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To the OCTAVO Edition of Mr. Pope's Works, 1751.
R. 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 folicitous 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 fatisfaction.
The Editor hath not, for the sake of profit, suffered the Author's Name to be made cheap 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 expence, 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 reafon which the Editor need not make a secret. It was his regard to the family-interests of his deceased Friend. VOL. I.
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 thould have time to dispose of them to the best advantage before the publication of this Edition (which hath been long prepared) should put a Hop 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 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 fome, 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 difpofition 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 ada ded 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 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. The rest, together with others of the like fort 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 Epiftle 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 enriched with many and large notes, now first printed from the Author's own Manufcript.
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 requeft he laid the plan of a fourth Book. I often told him, it was pity so fine a poem should remain disgraced by the meannefs of its
fubject, 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 interest 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 Grubstreet libels. The plan of this admirable Satire was artfully contrived to Thew, that the follies and defedts 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 inoral writings that might be suspected of having the least glance towards Fate ori 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 fixth Volume consists of Mr. Pope's miscellaneous pieces in verse and prose*. Amongst the Verse feveral fine poems make now their first appearance in * The profe is not within the plan of this edition.