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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 46.djvu/125

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Pope
Pope
119

He then published some of Wycherley's remains, including their correspondence, as a supplement to Theobald's volume. The book, however, failed. No copy is known to exist, and the sheets were used by Pope in his next performance. The Hervey and Lady Mary quarrel apparently stimulated his desire to set forth his own virtues, and it now occurred to him to make a tool of his old enemy Curll. He had in 1716 administered an emetic to Curll on behalf of Lady Mary [see Curll, Edmund], and, besides publishing the Cromwell letters. Curll had advertised a life of Pope. Pope's object was to secure the publication of his letters and, at the same time, to make it appear that they were published in spite of his opposition. In order to accomplish this, he employed an agent, supposed (see Warton's Essay, ii. 339, and Johnson) to have been a painter and low actor, named James Worsdale. Worsdale, calling himself R. Smythe, told Curll that a certain P. T., a secret enemy of Pope, had a quantity of Pope's correspondence, and was willing to dispose of the printed sheets to Curll. Curll, after some negotiations, agreed to publish them. Pope arranged that the book, as soon as published, should be seized by a warrant from the House of Lords, on the ground that it was described in an advertisement (dictated by Worsdale) as containing letters from peers. Pope had, however, contrived that no such letters should be in the sheets delivered to Curll. The books were therefore restored to Curll, and Pope had the appearance of objecting to the publication while, at the same time, he had secretly provided for the failure of his objection. Curll became unmanageable, told his story plainly, and advertised the publication of the 'initial correspondence' — i.e. the correspondence with 'R. Smythe' and 'P.T.,' which accordingly came out in July. Pope, however, anticipated this by publishing in June, through a bookseller named Cooper, a 'Narrative of the Method by which Mr. Pope's Private Letters were procured by Edmund Curll.' This did not correspond to its title. No light was thrown upon the really critical question how Curll could have obtained letters which could only be in Lord Oxford's library or in the possession of Pope himself. The publication, however, seems to have thrown tne public off the scent ; and, though Curll's pamphlet gave sufficient indications of the truth and suspicions of Pope's complicity were current, his manoeuvres were not generally penetrated, and their nature not established till long afterwards.

Curll, however, issued a new edition of the 'P. T.' letters, and advertised a second volume. This appeared in July 1735, but contained only three letters from Atterbury to Pope, two of which had been already printed. Pope took advantage of this to advertise that he was under a necessity of printing a genuine edition. He proposed in 1730 to publish this by subscription, at a guinea for the volume. The scheme would have fallen through but for Ralph Allen [q. v.], who was so much impressed by the benevolence exhibited in the published letters that he offered to bear the expense of printing. The book finally appeared 18 May 1737, and the copyright was bought by Dodsley. Pope's preface pointed out now he had unconsciously drawn his own portrait in letters written 'without the least thought that ever the world should be a witness to them.' Pope had, in fact, not only carefully revised them, but materially altered them. His friend Caryll died 6 April 1736, and Pope treated the letters really addressed to him as raw materials for an imaginary correspondence with Addison, Steele, and Congreve, which, for a long period, perverted the whole history of their relations. The discovery by Charles Wentworth Dilke [q. v.] of Caryll's letter-book, in the middle ot this century, led to the final unravelling of these tortuous manœuvres.

Pope afterwards carried on a similar intrigue of still more discreditable character. He seems to have considered Curll as outside of all morality. But he next made a victim of his old friend Swift. He had obtained his own letters from Swift in 1737, who sent them through Orrery, after long resisting the proposal. Pope had the letters printed and sent the volume to Swift, with an anonymous letter, suggesting their publication, and saying that if they fell into the hands of Pope or Bolingbroke they would be suppressed. Swift, whose mind was failing, gave the volume to his bookseller, Faulkner. Pope ventured to protest, and Faulkner thereupon offered to suppress the letters. Orrery, to whom Pope applied, also provokingly recommended their suppression as 'unworthy to be published.' Pope now had to affect to be certain that the letters would come out in any case, and they finally appeared in London in 1741, with a statement that they were a reprint from a Dublin edition. The great difficulty was to explain how the letters from Swift to Pope, which had never been out of Pope's hands, could be obtained. Pope endeavoured to pervert ambiguous statements due to Swift's failing powers into an admission that the letters on both sides were in Swift's hands. He tried to throw the blame upon Swift's kind friend, Mrs.