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repetitions; I must, as soon as I've mark'd these, transcribe what is left on another paper; and in that, blot, alter, and add all I can devise, for their inprovement. For you are sensible, the omission of Repetitions is but one, and the easiest part, of yours and my design ; there remaining besides to rectify the Method, to connect the Matter, and to mend the Expression and Versification. I will go next upon the *poems of Solitude, on the Publick, and on the mixt Life; the bill of Fare; the praises of Avarice and some others.
I must take notice of what you say, of “my pains " to make your dulness methodical; ” and of your " hint, that the sprightliness of wit despises method.” This is true enough, if by wit you mean no more than fancy or conceit; but in the better notion of wit, consider'd as propriety, surely method is not only necessary for perspicuity and harmony of parts, but gives beauty even to the minute and particular thoughts, which receive an aditional advantage from. those which precede or follow in their due place : according to a fimile Mr. Dryden us’d in conversation, of feathers in the crowns of the wild Indians, which they not only chuse for the beauty of their colours, but place them in such a manner as to reflect a lustre on each other. I will not disguise any of my fentiments from you: to methodize in your case, is full as necessary as to strike out; otherwise you had bet. ter destroy the whole frame, and reduce them into single thoughts in prose, like Rochfoucault, as I have more than once hinted to you.
L ETT ÉR XVI....
From Mr. Wycherley.
Feb. 28, 1707-8. T Have had yours of the 23d of this instant, for 1 which I give you many thanks, since I find by it, that even absence (the usual bane of love, or friend. ship) cannot lessen yours, no more than mine. As to your hearing of my being ill, I am glad, and sorry for the report : in the first place, glad that it was not true; and in the next sorry that it shou'd give you any disturbance, or concern more than ordinary for me ; for which, as well as your concern for my future well-being or life, I think my self most eternally oblig'd to you; alluring, your concern for either will make me more careful of both. Yet for your fake I love this life so well, that I fall the less think of the other; but 'tis in your power to ensure my happiness in one and the other, both by your fociety, and good example, so not only contribute to my felicity here, but hereafter.
Now as to your excuse for the plainness of your stile, I must needs tell you, that friendlhip is much more acceptable to a true friend than wit, which is generally false reasoning; and a friend's reprimand often fhews more friendship than his compliment: nay love, which is more than friendship, is often seen by our friend's correction of our follies or crimes. Upon this test of your friendship I intend to put you when I return to London, and thence to you at Binfield, which I hope will be within a month,
Next to the news of your good health, I am pleas'd with the good news of your going to print some of your Poems, and proud to be known by them to the publick for your friend ; who intend (perhaps the fame way) to be reveng'd of you for your kindness ; by taking your name in vain in some of my future madrigals : yet so as to let the world know, my love or esteem for you are no more poetick than my talent in scribbling. But of all the arts of fiction, I desire you to believe I want that of feigning friend. fhip, and that I am sincerely
* LEITÉ Ř XVII.
From Mr. Wycherley.
May 13, 1708. I Have receiv'd yours of the first of May. Your
Pastoral mufe outfhines in her modeft and natural dress all Apollo's court-ladies, in their more artful, labour'd, and coftiy finery. Therefore I am glad to find by your letter you design your coun. try-beauty of a mufe shall appear at court and in publick : to outshine all the farded, lewd, confident, affected Town-dowdies, who aim at being honour'd only to their shame : but her artful innocence (on che contrary) will gain more honour as she becomes publick; and in spite of custom will bring modesty again into fashion, or at least make her sister-rivals of this age blush for spite, if not for Name. As for my stale, antiquated, poetical pufs, whom you would keep in countenance by saying she has once
been tolerable, and wou'd yet pass muster by a little licking over ; it is true that (like most vain antiquated jades which have once been passable) The yet affects youthfulness in her age, and wou'd still gain a few admirers, (who the more the feeks or labours for their liking, are but more her contemners.} Nevertheless she is resolv'd henceforth to be so cautious as to appear very little more in the world, except it be as an Attendant on your muse, or as a foil, not a rival to her wit, or fame: so that let your Country-gentlewoman appear when she will in the world *, iny old worn-out jade of a loft reputation, Thall be her attendant into it, to procure her admirers ; as an old whore who can get no more friends of her own, bawds for others, to make sport or pleasure yet, one way or other, for mankind. I approve of your making Tonson your muse's introductor into the world, or master of the ceremonies, who has been so long a pimp, or gentleman-ulher to the muses.
* This, and what follows, is a full confutation of John Dennis and others, who aserted that Mr. Pope wrote these Verses on himself, (tho' publish'd by Mr. Wycherley six years before his death.) We find here it was a voluntary Aet of his, promis'd before-band, and written while Mr. Pope was abjent. The first Broüillon of thoje verjes, and the second Copy with corrections, are both yet extant in Mr. Wycherley's own hand : In another of his letters of May 18, 1708. are these words. “ I have made a damn'd Compliment in verse upon " the printing your Pastorals, which you shall see “ when you see me."
. I will
I wilh you good fortune; since a man with store of wit, as store of mony, without the help of good fortune, will never be popular; but I wilh you a great many admirers, which will be some credit to my judgment as well as your wit, who always thought you had a great deal, and am
May 17, 1709. T Must thank you for a book of your Miscellanies I which Tonson lent me, I suppose by your order; and all I can tell you of it is, that nothing has lately been better receiv'd by the publick, than your part of it. You have only displeas'd the criticks by pleasing them too well; having not left them a word to say for themselves, against you and your performances ; so that now your hand is in you must persevere, 'till my prophecies of you be fulfill'd. In earnest, all the best judges of good sense or poetry, are admirers of yours; and like your part of the book fo well, that the rest is lik’d the worse. This is true upon my word, without compliment; so that your first success will make you for all your life a poet, in spite of your wit; for a poet's success at first, like a gamelter's for. tune at first, is like to make him a lofor at last, and to be undone by his good fortune and merit.
But hitherto your miscellanies have safely run the gantlet, through all the coffee-houses; which are now entertain'd with a whimsical new news-paper, callid