Графични страници
PDF файл




From the Year 1704 to 1710.

* Mr. Pope to Mr. Wycherley.

·December 26, 1704.


T was certainly a great Satisfaction to me to fee and converse with a Man, whom in his Writings I had fo long known with Pleafure; but it was a high addition to it, to hear you, at our very firft meeting, doing juftice to your dead friend Mr. Dryden. I was not fo happy as to know him: Virgilium tantum vidi -Had I been born early enough, I must have known and lov'd him: For I have been affured, not only by your felf, but by Mr. Congreve and Sir William Trumbul, that his perfonal Qualities were as amiable as his Poetical, notwithftanding the many libellous Mifreprefentations of them, (against which the former of thefe Gentle

The Author's Age then Sixteen.
A 6


men has told me he will one day vindicate him.) I fuppofe thofe Injuries were begun by the Violence of Party, but 'tis no doubt they were continued by Envy at his fuccefs and fame: And those Scriblers who attacked him in his latter times, were only like Gnats in a Summer's Evening, which are never very troublesome but in the finest and most glorious Seafon; (for his Fire, like the Sun's, fhined cleareft towards its fetting.)

You must not therefore imagine, that when you told me of my own Performances, that they were above those Critics, I was fo vain as to believe it; and yet I may not be fo humble as to think my felf quite below their Notice. For Critics, as they are Birds of Prey, have ever a natural Inclination to Carrion and tho' fuch poor writers as I, are but Beggars, however no Beggar is fo poor but he can keep a Cur, and no Author is fo beggarly but he can keep a Critic. So I am far from thinking the Attacks of fuch People either any Honour or Difhonour, even to me, much lefs to Mr. Dryden. I think with you, that whatever leffer Wits have risen fince his Death, are but like Stars appearing when the Sun is fet; that twinkle only in his Abfence, and with the Rays they have borrowed from him. Our Wit (as you call it) is but reflection or Imitation, therefore fcarce to be called ours. True Wit, I believe, may be defined a Juftnefs of Thought, and a Facility of Expreffion; or (in the Midwives Phrafe) a perfect Conception, with an eafy Delivery. However, this is far from a compleat Definition; pray help me to a better, as I doubt not you can.

I am, &c.

He fince did fo, in his Dedication to the Duke of Newcale, prefix'd to Tonfon's Duodecimo Edition of Dryden's Plays, 1717.


Mr. Wycherley to Mr. Pope!

Jan. 25, 1704-5.


HAVE been fo bufy of late in correcting and tranfcribing some of my Madrigals, for a great Man or two who defired to fee them, that I have (with your Pardon) omitted to return you an Anfwer to your most ingenious Letter: So Scriblers to the Public, like Bankers to the Public, are profufe in their voluntary Loans to it, whilst they forget to pay their more private and particular, as more juft Debts, to their best and nearest Friends. However, I hope, you who have as much Good Nature as Good Senfe, (fince they generally are Companions) will have Patience with a Debtor, who you think has an Inclination to pay you his Obligations, if he had wherewithal ready about him; and in the mean time should confider, when you have obliged me beyond my prefent Power of returning the Favour, that a Debtor may be an honeft Man, if he but intends to be just when he is able, tho' late. But I fhould be lefs juft to you, the more I thought I could make a Return to fo much Profufeness of Wit and Humanity together; which tho' they feldom accompany each other, in other Men, are in you fo equally met, I know not in which you moft abound. But fo much for my Opinion of you, which is, that your Wit and Ingenuity is equalled by nothing but your Judgment, or Modefty; which (tho' it be to please myself) I must no more offend, than I can do either right.

Therefore I will fay no more now of them, than that your good Wit never forfeited your good Judgment, but in your Partiality to me and mine; fo that if it were poffible for a hardened Scribler to be

vainer than he is, what you write of me would make me more conceited, than what I fcribble my felf; yet I must confefs I ought to be more humbled by your Praise, than exalted; which commends my little Sense with so much more of your's, that I am difparaged and difheartened by your Commendations; who give me an Example of your Wit in the first Part of your Letter, and a Definition of it in the laft; to make writing well (that is, like you) more difficult to me than ever it was before. Thus the more great and juft your Example and Definition of Wit are, the lefs I am capable to follow them. Then the best way of fhewing my Judgment, after having feen how you write, is to leave off writing; and the best way to fhew my Friendship to you, is to put an End to your Trouble, and to conclude

Yours, &c.

Mr. POPE's Answer.

March 25, 1795.


HEN I write to you, I forefee a long Letter, and ought to beg your Patience beforehand; for if it proves the longeft, it will be of course the worst I have troubled you with. Yet to exprefs my Gratitude at large for your obliging Letter, is not more my Duty than my Intereft; as fome People will abundantly thank you for one Piece of Kindness, to put you in Mind of bestowing another. The more favourable you are to me, the more di̟ftinctly I see my Faults. Spots and Blemishes, you know, are never fo plainly difcovered as in the brightest Sunshine. Thus I am mortified by thofe Commendations which were defigned to encourage


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

me For Praise to a young Wit, is like Rain to a tender Flower; if it be moderately beftowed, it chears and revives; but if too lavifhly, overcharges and depreffes him. Moft Men in years, as they are generally discouragers of Youth, are like old Trees, that being paft bearing themselves, will fuffer 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 fuch as a Man naturally takes in obferving the firft Shoots and Buddings of a Tree which he has raifed himself and 'tis impoffible they fhould be esteemed any otherwife, than as we value Fruits for being early, which neverthelefs are the moft infipid, and the worst of the Year. In a Word, I must blame you for treating me with fo much Compliment, which is at beft but the Smoak of Friendship. I neither write, nor converse with you, to gain your Praife, but your Affection. Be fo 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 am, &c.

Mr. Wycherley to Mr. Pope.

March 29, 1705.


OUR Letter of the Twenty-fifth of March I have 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 I can find no Fault with it, but that it charges me with Want of

(a) His Paftorals, written at 16 Years of Age.


« ПредишнаНапред »