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estimated their moral and philosophical importance as compared with their poetical force and beauty ; but it would be unjust and unwarrantable to depart from his studied arrangement and to present them in any other order or form than that in which he ultimately wished them to appear. They were among his latest finished productions, to which he chiefly trusted for his fame; they were touched and retouched with artistic care and anxiety, and finally placed, according to his mature judgment, in the best light and position for displaying their harmony, colouring, and design.
To elucidate the personal and historical allusions of Pope, notes and biographical sketches have been added-perhaps too many ; but as the edition was of a popular complexion it was deemed advisable to render it as self-contained as possible. A memoir of Pope is also prefixed. The Editor would gladly have acquiesced in Mr. Bowles's opinion, that when persons so eminent for literary talents and critical acumen as Johnson and Warton have written the life of this distinguished poet, all further attempts to illustrate the incidents of his fortune or the character of his mind must be superfluous. Two considerations have overborne this decision-first, a desire to introduce some of the most characteristic letters and passages of letters in Pope's correspondence; and, secondly, a wish to present a narrative as free as possible from errors of fact and date into which Pope's biographers have fallen.
For the private details of the poet's life, the best authority is Spence’s Anecdotes. Johnson had the use of this work in manuscript when writing his life of Pope, and Malone made extracts from it for his life of Dryden. A complete edition, however, was not printed till 1819, when it was edited and published by Mr. Samuel Weller Singer. The anecdotes are interesting and valuable; but Spence was inferior to Boswell in all the important requisites of industry, correctness, and dramatic talent in sketching character and reporting conversation. With the same opportunities as Spence, Boswell would have cleared up all the doubtful and mysterious points in Pope's life and poetry, besides giving us a copious sprinkling of the tabletalk at Twickenham and Dawley, and interior glimpses of Will's or Button's coffee-houses. In one respect, however, Spence is equal to the northern biographer: he almost worshipped the object of his work, and unhesitatingly subscribed to the poet's opinions, literary and personal. . All the editors of Pope have been misled in some material points by trusting to Memoirs of his Life and Writings, published in 1745, and written by William Ayre, Esq. The existence of “Squire Ayre” (as he has been called) was denied by one of his contemporaries, “J. H.," who asserted that the notorious Edmund Curll was author of the work; and Miss Aikin, in her Life of Addison, seems inclined to adopt the same conclusion, Ayre, however, was a veritable existing person. He had previously appeared as a commentator on Pope (“Truth, a Counterpart to Mr. Pope's Essay on Man, by Mr. Ayre,” 1739; and “A Counterpart to Mr. Pope’s Essay on Man, Epistle II., by Mr. Ayre,” 1739), and had published some translations from the French and Italian. He put forth his Memoir of Pope with high pretensions, dedicated it to the poet's noble friends, Bolingbroke, Burlington, Marchmont, and Bathurst, and professed to have received large and valuable assistance. He took the precaution of securing the copyright of his work by letters patent under the royal signet. Yet, notwithstanding all this parade and assumption, a more careless or worthless book than that of Ayre never issued from the press. Of the seven hundred
and more pages comprised in the two volumes, not fifty are original, the rest having been quoted or stolen from other authors, chiefly from Pope ; and the whole work exhibiting inextricable confusion, inaccuracy, and misrepresentation. One error which runs through his narrative is assuming that Pope's correspondent, Edward Blount, was brother of the poet's female friends, Teresa and Martha Blount. This has been copied by every succeeding biographer, and forms the groundwork of various conjectures and discussions by Bowles and Roscoe. The importance of this seemingly trifling mistake will be best seen by an example taken from Roscoe's Pope, vol. viii., p. 383:
“Mr. Blount died in London the following year, 1726." - Pope.
“Blount died of the small-pox; and was attended during his illness with the greatest affection and sorrow, by the lady whose name is so often mentioned in these volumes. Soon after his death, Pope was much more explicit than he had ever been before respecting the nature of his feelings towards Miss Martha.”—Bowles.
“By 'the lady whose name is so often mentioned in these volumes' Mr. Bowles means Martha Blount, who attended her brother through the illness which terminated in his death, although she had not herself had the disease. The assertion of Mr. Bowles, that after the death of Mr. Blount 'Pope was much more explicit than he had ever been before respecting the nature of his feelings towards Miss Martha,' is only an additional proof of his earnestness to avail himself of every opportunity of attributing that attachment to an improper motive.”—Roscoe.
Now, with the exception of Pope's simple statement of the fact of his friend's death, the whole of this explanation and crimination is a tissue of errors. Edward Blount did
not die of the small-pox, but of gout and old age; he was not attended by Martha Blount, who in reality had had the small-pox; and Edward Blount's death had no effect whatever on Pope's attachment to his fair friend. The complication of blunders (of which this is but one specimen) arose from two causes--the publication of some letters taken from an old translation of Voiture as genuine letters from Pope to Miss Blount, and the unfounded assertion that Edward Blount was the brother of the lady. The latter had a brother, Mr. Michael Blount, of MapleDurham, in Oxfordshire, who survived till 1739; but Edward Blount was an elderly gentleman, owner of the estate of Blagdon, in Devonshire, whose second daughter afterwards became Duchess of Norfolk. It is obvious from the genuine correspondence that Ayre's statement cannot be correct; but it was implicitly adopted, and has ever since been continued without examination. We may add, that from dependence on the same untrustworthy guide, the quarrel between Pope and Addison has been misrepresented.
As Pope very seldom affixed dates to his letters, there was ample choice and latitude in their arrangement, and in the classification of certain incidents in the poet's life. Neither Warton nor Bowles bestowed care on this subordinate duty; and Mr. Roscoe, though generally painstaking and always anxious to press a conviction against Bowles, commits numerous errors in his conjectural dates. Particular events such as the publication of Pope's Homer, the death of certain of his friends, the misunderstanding in his latter days with Ralph Allen, the statements regarding the “ Unfortunate Lady," and other leading incidents in the letters, should have served to keep him right as to some of the dates ; but from haste or inadvertence
(which will sometimes, as Johnson remarked, surprise the most vigilant) these obvious guides have been overlooked:
The Editor trusts he will be pardoned this incidental criticism, as showing that he was at least willing to exercise diligence in the discharge of his task, and was anxious to make the cheapest edition of Pope the most accurate.
It is more pleasing to note the fact that in the present day any attempt to illustrate a classic English author meets with cordial and disinterested support. Mr. Rogers—in all matters relating to poetry and Pope, a great and venerable name-kindly permitted the use of some original letters of Pope; a copy of Warton's edition with marginal notes by George Steevens and Mr. Rogers ; and a copy of Garth's Dispensary with critical remarks by Pope. In Mr. Rogers's “ elegant and classically furnished mansion” (as Byron has described the well-known poetical and hospitable No. 22, St. James's Place) is a terra-cotta bust of Pope by Roubiliac, the original model of the marble bust now in the gallery of Sir Robert Peel, at Drayton Manor. Mr. Rogers mentions that Flaxman used to relate that his father (a moulder in plaster) was proud of telling, that one day when he called on Roubiliac, he had the gratification of seeing Pope sit to the artist while this model was in progress. The bust was taken late in life, three years before the poet's death, when his countenance had a care-worn and wasted appearance ; but the expression was still firm, penetrating, and intellectual. To Michael Henry Blount, Esq., of Maple-Durham, the Editor is indebted for permission to inspect the original letters of Pope to Teresa and Martha Blount, with other papers in his collection. The Rev. Dr. Oliver, of Exeter—a zealous and able antiquary -furnished some genealogical researches. The Rev. T. Hartwell Horne ordered an examination to be made of the