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RUFFHEAD, Owen (1723--1769)
The life of Alexander Pope, Esq. Compiled from original manuscripts; with a critical essay on his writings and genius. By Owen Ruffhead, Esq.
London: printed for C. Bathurst, H. Woodfall, W. Strahan, J. and F. Rivington, W. Johnston, B. White, T. Caslon, T. Longman, B. Law, Johnson and Payne, S. Bladon, T. Cadell, and the executors of A. Millar, 1769.
[6], 578 p., engr. frontis. ; 20.9 cm. (8°)

A variant has 'J. and T. Rivington' in the imprint. In his will Pope had left the copyright of his printed works to William Warburton, who published his collected edition of Pope's works in 1751 (q.v.) but passed the task of writing the poet's biography on the basis of his materials to Ruffhead. Dr Johnson said that Ruffhead 'knew nothing of Pope, and nothing of poetry', while the review in the Gentleman's Magazine for May 1769, commented 'Mr. Ruffhead says of fine passages, that they are fine, and of feeble passages, that they are feeble; but recommending poetical beauty, is like remarking the splendor of sunshine; to those who can see, it is unnecessary, and to those who are blind, absurd'. With a frontispiece engraving of the monument over Pope's tomb in Twickenham, by François Ravenet after Samuel Wale, incorporating a portrait medallion of Pope. ESTC t455; CBEL II, 512; Lowndes III, 2150.

Copy Notes Bought from Thomas Boone for 3s. 6d., 9 June 1804. (Priv. Corr. XVI.E.1.4). With Boone's hieroglyphs in pencil on the front free-endpaper. Traces of the removal of an earlier bookplate under Soane's spade-shield bookplate.

Binding C18th mottled calf, with red morocco backstrip, roll-tooled in gilt, glued over the original spine, probably to give the impression of uniformity with its neighbours on the shelves. Since Soane had no particular predilection for red bindings, and neither of his octavo sets of Pope (the most obvious contemporary shelf-companions for this book) are bound in red, this was almost certainly done by an earlier owner.

Reference Number 1492


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