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A full and true Account of a horrid and barbarous REVENGE BY POISON, on the body of Mr. EDMUND CURLL,* bookseller.
WITH A FAITHFUL COPY OF HIS LAST WILL AND
HISTORY furnisheth us with examples of many satirical authors, who have fallen sacrifices to revenge, but not of any booksellers, that I know of, except
*The period that gave rise to this piece is marked by Curll himself, who in the preface to his second volume of Pope's Literary Correspondence, says, "You know very well, Sir, that in the year 1717, when the Court Poems (viz. The Basset-Table, The Toilet, and The Drawing-Room) were published, upon your sending to me to the Swan Tavern in Fleet-street, in company with Mr. Lintot, and inquiring into the publication of that pamphlet, I then frankly told you, that those pieces were by Mr. Joseph Jacobs, a dissenting teacher, given to Mr. John Oldmixon, who sent the same to be published by Mr. James Roberts in Warwick Lane, and that my neighbour, Mr. Pemberton, and myself, had each of us a share with Mr. Oldmixon in the said pamphlet. For this you were pleased to treat me with half a pint of Canary antimonially prepared; for the emetic effects of which, it has been the opinion of all mankind you deserved the stab. My purgation was soon over; but yours will last (without a timely repentance) till, as the ghost says in Hamlet, with all your imperfections on your head, you are called to your account; and your offences purged by fire. Yet notwithstanding your behaviour to me, in turning this matter into ridicule, and making me the subject of several of your libels, all which I have equally despised, I made you an offer of reconciliation, though you yourself was the aggressor." This was too favourable an opportunity for Pope to neglect; and accordingly we have here the history of the poisoning and its consequences in a
the unfortunate subject of the following paper; I mean Mr. Edmund Curll, at the Bible and Dial in Fleet-street, who was yesterday poisoned by Mr. Pope, after having lived many years an instance of the mild temper of the British nation.
Every body knows, that the said Mr. Edmund Curll, on Monday the 26th instant, published a satirical piece, intitled, Court-poems, in the preface whereof they were attributed to a lady of quality, Mr. Pope, or Gay; by which indiscreet method, though he had escaped one revenge, there were still two behind in reserve.
Now, on the Wednesday ensuing, between the hours of ten and eleven, Mr. Lintot, a neighbouring bookseller, desired a conference with Mr. Curll, about settling a title-page, inviting him at the same time to take a whet together. Mr. Pope, who is not the only instance how persons of bright parts may be carried away by the instigation of the devil, found means to convey himself into the same room, under pretence of business with Mr. Lintot, who, it seems, is the printer of his Homer. This gentleman, with a seeming coolness, reprimanded Mr.
strain which could scarcely have been exceeded by Swift himself, either for its humour or its indelicacy.
The poisoning of Curll was frequently the subject of a joke among the friends of Pope. Congreve in one of his letters, says, By the inclosed you will see I am like to be impressed and enrolled in the list of Mr. Curll's authors; but I thank God I shall
have your company. I believe it is high time you should think of administering another emetic."
Curll for wrongfully ascribing to him the aforesaid poems: he excused himself by declaring, that one of his authors (Mr. Oldmixon by name) gave the copies to the press, and wrote the preface. Upon this Mr. Pope, being to all appearance reconciled, very civilly drank a glass of sack to Mr. Curll, which he as civilly pledged; and though the liquor, in colour and taste, differed not from common sack, yet was it plain, by the pangs this unhappy stationer felt soon after, that some poisonous drug had been secretly infused therein.
About eleven o'clock he went home, where his wife observing his colour changed, said, " Are you not sick, my dear?" He replied, Bloody sick;" and incontinently fell a vomiting and straining in an uncommon and unnatural manner, the contents of his vomiting being as green as grass. His wife had been just reading a book of her husband's printing concerning Jane Wenham, the famous witch of Hertford, and her mind misgave her, that he was bewitched; but he soon let her know, that he suspected poison, and recounted to her, between the intervals of his yawnings and retchings, every circumstance of his interview with Mr. Pope.
Mr. Lintot in the mean time coming in, was extremely affrighted at the sudden alteration he observed in him: "Brother Curll," says he, "I fear you have got the vomiting distemper, which, I have heard, kills in half an hour. This comes from your not following my advice, to drink old hock in a morning, as I do, and abstain from sack.” Mr.
Curll replied in a moving tone, "Your author's sack, I fear, has done my business." "Z-ds," says Mr. Lintot, "my author!-Why did not you drink old hock?" Notwithstanding which rough remonstrance, he did in the most friendly manner press him to take warm water; but Mr. Curll did with great obstinacy refuse it; which made Mr. Lintot infer, that he chose to die, as thinking to recover greater damages.
All this time the symptoms increased violently, with acute pains in the lower belly. "Brother Lintot," says he, "I perceive my last hour approaching; do me the friendly office to call my partner, Mr. Pemberton, that we may settle our worldly affairs." Mr. Lintot, like a kind neighbour, was hastening out of the room, while Mr. Curll raved aloud in this manner: "If I survive this, I will be revenged on Tonson; it was he first detected me as the printer of these poems, and I will reprint these very poems in his name." His wife admonished him not to think of revenge, but to take care of his stock and his soul: and in the same instant Mr. Lintot, whose goodness can never be enough applauded, returned with Mr. Pemberton. After some tears jointly shed by these humane booksellers, Mr. Curll being, as he said, in his perfect senses, though in great bodily pain, immediately proceeded to make a verbal will, Mrs. Curll having first put on his night-cap, in the following
GENTLEMEN, in the first place, I do sincerely pray forgiveness for those indirect methods I have pursued in inventing new titles to old books, putting authors' names to things they never saw, publishing private quarrels for public entertainment; all which I hope will be pardoned, as being done to get an honest livelihood.
I do also heartily beg pardon of all persons of honour, lords spiritual and temporal, gentry, burgesses, and commonalty, to whose abuse I have any or every way contributed by my publications; particularly, I hope it will be considered, that if I have vilified his Grace the Duke of Marlborough, I have likewise aspersed the late Duke of Ormond; if I have abused the Honourable Mr. Walpole, I have also libelled the Lord Bolingbroke: so that I have preserved that equality and impartiality, which becomes an honest man in times of faction and division.
I call my conscience to witness, that many of these things, which may seem malicious, were done out of charity; I having made it wholly my business to print for poor disconsolate authors, whom all other booksellers refuse. Only God bless Sir Richard Blackmore! you know he takes no copymoney.
The second collection of poems, which I groundlessly called Mr. Prior's, will sell for nothing, and hath not yet paid the charge of the advertisements, which I was obliged to publish against him: therefore you may as well suppress the edition, and