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HE Lives of private Men, though they afford not Examples which
may fill the Mind with Ideas of Greatness and Power, like those of Princes and Generals, yet are they such as are more open to common Imitation ; there are few within whose Compass those Aétions are, that is, there are, comparatively Speaking, few Princes or Generals, but the Actions of a private Man are as Counsel to all; if good eligible, if bad detestable, and to be avoided : For this Reafon most wife Men have delighted in faithful Biography. But here lies the Difficulty, so few are true to their Subject, for Partiality either of Love or Hate, has caused many so to magnify or multiply the good or bad Actions of those whose Lives they write, that it is scarce possible to know how to diminish, or what to divide by, to find the first Figure
or Number they had to work upon; so that when (not without some Intreaty) I was induc'd to take upon me to write Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Mr. Pope, of whose Poetry, Criticism, and Satire, I had always been a professid Admirer, I refolu'd not to suffer my Admiration to carry me greater Lengths than the coolest Reasoning could justify, it being not my. Business to write Panegyrick, but to illustrate Mr. Pope's Works, and few what manner of Man be was, as well as how great a Poet : To this End, I have made use of all possible Means, my Friends, as well as myself, having spared no Pains to procure what Helps were attainable, fome few I bad in my own Hands which were never made publick, and the World stands obliged to those of all Stations, who have been so kind to hand to me forthis Use, what they thought would contribute to give Light into his Life; but most of all we are affifted by his own Letters and Works, by. wbich Means, Several Things before in Dispute, are now clear'd up, and others long forgotten, reveald to Memory, the Time and Place of Astions doubtful, fully fixt, and many Things once warmly contended for by cer
tain cenforious and ill-natured People given ир.
By the Quotations it will appear, that a large Number of Authors have been perused and consulted in this case, and that nothing is affirmed without fome Evidence ; for how vain would it be to impose Fictions upon the Publick under the Pretence of a real Character ?
Besides this, I thougbt it highly proper, writing of Mr. Pope's Patrons and Friends, not barely to mention their Names, but to give so much of their Character as might Jhow of what Class (not only as to Quality, but Taste and Understanding) they were in: This I have done in the Duke of Bucking.-ham, pretty much at large, as well as the
Bishop of Rochester ; I have taken Notice of Dean Swift, Mr. Dennis, Mr. Rowe, Mr. Cibber, Mr. Walsh, Sir William Trumbull, Sir Richard Blackmore, Mr. Oldmixon, Mr. Eusden, Dr. Garth, Mr. Mr. Welsted, Mr. Gay, Mr. Bloome, Mr. Digby, Mr. Theobald, Mr. Moore Smith, and have not forgot a great Number more, fome Friends, and some Enemies, to Mr. Pope, keeping as near as I could to their true Story of Life, and carefully a
voiding such Circumstances as have been res ported upon sight, or no Authority.
As to the Criticism upon Pastoral, it will not be entirely disagreeable to the Ear of those who love Poetry; if the Comparisons be just, be assured that the Quotations are fair. The Transations from the Italian of Taffo and Guarini are my own, those from the Aminta published some Years fince, being the fourth Translation of that Pastoral into English. I hope
it will be plain that I have spoken of Mr. Pope every where with the greatest Impartiality, and that I have not neglected to insert in these Memoirs, any Thing by whicb his Fame might be enlarged and continued down to late Posterity, if this Labour fhould live so long ; for herein, I must confess,, I have not canfulted my own Interejt, but took it in Hand (how unequal foever to the Talk) left some other of more
Art, might, mingling Falshoods with Truth, give to future Times a false and imperfe&t Idea of our great Poet, Critick, and Satirift.
There are several Things which I have omitted, though worthy of Notice, as not being certain whether they are not spurious, and Jome Pieces, though I am certain they were wrote by him, as he has not thought fit to honour them with his Name, I enter not into their Merits, but, as he desires, impute them not to him: There are, likewife, a few Verses which he wrote upon a merry Mistake made by a Phyhcian, at the House of a noble and most estimable Earl; but, as I have not Liberty to publish them, they fall be suppress’d.
Except these, I have not received the least Hint from Persons of Honour and Credit, (to whom I return molt grateful Thanks) of which I have not made some Use, and depre to be
. excused by those from whom I have had Papers without Names or Vouchers, for the Facts contained, at the same Time expressing a Displeasure ad gainst some, which I know to be dishonourably false, and if I were able to learn where to return them, I would do it with the Rei proach and Contempt they and their Authors deserve.
It was by particular Defire that I enlarged so much on the Essay on Man, and the Universal Prayer---In regard to the Ethicks, I have offered them to the Reader's Confideration, and taken Care to be guided in general by a Comment well asproved of by Mr. Pope.