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Mr. Wycherley to Mr. Pope.
Feb. 28, 1707-8.
which I give you many thanks, since I find by it, that even Absence (the usual Bane of Love, or Friendship) cannot leflen yours to more than mine. * As to your hearing of my being ill, I am glad and sorry for the Report : In the first place, glad that it was not true; and in the next forry that it should give you any Disturbance, or Concern more than ordinary for me; for which, as well as your Concern for my future Well-being or Life, I think my self most eternally obliged to you; alsuring, your Concern for either will make me more careful, of both. Yet for your fake I love this Life so well, that I shall the less think of the other ; but it is in your Power to ensure my Happiness in one and the other, both by your Society and good Example, so not only contribute to my felicity here, but hereafter.
Now as to your Excuse for the Plainness of your Stile, or Letter, I must needs tell you, that Friendship is more acceptable to a true Friend than Wit, which is generally false Reasoning ; and a Friend's Reprimand often shews more Friend
* Mr. Pope had this from Mr. Cromwell, after his Enquiry in these Words : " I returned to Town lift “ Saturday, and enquiring (as you desired) about Mr.
Wycberley, was told, in two several Places, that he “ bad been very ill, and that he was even gone off
our Stage : But I could not imagine this Report to “ be true, or that so great a man could leave the “ World, without its being infructed to lament so « considerable a Lols.".
ship than his Compliment : Nay Love, which is more than Friendship, is often seen by our Friend's Correction of our Follies or Crimes. Upon this Test of your Friendship I intend to put you, when I return to London, and thence to you at Binfield, which I hope will be within a Month.
Next to the News of your good Health, I am pleased with the good News of your going to print some of your Poems, and proud to be known by them to the Public for your Friend ; who intend (perhaps the fame Way) to be revenged of you for your Kindness, by taking your Name in vain in some of my future Madrigals : yet so as to let the World know, my Love or Esteem for you are no more Poetic, than my Talent in scribbling. But of all the Arts of Fiction, I desire you to believe I want that of feigning Friendship, and that I am sincerely,
Mr. Wycherley to Mr. Pope.
May 13, 1708. I
Have receiv'd yours of the first of May. Your
Pastoral Muse outshines, in her modest and natural Dress, all Apollo's Court-Ladies, in their more artful, laboured, and costly Finery; therefore I am glad to find by your Letter, you design your Country-beauty of a Muse shall appear at Court and in Públick; to outshine all the farded, lewd, confident, affected Town-dowdies, who aim at being honoured only to their Shame: But her artful Innocence. (on the contrary) will gain more Honour as the becomes more publick ; and in spite of
Custom, will bring Modestý again into Fashion, or at least make her Sister-rivals of this Age blush for Spite, if not for Shame. As for my stale, antiquated, poetical Puss, whom you would keep in Countenance, by saying she has once been tolerable, and would yet pass Muster by a little licking over ; it is true that like most vain antiquated Jades, which have once been paflable) yet the affects Youthfulness in her Age, and would still gain a few Admirers, who the more she seeks, or labours for their liking, are but more her Contemners. Nevertheless, she is resolved henceforth to be so cautious as to appear very little more in the World, except it be as an Attendant on your Muse, or as a Foil, not a Rival to her Wit, or Fame: So that let your Country gentlewoman appear when she will in the *World, my old wornout Jade of a loft Reputation, shall be her Attendant into it, to procure her Admirers ; as an old Whore who can get no more Friends of her own, bawds for others, to make Sport or Pleafure yet, one way or other, for Mankind. I approve of your making Tonfon your Muse's Introductor into the World, or Master of the Ceremonies, who has been so long a Pimp, or Gentleman-Ufer to the Muses.
* This and the following Extract, are a full Confu. tation of the Lying Spirit of John Dennis and others, who impudently alerted that Mr. Pope wrote these Verses on bimself, (tko publish'd by Mr. Wycherley fix Years before bis Death.) We find bere it was a voluntary Aét oj bis, promis'd before-band, and written while Mr. Pope was absent. The first Brouillon of those Verses, and the second Copy witb Corrections are botb get extant in the Harley Library, in Mr. Wycherley's own band; from which will appear, that if they received any Alteration from Mr. Pope, it was in the Omiffione of some of his own Praises.
I wish you good Fortune, fince a Man with Store of Wit, as Store of Money, without the help of good Fortune, will never be popular ; but I wish you a great many Admirers, which will be some Credit to my Judgment as well as your Wit, who always thought you had a great deal, and am
Extrazt from two Letters of Mr. Wycherley of May, 18, and of July 28, 1708.
I Have made a damn'd Compliment in Verse,
upon the printing your Pastorals, which you shall see when you see me. -If you suffer my old Dowdy of a Muse to wait upon your sprightly Lass of the Plains, into the Company of the Town, it will be but like an old City-bawd's attending a young Country-beauty to Town, to gain her Admirers, when past the Hopes of plealing the World herself.
Mr. Wycherley to Mr. Pope.
May 17, 1709. I Must thank you for a Book of your Miscellanies,
which Tonfon lent me, I suppose by your Order and all I can tell you of it is, that nothing has lately been better received by the Public, than your Part of it. You have only displeas'd the Critics by pleasing them too well ; having not left them a
Word to say for themselves againft you and your Performances ; so that now your Hand is in, you must persevere, 'till my Prophecies of you be fulfilled. In Earnest, all the best Judges of good Sense, or Poetry, are Admirers of yours ; and like your Part of the Book so well, that the Rest is liked the worse. This is true upon my Word, without Compliment; so that your first Success will make you for all your Life a Poet, in Spite of your Wit: For a Poet's Success at first, like a Gamester's Fortune at first, is like to make him a Lofer at last, and to be undone by his good fortune and Merit.
But hitherto your Miscellanies have safely run the Gantlet thro' all the Coffee-houses, which are now entertained with a whimsical new NewsPaper, called, The Tatler, which I suppose you have seen. This is the newest Thing I can tell you of, except it be of the Peace, which now, (most People say.) is drawing to such a Conclusion, as all Europe is, or must be satisfied with : So Poverty, you see, which makes Peace in WestminsterHall, makes it likewise in the Camp or Field throughout the World. Peace then be to you, and to me ; who am now grown Peaceful, and will have no Contest with any Man, but him who says he is more your Friend, or humble Servant, than