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Mr. Pope's Answer.
May 20, 1709. IS Am glad you have received the * Miscellany, if it
were only to shew you that there are as bad Poets in this Nation as your Servant. This modern Cuftom of appearing in Miscellanies, is very useful to the Poets, who, like other Thieves, escape by getting into a Crowd, and herd together like Banditti, safe only in their Multitude. Methinks Strada has given a good Description of these Kind of Collections : Nullus hodiè mortalium aut nafcitur, aut moritur, aut præliatur, aut rufticatur, aut abit peregrè, aut redit, aut nubit, aut eft, aut non eft, (nam etiam mortuis ifti canunt) cui non illi extemplò cudant Epicædia, Genethliaca, Protreptica, Panegyrica, Epithalamia, Vaticinia, Propemptica, Soterica, Parenetica, Nenias, Nugas. As to the Success which you say my Part has met with, it is to be attributed to what you were pleased to say of me to the World ; which you do well to call your Prophecy, since whatever is said in my Favour, must be a Prediction of Things that are not yet : you, like a true Godfather, engage on my part for much more than ever I can perform. My Pastoral Muse, like other Country Girls, is but put out of Countenance by what you Courtiers lay to her ; yet I hope you would not deceive me too far, as knowing that a young Scribler's Vanity needs no Recruits from abroad: for Nature, like an indulgent Mother, kindly takes Care to supply her Sons with as much of their own, as is necessary for their Satisfaction. If my Verses
Jacob Tonson's fixth Vol. of Miscellany Pcems.
should meet with a few flying Commendations, Virgil has taught me that a young Author has not too much Reason to be pleased with them, when he considers, that the natural Consequence of Praise is Envy and Calumny.
----Si ultra placitum laudarit, Baccare frontem
Cingite, ne Vati noceat mala lingua futuro: When once a Man has appeared as a Poet, he may give up his Pretenfions to all the rich and thriving Arts: Those who have once made their Court to those Mistreiles without Portions, the Muses, are never like to set up for Fortunes. But for my part, I shall be fatisfied if I can lose my Time agreeably this Way, without losing my Reputation : As for gaining any, I am as indifferent in the Matter as Falstaffe was ; and may fay of Fame as he did of Honour : If it comes, it comes unlooked for ; and there is an End on it. be content with a bare saving Game, without being thought an Eminent Hand, (with which Title Jacob has graciously dignified his" Adventurers and Voluntiers in Poetry.) Jacob creates Poets, as Kings sometimes do Knights, not for their Honour, but for Money. Certainly he ought to be esteem'd a Worker of Miracles, who is grown rich by Poetry.
What Authors lose, their Booksellers have won ;
I am your, &c.
Mr. Wycherley to Mr. Pope.
May 26, 1709. THE last I receiv'd from you, was dated the
zzd of May. I take your charitable Hint to me very kindly, wherein you do like a true Friend, and a true Christian, and I shall endeavour to follow your Advice, as well as your Example. ------ As for your wishing to see your Friend an Hermit with you, I cannot be faid to leave the World, since I shall enjoy in your Conver: fation, all that I can defire of it; nay, can learn more from you alone, than from my long Experiencc of the great or little Vulgar in it.
As to the Success of your Poems in the late Miscellany I told you of in my last, (upon my Word) I made you no Compliment ; for you inay be assured, that all sorts of Readers like them, except they are Writers too; but for them, (I must needs fay) the more they like them, they ought to be the less pleased with them : So that you do not come off with a bare Saving Game (as you call it) but have gained so much Credit at first, that you must needs support it to the last: Since you set up with so great a Stock of good Sense, Judgment and Wit, that your Judgment ensures all that your Wit ventures at.
The Salt of your Wit has been enough to give a Relish to the whole infipid Hotch-Potch it is mingled * with ; and you will make Jacob's Ladder raise you to Immortality, by which others are turn'd off shamefully to their. Damnation (for poetick Thieves as they are) who think to be fav'd
* The fixth Volume of Tonson's Miscellanies.
by by others good Works, how faulty foever their own are. But the Coffee-house Wits, or rather Anti-Wits, the Critics, prove their Judgments by approving your Wit; and even the Newsmongers and Poets will own, you have more Invention than they ; nay, the Detracters or the Envious, who never speak well of any body, (not even of those they think well of in their Absence) yet will give you (even in your Absence) their good Word; and the Critics only hate you, for being forced to speak well of you whether they will or no: And all this is true, upon the Word of
Mr. Wycherley to Mr. Pope.
Aug. 11, 1709 MY
Letters, so much inferior to yours, can
only make up their scarcity of Sense by the Number of Lines; which is like the Spaniards paying a debt of Gold with a Load of Brass Money. But to be a Plain-dealer, I must tell you, I will revenge the raillery of your Letters upon mine, by printing them, (as Dennis did mine) without your Knowledge too; which would be a Revenge upon your Judgment, for the Raillery of your Wit : For some dull Rogues (that is, the most in the World) might be such Fools as to think what you said of me, was in Earnest. It is not the first time, you great Wits have gained Reputation by their paradoxical or ironical Praises ; your Forefathers have done it, Erasmus and others. For all Mankind who know me must confess, he
must be no ordinary Genius, or little Friend, who can find out any thing to commend in me seriously; who have given no sign of my Judgment, but my Opinion of yours, nor Mark of my Wit, but my leaving off Writing to the Public, now you are beginning, to shew the World, what you can do by yours; whose Wit is as spiritual, as your Judgment infallible ; in whose Judgment I have an implicit Faith, and shall always fubfcribe to it to fave my Works in this World, from the Flames and Damnation.
Pray present my most humble Service to Sir W. Trumbull, for whom and whofe Judgment I have so profound a respect, that his Example had almost made me marry, more than my Nephew's ill Carriage to me; having once resolv'd to have reveng'd my self upon him by my Marriage, but now am resolv’d to make my Revenge greater upon him by his Marriage.
Mr. Wycherley to Mr. Pope.
April 1, 1710. I Have had yours of the 30th of the last Month,
which is kinder than I defire it should be, since it tells me you could be better pleased to be fick again in Town in my Company, than to be well in the Country without it, and that you are more impatient to be deprived of Happiness than of Health. Yet, my dear Friend, fet Raillery or Compliment aside, I can bear your Absence (which procures your Health and Ease) better than I can your Company when you are in Pain ; for I cannot see you so without being so too. Your Love to the Country I do not doubt, nor do you