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trious memory. The facts are here thrown into the narrowest space.
Mr. Henry Cromwell had carelessly left in the hands of Mrs. Thomas, a woman with whom he lived, the letters which had originally passed in his correspondence with Pope : this woman, who possessed talents, and had written some poems, falling into subsequent distress, sold the letters to Curll, who, ready to take advantage of any source of profit however disreputable, instantly published them in 1727. Pope indignantly wrote to Cromwell, demanding by whose authority this offensive act was committed : Cromwell applied to Mrs. Thomas, whom he had not seen for seven years; and was impudently answered, that he had made a free gift of them to her, to do what she pleased with them.' This Cromwell denied ; but the publication, of course, could not then be recalled.
Pope, thus warned, turned to the means of preventing this betrayal of his confidences in future : he wrote to every one with whom any of his letters might be remaining; and burned threefourths of those which were thus remitted to him ; but naturally unwilling to destroy all the records of times and things so interesting, which were supplied by a correspondence with the most eminent names of his day,--had a copy of the remainder made and deposited in the library
of a noble friend, the earl of Oxford, that in case of either the revival of slanders, or the publication of surreptitious letters, during his life or after, a proper use might be made of them. In 1728, Wycherley's posthumous works appeared : Pope, jealous for the honor of his old friend, which must severely suffer by this imprudent publication, printed some of the letters which had passed between Wycherley and himself on the subject, to show the world his better judgment, and that it was his last resolution to have suppressed those poems.' This act of friendship was the source of the whole vexation that followed : those letters were transcribed from the copy in lord Oxford's possession; and, in the course of the transcription, the remainder appear to have been fraudulently copied or stolen. In 1735, Curll wrote to Pope, impudently informing him, that he was about to republish his letters to Cromwell, and requesting an interview, as ' he had more to say than he thought proper to write;' in this letter was enclosed an advertisement of • Letters of Alexander Pope,' enumerating the names of his chief correspondents. Pope, justly offended, and as justly cautious of any intercourse with a reprobate like Curll; instead of replying to him, immediately inserted a notice in the news papers, 'that he never had, nor intended to have, any private correspondence with Curll; that he knew no such person as P. T. the advertiser; and that he believed the whole to be a forgery.' On this direct refusal of entering into any traffic for the suppression of the letters, Curll proceeded in his purpose, and in May advertised · Mr. Pope's Literary Correspondence for thirty years, most beautifully printed, for five shillings: being a collection of letters written by him to the right honorable the late earl of Halifax, the earl of Burlington, secretary Craggs ;' with a long list of other distinguished names. Many of the individuals, whose names were thus used, were naturally displeased at thus appearing before the public, to gratify the avarice of a rapacious bookseller: and the earl of Jersey moved in the house of lords, that • the publishing of letters to noblemen with their answers, was a breach of privilege.' The house ordered the edition to be seized, and Curll, and Wilford, the printer of the Post-boy,' (the paper in which the advertisement appeared) to be brought before them. On examination, it was ascertained that the volume contained no letters of any peers, and Curll and the printer were discharged.
The pursuit of the inquiry again devolved on Pope: he offered twenty guineas to any one who would discover the author of the fraud, and forty
if he could trace it to the direction of
other person: this was fruitless; and Curll, in defiance of him and the law, published a second and a third volume in 1735. Curll's story was probably true :
- On the seventh of May, R. S. a short squat man, came to my house, at near ten at night: he showed me a book in sheets almost finished, and about a dozen original letters, and promised me the whole at our next meeting. The meeting took place, and the promised letters, or books of correspondence, were brought. Pope's conjecture that the letters were stolen from his own library or lord Oxford's, was farther corroborated by Curll's publication of a letter, in which P. T, the original dealer, described himself:– He is no man of quality, but conversant with many; and happening to be connected with a noble lord, a friend of Mr. Pope; in handing to the press his letters to Wycherley, he got some copies over and above. This incident first put into his head the thought of collecting more; and afterwards, finding you did not comply in printing his advertisement, he went on with it by himself; found Cromwell's answers in the same noble lord's possession, with many others, which he printed as near as possible to correspond with the letter and paper.' Worsdale, a painter of some cleverness, but of no character, who afterwards said, that he had been employed by Pope to conduct this transaction, is supposed to have been the copier, plunderer, and dealer, through the intire matter.*
The vexations arising from his voluminous correspondence were not yet to close. Swift was sinking fast into the decay which extinguished his acute mind, and he suffered Pope's letters to him to be published in Dublin. • Dean Swift's proceeding,' writes Pope to Allen in 1741, has fretted and employed me a great deal in writing to Ireland, and trying all the means possible to retard it; for it is past preventing, by his having, without asking my leave, or so much as letting me see the book, printed most of it.' Curll, of course, seized on the Dublin edition without cere
* This is the decision of Roscoe, who has examined the subject with unusual closeness. Johnson's opinion certainly was, that Pope, desirous of publishing his correspondence, and yet wishing to avoid the appearance of doing that through vanity or love of gain, which had been so rarely done at all in England; contrived to print a number of copies, which he sent to be disposed of to Curll, a fellow who was ready to publish any thing for profit; while be sent another packet of them to Lintot, who was of course expected to communicate the circumstance to himself. Curll's publishing would give the author a ground for complaining of a surreptitious compilation, and thus intitle him to publish an authentic one in his own defence. But this finesse was too much beneath Pope for probability: it was also too hazardous; and, finally, no proof of it ever has been given.