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In assuming the responsibility for the completion of this edition of Pope's writings, I must express a regret, which, I am confident, will be shared by all students of Pope, that unavoidable circumstances should have prevented the work from being finished by the hand which has already impressed upon it so distinct a character. Perhaps only a succeeding editor, after a painful experience of the perplexed, and almost hopeless, labyrinth of doubt and mystery, by which most of Pope's dealings are surrounded, can appreciate the full extent to which English literature has suffered by the loss of Mr. Elwin's patient and accurate investigations. I may, however, be permitted to hope that the reader, though he has been deprived of a knowledge and judgment which cannot be replaced, and though he may hereafter meet with opinions differing to some extent from those which have been expressed in the earlier part of the work, will have no reason to complain of any breach of continuity in the method in which the evidence, whether it tells against Pope or in his favour, is laid before him for consideration.
For the help I have received in a laborious task I have many acknowledgments to make. I cannot sufficiently thank Mr. Elwin for the patient kindness he has shown in answering the enquiries I have from time to time had occasion to make of him, for the valuable information with which he has furnished me, and for his liberality in allowing me to use his transcript of the Chauncy MS., which throws so much light on the meaning of Pope's satires. At the same time I desire very gratefully to acknowledge the kindness and courtesy I have met with from Mr. R. Garnett, Superintendent of the Reading Room at the British Museum, whose wide acquaintance with books, always generously placed at my disposal, has been of material assistance to me; and from Mr. E. M. Thompson, Keeper of the MSS. in the Museum, who has given me every facility for obtaining the facsimile of the draft of the Epistle to Jervas, which is inserted in this volume. My friend, the Rev. E. C. Wickham, Head Master of Wellington College, has been good enough to revise some interpretations of difficult passages in Horace, which I submitted to his judgment; and Mr. E. Ford, of Old Park, Enfield, has given me several valuable references, illustrating from an antiquarian point of view the meaning of Pope's text.