« הקודםהמשך »
Some scattered poems and songs still remained uncollected, and several so-called complete editions of Prior were brought out during the latter half of the last century, of which that published by Evans in 1779 has always been justly considered the best, though it is not free from misprints or omissions, e.g., it does not contain, curiously enough, many pieces published by Drift. Prior's Poems were included in Cooke's Miniature Poets, Anderson's Complete Edition of the Poets of Great Britain, 1793, Chalmers' Works of the English Poets from Chaucer to Cowper, (in which Dr. Johnson's Lives were reprinted), 1810, and the Aldine Poets, 1833; and they were edited by Gilfillan in 1858. Anderson's edition was a reprint of Evans', with the addition of eight poems which were first attributed to Prior in Nichols' Select Collection of Poems, 1780. Subsequent editions have been exact reprints of Andersons.
2. The Poems in these volumes as far as vol. II. p. 286, have all been reprinted from the folio edition of 1718, or from the collections of Evans and Drift (to the former of whom all footnotes are due), except A Paraphrase from the French, I. 183, and the Variations, I. 46, which are two of the eight poems mentioned above. The remaining six consist of When the cat is away the mice will play, The widow and her cat, and On the marriage of George Prince of Denmark and the Lady Anne, (the authenticity of which is discussed in the footnotes), with the Apology to a lady who told me I could not love her, because I had loved others, Against modesty in love, and On a young lady's going to town in the spring, which I have omitted, although Mitford included them, as earlier editors had done, on the authority of Nichols. Nichols stated that “from the manner in which these pieces are printed in the Oaford and Cambridge Miscellany Poems, there can be little doubt that they are Prior’s.” I find that this collection contains two pieces by Prior with his signature, some poems by other hands, and many with no signature—among them the above three. They come immediately after one of Prior's poems, but, as the other signed by him is in another part of the book, this affords no argument. The sources of all the other poems included here are explained in footnotes and appendices.
3. This edition is a revision of the Pickering Aldine of 1833, edited by the Rev". John Mitford, to whose learning and researches I am largely indebted. Since his day Mr. Austin Dobson has become the recognised authority on Prior,” and I must here express my special gratitude for the great kindness with which he has given me personal advice in the work, and has unhesitatingly put at my disposal the unpublished results of his labours in a field so peculiarly his own.
* Selected Poems of Matthew Prior, with an Introduction and Notes, by Austin Dobson, 1889 (Parchment Library).
Mr. Dobson's publication of extracts from the Memorandums concerning the late celebrated poet and statesman Mr. Matthew Prior. Copied from the manuscript of Sir James Montague, Lord Chief Baron of the Eachequer, has established certain details of Prior's history beyond dispute, and I have invariably adopted the statements of Sir James Montague where they differ from those of other biographers. He was an intimate friend of Prior's from his boyhood and is therefore a witness of the highest authority.
I have also to thank Professor John E. B. Mayor for his kindness in providing me with a manuscript supplement to his list of references to Prior in Notes and Queries, 2nd S. V. 355, and Messrs. Saxe-Wyndham, of Thornton Heath, and Morrison, of Tilsbury, Wilts, for allowing me to quote from letters in their possession, of which they very kindly sent me copies." . For information given in some of the footnotes I am indebted to Messrs. W. C. Hazlitt, W. P. Courtney, and C. E. Doble. My special thanks are also due to Mr. F. J. Sebley, of Cambridge, for the loan of early editions of Prior from his admirable library.
4. There remains an unpublished book of Prior's, part verse, part prose, which was read and admired by many of his contemporaries.
* These quotations are indicated in the footnotes as MS. Saxe-Wyndham, MS. Morrison respectively.
This has generally been spoken of as the Dialogues of the Dead, and originally formed part of the Duchess of Portland's curious collection. She was unwilling to publish it, because, says Beattie, “she could not bear to see her old friend criticised and censured by such people as the critical reviewers, etc.” It passed at one time into the hands of one Pont, a Recorder of Cambridge, and is now at Longleat among the valuable Prior papers belonging to the Marquis of Bath, to which I have unfortunately been unable to obtain access. These treasures are all catalogued in the 7th Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, p. 194, which gives the contents of the Dialogues of the Dead— a 4to volume in red morocco—as follows:– 1. Heads for a treatise upon Learning. 2. Essay upon Opinion. 3. Dialogue between Charles II, the Emperor and Clenard the Grammarian. 4. Dialogue between Mr. John Locke and the Seigneur de Montaigne. 5. Dialogue between the Vicar of Bray and Sir Thomas More. 6. Dialogue between Oliver Cromwell and his Porter, Pope, who was so often accused of not praising Prior, describes Nos. 3-6 as “four dialogues in prose, between persons of character very strongly opposed to one another, which I thought very good.” Dr Beattie praises especially No. 4, “an admirable piece of ridicula on the subject of Locke's philosophy, which WOL. I. b
seemed to him when he read it to be in wit and humour not nferior to the Alma itself,” while Nichols refers to the ingenuity of No. 5. R. B. J. 1892.
It should perhaps be mentioned that some doubts have been thrown upon the authenticity of the Miscellaneous Works of his late Excellency Matthew Prior, in 2 vols. described on page xi, the most definite expression of which came to my notice after these volumes had gone to press. In the Eleventh Report of the Historical Manuscript Commission, Appendix, Part V., p. 239, we find:—“1739, Nov. 6. Lincoln's Inn. —Heneage Legge to the Earl of Dartmouth.He found the book mentioned by his Lordship to be as he suspected only a trick of the booksellers, a specious title to make trash sell. What little pretends to be new is not authentic, and not worth 12d. instead of 12s. It is true Adrian Drift was executor to Mr. Prior, but has himself been dead many years, and all his papers are in the hands of Lord Oxford who is extremely, angry at such an imposition upon the world, tho' the publishers have had the impudence to dedicate the book to him. Shall not think of buying them unless his lordship gives further orders.”
I incline to think, however, that this is a hasty condemnation, and that we may believe the statement of the editor that he had obtained Prior's papers from the person to whom Drift gave them, after copies had been sent to Lord Oxford. The latter would probably have exposed the fraud if he had found that the volumes differed materially from the papers in his possession.