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Elwin, Whitwell / The Works of Alexander Pope, Volume 1 New Edition















[_The right of Translation is reserved._]




















The Works of Mr. ALEXANDER POPE. London: Printed by W.
BOWYER for BERNARD LINTOT, between the Temple Gates, 1717.
4to and folio.

This volume consists of all the acknowledged poems which Pope had
hitherto published, with the addition of some new pieces.

The Works of Mr. ALEXANDER POPE. Volume ii. London: Printed
by J. WRIGHT, for LAWTON GILLIVER, at Homer's Head in Fleet
Street, 1735. 4to and folio.

The volume of 1735 contains, with a few exceptions, the poems which Pope
had printed since 1717. The pages of each group of pieces--Epistles,
Satires, Epitaphs, etc.--are numbered separately, and there are other
irregularities in the numbers, arising from a change in the order of the
Moral Essays after the sheets were struck off.

Letters of Mr. ALEXANDER POPE, and Several of his friends.
London: Printed by J. WRIGHT for J. KNAPTON in Ludgate
Street, L. GILLIVER in Fleet Street, J. BRINDLEY in New Bond
Street, and R. DODSLEY in Pall-Mall, 1737. 4to and folio.

This is Pope's first avowed edition of his letters. A half-title, "The
Works of Mr. Alexander Pope in Prose," precedes the title-page.

The Works of Mr. ALEXANDER POPE, in Prose. Vol. ii. London:
Printed for J. and P. KNAPTON, C. BATHURST, and R. DODSLEY,
1741. 4to and folio.

The half-title is more precise: "The Works of Mr. Alexander Pope, in
Prose. Vol. ii. Containing the rest of his Letters, with the Memoirs of
Scriblerus, never before printed; and other Tracts written either
singly, or in conjunction with his friends. Now first collected
together." The letters are the Swift correspondence, and they are in a
different type from the rest of the book. The numbers of the pages are
very irregular, and show that the contents and arrangement of the volume
had been greatly altered from some previous impression. The folio copies
of the two volumes of poetry, and the two of prose, are merely the
quarto text portioned out into longer pages, without a single leaf being
reprinted. The trifling variations from the quartos were introduced when
the matter was put into the folio size.

The Works of ALEXANDER POPE, ESQ.; vol. i. with explanatory
Notes and Additions never before printed. London: Printed
for B. LINTOT, 1736. Small 8vo.

This is the first volume of an edition which extended to nine volumes,
and which from the want of uniformity in the title-pages, the dates, and
names of the publishers appears to consist of odd volumes. The copyright
of Pope's works belonged to different proprietors, and they at last
agreed to print their respective shares in small octavo, that the
several parts united might form a complete set. Each proprietor
commenced printing his particular section of the octavos when the
previous sizes he had on hand were sold, and thus it happened that the
second volume of the edition came out in 1735 before the first, which
was published in 1736. The series was not finished till 1742, when the
fourth book of the Dunciad was added to the Poems, and the Swift
Correspondence to the Letters. Some of the volumes were reprinted, and
the later editions occasionally differ slightly from their predecessors.
The Poems and Letters of Pope are more complete in the octavos than in
the quartos, but the octavos, on the other hand, omit all the prose
works except the Letters, and the Memoirs of Scriblerus, and octavos and
quartos combined are imperfect in comparison with the editions which
have been published since Pope's death.





NATUS MAJI 21, 1688, HORA POST MERID. 6-3/4.

Quo desiderio veteres revocamus amores
Atque olim amissas flemus amicitias.


Anno 1700, Maji primo, obit, semper venerandus, poetarum princeps,
Joannes Dryden, ęt. 70.[2]

Anno 1708, mens. Aprili, obiit Gulielmus Walsh, criticus sagax, amicus
et vir bonus, ęt. 49.

Anno 1710, Jan. 24, Avita mea piissimę mem., Eliz. Turner, migravit in
coelum, annum agens 74.

Anno 1710, mens. Aprili, Tho. Betterton, Roscius sui temporis, exit
omnium cum plausu bonorum, ęt. 74.

Anno 1712, mens. Januario, decessit vir facetissimus, juventutis meę
delicię, Antonius Englefleld, ęt. 75.

Anno 1718, obit Tho. Parnell, poetica laude, et moribus suavissimis

Anno 1715, mens. Martio, decessit Gul. Wycherley, poeta morum scientia
clarus, ille meos primus qui habebat amores, ęt. 75.

Anno 1716, mens. Decemb. obit Gulielmus Trumbull, olim Regi Gul. a
secretis, annum agens 75. Amicus meus humanissimus a juvenilibus annis.

Pater meus, Alex. Pope, omnibus bonis moribus pręditus obit, an. 1717.

Simon Harcourt, filius, obit, mens. Junio 1720, Lutet. Parisior. Quem
sequitur Pater, olim M. Britann. Cancellar., mense Julio 1727.

Jacobus Craggs R.M.B. a secretis, natura generosus et ingenuus, amicus
animosus, charissim. memor., e vita exc. Feb. 1720/1.

Robertus Oxonię Comes, mihi perfamiliaris et jucundus, fortiter obit,

Jo. Sheffield, Buckinghamię Dux, mihi lenis et amicissimus, fato functus
est Feb. 1720/1 ęt. 73.

Nutrix mea fidelissima M. Beech, obiit 5 Novem. 1725, ęt. 77.

Robertus Digby, ex Patre antiquis pręditus moribus, e vita migravit,
Apr. 1726.

Edwardus Blunt, vir amicissimus obit, Aug. 1726.

Anno 1728/9, Jan. 20, ęt. 57, mortuus est Gulielmus Congreve, poeta,
eximius, vir comis, urbanus, et mihi perquam familiaris.

Elijah Fenton, vir probus, et poeta haud mediocris, decessit men. Julio
1730, ęt. 48.

Francisc. Atterbury, Roffens Episcopus, vir omni scientia clarus,
animosus, ex Anglia exilio pulsus, an. 1723. Obiit Parisiis, mense Febr.
1732, ęt. 70.

Joan. Gay, probitate morum et simplicitate insignis, socius peramabilis,
sub oculis meis mortuus est, Dec. 4, 1723, ęt. 44.

Mater mea charissima, pientissima et optima, Editha Pope, obiit septima
die Junii 1733, annum implens nonagesimum tertium.

G. Garth, MD. homo candidus et poeta urbanus, obiit 1719.

Joan. Arbuthnot, MD. vir doctiss., probitate ac pietate insignis, obiit
Febr. 27, 1734/5, ęt. 68.

Carolus Mordaunt. Com. Peterbor., vir insigniss. bellica virtute, ac
morum comitate, obiit Ulyssipont. anno ętatis 78, 1735, mense Octobris.


[Footnote 1: The Virgil was probably bought by William Murray at some
sale of Pope's books, for on the fly-leaf is written "E. Libris A.
Popei, Pr. 5_s._"]

[Footnote 2: Pope who had only once set eyes on Dryden, and had no
acquaintance with him, marks his admiration by including him in this
memorial of relations and friends.]


Mr. Pope, in his last illness, amused himself, amidst the care of his
higher concerns, in preparing a corrected and complete edition of his
writings;[1] and, with his usual delicacy, was even solicitous to
prevent any share of the offence they might occasion, from falling on
the friend whom he had engaged to give them to the public.[2] In
discharge of this trust, the public has here a complete edition of his
works, executed in such a manner, as, I am persuaded, would have been to
his satisfaction. The editor hath not, for the sake of profit, suffered
the author's name to be made cheap by a subscription;[3] nor his works
to be defrauded of their due honours by a vulgar or inelegant
impression; nor his memory to be disgraced by any pieces unworthy of his
talents or virtue. On the contrary, he hath, at a very great expense,
ornamented this edition with all the advantages which the best artists
in paper, printing, and sculpture could bestow upon it.[4]

If the public hath waited longer than the deference due to its generous
impatience for the author's writings should have suffered, it was owing
to a reason which the editor need not be ashamed to tell. It was his
regard to the family interests of his deceased friend. Mr. Pope, at his
death, had left large impressions of several parts of his works, unsold,
the property of which was adjudged to belong to his executors; and the
editor was willing they should have time to dispose of them to the best
advantage, before the publication of this edition (which hath been long
prepared) should put a stop to the sale. But it may be proper to be a
little more particular concerning the superiority of this edition above
all the preceding, so far as Mr. Pope himself was concerned. What the
editor hath done, the reader must collect for himself.

The first volume, and the original poems in the second, are here first
printed from a copy corrected throughout by the author himself, even to
the very preface,[5] which, with several additional notes in his own
hand, he delivered to the editor a little before his death. The juvenile
translations, in the other part of the second volume, it was never his
intention to bring into this edition of his works, on account of the
levity of some, the freedom of others, and the little importance of all.
But these being the property of other men, the editor had it not in his
power to follow the author's intention.

The third volume (all but the Essay on Man, which together with the
Essay on Criticism, the author, a little before his death, had corrected
and published in quarto, as a specimen of his projected edition,) was
printed by him in his last illness, but never published, in the manner
it is now given. The disposition of the Epistle on the Characters of Men
is quite altered; that on the Characters of Women much enlarged; and the
Epistles on Riches and Taste corrected and improved. To these advantages
of the third volume must be added a great number of fine verses, taken
from the author's manuscript copies of these poems, communicated by him
for this purpose to the editor. These, the author, when he first
published the poems to which they belong, thought proper, for various
reasons, to omit. Some, from the manuscript copy of the Essay on Man,
which tended to discredit fate, and to recommend the moral government of
God, had, by the editor's advice, been restored to their places in the
last edition of that poem.[6] The rest, together with others of the like
sort, from his manuscript copy of the other Ethic Epistles, are here
inserted at the bottom of the page, under the title of Variations.

The fourth volume contains the Satires, with their Prologue,--the
Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot; and Epilogue,--the two poems intitled
MDCCXXXVIII. The Prologue and Epilogue are here given with the like
advantages as the Ethic Epistles in the foregoing volume, that is to
say, with the Variations, or additional verses from the author's
manuscripts. The Epilogue to the Satires is likewise inriched with many
and large notes, now first printed from the author's own manuscript.

The fifth volume contains a correcter and completer edition of the
Dunciad than hath been hitherto published, of which, at present, I have
only this further to add, that it was at my request he laid the plan of
a fourth book. I often told him, it was pity so fine a poem should
remain disgraced by the meanness of its subject, the most insignificant
of all dunces,--bad rhymers and malevolent cavillers; that he ought to
raise and ennoble it by pointing his satire against the most pernicious
of all,--minute philosophers and free-thinkers. I imagined, too, it was
for the interests of religion to have it known, that so great a genius
had a due abhorrence of these pests of virtue and society. He came
readily into my opinion; but, at the same time, told me it would create
him many enemies. He was not mistaken, for though the terror of his pen
kept them for some time in respect, yet on his death they rose with
unrestrained fury in numerous coffee-house tales, and Grub Street
libels. The plan of this admirable satire was artfully contrived to
show, that the follies and defects of a fashionable education naturally
led to, and necessarily ended in, freethinking, with design to point out
the only remedy adequate to so destructive an evil. It was to advance
the same ends of virtue and religion, that the editor prevailed on him
to alter everything in his moral writings that might be suspected of
having the least glance towards fate or naturalism, and to add what was
proper to convince the world that he was warmly on the side of moral
government and a revealed will. And it would be great injustice to his
memory not to declare that he embraced these occasions with the most
unfeigned pleasure.

The sixth volume consists of Mr. Pope's miscellaneous pieces in verse
and prose. Amongst the verse several fine poems make now their first
appearance in his works. And of the prose, all that is good, and nothing
but what is exquisitely so, will be found in this edition.

The seventh, eighth, and ninth volumes consist entirely of his letters,
the more valuable, as they are the only true models which we, or perhaps
any of our neighbours, have of familiar epistles.[7] This collection is
now made more complete by the addition of several new pieces. Yet,
excepting a short explanatory letter to Col. M[oyser], and the letters
to Mr. A[llen] and Mr. W[arburton] (the latter of which are given to
show the editor's inducements, and the engagements he was under, to
intend the care of this edition) excepting these, I say, the rest are
all here published from the author's own printed, though not published
copies delivered to the editor.[8]

On the whole, the advantages of this edition, above the preceding, are
these,--that it is the first complete collection which has ever been
made of his original writings; that all his principal poems, of early or
later date, are here given to the public with his last corrections and
improvements; that a great number of his verses are here first printed
from the manuscript copies of his principal poems of later date; that
many new notes of the author are here added to his poems; and lastly,
that several pieces, both in prose and verse make now their first
appearance before the public.

The author's life deserves a just volume, and the editor intends to give
it. For to have been one of the first poets in the world is but his
second praise. He was in a higher class. He was one of the "noblest
works of God." He was an "honest man,"[9]--a man who alone possessed
more real virtue than, in very corrupt times, needing a satirist like
him, will sometimes fall to the share of multitudes. In this history of
his life,[10] will be contained a large account of his writings, a
critique on the nature, force, and extent of his genius, exemplified
from these writings; and a vindication of his moral character,
exemplified by his more distinguished virtues,--his filial piety, his
disinterested friendships, his reverence for the constitution of his
country, his love and admiration of virtue, and (what was the necessary
effect) his hatred and contempt of vice, his extensive charity to the
indigent, his warm benevolence to mankind, his supreme veneration of the
Deity, and above all his sincere belief of Revelation. Nor shall his
faults be concealed. It is not for the interests of his virtues that
they should. Nor indeed could they be concealed, if we were so disposed,
for they shine through his virtues, no man being more a dupe to the
specious appearances of virtue in others.[11] In a word, I mean not to
be his panegyrist but his historian. And may I, when envy and calumny
have taken the same advantage of my absence (for, while I live, I will
freely trust it to my life to confute them) may I find a friend as
careful of my honest fame as I have been of his! Together with his
works, he hath bequeathed me his dunces. So that as the property is
transferred, I could wish they would now let his memory alone. The veil
which death draws over the good is so sacred, that to tear it, and with
sacrilegious hands, to throw dirt upon the shrine, gives scandal even to
barbarians. And though Rome permitted her slaves to calumniate her best
citizens on the day of triumph, yet the same petulancy at their funeral
would have been rewarded with execration and a gibbet.[12] The public
may be malicious; but is rarely vindictive or ungenerous. It would abhor
all insults, on a writer dead, though it had borne with the ribaldry, or
even set the ribalds on work, when he was alive. And in this there is no
great harm, for he must have a strange impotency of mind indeed whom
such miserable scribblers can disturb or ruffle. Of all that gross
Beotian phalanx who have written scurrilously against the editor, he
knows not so much as one whom a writer of reputation would not wish to
have his enemy, or whom a man of honour would not be ashamed to own for
his friend.[13] He is indeed but slightly conversant in their works, and
knows little of the particulars of their defamation. To his authorship
they are heartily welcome. But if any of them have been so far abandoned
by truth as to attack his moral character in any respect whatsoever, to
all and every one of these and their abettors, he gives the lie in form,
and in the words of honest Father Valerian, _mentiris impudentissime_.


[Footnote 1: "I own the late encroachments upon my constitution made me
willing to see the end of all further care about me or my works. I would
rest for the one in a full resignation of my being to be disposed of by
the Father of all mercy; and for the other (though indeed a trifle, yet
a trifle may be some example) I would commit them to the candour of a
sensible and reflecting judge, rather than to the malice of every
short-sighted and malevolent critic, or inadvertent and censorious
reader. And no hand can set them in so good a light," &c.--_Let. cxx._
to Mr. W.--WARBURTON.]

[Footnote 2: "I also give and bequeath to the said Mr. Warburton, the
property of all such of my works already printed as he hath written or
shall write commentaries or notes upon, and which I have not otherwise
disposed of or alienated; and as he shall publish without future
alterations."--_His Last Will and Testament._--WARBURTON.]

[Footnote 3: A subscription would have been simply a petition from
Warburton to the public, soliciting them to increase the value of the
legacy bequeathed him by Pope.]

[Footnote 4: The engravings were execrable; the type and paper good, but
not extraordinary. The outlay upon the edition, for which Warburton
takes credit as for a munificent act, was a common-place commercial
transaction, with the certainty of a large return.]

[Footnote 5: The corrections are few and trivial. The account which
Warburton gives of the novelties in his edition is from first to last

[Footnote 6: The only restored lines which improve the orthodoxy of the
Essay on Man relate to a future state.]

[Footnote 7: Either Warburton had never heard of Madame de Sévigné's
letters, or what is more likely, he was unable to taste their charm.
Their delicate graces, and native liveliness, would have been lost upon
the man who thought that Pope's artificial epistles were "true models of
familiar" letters.]

[Footnote 8: The assertion that the copies had not been published is
unaccountable. Every line of them had been published twice over by Pope
in his lifetime, and all but two or three pages, had been published
again and again.]

[Footnote 9:

A wit's a feather, and a chief's a rod,
An honest man's the noblest work of God.--WARBURTON.]

[Footnote 10: It will be printed in the same form with this, and every
future edition of his works, so as to make a part of them.--WARBURTON.

The Life which Warburton promised with such solemn pomp was never
written and he was content to assist Ruffhead in his feeble

[Footnote 11: Warburton intimates that Pope's only faults grew out of
his credulous belief in "the specious appearance of virtue," which was a
sarcasm directed against those friends of Pope who were the enemies of

[Footnote 12: The demand of Warburton was not for a truce on the day of
Pope's funeral, which took place seven years before. He insisted that
because Pope was dead no one should ever again question his title to be
called "good." Neither Pope nor Warburton was accustomed to spare dead
men, and the claim for exemption was specially inconsistent in the
preface to works which were full of bitter attacks upon both living and
dead. Warburton was to go on circulating Pope's venom, and any victim
who retaliated was to be pronounced "sacrilegious," "a scandal even to
barbarians," and worthy to be "rewarded with execration and a gibbet."]

[Footnote 13: Warburton was a fortunate author. Though he published a
host of paradoxical notions, his opponents, if we are to trust his
repeated assertions, were always fools and knaves.]


In his will, dated December 12, 1743, not quite six months before he
died, Pope bequeathed his printed works to Warburton, on condition that
he published them without "future alterations." Warburton states that
the object of the proviso was to relieve him from the obloquy he might
incur by reproducing offensive strokes of satire. A few slight
alterations which had not the sanction of any prior edition were
nevertheless introduced by Warburton into some of the poems, and he
announced on the title-page and in the preface, that they were taken
from a corrected copy delivered to him by Pope. Mr. Croker mistrusted
the genuineness of the "alterations," and he intended to reject the text
of Warburton, and adopt in the main the text of the last octavo edition
which had appeared during the lifetime of the poet. The honour of
Warburton is not above suspicion, but Mr. Croker was misled by erroneous
inferences when he accused him of tampering with the text, and falsely
pleading the authority of "a copy corrected by the author himself."

Fantastic in his conceptions, violent in his animosities, hasty and
imperious in the expression of his opinions, Warburton sometimes
repented his rashness, and cancelled numerous leaves in his Shakespeare
and Pope after the volumes were printed off. Mr. Kilvert, who edited his
Literary Remains, found among his papers a cancelled leaf of the Pope,
containing the commencement of the Prologue to the Satires. On the first
page Warburton had inserted among the "Variations" a couplet which he
said was copied from the manuscript of Pope:

And now vile poets rise before the light,
And walk, like Margaret's ghost, at dead of night.

The allusion was to the ballad of William and Margaret, written by
Mallet. He was the ally of Pope and Bolingbroke, and when Pope was dead
he was employed by Bolingbroke to blast the memory of their former
friend.[1] The mention of Margaret's ghost gave Warburton the
opportunity of appending a bitter note upon Mallet, whom he accused of
"arraigning his dead patron for a cheat," and the leaf was cancelled to
get rid of both note and variation. Mr. Croker believed that Warburton
"forged" the variation to gratify his spleen against Mallet, whom he
detested, and that before the volume was published "either his own
conscience, or some prudent friend, suggested that such manifest fraud
would not be tolerated." The conjecture was unfounded. Pope presented
several of his manuscripts to the son of Jonathan Richardson, the
portrait-painter, for his trouble in collating them with the printed
text. Richardson's interlined copy of the first quarto volume of Pope's
poetry passed into the hands of Malone, and was ultimately bought by Mr.
Croker. The manuscripts which Richardson possessed in the handwriting of
Pope were purchased by Dr. Chauncey, and are still the property of his
descendants. Among them is the Prologue to the Satires, and it contains
the couplet Mr. Croker believed to have been forged. In every instance
where the manuscripts exist the variations printed by Warburton are
found to be authentic.

The inference of Mr. Croker from the variations must be reversed. They
do not invalidate, but attest, the fidelity of Warburton, and the
"alterations" in the text of the poems must pass unchallenged unless
there is some direct proof of their inaccuracy. The arguments, on the
contrary, are altogether in their favour. Four printed pages of the
first Moral Essay, with the corrections in manuscript, were discovered
by Mr. Kilvert among Warburton's papers. "Some of the words," says Mr.
Croker, "are so neatly written as to leave a strong impression on my eye
of their being Pope's; other portions of the manuscript are more like
Warburton's looser hand." The faint doubt expressed by Mr. Croker would
hardly have arisen if his suspicion had not been previously awakened,
for the corrections are all indubitably in the handwriting of the poet.
Nor was the manuscript in this instance the guide of Warburton. He
followed a copy of the Moral Essays printed by Pope in his last illness,
though never published. "Warburton has the propriety of it as you know,"
wrote Bolingbroke to Lord Marchmont, one of the executors; "alter it he
cannot by the terms of the will."[2] This of itself is an answer to Mr.
Croker. The executors had access to Pope's latest printed version of the
Moral Essays, which was Warburton's avowed authority, and he could not
alter a single word without certain detection, and the consequent
forfeiture of his legacy. He was alive to the risk. A portion of Pope's
revised edition of his poetical works was passing through the press at
the time of his death, and Warburton directed the printer to give the
sheets, when the executors inquired for them, to their colleague the
celebrated Murray, who was afterwards Lord Mansfield, adding, "Pray
preserve all the press copy to the least scrap."[3] The terms of the
will bound the editor to be faithful to his trust, under a penalty of
4,000_l._, the estimated value of the bequest,[4] and he saw the
necessity of having the voucher of the poet's handwriting for the
minutest departure from the previous text in such of the proofs as had
not received Pope's final imprimatur. A more ample guarantee could not
be desired for the authenticity of the particulars in which Warburton's
text differs from the printed copies superintended by Pope. All the
displaced readings, which are not utterly insignificant, are preserved
in the notes to the present edition, as well as numerous unpublished
variations, which are taken from the manuscripts of Pope, or the
transcripts of Richardson.

The text of Pope's poems is more easily settled than elucidated. No
other poet so near to our own time presents equal difficulties. His
satires abound in uncertain allusions, and controverted topics which
require a large amount of illustration and discussion. His philosophy
was not understood by himself, and it is a study to disentangle his
confused arguments, and interpret his doubtful language. He often
expressed his opinions with wilful ambiguity, took refuge in
equivocations, or had recourse to falsehoods, and we are constantly
forced upon perplexing investigations to recover the truth he
endeavoured to conceal. Fortunately his best poems and choicest passages
are least incumbered with puzzling questions, and his obscurities have
not much interfered with his popularity because the mass of readers are
content to enjoy the beauties and leave the enigmas unsolved.

The number and eminence of the commentators on Pope, the diversity of
their attainments, and the extent of their annotations appear to promise
all the help which knowledge, acuteness, and taste could supply. The
result is far below what might reasonably have been anticipated.
Warburton, Pope's first editor, had a vigorous understanding, and
possessed the enormous advantage that he carried on the work in concert
with the poet, and could ask the explanation of every difficulty. A
diseased ambition rendered his talents and opportunities useless.
Without originality he aspired to be original, and imagined that to
fabricate hollow paradoxes, and torture language into undesigned
meanings was the surest evidence of a fertile, penetrating genius. He
employed his sagacity less to discover than to distort the ideas of his
author, and seems to have thought that the more he deviated from the
obvious sense the greater would be his fame for inventive power. He has
left no worse specimen of his perverse propensity than the spurious
fancies, and idle refinements he fathered upon Pope. They are among his
baldest paradoxes, are conveyed in his heaviest style, and are supported
by his feeblest sophistry. His lifeless and verbose conceits soon
provoke by their falsity, and fatigue by their ponderousness. Lord
Marchmont said laughingly to Pope that "he must be the vainest man
alive, and must want to show posterity what a quantity of dulness he
could carry down on his back without sinking under the load."[5] The
exuberant self-sufficiency of Warburton deluded him into the belief that
the text derived its principal lustre from the commentary. He selected
for the frontispiece to his edition a monument on which were hung
medallions of himself and the poet, and Blakey, the draughtsman, told
Burke that "it was by Warburton's particular desire that he made him the
principal figure, and Pope only secondary, and that the light, contrary
to the rules of art, goes upwards from Warburton to Pope." A gentleman
remarked, when Burke related the anecdote, that they were drawn looking
in opposite directions.[6] The sarcasm summed up the opinion which has
always prevailed. The clumsy inventions of Warburton had not the
semblance of plausibility, and scarce anybody except his shadow, and
fulsome echo, Bishop Hurd, ever doubted that the text and commentary
looked different ways.[7]

Proud of his dreary paradoxes, Warburton scorned the humble office of
furnishing useful information. Pope had said, in his Imitations of
Horace, that because three ladies liked a luckless play, a spendthrift
had taken the whole house upon the poet's night,[8] which drew from
Warburton the following note:--"The common reader, I am sensible, will
be always more solicitous about the names of these three ladies, the
unlucky play, and every other circumstance that attended this piece of
gallantry, than for the explanation of our author's sense, or the
illustration of his poetry, even where he is most moral and sublime. But
had it been in Mr. Pope's purpose to indulge so impertinent a curiosity,
he had sought elsewhere for a commentator on his writings. Which defect
in these notes, the periodical scribblers, however, have been stupid and
shameless enough to object to them."[9] Warburton's reserve was
praiseworthy when his motive was respect for private feelings. His
general neglect to clear up the allusions in Pope's poems did not admit
of this apology, and in default of a better defence he called his
critics "stupid and shameless." His habit when reasons failed him was to
supply their place with abuse.

The edition of Warburton was published in 1751, and no attempt was made
to supersede it till Gilbert Wakefield commenced a new edition in 1794.
He was "labouring," he says, "for a subsistence," and the cost of the
work, which was printed at his own expense, obliged him to bring out a
volume at a time. Before the first volume was quite through the press he
learned that Joseph Warton was engaged on a similar undertaking. Warton
had the support of the London booksellers, and the edition of Wakefield
ended with his opening volume. The world did not lose the benefit of his
annotations. He published in 1796 his Observations on Pope, which
consist of notes on the remaining poems, and of supplemental notes to
the poems he had previously edited. Wakefield said that an "inculpable
perfection pervaded the whole body of Pope's compositions," and in the
extravagance of his admiration he overlaid the volume of his unfinished
edition with weak rhapsodies which masked the useful part of his
labours. He restrained his eulogistic excesses in his Observations, and
kept more closely to his main design of tracing Pope's "imitations of
his predecessors." All persons tolerably read in poetry could perceive
that the obligations Pope acknowledged in his notes were but a fraction
of the whole, and in 1740, Bowyer, the printer, with the assistance of
Mr. Clarke, a clergyman, commenced a collection of parallel passages.
From the letters of Clarke to Bowyer it appears that Pope was annoyed.
Bowyer profited by his irritation, and offered to treat with him. "I
think," wrote Clarke in 1742, "you buy his friendship cheap with a whole
hecatomb of notes, essays, illustrations, and the mob of
commentators."[10] The progress of the negociation is not recorded. The
result is revealed in the fact that Bowyer shortly afterwards became
Pope's printer. The sensitiveness which was disturbed at the gleanings
of Bowyer would have shuddered at the abundant harvest of Wakefield. He
himself had no intention of depreciating the merits of Pope. He only
wished to illustrate a favourite author. Many of the parallelisms are
too slight to be applicable, or they are common phrases the property of
every Englishman. A vast number remain which are a curious exhibition of
Pope's patience and skill in the art of poetical mosaic, and of the
large amount of borrowed beauties he intermixed with his undoubted
originality. The interpretation of the text, though subordinate with
Wakefield, was not neglected by him. He and a friend who assisted him,
Dr. William Bennet, Bishop of Cloyne, have explained more allusions than
all the other commentators, and the least known and appreciated of the
editors of Pope is the man who has done the most for his author.

The edition of Warton appeared in 1797. "His reason," he says in his
preface, "for undertaking the work was the universal complaint that Dr.
Warburton had disfigured and disgraced his edition with many forced and
far-sought interpretations, totally unsupported by the passages which
they were brought to elucidate." Warton had the stimulus of a second
motive. He published in 1756 the first volume of his Essay on Pope, and
his criticisms were roughly attacked in many passages of Ruffhead's Life
of the poet, which was prompted and partly written by Warburton. While
Warburton lived Warton did not venture to retaliate. The thirty years
which intervened had not extinguished his resentment, and he seized the
opportunity to revenge the ancient grudge. His consciousness of
Warburton's defects did not keep Warton from repeating the error of
filling page upon page with irrelevant matter. His Essay on Pope had
been a receptacle for his store of miscellaneous reading, and in a
separate work there was no objection to a medley of anecdote and
criticism. He was seventy-five when he published his edition of Pope,
and to save himself trouble he apportioned out the old farrago in notes.
Profuse in digressions, he is sparing of needful explanations. His turn
was for the lighter portions of criticism and biography, and most of his
apposite remarks are critical opinions. They are often just, but never
profound, for he had neither fervid feelings nor a robust understanding,
and his highest qualities are a fair poetical taste, and a tolerable
acquaintance with ancient and modern authors.

Bowles was a school-boy at Winchester when Warton was head-master, and
he intimated that this early connection was the cause of his being
employed to revise the next edition of Pope. It appeared in 1806. His
poetic sensibility was exquisite, and he was well-read, shrewd, and
candid. His failing was a hurry of mind which disqualified him for a
painstaking commentator. He was content to jot down in a careless,
colloquial style the off-hand thoughts of his quick and cultivated
intellect, and he did not add much to the scanty explanations of Warton
and Warburton. The chief merit of his edition is his excellent literary
criticism, which is truer, deeper, and more refined than that of his old
Winchester master. The estimate Bowles formed of the poetry and
character of Pope was allowed to pass unchallenged for thirteen years,
when some remarks of Campbell, in his Specimens of British Poets,
commenced a controversy which lasted from 1819 to 1826. In the series of
pamphlets he published to vindicate his opinions, Bowles exhibited his
wonted acuteness, courage, and negligence. With all his slips in minor
points the fresh facts which have come to light have more than confirmed
his view of Pope's moral obliquities, and in the discussion on the
principles of poetry he reduced the whole of his adversaries to silence.
He and Hazlitt were the only persons among the disputants, eminent or
obscure, who showed any real comprehension of the subject.

The next edition of Pope, justly considered by Mr. Croker to be the
worst, came out in 1824, and was superintended by Roscoe, the author of
the Life of Lorenzo de Medici, and Leo X. He barely contributed a single
illustrative note, his criticisms are platitudes, and his vindications
of Pope a tissue of blunders. He was misled by his credulous faith in
his hero, by the rashness with which he imposed his own guesses for
facts, and above all by his want of penetration and research. His
half-knowledge was worse than ignorance. A few of his multitudinous
errors were exposed by Bowles whom he had attacked. Roscoe replied in a
feeble, disingenuous pamphlet, which drew from Bowles his taunting and
crushing retort, Lessons in Criticism to William Roscoe, Esq. This ended
the Pope controversy.

The faults of plan and execution in the editions of Warburton, Warton,
Bowles, and Roscoe stand out in strong relief, and Mr. Croker resolved,
as far as possible, to correct the mistakes, retrench the
superfluities, and supply the omissions. Warton and Bowles dismissed a
large proportion of the barren, oppressive commentaries of Warburton.
Roscoe put back the whole of the bulky excrescence. Most of it had been
adopted by Pope, and to relieve the text, without excluding
interpretations sanctioned by the poet, Mr. Croker determined to print
the pedantic lumber in appendixes. The notes of the other editors rested
upon their intrinsic merits, and he intended to sift out the surplusage,
and only retain what was pertinent.

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