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ONE of the pretended literary discoveries | have been edited as often as those of Pope, of the last quarter of a century is, that it is is Swift; but even of Swift, Scott's (twice a mistake to reckon Pope among our Eng-printed) is the only edition that has any lish poets; but nobody, we believe, has pretensions to be called a critical one. As yet denied him to be an English classic. for our other great prose writers-such, for The steady demand for his works that has instance, as Bacon-although the works of now maintained for the full Horatian pe- most of them have been several times colriodlected, we can scarcely be said to possess a critical edition of any one of them.

Est vetus atque probus centum qui perfecit annos, may be held as having established his right Perhaps, when the booksellers found to that title, and placed it beyond the themselves called upon for another library cavils of criticism or paradox. Since his edition of Pope, the best thing upon the death, his writings have been collected, and whole that they could do was to reproduce copiously annotated, by four successive that prepared by the late Mr. Roscoe, and editors; of the voluminous labors of all of published in 1824. Besides being, by its whom, except one, there have been two or omission of some questionable or objectionmore authorized impressions, not to speak able matter, better suited for the use of of several irregular reprints. This is ordinary readers, if not of the more curisufficient evidence of his popularity, ous student, than either that of Warton. and of something more. These critical or that of Bowles, it was free from the diseditions have been called for to be placed advantage, under which both these precedin libraries among our greatest writers, ing editions labored, of being constructed or the greatest writers of every age of upon and pervaded by the principles of a literature. Shakspeare is the only other school of criticism, which, whatever might English classic who has given so much be its merits, could not but be regarded as employment to the commentators. We heretical by the generality of the readers of have only one annotated edition (twice Pope; and out of which, indeed, it was printed) of the entire works of Dryden; somewhat unaccountable how an editor of one (also printed twice) of those of Spen- his poetry, not to say two, should ever ser; and not as yet so much as one of have arisen-unless we are to suppose that those of Milton, any more than of those of they took to the task, as Butler makes the Chaucer. If we except Shakspeare, the old Puritans to have worshipped their only other English writer whose works Maker-" for spite," and as thinking the VOL. XII. No. IV.



writings they republished and commented excusable enough in a first edition, but upon very good for being mended and which ought not to be allowed to stand carped at, if for nothing else. Mr. Ros- without correction in succeeding imprescoe, if without any pretensions to be ac- sions of the book. counted either a profound or a brilliant The several vexata quæstiones of Pope's critic, was at least not disqualified for the history will be found to be discussed for office of editing Pope by any such anti- the most part by his latest biographer in a Popish principles or prejudices. On the sufficiently painstaking manner, and with contrary, his charity for his author, both as an attention to the relevant facts which a poet and as a man, has all the amiable will be allowed to be correct and compreweakness that could be desired either in an hensive even by those who may not always editor or a biographer. As his edition, agree with his conclusions. But even in too, was of subsequent date to the publica- the more elaborate portions of his performtion of "Spence's Anecdotes," his Life of ance, which are occupied with these controPope, and his Notes, might be considered as verted matters, he sometimes misses what embodying nearly all the information re- a little more research would have discospecting the poet and his writings that is vered. Thus, from having consulted only yet before the world. We recollect nothing the first edition of Curll's surreptitious pubof any importance that has come out since lication of the "Letters," he has given an 1824, except a fact or two given in Lady incomplete copy of what is called "The Louisa Stuart's brilliant Biographical Initial Correspondence; or, Anecdotes of Anecdotes," prefixed to Lord Wharncliffe's the Life and Family of Mr. Pope," inserted edition of the Works of Lady Mary Wort- by Curll at the beginning of his second ley Montagu. Still the new edition ought, volume. The second edition contains a we think, to have been something more long additional advertisement by Curll, than a mere reprint, with only the former dated July 26, 1735, remarkable as for the ten volumes compressed into eight. So first time advancing a direct charge against purely mechanical a piece of reproduction Pope, of being at the bottom of the contrivis the present publication, that the reader ance by which the "Letters" had been can nowhere gather from it even the know- given to the world. "Mr. Pope," Curll ledge of when the former edition appeared. here says, "having put me under a necesEven the fact that Mr. Roscoe no longer sity of using him as he deserves, I hereby lives is nowhere indicated. The former declare, that the first volume of his' Letedition, for anything that appears, might ters,' which I published on the 12th of have preceded the present by only a few May last, was sent me, ready printed, by months; and the Preface, addressed to the himself; and for six hundred of which I world more than twenty years ago by a contracted with his agent, R. Smythe, who writer who is now, and has been for some came to me in the habit of a clergyman.” years, dead, might be understood as having Not, indeed, that this assertion of Curll's is been penned within the present year. It the least value as evidence of anything may be that, luckily, the statements in it, except of his own unscrupulosity and imread in that understanding, will still be all pudence. We concur with Mr. Roscoe in true, or at least not absolutely false; that, scouting the supposition of Pope having for instance, when it said that "Spence's had anything to do with the mysterious Manuscripts" "now belong to Mr. Sin-proceedings through which the Letters got ger" the fact is still so, as much as it into Curll's hands, as the wildest of improwas in 1824; but so negligent or inartifi-babilities. At the same time, it is possible cial a manner of republication is not for that Curll may have given a true account of that the less pessimi exempli. The date of the affair, so far as he was himself concernthe Preface, which is of the nature of a let- ed in it: not only, as Johnson observes, no ter or epistle from the author to his read- falsehood was ever detected in his acers, ought at least to have been given. count but the numerous notes from R. But there are also other reasons why the Smythe and P. T., given in the "Initial book should not have been left thus to edit, Correspondence," have all the air of being or re-edit, itself. Apart altogether from genuine. The most natural hypothesis matters of taste or opinion, Mr. Roscoe, would seem to be that Curll really procured though he has executed his task generally the Letters in the way that he said he did, with care and diligence, has committed and that the person from whom he bought several oversights, which may have been them was the party, or the agent of the

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