« AnteriorContinuar »
think best or most tolerable, and look over them again; for I resolve suddenly to print some of them, as a harden'd old gamester will (in spite of all former ill usage by fortune) puch on an ill hand in expectation of recovering himself; especially since I have such a Croupier or Second to stand by me as Mr. Pope.
* LETTER XIII.
Nov. 20. 1707. M ER. Englefyld being upon his journey to London,
M tells me I must write to you by him, which I do not more to comply with his desire, than to gratify my own; tho' I did it so lately by the mes. senger you sent hither : I take it too as an opportu-: nity of sending you the fair copy of the poem (a) on Dulness, which was not then finish'd, and which I hould not care to hazard by the common post. Mr. Englefyld is ignorant of the contents, and I hope your prudence will let him remain so, for my fake no less than your own: since if you should reveal any thing of this nature, it would be no wonder reports should be rais'd, and there are those (I fear) who would be ready to improve them to my disadvantage. I am sorry you told the great man, whom you met in the court of requests, that your papers were in my hands : no man alive shall ever know any such
(a) The Original of it in blots, and with figures of the References from copy to copy, in Mr. Pope's hand, is get extant, among other fucb Broüillons of Mr. Wycherley's poems, corrected by bim.
thing from me; and I give you this warning besides, that tho' your self should say I had any ways assisted you, I am notwithstanding resolv'd to deny it.
The method of the copy I send you is very different from what it was, and much more regular: for the better help of your memory, I desire you to compare it by the figures in the margin, answering to the fame in this letter. The poem is now divided into four parts, mark'd with the literal figures 1. 2. 3. 4. The first contains the Praise of Dulness, and shews how upon several suppositions, it passes for 1. religion. 2. philosophy. 3. example. 4. wit. and 5. the cause of wit, and the end of it. The fecond part contains the Advantages of Dulness; ift in bu finess; and 2dly, at Court; where the fimilitudes of the Byass of a bowl, and the Weights of a clock, are directly tending to the subject, tho' introduced before in a place where there was no mention made of those advantages, (which was your only objecton to my adding them.) The third contains the Happiness of Dulness in all stations, and shews in a great many particulars, that it is so fortunate as to be esteem'd some good quality or other in all sorts of people ; that it is thought quiet, sense, caution, po. licy, prudence, majesty, valour, circumspection, honeity, &c. The fourth part I have wholly added, as a climax which sums up all the praise, advantage, and happinses of Dulness in a few words, and strengthens them by the opposition of the disgrace, disadvantage, and unhappiness of Wir, with which it concludes (6.)
(6) This is totally omitted in the present Edition : Some of the lines are these.
Tho' the whole be as fhort again as at first, there is not one thought omitted, but what is a repetition of something in your first volume, or in this very paper : some thoughts are contracted, where they feem'd encompass'd with too many words; and some new exprefs'd; or added, where I thought there wanted heightning, (as you'll fee particularly in the Simile of the clock-weights ;(6.Jand the verfification throughout is, I believe, such as no body can be fhock'd at. The repeated permissions you give me of dealing freely with you, will (I hope) excufe what I have done : for if I have not fpard you when I thought severity would do you a kindness, I have not mangled you where I thought there was no absolute need of amputation. As to particulars, I can satisfy you better
Thus Dulness, the safe opiate of the mind,
(c) It was originally thus express'd :
As Clocks run fastest when most lead is on. in a Letter of Mr. Pope to Mr. Wycherley, dated April 3, 1705, and in a paper of verses of bis, To the Author of a Poem callid Succeffio, which got out in a Miscellany in 1712, three years before Mr. Wycherley died, and two after he had laid aside the whole design of publishing any poems.
when we meet; in the mean time pray write to me when you can, you cannot too often.
* LETTER XIV.
From Mr. Wycberley.
Nov. 22, 1707. Y OU may fee by my stile, I had the happiness
1 and satisfaction to receive yesterday by the hands of Mr. Englefyld your extream kind and obliging letter of the 20th of this month; which like all the rest of yours, did at once mortify me, and make me vain ; since it tells me with so much more wit, sense and kindness than mine can express, that my letters are always welcome to you. So that even whilft your kindness invites me to write to you, your wit and judgment forbid me; since I may return you a letter, but never an answer.
Now, as for my owning your assistance to me, in over-looking my unmufical numbers, and harsher fense, and correcting them both with your genius, or judgment; I muft tell you I always own it, (in spite of your unpoetick modefty) who would do with your friendship as your charity; conceal your bounty to magpify the obligation ; and even whilft you lay on your friend the favour, acquit him of the debt: but that shall not serve your turn; I will always own, 'tis my infallible Pope has, or would redeem me from a poetical damning, the second time; and save my rhimes from being condemn'd to the criticks flames to all eternity ; but (by the faith you profess) you know your works of fupererrogation, transfer'd upon
an humble, acknowledging finner, may save even him; having good works enough of your own besides, to ensure yours, and their immortality
And now for the pains you have taken to recommend my Dulness, by making it more methodical, I give you a thousand thanks ; since true and natural dulness is hown more by its pretence to form and method, as the sprightliness of wit by its despising both. I thank you a thousand times for your repeated invitations to come to Binfield : You will find, it will be as hard for you to get quit of my mercenary kindness to you, as it would for me to deserve, or return to yours ; however it shall be the endeayour of my future life, as it will be to demonstrate my self
L ETTER XV.
Nov. 29, 1707; T HE compliments you make me, in regard of
1 any inconsiderable service I could do you, are very unkind, and do but tell me in other words, that my friend has so mean an opinion of me, as to think I expect acknowledgme:ts for trifles: which upon my faith I fall equally take amiís, whether made to my self, or to any other. For God's sake, (my dear friend) think better of me, and believe I defire no fort of favour so much, as that of serving you more considerably than I have been yet able to do. .
I shall proceed in this manner with some others of your pieces ; but since you desire I would not deface your copy for the future, and only mark the