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alone abundantly satisfies me, and convinces to the heart ; which is, that * young as I am, and old as you are, I am your entirely affectionate, &c.
June 23, 1705. T Should believe my self happy in your good opiI nion, but that you treat me so much in a style of compliment. It has been observed of women, that they are more subject in their youth to be touched with vanity, than men, on account of their being generally treated this way; but the weakest women are not more weak than that class of men, who are thought to pique themselves upon their wit. The world is never wanting, when a coxcomb is accomplishing himself, to help to give him the finishing stroke.
Every man is apt to think his neighbour over. stock’d with vanity, yet I cannot but fancy there are ceriain times, when most people are in a difposition of being informed ; and 'tis incredible what a vast good a little truth might do, spoken in such seasons. A small alms will do a great kindness, to people in extream necessity.
I could name an acquaintance of yours, who would at this time think himself more obliged to you for the information of his faults, than the confirmation of his follies. If you would make those the subject of a letter, it might be as long as I could wish your letters always were.
* Mr. Wycherley was at this time about seventy years old, Mr. Pope under seventeen.
I do not wonder you have hitherto found some difficulty (as you are pleased to say) in writing to me, fince you have always chosen the task of commending me : take but the other way, and I dare engage you will find none at all.
As for my verses which you praise so much, I may truly say they have never been the cause of any vanity in me, except what they gave me when they first occasioned my acquaintance with you. But I have several times since been in danger of this vice, as often I mean as I received any letters from you. 'Tis eertain, the greatest magnifying glasses in the world are a man's own eyes when they look upon his own person ; yet even in those, I cannot fancy my self fo extremely like Alexander the great, as you would perfuade me. If I must be like him, 'tis you will make me so, by complimenting me into a better opinion of myself than I deserve : They made him think he was the fon of Jupiter, and you assure me I am a man of parts. But is this all you can say to my honour ? you said ten times as much before, when you call'd me your friend. After having made me believe I possess'd à share in your affection, to treat me with compliments and sweet sayings, is like the proceeding with poor Sancho Panca : they persuaded him that he enjoy'd a great dominion, and then gave him nothing to fubfift upon but wafers and marmalade. In our days, the greatest obligation you can lay upon a wit, is to make a fool of him. For as when madmen are found incurable, wise men give them their way, and please them as well as they can ; so when those incorrigible things Poets are once irre. coverably be-mus'd, the best way both to quiet them, and secure your self from the effects of their frenzy,
is to feed their vanity, (which indeed for the most part is all that is fed in a poet.)
You may believe me, I could be heartily glad that all you say were as true apply'd to me, as it would be to your self, for several weighty reasons; but for none so much as that I might be to you what you deserve ; whereas I can now be no more than is consistent with the small tho' utmost capacity of, &c.
Oet. 26, 1705. I Have now changed the scene from the town to 1 the country ; from Will's coffee-house to Wind. for forest. I find no other difference than this, betwixt the common town-wits, and the downright country fools; that the first are pertly in the wrong, with a little more flourish and gaiety ; and the last neither in the right nor the wrong, but confirmed in a stupid, settled medium betwixt both. However, methinks these are most in the right, who quietly and easily resign themselves over to the gentle reign of dulness, which the Wits must do at last tho' after a great deal of noise, and resistance. Ours are a sort of modest inoffensive people, who neither have sense, nor pretend to any, but enjoy a jovial sort of dulness : They are commonly known in the world by the name of hönelt, civil gentlemen: They live much as they ride, at random ; a kind of hunting life, pursuing with earneftness and hazard, something not worth the catching ; never in the way, nor out of it. I can't but
prefer solitude to the company of all these; for tho' à man's self may poffibly be the worst fellow to converse with in the world, yet one would think the company of a person whom we have the greatest regard to and affection for, could not be very un. pleasant. As a man in love with a mistress, desires no conversation but hers, so a man in love with himself, (as most men are) may be best pleased with his own. Besides, if the trueit and most useful knowledge be the knowledge of our felves, solitude conducing most to make us look into our selves, should be the most instructive state of life. We see nothing more commonly, than men, who for the fake of the circumstantial part and meer outside of life, have been half their days rambling out of their nature, and ought to be sent into solitude to itudy themselves over again. People are usually spoiled instead of being taught, at their coming into the world; whereas by being more conversar.c with Obscurity, without any pains, they would naturally follow what they were meant for. In a word, if a man be a coxcomb, Solitude is his best School; and if he be a fool, it is his best Sanctuary.
These are good reasons for my own stay here, but I wish I could give you any for your coming hither, except that I earnestly invite you. And yet I can't help saying I have suffered a great deal of discontent that you do not come, tho? I so little merit that you should.
I mult compiain of the shortness of your last. Those who have most svit, like those who have inott money, are generally most sparing of either.
LETIER *L ET TER IX.
From Mr. Wycherley.
Noo. 5, 1705. V Ours of the 26th of O&tober I have received,
I as I have always done yours, with no little fatif. faction, and am proud to discover by it, that you find fault with the shortness of mine, which I think the best excuse for it: And tho' they (as you fay) who have most wit or money are molt sparing of either; there are some who appear poor to be thought rich, and are poor, which is my case. I cannot but rejoice that you have uudergone so much discontent for want of my company; but if you have a mind to punih me for my fault, (which I could not help) defer your coming to town, and you will do it effectually. But I know your charity always exceeds your revenge, so that I will not despair of seeing you, and, in return to your inviting me to your forest, invite you to my forest, the town; where the beasts that inhabit, tame or wild, of long ears or horns, pursue one another either out of love or hatred. You may have the pleasure to fee one pack of bloodhounds pursue another herd of brutes, to bring each other to their fall, which is, their whole sport : Or if you affect a less bloody chace, you may lee a pack of spaniels, calied Lovers, in a hot pursuit of a two-legged vixen, who only flies the whole loud pack to be singled out by one dog, who runs mute to catch her up the sooner from the rest, as they are making a noise to the loss of their game. In fine, this is the time for all sorts of sport in the town, when those of the country cease; there