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THE present volumes are designed to supply what the Publishers conceived to be wanting in our poetical literature—an edition of POPE that should contain the latest biographical information, and occupy a middle place between the elaborate and expensive annotated editions of Warton, Bowles, and Roscoe, and those ordinary reprints in which no attempt is made to illustrate the text, and from which most of the author's own notes are excluded. It must be admitted that facilities now exist for accumplishing such a work, which were not accessible even when Mr. Roscoe undertook his editorial labours. The publication of family papers has of late years thrown much light on the domestic history of this period, and most of them contain direct reference to Pope and his friends. Among these may be mentioned the Suffolk correspondence, the Marchmont papers, Lord Wharncliffe's edition of the works of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, part of Horace Walpole's unrivalled collection of letters, the correspondence of Lyttelton and Chesterfield, and Lord Hervey's Memoirs of the Reign of George II.
The first duty of the Editor was to attend to the text of his author. The early editions of the poems have been collated, and the principal variations pointed out. In this department, however, a principle of selection was necessary. Pope's corrections, alterations, and transpositions were so numerous and so minute, extending over almost every page of every edition, that a greater amount of space would have been required to print the whole than would have been justified by the value of the extracts, or consistent with the character of this edition of the works. Warton printed two editions of the Dunciad—those of 1729 and 1743; but this was only half accomplishing his object. To complete it, he should have gone back to the edition of 1728, and contrasted it with that of the following year. The first of these contains 918 lines; the second 1014, and the text was also considerably altered. It is sufficient, perhaps, to say that every emendation has been here preserved which appeared to illustrate the poet's personal or literary history, his friendships and his enmities.
Some of the early poems and translations have been arranged in chronological order. A strict chronological series could not be adopted without marring the symmetry and effect of the works. The greater poems have a mutual dependence and connection, though published separately under different titles, and, in some instances, after long intervals. The fourth book of the Dunciad did not appear till fifteen years after the publication of the first three books. The machinery of the Rape of the Lock was not added till the first draft of the poem had been a twelvemonth in print; and the epistles now known as the Moral Essays and Prologue to the Satires, were first published separately, then collected and arranged as Ethic Epistles, intended to form a second book to the Essay on Man, and finally adjusted and entitled as they now appear. The poet may have refined too much--partly at the suggestion of Warburton-in his classification of the Epistles, and have over