« ZurückWeiter »
fact, from which the scriblers of the times had taken occasion to asperse either his friends or himself. He therefore lay'd by the Originals, together with those of his correspondents, and caused a copy to be taken to deposite in the library of a noble friend; that in case either of the revival of slanders, or the publication of furreptitious Letters, during his life or after, a proper use might be made of them.
The next year, the pofthumous works of Mr. Wycherly were printed, in a way disreputable enough to his memory. It was thought a justice due to him, to hew the world his better judgment; and that it was his last resolution to have suppressed those poems. As some of the Letters which had passed between him and our author cleared that point, they were published in 1729, with a few marginal notes added by a friend.
If in these Letters, and in those which were printed without his confent, there appear too much of a juvenile ambition of wit, or affectation of gaiety, he may reasonably hope it will be considered to whom, and at what age, he was guilty of it, as well as how soon it was over. The rest, every judge of writing will see, were by no means efforts of the genius, but emanations of the heart : and this alone may induce any candid reader to believe their publication an act of necessity, rather than of vanity.
It is notorious how many volumes have been published under the title of his correspondence, with promises fill of more, and open and repeated offers
of encouragement to all persons who should send any letters of his for the press. It is as notorious what methods were taken to procure them, even from the publisher's own accounts in his prefaces, viz. by transacting with people in necessities, * or of abandoned + characters, or such as dealt without names in the I dark. Upon a quarrel with one of these jast, he betrayed himself so far, as to appeal to the public in Narratives and Advertisements : like that İrilh highway-man a few years before, who preferr'd a bill against his companion, for not sharing equally in the money, rings and watches, they had traded for in partnership upon Hounslow-heath.
Several have been printed in his name which he never writ, and addreffed to persons to whom they never were written $; counterfeited as from bishop Atterbury to him, which neither that bishop nor he ever saw ll; and advertised even after that period when it was made felony to correspond with him.
I know not how it has been this author's fate, whom both his situation and his temper have all his life excluded from rivalling any man, in any pretension, (except that of pleasing by poetry) to have been as much aspersed and written at, as any First Minister of his time: pamphlets and news-papers! have been full of him, nor was it there only that a private man, who never troubled either the world or common conversation, with his opinions of Religion or Government, has been represented as a dangerous member of Society, a bigotted Papilt, and an enemy to the Establishment. The unwarrantable publication of his Letters hath at least done him this service, to Mew he has constantly enjoyed the friend. ship of worthy men; and that if a catalogue were to be taken of his friends and his enemies, he needs not to blush at either. Many of them having been written on the most trying occurrences, and all in the openness of friendship, are a proof what were his real sentiments, as they flowed warm from the heart, and fresh from the occasion ; without the least thought that ever the world should be witness to them. Had he sat down with a design to draw his own pi&ture, he could not have done it so truly; · for whoever fits for it (whether to himself or ano. ther) will inevitably find the features more composed, than his appear in these letters. But if an author's hand, like a painter's, be more distinguishable in a slight sketch than in a finished picture, this very carelessness will make them the better known from such counterfeits, as have been, and may be imputed to him, either through a mercenary or a malicious design.
* See the Preface to vol, i. of a Book called Mr. Pope's Literary Correspondence.
† Poftscript to the Preface to vol, iv. I Narrative and Anecdotes before vol. ij. $ In Vol. iii, Letters from Mr. Pope to Mrs. Blount, &c.
li Vol. ii, of the fame, 8vo. pag. 20, and at the end of the Edition of his Letters in 12 mo, by the booksellers of London and Westminster; and of the last Edition in 12mo, printed for T. Cooper, 1725.
We hope it is needless to say, he is not accountable for several passages in the surreptitious editions 15 of those Letters, which are such as no man of comà mon sense would have published himself. The errors ¿ of the press were almost innumerable, and could not
bùt be extremely multiplied in so many repeated edi. tions, by the avarice and negligence of piratical
printers, to not one of whom he ever gave the least ė Title, or any other encouragement than that of not prosecuting them..
For the Chasms in the correspondence, we had not & the means to supply them, the Author having de
ftroyed too many Letters to preserve any Series, Nor would he go about to amend them, except by the omission of some passages, improper, or at least impertinent, to be divulged to the public: or of such entire Letters, as were either not his, or not approved of by him.
He has been very sparing of those of his Friends, and thought it a respect shown to their memory, to suppress in particular such as were most in his favour. As it is not to Vanity but to Friendship that he intends this Monument, he would save his enemies the mortification of showing any further how well their Betters have thought of him: and at the same time secure from their censure his living Friends, who (he promises them) shall never be put to the blush, this way at least, for their partiality to him.
But however mis Collection may be received, we cannot but lament the Cause, and the Necesity of
such a publication, and heartily with no honest man may be reduced to the fame. To state the case fairly in the present situation. A Bookseller adver. tises his intention to publish your Letters : he openly promises encouragement, or even pecuniary rewards, to those who will help him to any; and ingages to insert whatever they shall send. Any scandal is sure of a reception, and any enemy who sends it screened from a discovery. Any domestic or servant who can snatch a letter from your pocket or cabinet, is encouraged to that vile practice. If the quantity falls short of a volume, any thing else shall be joined with it (more especially scandal) which the collector can think for his inte. reft, all recommended under your Name: you have not only Theft to fear, but Forgery. Any Book. feller, tho' conscious in what manner they were obtained, not caring what may be the consequence to your Fame or Quiet, will sell and disperse them in town and country. The better your Reputation is, the more your name will cause them to be demanded, and consequently the more you will be injured. The injury is of such a nature, as the Law (which does not punish for Intentions) cannot prevent; and when done, may punish, but not redress. You are therefore reduced, either to enter into a personal treaty with such a man (which tho' the readieft, is the meanest of all methods) or to take such other measures to suppress them, as are contrary to your