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when those incorrigible things, Poets, are once irrecoverably Be-Mus’d, the best way both to quiet them, and secure your felves from the Effects of their Frenzy, is to feed their Vanity; (which indeed for the most part is all that is fed in a Poet.)
You may believe me, I could be heartily glad that all
you say were as true, apply'd to me, as it would. be to your self, for several weighty Reasons ; but for none so much, as that I might be to you what you deserve; whereas I can now be no more, than is consistent with the small, thoutmost Capacity of,
Your ever affectionate Servant.
Mr. Pope to Mr. Wycherley.
07. 26, 1705. I to
the Country; from Will's Coffee-house to Windfor Foreft. I find no other Difference than this, betwixt the common Town-Wits, and the downright Country Fools; that the first are pertly in the Wrong, with a little more Flourish and Gaiety; and the last neither in the Right nor the Wrong, but confirmed in a stupid, settled Medium betwixt both. However, methinks these are most in the Right, who quietly and easily resign themselves over to the gentle Reign of Dulness, which the Wits must do at last, tho' after a great deal of Noise, Pother, and Refift
Ours are a sort of modeft, inoffensive People, who neither have Sense, nor pretend to any, but enjoy a jovial Sort of Dulness. They are commonly known in the World by the Name of honeft, civil Gentlemen. They live much as they ride, at
random ; a kind of hunting Life, pursuing with earneftness and hazard, something not worth the catching ; never in the way, nor out of it. I can't but prefer Solitude to the Company of all these ; for tho' a Man's felf may possibly be the worst Fellow to converse with in the World, yet one would think the Company of a Person whom we have the greatest regard to, and Affection for, could not be very unpleafant. As a Man in love with a Mistress, desires no Converfation but hers; fo a Man in Love with himfelf, (as most Men are) may be best pleased with his own. Besides, if the truest and most useful Knowledge be the Knowledge of our selves, Solitude conducing most to make us look into our felves, should be the most instructive State of Life. We see nothing more commonly, than Men, who for the sake of the circumstantial Part, and meer Outside of Life, have been half their Days rambling out of their Nature, and ought to be sent into Solitude to study themselves over again. People are usually spoiled instead of being taught, at their coming into the World; whereas by being more conversant with Obscurity, without any Pains, they would naturally follow what they were meant for. In a Word, if a Man be a Coxcomb, Solitude is his best School; and if he be a Fool, it is his best Sanctuary.
- These are good Reasons for my own Stay here, but I wish I could give you any for your coming hither, except that I earnestly invite you. And yet I can't help saying, I have fuffered a great deal of discontent that you do not, tho' I so little merit that
I must complain of the shortness of your last. Those who have most Wit, like those who have most Money, are generally most sparing of either.
Mr. Wycherley to Mr. Pope.
Nou. 5, 11705.
OURS of the 26th of Otober I have received,
as I have always done yours, with no little satisfaction, and am proud to discover by it, that you find Fault with the shortness of mine, which I think the best Excuse for it: And tho' they (as you fay) who have moft Wit or Money, are most sparing of either ; there are some who appear Poor to be thought Rich, and are Poor, which is my Case. I cannot but rejoice, that you have undergone so much difcontent for want of my company ; but if you have a mind to punish me for my fault, (which I could not help) defer your coming to Town, and" you will do it effectually. But I know your Charity always exceeds your Revenge, so that I will not despair of seeing you, who, in return to your inviting me to your Forest, invite you to. my Forest, the Town; where the Beasts that inhabit, tame or wild, of long Ears or Horns, purfue one another either out of Love or Hatred. You may have the Pleasure to see one Pack of Bloodhounds pursue another Herd of Brutes, to bring each other to their Fall, which is their whole Sport: Or, if you affect a less bloody Chace, you may fee a Pack of Spaniels, called Lovers, in a hot pursuit of a two-legged Vixen, who only flies the whole low'd Pack to be singled out by one Dog, who runs mute to catch her up the sooner from the rest, as they are making a Noise, to the Loss of their Game. In fine, this is the Time for all Sorts of Sport in the Town, when those of the Country cease; therefore leave your Forest of Beasts for ours of Brutes, called Men, who now in full Cry, (pack'd by the Court or Country) run down in the House of Commons, a deserted horned Beast of the Court to the Satisfa
etion of their Spectators : Besides, (more for your Diversion) you may fee not only the two great. Play-houses of the Nation, those of the Lords and Commons, in Dispute with one another ; but the two other Play-houses in high Contest, because the Members of one House-are removed up to t'other, (as it is often done by the Court for Reasons of State.) : İnsomuch that the lower Houses, I mean the Playhouses, are going to act Tragedies on one another without Doors, and the Sovereign is put to it (as it often happens in the other two Houses) to silence one or both, to keep Peace between them. Now I have told you all the News of the Town.
I am, &c.
Mr. Wycherley to Mr. Pope.
Febr. 5, 1705-6. I
Have received your kind Letter, with my *Paper
to Mr. Dryden corrected. Iown you have made more of it by making it less; as the Dutch are said to burn half the Spices they bring home to inhance the Price of the remainder, so to be greater Gainers by their Loss, (which is indeed my Cafe now.) Well ; you have pruned my fading Laurels of some superfluous, fapless, and dead Branches, to make the remainder live the longer ; thus like your Master Apollo, you are at once a Poet and a Physician.
Now, Sir, as to my impudent invitation of you to the Town, your Good Nature was the first Cause of my confident request; but excuse me, I must I see fay no more upon this Subject, since I find you a little too nice to be dealt freely with : tho'
* The same which was printed in the Tear 1717, in a Miscellany of Bern. Lintot's and in the present Edition of the Pofbumous Works of Mr. Wycherley:
you have given me some Encouragement to hope, our Friendship tho' young might be without
S'iyness, or criminal Modesty; for a Friend, like a Mistress, tho' he is not to be mercenary to be true, yet ought not to refuse a Friend's Kindness because it is small or trivial. I have told you (I think) that a Spanish Lady said to her poor, poetical Gallant, that a Queen if the lay with a Groom, would expect a Mark of his Kindness from him, tho it were but his Curry-comb. But you and I will dispute this Matter, when I am so happy to see you here ; and perhaps 'tis the only Dispute, in which I might hope to have the better of you.
Now, Sir, to make you another Excuse for my Boldness in inviting you to Town, I designed to leave with you some more of my Papers, (since these return so much better out of your Hands than they went from mine) for I intended (as I told you formerly) to spend a Month, or fix Weeks this Summer, near you in the Country ; for you may be afsured there is nothing I desire so much, as an Improvement of your Friendship
Mr. Wycherley to Mr. Pope.
March 22, 1705-6. Must lay a Penance upon you, which is to deMadrigals of mine, to pick out (if possible) some that may be so altered, that they may yet appear in Print again : I hope with better success than they hitherto have done. I will give you my Reason for this Request of mine, when I see you; which I am resolved shall be when I have done here, and at the Bath, where I design to go, and afterwards to spend two Months (God willing) with you at Binfield, or near it