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when those incorrigible things, Poets, are once irrecoverably Be-Mus'd, the best way both to quiet them, and fecure 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 fay were as true, apply'd to me, as it would. be to your felf, for feveral weighty Reasons; but for none fo much, as that I might be to you what you deserve; whereas I can now be no more, than is confiftent with the small, tho' utmoft Capacity of,
Your ever affectionate Servant.
Mr. Pope to Mr. Wycherley.
On. 26, 1705.
I Have now changed the Scene from the Town 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 firft 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, fettled Medium betwixt both. However, methinks these are most in the Right, who quietly and eafily refign themselves over to the gentle Reign of Dulnefs, which the Wits must do at last, tho' after a great deal of Noife, Pother, and Refiftance. Ours are a fort of modeft, inoffenfive People, who neither have Senfe, nor pretend to any, but enjoy a jovial Sort of Dulnefs. They are commonly known in the World by the Name of honeft, civil Gentlemen. They live much as they ride, at random;
random; a kind of hunting Life, purfuing with earneftness and hazard, fomething not worth the catching; never in the way, nor out of it. I can't but prefer Solitude to the Company of all thefe; for tho' a Man's felf may poffibly be the worst Fellow to converfe 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 Miftrefs, defires no Converfation but hers; fo a Man in Love with himfelf, (as most Men are) may be best pleased with his own. Befides, if the truest and most useful Knowledge be the Knowledge of our felves, Solitude conducing moft to make us look into our felves, fhould be the most instructive State of Life. We fee nothing more commonly, than Men, who for the fake of the circumftantial Part, and meer Outside of Life, have been half their Days rambling out of their Nature, and ought to be fent 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 converfant with Obfcurity, 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.
-Thefe are good Reafons 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 faying, I have fuffered a great deal of difcontent that you do not, tho' I fo little merit that you fhould.
I must complain of the fhortness of your last. Those who have most Wit, like those who have most Money, are generally moft fparing of either.
Mr. Wycherley to Mr. Pope.
Nov. 5, 11705.
OURS of the 26th of October 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 fhortness of mine, which I think the best Excufe for it: And tho' they (as you fay) who have most Wit or Money, are moft fparing of either; there are fome who appear Poor to be thought Rich, and are Poor, which is my Cafe. I cannot but rejoice, that you have undergone fo 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, fo that I will not defpair of feeing you, who, in return to your inviting me to your Foreft, invite you to. my Foreft, the Town; where the Beafts that inhabit, tame or wild, of long Ears or Horns, purfue one another either out of Love or Hatred. You may have the Pleafure to fee one Pack of Bloodhounds purfue another Herd of Brutes, to bring each other to their Fall, which is their whole Sport: Or, if you affect a lefs bloody Chace, you may fee a Pack of Spaniels, called Lovers, in a hot purfuit of a two-legged Vixen, who only flies the whole low'd Pack to be fingled out by one Dog, who runs mute to catch her up the fooner from the reft, as they are making a Noife, to the Lofs of their Game. In fine, this is the Time for all Sorts of Sport in the Town, when thofe of the Country ceafe; therefore leave your Foreft of Beasts for ours of Brutes, called Men, who now in full Cry, (pack'd by the Court or Country) run down in the Houfe of Commons, a deferted horned Beaft of the Court to the Satisfa
Єtion of their Spectators: Befides, (more for your Diverfion) you may fee not only the two great. Play-houses of the Nation, thofe of the Lords and Commons, in Difpute 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.): İnfomuch 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 filence 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. Have received your kind Letter, with my *Paper to Mr. Dryden corrected. I own you have made more of it by making it lefs; as the Dutch are faid to burn half the Spices they bring home to inhance the Price of the remainder, fo to be greater Gainers by their Lofs, (which is indeed my Cafe now.) Well; you have pruned my fading Laurels of fome fuperfluous, faplefs, and dead Branches, to make the remainder live the longer; thus like your Mafter 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 Caufe of my confident requeft; but excufe me, I muft I fee fay no more upon this Subject, fince I find you a little too nice to be dealt freely with: tho'
*The fame which was printed in the Year 1717, in a Mifcellany of Bern. Lintot's and in the prefent Edition of the Pofthumous Works of Mr. Wycherley.
you have given me fome Encouragement to hope, our Friendship tho' young might be without Shynefs, or criminal Modefty; 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 fmall or trivial. I have told you (I think) that a Spanish Lady faid 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 fo happy to see you here; and perhaps 'tis the only Difpute, in which I might hope to have the better of you.
Now, Sir, to make you another Excufe for my Boldnefs in inviting you to Town, I defigned to leave with you fome more of my Papers, (fince thefe return fo 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 af fured there is nothing I defire so much, as an Improvement of your Friendship -
Mr. Wycherley to Mr. Pope.
March 22, 1705-6. Muft lay a Penance upon you, which is to defire you to look over that damn'd Miscellany of Madrigals of mine, to pick out (if poffible) fome that may be fo altered, that they may yet appear in Print again I hope with better fuccefs than they hitherto have done. I will give you my Reason for this Request of mine, when I fee you; which I am refolved fhall be when I have done here, and at the Bath, where I defign to go, and afterwards to spend two Months (God willing) with you at Binfield, or near it