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Features which are instrumental in determining the printing order of the first two impressions of the 1728 Dunciad, particularly resettings of the text and the recurrence of running titles, also provide helpful insights into the production of the following three impressions. The most important principle involved in interpreting such evidence is this: when a group of running titles appears twice within the same work, the group which matches the corresponding part of the preceding impression was printed first. In these particular cases that principle is corroborated by two probabilities involving resettings of the text: the type distributed first is likely to have been the type which was used first, and pages from standing type are likely to have been printed before those which were reset.[11] Thus, sections for which the setting is identical with the corresponding part of the previous impressions are likely to have been printed before the sections that are reset.

The remaining impressions of the 1728 Dunciad—the "Second Edition" and the two impressions bearing the designation "Third Edition"—are all in duodecimo. The discussion which follows deals only with the bulk of their poetic text, gatherings B through E. The preliminaries (gathering A) and the final three pages of text (in F2) retain the identical running titles and text


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and therefore, as in the first two impressions, provide little evidence for priority.

As the chart shows, pages 1-18 of the second edition are newly set, with running titles which do not match those on the corresponding pages of the first edition. Pages 25-48, or gatherings D and E, are usually from standing type and identical in their running titles. The only exception is D4v (p. 32), where the text is reset and the running title is taken from elsewhere in the book. Running title XVI, which appeared on that page in the previous edition, never shows up again. Although line 325 is now wrongly identified as 525, there are no other textual variations between page 32 here and in the first edition; the page was probably pied between impressions. The pattern of running titles and resettings clearly indicates that gatherings D and E were closest in time to the first edition, and thus before B and C, where the running titles reappear. Moreover, E came before D; the running title used for the apparently pied D4v was taken from E4v, where it also occurred in the first edition.

The running titles from D were then transferred to B, retaining their sequence for the most part. B1r required no running title, so the one from D1r could not be used in the parallel spot in B. Instead the compositor placed it on the adjacent page in the forme, B6v. That was wrong. B6v should have had a running title from another verso, one which indicated the book number. The error remained in edition 3a, where gathering B employed the same running titles and text, though it was corrected in 3b, where the headlines occur in a different sequence and where the text is reset. The appearance of the anomalous running title on B6v of the second edition meant that there was no place for the one that had occupied a parallel spot in the group being transferred to B. As a result, running title XVIII (from D6v) was apparently discarded; it does not recur in this or any subsequent edition.

Gathering C is the most complicated one of the second edition. Some of the text was reset, and some imposed from standing type. Some running titles were newly composed, others were transferred from elsewhere in the book, and still others were received with the standing type of the previous edition. Gathering C in the first 12° edition contained the type used for part of 8° C and all of 8° D. Whereas the running titles of 8° B and C were transferred to a point later in the first edition and those pages of text distributed, the running titles of 8° D were not needed elsewhere. As a result, 8° D and its running titles seem to have remained standing longer, with consequences for the second edition. Pages 21, 22, and 24 (that is, C5 and C6v) with their running titles were transferred intact. The running title and much of the text of page 20 were also transferred, though the irregular correspondence of the text to that of the first edition suggests that it may have been salvaged from partially pied type. To make room for a footnote on page 22 in the second edition, the compositor moved the final two lines of text from 22 to the top of 23 (C6r). Those lines, as well as possibly a few other segments of the text, are thus from previously prepared text, but most of the page is reset. The running


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title is changed; the fact that, unlike its original companions, the running title used on this page in the first edition never appears again suggests that it—and the rest of the page—were pied. One opportunity for the introduction of such disorder would have been, of course, the point at which the two lines were transferred.

In contrast to those pages from 8° D, the ones that correspond to 8° C (pp. 13-16, or C1-2 in the second edition) are all reset, as are pages 17 and 18 (C3). Running titles from E of the second edition are used on most of the newly set pages in C. Perhaps distribution of E had already started when those running titles were needed, for while some new ones occur here (pp. 18 and 19; 3v and 4r), not all of those which should have been available from E are used. Those unused ones, moreover, never again appear in the series of Dunciads. In at least one case, however, a "new" running title in C is similar enough to one in E (XX on p. 18 resembles VIII on p. 48) to suggest that the earlier example persists, albeit with a couple of sorts or the internal spacing changed. Page 15 (B2r) is the beginning of Book II and does not contain an actual running title, but the new setting of part of the division head ('Book the Second.') here and in the following impression is later used as one. Therefore it is included in the chart, but it is placed in brackets.

The pattern in the first of the two third editions is less complicated. The running titles and text of gatherings B and C are identical to the second edition. E, which was one of the first parts of the second edition printed and very likely also distributed, is completely reset in edition 3a. The running titles in E are those from C, though in a different sequence. The division heading from C2r now assumes the status of a full-fledged running title on E1r. The running titles in D are from B; here the order is the same, except that the running title on 1r, a leaf that had none in B, comes from 6v, a leaf that appears without a running title in D. D6v could do without one because it contains a division heading, the start of Book III. Moving the running title from B6v also removed the anomaly of the incorrect one which had been introduced in the second edition.

Although the running titles in D are the same in the second and third editions, that parallel is fortuitous. Those from D of the second edition had been moved to B of that edition; that arrangement of text and headlines was reimpressed for the third edition, and then the running titles were moved to gathering D of that edition. Apart from that trail of the movement of the running titles, the clearest evidence that D in the third edition was not printed directly from the setting of D in the second is that in recto running titles the book number is sometimes from different settings of type. When the running titles were first moved to an earlier place in the second edition, the word 'Third' was replaced by 'First'; when they were again moved to D in the third edition, 'Third' was reinserted. It thus became possible for the bulk of one running title to be identical with another one but for the final word to be from a different setting. As additional evidence that some interruption has taken place between the printing of the second and third editions of D,


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the spacing between the running title and text on a given page often varies from one edition to the other.

The features of running titles and settings of the text in the final Bettenham printing, the second one to be called "Third Edition," are similar to those of the previous impressions. Gatherings D and E have the identical text and running titles as the comparable sections of edition 3a, in which they were the last gatherings printed. Because running titles from both D and E appear elsewhere in 3b in positions that do not match 3a, D and E were evidently the first sections of 3b to be printed.

The running titles of B, which was newly composed, and C, printed from standing type, are for the most part from D. In C, the running titles on leaves 1, 2v, 3-5, and 6r follow the sequence of D. C2r has no running title, so title xii from D2r is not used. On the other hand, D6v had no running title to provide for C6v, so the compositor instead took the one from E6v. The running titles from C were then moved to B. Because in B page 1r rather than 2r has no running title, the one from C1r is moved to B2r. Most of those in B are the same as those in the previous edition; the set of 3a B was moved to 3a D, it recurred as 3b D, and then moved to 3b C and up to 3b B. But as with gathering D in editions 2 and 3a, the book number in recto running titles is a different setting.

It is possible that the movement of running titles in 3b might have been from D to B to C rather than D to C to B. That would mean that as the compositor transferred the running titles from D to B, he departed from his careful practice of transferring running titles to identical positions in B in the single case of B2r, where he would have inserted the one from D1r rather than the expected D2r. The consistency of the rest of the pattern makes that seem improbable. Moreover, the order D-C-B fits with what might be expected concerning the printing order of a forme of standing type and a newly set one: it is likely that the standing C was worked before the reset B. The resetting of B also provides a clue about the printing of the early gatherings of 3a. If the one of two formes which was distributed first had also been run off first, then 3a B was printed before 3a C. But in 3b, in any case, it seems that the actual order was indeed D-C-B.

The neat identities between gatherings in adjacent impressions raise the possibility that portions of the books were produced not in the way described here but by overprinting: as the presswork for one of the "editions" was nearing completion and the need for another one became evident, extra copies of the first could have been machined at once instead of being separately impressed for the next issue of the poem. But evidence from changed ornaments, press figures, and paper indicates that such was not the case for any gathering in any of these Bettenham impressions.

In summary, then, the printing of The Dunciad of 1728 most likely proceeded in the following order:


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Edition 1 (12° and 8°): 12° B and C (pp. 1-24), or roughly the first half of the poem; 8° B, C, and D, with D probably last; 12° D and E (pp. 25-48), with E probably immediately after D; 8° E, F, and G.
The sequence of the remaining sections of the first edition is not as clear. Certainly 12° F was printed before 8° H, and very likely 8° H and b were produced together. It is also possible that both the final gathering and the preliminaries were printed after the rest of the book. What is evident, however, is that the printing alternated between the 12° and the 8°, and that each section of the poetic text of the 12° was run off before the corresponding part of the 8°.

The point at which gatherings A and F were printed in the subsequent impressions is not apparent either, apart from inferences generated by the pattern within the rest of each impression. But the sequence for B-E, or the bulk of the poetic text, seems to be as follows:

  • Edition 2: E; then D; then C and B (with C probably first).
  • Edition 3a: B and C (with B probably first); then D and E (with D probably first).
  • Edition 3b: D and E; then C; then B.

In each of those later impressions at least one gathering was reset, according to the following pattern:

  • Edition 2: B, most of C (1-3, some of 4v, and most of 6r), and D4v.
  • Edition 3a: E.
  • Edition 3b: B.[12]