Anecdotes, Observations, and Characters, of Books and Men: Collected from the Conversation of Mr Pope, and Other Eminent Persons of his Time by Joseph Spence
Joseph Spence (1699-1768) was ordained after graduating from Oxford, and having made the acquaintance of Alexander Pope, was helped by him to the professorship of poetry at Oxford, which he held for ten years from 1728. At the same time (and while holding the living of Birchanger in Essex) he began the first of several extended European journeys, accompanying nobility on the Grand Tour. He had published various literary works before his death in 1768, but left a number of manuscripts to be published at the discretion of his executors. They decided to take no action, but these anecdotes of Alexander Pope and his contemporaries came into the possession of a bookseller called Carpenter, who had them edited, and published them, prefaced with a life of Spence, in 1820. This is a fascinating compilation of anecdotes, aphorisms and biographical details about the most famous poet of his age.