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against Curll, that he starved William Pattison to
death, has been sufficiently exploded. The scandalous
statement was first circulated in print by Pope, and
so far from starving him, it is certain that Curll not
only provided him with an asylum in his own house,
but defrayed the expenses of medical attendance.
Pattison's 'Poetical Works' were printed in 1728 for
' H. Curll,' and published at 6s. ; whilst to the post-
humous ' Memoir ' it appears that Pope and Eusden,
among others, were subscribers.

Reference has already been made to Curll's insa-
tiable desire for publishing the last Wills of peers,
which caused Arbuthnot to wittily observe to Swift that
Curll was ' one of the new terrors of death ;' but from
an announcement in 'An Impartial History, &c., of Mr.
John Barber,' 1741, we learn that the Lives and last
Wills and Testaments of no less than thirty-one more
or less eminent persons were published by him, and
included those of Tillotson, Atterbury, Burnet (Bishop



Edm und Cur II. 257

Walter), Curll, Halifax, Talbot, Price, Congreve, Addi-
son, Prior, Locke, Tindal, South, Partridge (the
astrologer), John Gay, Wilks, Ashmole, Walter Moyle,
William King, Mrs. Manley, &c.

The only one of these publications which involved
Curll in a lengthy correspondence was that of Dr.
Matthew Tindal, which was alleged to have been
altered by Eustace Budgell in his own favour. The
controversy between Budgell and Pope, in which Curll
also figures, is of much too abstract a character to be
here fully discussed. It must, therefore, suffice us to
say that a very short time only elapsed between
Tindal's death and the publication by Curll of 'A
True Copy of the Last Will and Testament .... of
Matthew Tindal,' 1733, which was perhaps followed
shortly afterwards by ' Memoirs of the Life and
Writings of Matthew Tindal.' Curll's energy was
naturally offensive to Budgell, who, in the Bee of
October 6, characterized Curll's 'Life of Dr.
Tindall ' as a ' scandalous imposition upon the
public.' ' The person who wrote and published this
senseless piece of stuff, was a fellow whose character
all mankind are acquainted with ; who, we are
credibly informed, has been obliged several times to
walk about Westminster Hall with a label about his
neck, and has once already stood in the pillory. We
are sorry to see ourselves obliged to stain our pens
with the name of such a creature, yet since it must
out, we will name at once the most perfect com-
pendium of impudence and wickedness by naming
CURLL the bookseller.' The ' Memoirs ' are dedi-
cated by 'E. C.,' September 10, 1733, to Mrs.

s



258 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

Lucy Price, relict of Mr. Justice Price, and it is from
this lady that Curll obtained his materials. Much
literary warfare, arising chiefly on side-issues, was the
outcome of the contact between Budgell and Curll ;
and on one occasion, it is said, that when the former
was passing through Fleet Street, he met a shabby
fellow, who set upon him in the open street, calling
him the rogue who scribbled in the Bee, the villain
who wrote against the Government, and the fellow
that forged a Will. This pugnacious person is stated
to be Henry Curll, who was, if this rumour be true,
on the high way to rivalling his father in notoriety.
Mr. Budgell is reported to have retired into a shop,
whilst Henry challenged him to fight, and further
promised that if he and his father caught him in
Burleigh Street, he should never more get out of it.
Probably the entire story was a fabrication.

Concerning Henry and his movements scarcely
anything is known. Nichols quotes an advertise-
ment from the Daily Post of August 7, 1730, which
announced that ' Henry Curll, bookseller, in Bow
Street, Covent Garden, leaving off business at Michael-
mas next, hereby gives notice, that the following books
may (till that time) be had at his house above men-
tioned, at the following prices, after which they will
be raised ; ' and then comes an enumeration of the
topographical works named ante, p. 237. Henry is
said to have kept a separate shop in Henrietta Street.
(See Post Boy, July 26, 1726.)

Curll's frequent removals from one shop to another
can scarcely be regarded as indications of success.
Duringrather less than forty years he had in succession



Edmund Cur II. 259

no fewer than seven habitations. The first was at the
Peacock, without Temple Bar, but from here he seems
to have moved in 1710 to the Dial and Bible against
St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet Street, where he
remained for ten years, having published Hale's
' Discourse of the Several Dignities and Corruptions '
'next the Temple Coffee-house ' in 1720. He then
tried Paternoster Row, where, in 1720, he published
Jacob's ' Lives of the Poets; ' but this locality seems
to have soon disgusted him, as he did not remain
there more than a year or so. Humphrey Broad-
bent's ' Domestick Coffee-man,' 1722, was dated from
' against Catherine Street ' in the Strand, and the
stay at this locality was one of six or seven years.
The Daily Post, February 7, 1729-30, contained
an advertisement from Curll of the publication of
some original MSS. in the Heralds' Office and the
Bodleian Library, in three volumes octavo, which
were ' Printed only for E. Curll, at his Literatory, in
Bow Street, Covent Garden, next door to Will's
Coffee-house.' In 1733 we find him publishing, inter
alia, ' The Life of that Eminent Comedian, Robert
Wilks, Esq./ at Burghley Street, in the Strand ; but
about a couple of years later he again removed to
the vicinity of Covent Garden, in Rose Street, and at
the sign of Pope's Head, and he seems to have re-
mained here to the end of his busy, if not prosperous,
life.

Mr. Curll's intentions in the famous Miscellany line
were no doubt good enough from one point of view.
But his efforts were not highly praised by some ; for
instance, Swift writes, May 14, 1711, 'That villain

S 2



2 6o The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

Curl has scraped up some trash, and calls it Dr. Swift's
" Miscellanies/' with the name at large, and I can get
no satisfaction of him.' This feeling of animosity
was heightened as time went on, so that on August
30, 1716, he says : c I had a long design upon the
ears of that Curl, when I was in credit, but the rogue
would never allow me a fair strike at them, although
my penknife was ready drawn and sharp.' Curll's
scheme of making up a ' Miscellany ' that would
appeal to a wide circle was simple enough, and, it
must be confessed, dishonest enough. He was con-
stantly on the alert in the hope of picking up some-
thing smart or smutty in the way of verse, and if it
bore the remotest resemblance to any work of Swift,
or Pope, or Gay, or indeed of anybody else of note, the
piece in question was duly secured. The particular
Miscellany to which Swift alludes in the above extract
was probably ' A Meditation upon a Broom-Stick,
and somewhat beside, of the same Author,' which was
issued in 1710 from the Dial and Bible, against St.
Dunstan's Church in Fleet Street. This was again
published, in 1711, with six other tracts by Swift, under
the generic title of ' Miscellanies,' by Dr. Jonathan
Swift. And this rule of including something stale
among that which was new was almost always ob-
served by Curll, perhaps as much from force of
circumstances as from choice. When Pope and
Swift published their own authorized ' Miscellanies in
Prose and Verse,' (1727), Curll brought out 'Miscel-
lanea ' in five volumes, and the last one of these Mr.
Curll modestly declares, in the dedication to Dr.
Towne, to be 'the pin-basket of my collections for



Edmund Cur II. 261

the year seventeen hundred and twenty-six.' Many
of the pieces in these volumes, labelled ' by Dr. Swift,"
and ' by Mr. Pope/ were not written by either, as Curll
must have very well known. (See Antiquarian
Magazine, vii. 157 and 268.)

' The Dunciad 'appeared in 1727, and that Curll re-
ceived plenty of attention will be quite understood, for
of all Pope's enemies none was more pertinacious than
the bookseller. The honour of the most frequent
reference is about equally divided between Curll and
John Dennis, the critic. Of all the Dunces, Curll takes
precedence, being mentioned, in connection with his
'chaste press,' in the fortieth line of Book I. The
second book opens with these lines :

' High on a gorgeous seat, that far outshone
Henley's gilt tub, or Fleckno's Irish throne,
Or that whereon her Curls the public pours,
All-bounteous, fragrant grains and golden show'rs,
Great Gibber sate.'

Pope, in a note, explains the reference to Curll,
whom, he says, ' stood in the pillory at Charing Cross,
in March 1727-8,' which Curll states was in February
and not March. Perhaps even Pope wrote nothing
more ' beastly ' than that concerning the bookseller
which follows the quotation given ante, pp. 211-212.
Pope's note to this last reference is one of the most
characteristic in the whole poem. It is much too good
to be omitted here, particularly as the greater part of
it is not included in most modern editions of Pope's
' Works.' ' We come to a character of much respect,
that of Mr. Edmund Curll. As a plain repetition of
great actions is the best praise of them, we shall only



262 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

say of this eminent man, that he carried the trade
many lengths beyond what it ever before had arrived
at ; and that he was the envy and admiration of all
his profession. He possessed himself of a com-
mand over all authors whatever ; he caused them to
write what he pleased ; they could not call their very
names their own. He was not only famous among
these ; he was taken notice of by the State, the Church,
and the Law, and received particular marks of dis-
tinction from each.

' It will be owned that he is here introduced with all
possible dignity : He speaks like the intrepid Diomed ;
he runs like the swift-footed Achilles ; if he falls, 'tis
like the beloved Nisus ; and (what Homer makes to
be the chief of all praises) he is favoured of 'the Gods ;
he says but three words, and his prayer is heard ; a
Goddess conveys it to the seat of Jupiter : Though he
loses the prize, he gains the victory ; the great Mother
herself comforts him, she inspires him with expedients
she honours him with an immortal present (such as
Achilles receives from Thetis, and ^Eneas from Venus)
at once instructive and prophetical : After this he is
unrivalled and triumphant.

' The tribute our author here -pays him is a grace-
ful return for several unmerited obligations : Many
weighty animadversions on the public affairs, and
many excellent and diverting pieces on private persons
has he given to his name. If ever he owed two verses
to any other, he owes Mr. Curll some thousands. He
was every day extending his fame, and enlarging his
writings : Witness innumerable instances ; but it shall
suffice only to mention the " Court Poems," which he



Edmund Cur II. 263

meant to publish as the work of the true writer, A
Lady of Quality ; but being first threatened, and after-
wards punished for it by Mr. Pope, he generously
transferred it from her to him, and ever since printed
it in his name. The single time that he ever spoke to
C. was in that affair, and to that happy incident he
owed all the favours since received from him/

It can hardly be a matter of surprise if the' favours '
increased rather than diminished after the appearance
of ' The Dunciad,' considering that Pope remarked of
his old enemy,

' Obscene with filth the miscreant lies bewray'd,
Fall'n in the plash his wickedness had laid:
Then first (if poets aught of truth declare)
The catiff vaticide conceiv'd a pray'r,' &c.

In the same book (the second), the bookseller is
again referred to as the ' shameless Curll.' In a note
to the I42nd line of Book II., re the expression ' his
rueful length of face ' used in the context, Pope grimly
remarks, after a quotation from Misfs Journal^ to
the effect that a decrepid person or figure of a man
are no reflections upon his genius : 'This genius and
man of worth, whom an honest man should love, is Mr.
Curll. True it is, he stood in the Pillory, an incident
which will lengthen the face of any man, tho' it were
ever so comely, therefore is no reflection on the natural
beauty of Mr. Curll.' Concerning those ' damn'd to
Fame,' in the third book, we read :

' Some strain in rhyme ; the Muses, on their racks,
Scream like the winding of ten thousand jacks :
Some free from rhyme or reason, rule or check,
Break Priscian's head, and Pegasus's neck ;



264 The Earlier History oj English Bookselling.

Down, down they larum, with impetuous whirl,
The Pindars, and the Miltonsof a Curl.'



This famous satire called forth from Curll's press or
shop ' A Compleat Key to the Dunciad,' [which ran
through several editions ; ' The Popiad,' of Dennis ;
4 The Curliad,' by Curll, who also assisted in collecting
materials for ' The Female Dunciad,' which contained
'TheMetamorphosis of Mr. Pope into a Stinging Nettle/
by Mr. Foxton, who was not honoured with a place in
' The Dunciad,' and who was, perhaps, angry in conse-
quence ; ' The Dunciad Dissected,' by Curll, and Mrs.
Thomas (' Corinna ') ; ' Remarks on the Dunciad,' by
Dennis, in addition to several others not enumerated.
Nearly all of the foregoing were issued in a popular
form and at a popular price.

The last great literary battle that took place between
Pope and Curll was concerning the publication of the
former's letters, a transaction which for its involved
trickery has scarcely any rival in literary annals.
The squabble really originated in 1727, when Curll
gave Mrs. Thomas, a cast-off mistress of Henry
Cromwell, the sum of ten guineas for some letters
which Pope had in his early career addressed to this
distant relative of the whilom Lord Protector. Pope's
poetical fame was still at its zenith, and from this and
other circumstances the unauthorized publication of
his letters made a stir, and naturally sold well. This
was highly gratifying to Pope's vanity, but he pre- ,
tended to be angry. In 1728, his old enemy and rival,
Lewis Theobald, edited the posthumous works of
Wycherley, which furnished Pope with a groundless



Edmund Cur II. 265

pretext for publishing the dramatist's correspondence.
This was another example of his insatiable vanity.

From the success which his volume of Pope's letters
had met with, Curll made the utmost efforts to obtain
a further supply. He advertised, and gave it to be
understood that he neither wanted to know nor cared
where the letters came from, so long as he could get
them. This offer was too generous ; for he was im-
posed upon by purchasing some epistolary communi-
cations addressed by Voitureto Mdlle. Rambouillet as
Pope's to Miss Blount. Curll's project received unex-
pected assistance from an extraneous quarter. But
previous to this Pope had received Lord Oxford's
sanction to allow the Wycherley letters to be deposited
in his library, a fact to be duly mentioned in the pre-
face. Pope further told Oxford that he had given his
bookseller instructions to say that copies of the letters
had been obtained from his Lordship, a process which
would at once appear as if Oxford and the bookseller
were the sole and ' authorized ' persons responsible
for the publication. But this was hardly good enough,
even for the weak, good-natured son of Queen Anne's
famous minister. Another dodge was tried, and
success was the result. After begging the return of
his letters from various friends, upon various pretexts,
he employed some one, a mysterious P. T., whose
identity is still involved in the most complete obscu-
rity, to sell them to Curll with a view to publication.
P. T. wrote Curll in 1733, offering a collection of letters,
' from the early days of Pope to the year 1727.' The
matter remained in abeyance for some time. In
March, 1735, he writes thus to Pope : 'Sir, To con-



266 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

vince you of my readiness to oblige you, the enclosed
is a demonstration. You have, as he says, disobliged
a gentleman, the initial letters of whose name are P. T.
I have some other papers in the same hand, relating to
your family, which I will show, if you desire a sight
of them. Your letters to Mr. Cromwell are out of
print ; and I intend to print them very beautifully, in
an octavo volume. I have more to say than is proper
to write ; and if you will give me a meeting, I will
wait on you with pleasure, and close all differences
between you and yours, E. CURLL.'

This was a splendid opportunity for Pope, and the
only return Curll got for his honest and well-meaning
attempt at conciliation was an insulting advertisement
in the Daily Post Boy, couched in these terms :
' Whereas A. P. hath received a letter from E. C,
bookseller, pretending that a person, the initials of
whose name are P. T., hath offered the said E. C. to
print a large Collection of Mr. P.'s letters, to which
E. C. required an answer : A. P. never having had,
nor intending to have, any private correspondence
with the said E. C., gives it him in this manner :
That he knows no such person as P. T. ; that he
believes he hath no such collection ; and that he
thinks the whole a forgery, and shall not trouble
himself at all about it.' Curll replied, denying he had
endeavoured to correspond with Mr. Pope, and
affirms that he had written to him by direction.

The shadowy P. T. once again looms in the fore-
ground, and accuses Curll of having betrayed him ' to
Squire Pope, but you and he both shall soon be con-



Edmund C^trll. 267

vinced it was no forgery.' And further, as Curll had
not complied with the request to advertise, P. T. had
the letters printed at his own expense, and offers to
sell Curll some copies, an offer which it is almost
needless to say was accepted. Still P. T. himself
holds back. According to Dr. Johnson, ' Curll said,
that one evening a man in a clergyman's gown, but
with a lawyer's band, brought and offered for sale a
number of printed volumes, which he found to be
Pope's epistolary correspondence ; that he asked no
name, and was told none, but gave the price de-
manded, and thought himself authorized to use this
purchase to his own advantage/ This ' short, squat '
go-between assumed the name of R. Smith, or
Smythe, and 240 copies of the work were delivered.

On May J2, 1735, the Daily Post contained the
following advertisement : ' This day are published,
and most beautifully printed, price 5^., Mr. Pope's
" Literary Correspondence for Thirty Years," from
1704 to 1734, being a collection of Letters regularly
digested, written by him to the Earls of Halifax and
Burlington ; Craggs, Trumbull, Digby, Edward Blount,
Addison, Congreve, Wycherley, Walsh, Steele, Gay,
Arbuthnot, etc. With the respective answers of each
correspondent. Printed for E. Curll in Rose Street,
Covent Garden ; and sold by all the booksellers.
N.B. The original manuscripts (of which affidavit is
made) may be seen at Mr. Curll's House, by all who
desire it.' But, to quote D'Israeli, ' at this moment
Curll had not received many books, and no MSS. The
advertisement produced the effect designed ; it roused
public notice, and it alarmed several in the House of



2 68 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

Lords. Pope doubtless instigated his friends there.
The Earl of Jersey moved, that to publish letters of
Lords was a breach of privilege ; and Curll was
brought before the House. This was an unexpected
incident; and P. T. once more throws his dark shadow
across the path of Curll to hearten him, had he wanted
courage to face all the lords. P. T. writes to instruct
him in his answers to their examination, but to take
the utmost care to conceal P. T. ; he assures him that
the lords could not touch a hair of his head if he
behaved firmly ; that he should only answer their
interrogatories by declaring he received the letters
from different persons ; that some were given, and
some were bought.'

On the very same day as that on which Curll's
advertisement appeared in the Daily Post Boy, the
following entry (reprinted by Mr. Thorns) was
made on the Lords' Journal: 'Die Lunae, 12 Maij,
1735. Books Printed for Curll to be seized. Notice
was taken to the House of at\ Advertisement printed
in the newspaper intituled The Daily Post Boy, Mon-
day, May 12, 1735, in these words (videlicet),' and
then follows the advertisement already quoted. After
it had been read by the Clerk, it was ordered ' that
the Gentleman Usher of the Black. Rod attending
this House, do forthwith seize or cause to be seized
the impression of the said Book ; and that the said E.
Curll, together with J. Wilford, at the Three Flower
de Luces behind the Chapter House near St. Paul's,
for whom the said newspaper is said to be Printed, do
attend this House to-morrow/ Accordingly ' to-
morrow,' Tuesday, May 13, the two ' attended.' A



Edmund CurlL 269

postponement until the following day was agreed
upon, after a special Committee had been formed. On
Wednesday the examination actually took place,
although their lordships were unable to discover any-
thing tending towards a breach of their privileges ;
but Pope's friend, Lord Hay, pointed out that the
copy of the book under examination which he had,
had, on the I i/th page, a letter from Mr. Jervas which
contained an abuse of the Earl of Burlington, but
that letter the Committee were unable to find in
the copy before them. When questioned as to whether
the book delivered to the Committee contained the
whole of what he published, Curll said that the par-
ticular book was more than he published, for this had
a preface and a title-page, which he never saw before
he came before the Committee. There were, he said f
two parcels sent to him; the first he received himself,
and the other parcel was left at his house with his
wife, when he was not at home, which he had not
opened when they were seized ; those that he had sold
had not the title and preface. Their lordships entered
into a categorical examination as to the methods by
which he came possessed of the letters, but adjourned
the inquiry until ' to-morrow morning, 10 o'clock.'

The Committee met with no better success on
Thursday, May 15, and proposed to report to the
House that as they had not found any letter of a
lord printed in the said book, they conceive that the
printing of it is not contrary to the Standing Order,
and are of opinion that the said Books should be
delivered back to the said Curll. This Report was
agreed to, and Curll once more came ofF in flying



2 7O The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

colours. On the same day, and just previous to his
last appearance before the Lords, Curll writes this
letter to 'the Rev. Mr. Smith:' 'Dear Sir, lam
just going to the Lords to finish Pope. I desire you
to send me the sheets to perfect the first fifty books,
and likewise the remaining three hundred books ; and
pray be at the Standard Tavern this evening, and I
will pay you twenty pounds more. My defence is
right ; I only told the lords I did not know from
whence the books came, and that my wife received
them. This was strict truth, and prevented all further
inquiry. The lords declared they had been made
Pope's tools. I put myself on this single point, and
insisted, as there was not any Peer's letter in the
book, I had not been guilty of any breach of privilege.
I depend that the books and the imperfections will be
sent, and believe of P. T. what I hope he believes
of me/

This letter apparently irritated the reverend non-
entity and his associate P. T., for they charge Curll
with endeavouring to betray them to the Lords.
Again Curll was duped, and promptly on Friday,
May 1 6, 1735, he answers the charges preferred
against him thus: 'Sir, ist, I am falsely accused.
2. I value not any man's change of temper ; I will
never change my veracity for falsehood, in owning
a fact of which I am innocent. 3. I did not own
the books came from across the 'water, nor ever named
you ; and as you told me everybody knew you in
Southwark, I bid him make a strict inquiry, as I am
sure you would have done in such an exigency.
4. Sir, I have acted justly in this afifair, and that is



Edmund Curll. 271

what I shall always think wisely. 5. I will be kept
no longer in the dark; P. T. is Will-d-the- Wisp ;
all the books I have had are imperfect ; the first fifty
had no titles nor prefaces ; the last five bundles seized
by the Lords contained but thirty-eight in each


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