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fo, for my fake no less than your own; since if you should reveal any thing of this Nature, it would be no wonder Reports should be raised, and there are those (I fear) who would be ready to improve them to my Disadvantage. I am sorry you told the great Man, whom you met in the Court of Requests, that your Papers were in my Hands. No Man alive shall ever know any such thing froin me ; and I give you this Warning belides, that tho' your self should say I had any way affifted you, I am notwithstanding refolved to deny it.
The Method of the Copy I send you is very different from what it was, and much more regular. For the better help of your Memory, I defire you to compare it by the Figures in the Margin, answering to the same in this Letter. The Poem is now divided into four Parts, mark'd with the literal Figures I. II. III. IV. The first contains the Praise of Dulness, and thews how upon several suppositions, it passes for 1. Religion,
2. Philosophy, 3. Example, 4. Wit, and 5. The Cause of Wit, and the End of it. The second Part contains the Advantages of Dulness ; ift, In Business, and adly, at Court; where the Similitudes of the Byass of a Bowl, and the Weights of a Clock, are directly tending to illustrate those Advantages of Dulness, tho' introduced before in a Place where there was no Mention made of them : (which was your only Objection to my adding them.) The third contains the Happiness of Dulness in all Stations, and shows in a great many Particulars, that it is some good Quality or other in all Sorts of People ; that it is thought Quiet, Sense, Caution, Policy, Prudence, Majesty, Valour, Circumspection, Honesty, &i. The fourth Part I have wholly added, as a Climax which sums up all the Praise, Advantage, and Happiness of Dulnets in a few Words; and itrengthens them all by the
Opposition of the Disgrace, Disadvantage, and Unhappiness of Wit, with which it concludes (b).
Tho' the whole be as short again as at first, there is not one Thought omitted, but what is a Repetition of something in your first Volume, or in this very Paper : Some Thoughts are contracted, where they seem'd encompass'd with too many Words ; and some new express’d, or added, where I thought there wanted heightening, (as you will fee particularly in the Simile of the ClockWeights: (c) and the Versification throughout is, I believe such, as no body can be shock'd at. The repeated Permissions you give me of dealing freely with you, will (I hope) excuse what I have done ; for if I have not spared you when I thought Severity would do you a kindness, I have not mangled you where I thought there was no absolute Need of Amputation. As to Particulars, I can satisfy you better when we meet ; in the mean time, pray write to me when you can, you cannot too often.
(b) This is totally omitted in the present Edition, Scme of the Lines in the H. M. are there.
Tbus Dulness, the safe Opiate of the Mind,
As Clocks run fastest when mof Lead is on. We find it so in a Letter of Mr. Pope to Mr. Wycberley, dated April 3, 1705 ; and in a Paper of Verfe's of his, To the Author of a Poem called Successio, which got out in a Miscellany in 1712, three years before Mr. Wyckerley died, and two after he had laid aside the whole Deliga of publishing any Poems,
Mr. Wycherley's Answer.
You may fee by my Stile, I had the Happiness
bids me ;
Nov. 22. 1707. OU
and Satisfaction to receive Yesterday (by the Hands of that Wagg, Mr. Englefyld) your extreme kind and obliging Letter of the 20th of this Month; which, like all the rest of yours, did at once mortify me, and make me vain ; since it tells me with so much more. Wit, Sense and Kindness, than mine can express, that my Letters are all welcome to you. So that even whilst your Kindness invites me to write to you, your Wit and Judgment for
may return you a Letter, but never an Answer.
Now, as for my owning your Assistance to me, in over-looking my unmusical Numbers, and harsher Sense, and correcting them both, with your Genius, or Judgment; I must tell you I always own it, (in Spite of your unpoetick Modesty) who would do with your Friendship as your Charity; conceal your Bounty, to magnify ihe Obligation; and even whilst you lay on your Friend the Favour, acquit him of the Debt. But that fhall not serve your turn ; I will always own, 'tis my infallible Pope has, or would redeem me from a poetical Damning the fecond time ; and fave my Rhimes from being condemn’d to the Critics Flames to all Eternity. But (by the Faith you profes) you know your Works of Supererogation, transfer'd upon an humble, acknowledging Sinner, may fave even Him ; having good Works enough of your own besides, to ensure yours, and their Immortality.
And now for the Pains you have taken to recom. mend my Dulness, by making it more methodicals
I give I give you a thousand thanks ; since true and natural Dulness is shown more by its Pretence to Form and Method, as the Sprightliness of Wit by its despising both. I thank you a thousand times for your repeated Invitations to come to Binfield. You will find, it will be as hard for you to get quit of my mercenary Kindness to you, as it would for me to deserve, or return yours; however, it shall be the Endeavour of my future Life, as it will be to demonstrate my self,
Mr. POPE's Reply.
Nov. 29, 1707. HE Compliments you make me, in Regard
I do ,
are very unkind, and do but tell me in other Words, that my Friend has so mean an Opinion of me, as to think I expect Acknowledgments for, Trifles; which upon my Faith I shall equally take amiss, wherher made to my felf, or to any others. For God's Sake, (my dear Friend Wycherley) think better of me, and believe I desire no fort of Favour fo inuch, as that of serving you more considerably, than I have yet been able to do.
I shall proceed in this Manner, with some others of your Pieces ; but since you desire I would not deface your Copy for the future, and only mark the Repetitions; I must as soon as I have mark'd these, transcribe what is left on another Paper ; and in that, blot, alter, and add all I can devise for their Improvement. For you are sensible, the Omision of Repetitions is but one, and the easiest
Part, Part of yours and my Design; there remaining besides to rectify the Méthod, to connect the Matter, and to mend the Expression and Verpfication. I will go next upon the * Poems of Solitude, on the Publick, and on the mixt Life; the Bill of Fare, the Praises of Avarice, and some others.
I must take some Notice of what you say of " My Pains to make your Dulness methodical ; and of your Hint, that “The sprightliness of Wit
despises Method.” This is true enough, if by Wit you mean no more than Fancy or Conceit'; but in the better Notion of Wit, considered as Propriety, surely Method is not only necessary for Perspicuity and Harmony of Parts, but gives Beauty even to the minute and particular Thoughts; which receive an additional Advantage from those which precede or follow in their due Place : ACcording to a Simile Mr. Dryden used in Conversation, of Feathers in the Crowns of the wild Indians, which they not only chuse for the Beauty of their Colours, but place them in such a Manner as to reflect a Lustre on each other. I will not disguise any of my Sentiments from you: To methodize in your Cafe, is full as neceffary as to strike out; otherwife you had better destroy the whole Framc; and reduce them into fingle Thoughts in Prose, like Rochefor cault, as I have more than once hinted to you.
* Some B:ouillons of these, tranfcriled and very much blotted by Mr. Pope, are extant in the Harley Library