1735 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lewis Theobald

Anonymous, in The Poet finish'd in Prose, being a Dialogue concerning Mr. Pope and his Writings (1735) 54-55.



A. Then for poor Theobald, Mr. Pope has treated him so inhumanly. As to the Laugh he has raised against him, if it ended there, I could readily excuse it, and so could Mr. Theobald I dare say, because 'tis done with a good Deal of Wit and Humour; but his Property is really affected. Mr. Pope's Diversion is fatal to Mr. Theobald. This is errant Knavery, and, without Restitution, I don't see how all Mr. Pope's Priests can absolve him.

B. What has he done to him? I presume he has neither robb'd his House, nor pick'd his Pocket.

A. No; but he has done something that is tantamount to both; for by setting him in a very ridiculous Point of Light, he prevented Numbers of People from subscribing to Theobald's Edition of Shakespear, and still prejudices its Sale.

B. But consider the Provocation.

A. 'Tis not four Hours since I read the Account of it in the Notes to the Dunciad; and I can by no Means think it sufficient to justify a Piece of Conduct which carries along with it downright Immorality.

B. Are you acquainted with Theobald?

A. I assure you I never saw the Man in my Life: But I am angry with Mr. Pope for misleading me. I was desired, a great while ago, to subscribe to Shakespear. I thought the Gentleman mad that ask'd me, and refused him. Such was the Prejudice Mr. Pope had given me against Theobald, and I don't know but I might hinder several others from subscribing. When the Edition came out, I could not help being sorry for my Conduct; for I must be of Opinion, that the English Nation has great Obligations to the Man who has given 'em to correct an Edition of one of their best Poets. 'Tis probable many Hundred besides my self may have been led into the same Error by the Dunciad.