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If modest youth, with cool rejection crown'd,
Pays the last tribute of a saint to Heaven. This epitaph Mr. Warburton prefers to the rest; but I know not for what reason. To crown with reflection is surely a mode of speech approaching to nonsense. Opening virtues blooming round, is something like tautology; the six following lines are poor and prosaic. Art is in another couplet used for arts, that a rhyme may be had to heart. The six last lines are the best, but not excellent.
The rest of his sepulchral performances hardly deserve the notice of criticism. The contemptible Dialogue between He and She should have been suppressed for the author's sake.
In bis last epitaph on himself, in which he attempts to be jocular upon one of the few things that make wise men serious, he confounds the living man with the dead :
Under this stone, or under this sill,
Or under this turf, &c. When a man is once buried, the question under what he is buried, is easily decided. He forgot that, though he wrote the epitaplı in a state of uncertainty, yet it could not be laid over hiin till his grave was made. Such is the folly of wit when it is ill employed.
The world has but little new; even this wretchedness seems to have been borrowed from the following tuneless lines :
Ludovici Areosti humantur ossa
Olim siquod haberet is sepulchrum. Surely Ariosto did not renture to expect that lais trifle would have ever had such an illustrious imitator.
DR. WARBURTON'S ADVERTISEMENT
OCTAVO EDITION OF MR. POPE'S WORKS, 1751.
Ale. Pope, in his last illness, amused himself, amidst the care of his higher concerns, in preparing a corrected and complete edition of his writings; 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.
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 chcap by a subscription ; 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.
If the public hath waited longer than the deference due to it should have suffered, it was owing to a reason which the editor need not to make a secret; it was his regard to the family-interests of his deceased friend. Mr. Pope, at his death, 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 shonld 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 printed from a copy corrected throughout by the author himself, even to the very preface; which, with several additional notes in bis 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 any : 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, when he first published the poems to which they belong, he thought proper, for various rcasons, 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. The rest, together with others of the like sort from his ananuscript copy of the other Ethic Epistles, are here inserted at the bottom of the page, under the title of Variations. VOL. XI.
ADVERTISEMENT. The fourth volume contains the Satires, with their Prologue, the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot; and Epilogue, the two poems entitled 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 enriched 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 hare only this further to add, that it was at my request he laid the plan of a fourth book. I often told bim, it was a pity so fine a poem should remain disgraced by the meanness of its subject, the most insignificant of all dunces, bad rhymers, and malerolent 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 interest of religion, to have it known, that so great a genius hai. 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 terrour of his pen kept them for some time in respect, yet on his death they rose with unrestrained fury, in numerous coffee-house tables, 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, free-thinking ; with design to point out the only remedy adequate to so fatal an evil. It was to advance the same ends of virtue and religion, that the editor prevailed on him to alter every thing 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 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 Ferse several fine poenis make now their 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. This collection is now made more complete by the addition of several new pieces. Yet, excepting a short explanatory letter to Col. M. and the letters to Mr. A. and Mr. W. (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 published from the author's own printed, though not published, copies, delivered to the editor.
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's 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 bave been one of the first pocts 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?; 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, 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 friendship, his reverence for the constitution of his country, his love and dmiration of virtue, and (what was the necessary effect) his hatred and contempt of vice, his extensive charity to the indigent, bis warm benerolence 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 interest of his virtues that they
· The prose is not within the plan of this edition.
should : nor indeed could they be concealed, if we were so minded; for they shine through his virtues, no man being more a dupe to the specious appearances of virtue in others. In a word, I mean not to be his panegyrist, but his historian. And may I, when envy and calumny take 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 aith 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 throw dirt upon the shrine scandalizes even barbarians. And though Rome permitted her slaves to calumniate her best citizens on the day of triumph, yet the same petulaney at their funeral would have been rewarded with execration and a gibbet. The public may be malicious, but is rarely vindictive or ungenerous. It would abhor these 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 was no great hari ; for he must have a strange impotency of mind whom such miserable scribblers can rume.
Of all that gross Baotian phalanx who have written scurrilously against me, I know 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. I am indeed but slightly conversant in their works, and know little of the particulars of their defamation. To my authorship they are heartily welcome: but if any of them have been so abandoned by truth as to attack my moral character in any instance whatsoever, to all and every one of these, and their abettors, I give the lye in form, and in the words of honest Father Valerian, Mentiris impudentissime.