« ПредишнаНапред »
Sincerity, or Justice, for giving you your Due; who fhould not let your Modefty be fo unjust to your Merit, as to reject what is due to it, and call that Compliment which is fo fhort of your defert, that it is rather degrading than exalting you. But if Compliment be the Smoak only of Friendship, (as you fay) however you must allow there is no Smoak but there is fome Fire; and as the Sacrifice of Incense offered to the Gods would not have been half fo sweet to others, if it had not been for its Smoak; fo Friendship, like Love, cannot be without fome Incenfe, to perfume the Name it would praise and immortalize. But fince you fay you do not write to me to gain my Praife, but my Affection, pray how is it poffible to have the one without the other? We must admire before we love. You affirm, you would have me fo much your Friend as to appear your Enemy, and find out your Faults rather than your Perfections: But (my Friend) that would be fo hard to do, that I who love no Difficulties, can't be perfuaded to it. Befides, the Vanity of a Scribler is fuch, that he will never part with his own Judgment to gratify another's; efpecially 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 yourself, I cannot fuffer you to murder your Fame, with your own Hand, without oppofing you; efpecially when you fay your last Letter is the worst (fince the longeft) you have favoured me with; which I therefore think the beft, as the Jongeft Life (if a good one) is the beft, 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 lefs tedious and more entertaining. 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
Mr. Wycherley to Mr. Pope.
April 7, 1705.
Have received yours of the fifth, wherein your Modefty refuses the juft Praifes I give you, by which you lay Claim to more, as a Bishop gains his Bishoprick, by faying he will not Epifcopate ; but I must confefs, whilft I displease you by commending you, I please my felf; juft as Incenfe is fweeter to the Offerer than the Deity to whom 'tis offered, by his being fo much above it: For indeed, every Man partakes of the Praise he gives, when it is fo juftly given.
As to my enquiry after your Intrigues with the Mufes, you may allow me to make it, fince no old Man can give fo young, fo great, and able a Favourite of theirs, Jealoufy. I am, in my Enquiry, like old Sir Bernard Gafcoign, who used to fay, That when he was grown too old to have his Vifits admitted alone by the Ladies, he always took along with him a young Man, to ensure his Welcome to them; who, had he come alone had been rejected, only because his Vifits 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, whofe Fancies are fo vigorous, that they enfure their Succefs in their Adventures with the Mufes, by their Strength of Imagination. Your Papers are fafe in my Custody (you may be fure) from any one's Theft but my own ; for 'tis as dangerous to truft a Scribler with your Wit, as a Gamefter with the Cuftody of your Money. If you happen to come to Town, you will make it more difficult for me to leave it, who am, dear Mr. Pope, ·
Mr. Pope's Answer.
April 30, 1705.
Cannot contend with you.
I Coupline give me
to collect only this in general from them, that your Defign is to encourage me. But I feparate from all the reft that Paragraph or two, in which you make me fo warm an Offer of your Friendship. Were I poffeffed of That, it would put an End to all those Speeches with which you now make me blush; and change them to wholfome Advices, and free Sentiments, which might make me wifer and happier. I know 'tis the general Opinion, that Friendship is best contracted betwixt Perfons of equal Age; but I have fo much Intereft to be of another Mind, that you must pardon me if I cannot forbear telling you a few Notions of mine, in oppofition to that Opinion.
In the first place 'tis obfervable, that the Love we bear to our Friends is generally caufed by our finding the fame Difpofitions in them, which we feel in our felves. This is but Self-love at the Bottom: Whereas the Affection betwixt People of different Ages cannot well be fuch, the Inclinations of fuch being commonly various. The Friendship of two young Men is often occafioned by Love of Pleasure or Voluptuoufnefs, each being defirous, for his own fake, of one to aflift or encourage him in the Courfes he purfues; as that of two old Men is frequently on the fcore of fome Profit, Lucre, or Defign upon others. Now, as a young Man who is lefs acquainted with the Ways of the World, has in all probability lefs of Intereft; and an old Man, who may be
Mr. Wycherley was at this Time about Seventy Lears old, Mr. Pope under Seventeen.
weary of himself, lefs of Self-love; fo the Friendship between them is the more likely to be true, and unmixed with too much Self-regard. One may add to this, that fuch a Friendship is of greater Ufe and Advantage to both; for the old Man will grow gay and agreeable to please the young one; and the young Man more difcreet and prudent by the help of the old one fo it may prove a Cure of thofe epidemical Difeafes of Age and Youth, Sournefs and Madness. I hope you will not need many Arguments to convince you of the Poffibility of this; One alone abundantly fatisfies me, and convinces to very Heart; which is, that I am, &c.
Mr. Pope to Mr. Wycherley.
June 23, 1705. Should believe my felf happy in your good Opinion, but that you treat me fo much in a Style of Compliment. It has been obferved of Women, that they are more fubject in their Youth to be touched with Vanity, than Men, on Account of their being generally treated this Way; but the weakeft Women are not more fo than that weak Clafs of Men, who are thought to pique themselves upon their Wit. The World is never wanting, when a Coxcomb is accomplishing himself, to help to give him the finishing Stroke.
Every Man is apt to think his Neighbour overftock'd with Vanity, yet I cannot but fancy, there are certain Times, when moft People are in a dispofition of being informed; and 'tis incredible what a vaft Good a little Truth might do, fpoken in fuch Seafons. A very fmall Alms will do a great Kindnefs, to People in extream Neceffity.
I could name an Acquaintance of yours, who would at this Time think himself more obliged to you for the Information of his Faults, than the Confirmation of all his Follies. If you would make those the Subject of a Letter, it might be as long as I could with your Letters always were.
I do not wonder you have hitherto found fome difficulty (as you are pleased to say) in writing to me, fince you have always chofen the Task of commending me: Take but the other way, and I dare engage you will find none at all.
As for my Verfes which you praise so much, I may truly. fay they had never been the caufe of any Vanity in me, except what they gave me when they firft occafioned my acquaintance with you. But I have several times fince been in Danger of this Vice, as often, I mean, as I received any Letters from you.
'Tis certain, the greateft magnifying Glaffes in the World are a Man's own Eyes, when they look upon his own Perfon; yet even in those, I cannot fancy my felf fo extremely like Alexander the Great, as you would perfuade me. If I must be like him, 'tis you will make me fo, by complimenting me into a better Opinion of my felf than I deferve. They made him think he was the Son of Jupiter, and you affure me I am a Man of Parts. But is this all you can fay to my Honour? You faid ten times as much before, when you call'd me your Friend. After having made me believe I poffefs'd a Share in your Affection, to treat me with Compliments and fweet Sayings, is like the Proceeding with poor Sancho Panca: They had perfuaded him that he enjoy'd a great Dominion, and then gave him nothing to fubfift upon but Wafers and Marmalade. In our Days, the greatest Obligation, you can lay upon a Wit, is to make a Fool of him. For as when Madmen are found incurable, wife Men give them their Way, and please them as well as they can; fo when