house: being an exact account of all that past betwixt the said patient and the doctor. London: J. Morphew, 1713.
8° (167 x 193mm). Half-title. (Light soiling to half-title and final verso.) Modern half calf with red morocco cover label.
ONLY EDITION OF THIS BRILLIANT SCRIBLERIAN FARCE depicting John Dennis as a lunatic, possibly written with Arbuthnot’s assistance, but more probably by Pope alone. The success of Addison’s Cato, first acted on 14 April 1713 with a rousing prologue by Pope, whose early relations with the author were friendly, upset Dennis whose censures appeared in Remarks upon Cato. Pope retaliates with a description of the critic’s “violent Frenzy” ever since the staging of the play, borrowing the persona of Dr. Norris, a known physician who claimed to cure lunacy, in order to do so. Norris visits Dennis’s lodgings, and reports that “on all sides of his Room were pinned a great many sheets of a Tragedy called Cato, with notes in the margin in his own Hand. The words Abused, Monstrous, Execrable, were every where written in such large Characters, that I could read them without my Spectacles.” Also present are another author, a friend to Dennis, and Bernard Lintot, his publisher, who fears that his madness may affect sales of the Remarks. The attempt by Norris to cup his patient leads to a fight with folios and a wig block. Norris and Lintot retire to have their wounds dressed, and Norris learns from the publisher how on 27 March 1712 Dennis came across [Pope’s] Essay on Criticism, “just then publish’d,” on his shop counter. At the couplet describing the degeneration of wits, first into poets, then into critics, and finally to “plain Fools at last,” he gave an anguished cry of “'By G--- he means Me.’” AN EXCEEDINGLY RARE SATIRE, not recognised as Pope's until Ault made the case in Prose Works (1939). No auction sale recorded in the on-line databases. Griffith 23.