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fore leave your forest of beasts for ours of brutes, called men, who now in full cry (pack'd by the court or country) run down in the house of commons, a deserted horned beast of the Court to the satisfaction of their spectators : Besides, (more for your diversion) you may see not only the two great playhouses of the nation, those of the lords and commons, in dispute with one another ; but the two other play-houses in high contest, because the members of one house are removed up to t'other, as it is often done by the court for reasons of state. Insomuch that the lower houses, I inean the play-houses, are going to act tragedies on one another without doors, and the Sovereign is put to it (as it often happens in the other two houses) to silence one or both, to keep peace between them. Now I have told you all the news of the town.
I am, &c.
LET T E R X.
From Mr. Wycherley.
Feb. 5. 1705-6. I Have receiv'd your kind Letter, with my paper * I to Mr. Dryden corrected. I own you have made more of it by making it less, as the Dutch are said to burn half the spices they bring home to inhance the price of the remainder, so to be greater gainers by their loss, (which is indeed my case now.) Weil;
* The same which was printed in the Year 1717. in a Miscellany of Bern. Lintot's, and in the Pofthumous Works of Mr. Wycherley.
you have prun'd my fading lawrels of some superfuous, sapless, and dead branches, to make the remainder live the longer ; thus like your master Apollo, you are at once a poet and a physician.
Now, Sir, as to my impudent invitation of you to the town, your good nature was the first cause of my confident request ; but excuse me, I muft (I fee) fay no more upon this subject, since I find you a little too nice to be dealt freely with ; tho? you have given me some encouragement to hope, qur friendship might be without Thyness, or criminal modesty ; for a friend like a mistress, tho' he is not to be mercenary to be true, yet ought not to refuse a friends kindness because it is small or trivial: I have told you (I think) that a Spanish lady said to her poor, poetical gallant, that a Queen if she had to do with a groom, would expect a mark of his kindness from him, tho' it were but his curry-comb. But you and I will dispute this matter when I am so happy as to see you here; and perhaps 'tis the only dispute in which I might hope to have the better of you...
Now, Sir, to make you another excuse for my boldness in inviting you to town, I design'd to leave with you some of my papers, (since these return so much better out of your hands than they went from minc) for I intended (as I told you formerly) to spend a month, or fix weeks this summer, Lear you in the country, for you may be assured there is nothing I desire fo much, as an improvement of your fricadihip. .
Η ΕΕΤΤ Ε R
April 10, 1706. D Y one of yours of the last month, you desire
D me to select, if possible, some things from the f first volume of your Miscellanies, which may be alter'd so as to appear again. I doubted your meaning in this ; whether it was to pick out the best of those verses, (as that on the Idleness of business, on Ignorance, on Laizness, &c.) to make the method and numbers exact, and avoid repetitions? For cho' (upon reading 'em on this occafion) I believe they might receive such an alteration with advantage; yet they would not be chang'd so much, but any one would know 'em for the same at first sight. Or if you mean to improve the worst pieces ? which are such, as to render them very good, would require a great addition, and almost the entire new writing of them. Or, laitly, if you mean the middle sort, as the Songs and love-verses ? For these will need only to be short. ned, to omit repetition; the words remaining very little different from what they were before. Pray let me know your mind in this, for I am utterly at a loss. Yet I have try'd what I could do to some of the songs, and the poems on Laziness and Ignorance, but can't even in my own partial judgment) think my alterations much to the purpose. So that I must needs desire you wonld apply your care whcily at present to those which are yet unpublished, of which
+ Printed in folio, in the Year 1704.
there are more than enough to make a considerable volume, of full as good ones, nay, I believe, of better than any in vol. I. which I could with you would defer, at least 'till you have finish'd these that are yet unprinted.
I send you a fample of some few of these; namely, the verses to Mr. Waller in his old age ; your new ones on the Duke of Marlborough, and two others. I have done all that I thought could be of advantage to them: some I have contracted, as we do sun-beams, to improve their energy and force: some I have ta. ken quite away, as we take branches from a tree, to add to the fruit; others I have entirely new express'd, and turned more into poetry. Donne (like one of his successors) had infinitely more wit than he wanted ver. fification: for the great dealers in wit, like those in trade, take least pains to set off ther goods; while the haberdashers of small wit, spare for no decorations or ornaments. You have commiffion'd me to paint your shop, and I have done my best to brush you up like your neighbours. But I can no moro pretend to the merit of the production, than a midwife to the virtues and good qualities of the child the helps into the light.
The few things I have entirely added you will excuse; you may take them lawfully for your own, because they are no more than sparks lighted up by your fire : and you may omit them at last, if you think them but fquibs in your triumphs.
I am, &c.
* LETTER XII.
From Mr. Wycherley.
Nov. 1!, 1707. T Receiv'd yours of the gth yesterday, which has 1 (like the rest of your letters) at once pleas'd and instructed me; so that I assure you, you can no more wriţe too much to your absent friends, than speak too much to the present. This is a truth that all men own who have either seen your writings, or heard your discourse ; enough to make others show their judgment, in cea fing to write or talk, especially to you, or in your company. However, I speak or write to you, not to please you, but my self ; fince I provoke your answers; which whilft they humble me, give me vanity ; tha' I am lesen'd by you even when you commend me a fince you commend my little sense with so much more of yours, that you put me out of countenance, whill you would keep me in je. So that you have found a way (again# the custom of great wits) to Mew even a great deal of good nature with a great deal of good sense.
I thank you for the book you promis'd me, by which I find you would not only correct my lines, but my life,
As to the damn'd verses I entrusted you with, I hope you will let them undergo your purgatory, to fave them from other people's damning them : since the criticks, who are generally the first damn'd in this life, like the damn'd below, never leave to bring those above them under their own circumstances. I beg you to peruse my papers, and select what you C2