POPE, Alexander. The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope, Esq. Three volumes in one.


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Glasgow: Printed by Andrew Foulis, Printer to the University, 1785. Folio. pp. [ii], xxxii, xxxviii, [1], 41-315, [1], [vi], 365, [3], 402, [4 (List of Subscribers)]. Signature and address of previous owner, John Edward Naghten on front free endpaper. Contemporary full tree calf, spine professionally rebacked. A very good copy. ESTC T200529.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744), an only child, was born in London in 1688, the year of the Glorious revolution. His father, a linen-draper, was forty-two, his mother forty-six. Both were Roman Catholics, and his father, Alexander Sr., retired from business after his son’s birth, perhaps because a new act of Parliament prohibited Catholics from living within ten miles of London. Between 1696 and 1700 Pope was tutored at home by a priest, and then enrolled in two Catholic schools, but he was largely self- educated. His religion would have made it impossible, at the time, to pursue a career in law or medicine or the Clergy even had he wished to: as a Catholic he was not, for example, permitted to attend a university. A precocious child, he could read Latin, Greek, French and Italian while still very young, and (according to his own account of the matter) was already, at sixteen, writing the rather sophisticated verse later published as his “Pastorals.” Characteristically, however, he would destroy a great deal of his juvenilia, the continued existence of which might have detracted from the image of the poet as child prodigy which he desired, later in life, to propagate.

Considered the foremost English poet of the early eighteenth century and a master of the heroic couplet, he is best known for satirical and discursive poetry, including The Rape of the Lock, The Dunciad, and An Essay on Criticism, and for his translation of Homer. After Shakespeare, he is the second-most quoted author in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, some of his verses having entered common parlance (e.g. “damning with faint praise” or “to err is human; to forgive, divine”).

This work is dedicated to the Earl of Mansfield, the Lord Viscount Stormont and to John Foster, Speaker of the House of Commons in Ireland. Each volume with separate pagination and register. With a list of subscribers at end of volume three. Each section with divisional half-title. Includes bibliographical references.



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