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to put you in mind of bestowing another. The more favourable you are to me, the more distinctly I see my faults : Spots and blemishes, you know, are never so plainly discovered as in the brightest sunshine. Thus I am mortified by those commen. dations which were designed to encourage me: for praise to a young wit, is like rain to a tender flower; if it be moderately bestowed, it chears and revives ; but if too lavishly, overcharges and depreffes him. Moft men in years, as they are generally discouragers of youth, are like old trees, that being past bearing themselves, will suffer no young plants to flourish beneath them: but as if it were not enough to have out-done all your coævals in wit, you will excel them in good nature too. As for my (a) green effays, if you find any pleasure in them, it must be such as a man naturally takes in observing the first shoots and buddings of a tree which he has raised himself : and 'tis impossible they should be esteemed any otherwise, than as we value fruits for being early, which nevertheless are the most infipid, and the worst of the year. In a word, I must blame you for treating me with fo much compli. ment, which is at best but the smoak of friendship. I neither write, 'nor converse with you, to gain your praise, but your affection. Be so much my friend as to appear my enemy, and tell me my faults, if not as a young man, at least as an unexperienced Writer.
i me I am, &c.
(a) His Paftorals, written at 16 Years of Age. - B 3
* L E T T E R IV. From Mr. Wycherley.
March 29, 1705. VOUR letter of the twenty-fifth of March Í have
I received, which was more welcome to me than any thing could be out of the country, tho' it were one's rent due that day; and ļ can find no fault with it, but that it charges me with want of finceri. ty, or justice, for giving you your due; who should not let your modelty be so unjust to your merit, as to reject what is due to it, and call that com pliment, which is so short of your desert that it is rather degrading than exalting you. But if compliment be the smoak only of friendship, (as you say) however you must allow there is no smoak but there is some fire ; and as the facrifice of incense offered to the Gods would not have been half so sweet to others, if it had not been for its smoak ; so friendship, like love, cannot be without some incense, to perfume the name it would praise and immortalize. But since you say you do not write to me to gain my praise, but my affection, pray how is it possible to have the one without the other? we muft admire before we love, You affirm, you would have me so mnch your friend as to appear your enemy, and find out your faults rather than your perfections ; but (my friend) that would be so hard to do, that I who love no difficulties can't be persuaded to it. Besides, the vanity of a scribler is such, that he will never part with his own judgment to gratify another's; especially when he
must take pains to do it : and tho I am proud to be of your opinion, when you talk of any thing or man but your felf, I cannot suffer you to mur. der your fame with your own hand, without opposing you; especially when you say your last letter is the worst (since the longest) you have favoured me with ; which I therefore think the best, as the longest life (if a good one) is the best, as it yields the more variety and is the more exemplary; as a chearful summer's day, 'tho longer than a dull one in the winter, is less tedious and more entere taining. Therefore let but your friendship be like your letter, as lasting as it is agreeable, and it can never be tedious, but more acceptable and obliging to
* L ETTER V.
From Mr. Wycherley.
April 7, 1705. I Have received yours of the fifth, wherein your 1 modesty refuses the just praises I give you, by which you lay claim to more, as a bishop gains his bishoprick by saying he will not episcopate; but I must confess, whilft I displease you by commending you, I please my self just as incense is sweeter to the offerer than the deity to whom 'tis offered, by his being so much above it: For indeed every man partakes of the praise he gives, when it is so justly given.
As to my enquiry after your intrigues with the Muses, you may allow me to make it, since no old man can give fo young, so great, and able a favourite of theirs, jealousy. I am, in my enquiry, like old Sir Bernard Gascoign, who used to say that when he was grown too old to have his visits admitted alone by the ladies, he always took along with him a young man to ensure his welcome to them; for had he come alone he had been rejected, only because his visits were not scandalous to them. So I am (like an old rook, who is ruined by gaming) forced to live on the good fortune of the pushing young men, whose fancies are so vigorous that they ensure their success in their adventures with the Muses, by their strength of imagination.
Your papers are safe in my custody (you may be sure) from any one's theft but my own; for 'tis as dangerous to trust a scribler with your wit, as a gamester with the custody of your money..- If you happen to come to town, you will make it more difficult for me to leave it, who am
April 30, 1705. I Cannot contend with you. You must give me I leave at once to wave all your compliments, and to collect only this in general from them, that your design is to encourage me. But I separate from all the rest that paragraph or two, in which you make me so warm an offer of your Friendship. Were I
pofseffed possessed of that, it would put an end to all those speeches with which you now make me blush ; and change them to wholsome advices, and free sentiments, which might make me wiser and happier. I know 'tis the general opinion, that friendship is best contracted betwixt persons of equal age ; but I have so much interest to be of another mind, that you must pardon me if I cannot forbear telling you a few notions of mine, in opposition to that opinion.
In the first place 'tis obfervable, that the love we bear to our friends is generally caused by our find. ing the same dispositions in them, which we feel in our selves. This is but self.love at the bottom : whereas the affection betwixt people of different ages cannot well be so, the inclinations of such being commonly various. The friendship of two young men is often occasioned by love of pleasure or voluptuousness, each being defirous for his own fake of one to assist or encourage him in the courses he pursues ; as that of two old men is frequently on the score of some profit, lucre, or design upon others. Now, as a young man who is less acquainted with the ways of the world, has in all probability lefs of interest; and an olå man, who may be weary of himself, has, or should have less of self-love; so the friendship between them is the more likely to be true, and unmixed with too inuch self-regard. One may add to this, that such a friendship is of greater use and advantage to both; for the old man will grow gay and agreeable to please the young one; and the young man more discreet and prudent by the help of the old one: so it may prove a cure of those epidemical diseases of age and youth, fourness and madness. I hope you will not need many arguments to convince you of the possibility of this; one