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they never were written ; a counterfeited as from Bishop Atterbury to him, which neither that Bishop nor he ever saw b; and advertiz'd even after that period when it was made Felony to correspond with him.
I know not how it has been this Author's fate, whom both his Situation and his Temper have all his life excluded from rivalling any man, in any pretension, (except that of pleasing by Poetry) to have been as much aspers’d and written at, as any First Minister of his time: Pamphlets and News-papers have been full of him, nor was it there only that a private man, who never troubled either the world or common conversation with his opinions of Religion or Government has been represented as a dangerous member of Society, a bigotted Papist, and an enemy to the Establishment. The unwarrantable publication of his Letters hath at least done him this service, to show he has constantly enjoy'd the friendship of worthy men ; and that if a Catalogue were to be taken of his friends and his enemies, he needs not to blush at either. Many of them having been written on the most trying occurrences, and all in the
a. In Vol. 3. Letters from Mr. Pope to Mrs. Blount, &c. b. Vol. 2. of the same, 8° pag. 20.
and at the end of the Edition of his Letters in 120 · by the Booksellers of London and Westminster; and of the last Edition in 12° printed by T. Cooper, 1725.
openness of friendit.ip, are a proof what were his real Sentiments, as they flow'd warm from the heart, and freih from the occasion ; without the least thought that ever the world should be witness to them. Had he fate down with a design to draw his own Picture, he could not have done it so truly; for whoever fits for it (whether to himself or another) will inevitably find the features more compos’d, than his appear in these letters. But if an Author's hand, like a Painter's, be more distinguifliable in a slight sketch than in a finish'd picture, this very carelessness will make them the better known from such Counterfeits, as have been, and may be inputed to him, either thro' a mercenary, or a malicious design.
We hope it is needless to say, he is not accountable for several passages in the surreptitious editions of those letters, which are such as no man of common sense would have publish'd himself: The errors of the press were almost innumerable, and could not but be extreamly multiply'd in so many repeated editions, by the Avarice. and Negligence of pyratical Printers, to not one of whom he ever gave the least Title, or any other encouragement than that of not prosecuting them.
For the Chasms in the correspondence, we had not the means to supply them, the Author having deitroy'd too many letters to preserve any Series. Nor would he go about to amend them, except by the omission of some passages,, improper, or at least impertinent, to be divulg'd to the publick: or of such entire letters, as were either not his, or not approv'd of by him.
He has been very sparing of those of his Friends, and thought it a respect shown to their memory, to suppress in particular such as were most in his favour. As it is not to Vanity but to Friendship that he intends this Monument, he would save his Enemies the mortification of showing any farther how well their Betters have thought of him : and at the same time secure from their censure his living Friends, who (he promises them) shall never be put to the blush, this way at least, for their partiality to him.
But however this Collection may be receiv'd, we cannot but lament the Cause and the New cessity of such a publication, and heartily will no honest man may be reduc'd to the same. To state the case fairly in the present situation. A Bookseller advertises his intention to publish your Letters : He openly promises encouragement, or even pecuniary rewards, to those who will help him to any ; and ingages to insert whatever they shall send : Any scandal is sure of a reception, and any enemy who sends it skreen'd from a discovery. Any domestick or servant, who can snatch a letter from your pocket or cabinet, is encouraged to that vile praetife. If the quantity falls fhort of a volume, any thing else thall be join’d with it (more
daw si hi such as of all cuppress the to publiotherwise,
especially scandal) which the collector can think for his interest, all recommended under your Name : You have not only Theft to fear, but Forgery. Any Bookfeller, tho' conscious in what manner they were obtain'd, not caring what may be the consequence to your Fame or Quiet, will sell and disperse them in town and country. The better your Reputation is, the more your Name will cause them to be demanded, and consequently the more you will be injur’d. The injury is of such a nature, as the Law (which does not punish for Intentions) cannot prevent ; and when done, may punish, but not redress. You are therefore reduc'd, either to enter into a personal treaty with such a man, (which tho' the readiest, is the meanest of all methods) or to take such other measures to suppress them, as are contrary to your Inclination, or to publish them, as are contrary to your Modesty. Otherwise your Fame and your Property suffer alike ; you are at once expos'd and plunder'd. As an Author, you are depriv'd of that Power which above all others constitutes a good one, the power of rejecting, and the right of judging for your self, what pieces it may be most useful, entertaining, or reputable to publish, at the time and in the manner you think beft. As a Man, your are depriv'd of the right even over your own Sentiments, of the privilege of every human creature to divulge or
conceal them; of the advantage of your Second thoughts; and of all the benefit of your Prudence, your Candour, or your Modesty. As a Member of Society, you are yet more injur'd; your private conduct, your domestick concerns, your family fecrets, your passions, your tendernesses, your weaknesses, are expos’d to the Misconstruction or Resentment of some, to the Censure or Impertinence of the whole world. The printing private letters in such a manner, is the worst sort of betraying Conversation, as it has evidently the most extensive, and the most lasting, ill consequences. It is the highest offence against Society, as it' renders the most dear and intimate intercourse of friend with friend, and the most necessary commerce of man with man, unsafe, and to be dreaded. To open Letters is esteem’d the greatest breach of honour; even to look into them already open'd or accidentally dropt, is held an . ungenerous, if not an immoral Act. What then can be thought of the procuring them merely by Fraud, and the printing them me ely for Lucre? We cannot but conclude every honest man will wish, that if the Laws have as yet provided no adequate remedy, one at least may be found, to prevent so great and growing an eyil,