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Mr. POPE's Answer.
April 10, 17166 y yours of the last Month, you desire me to see
lect, if poflible, fome Things from the * first Volume of your Miscellanies, which may be altered so as to appear again. I doubted your meaning in this ; whether it was to pick out the best of those Verses, (as that on the Idleness of Business ; on Ignorance ; on Laziness, &c.) to make the Method and Numbers exact, and avoid Repetitions. For tho' (upon reading them on this Occafion) I believe they might receive such an Alteration with advantage; yet they would not be changed so much, but any one would know them for the fame at first sight. Or if you mean to improve the worst Pieces, which are such, as to render them very good, would require a great Addition, and almost the entire new writing of them. Or, lastly, if you mean the middle Sort, as the Songs and Love-Verses: For these will need only to be shortned, to omit Repetition, the Words remaining very little different from what they were before. Pray let me know your mind in this, for I am utterly at a lofs. Yet I have tried what I could do to fome of the Songs, † and the Poems on Laziness and Ignorance, but cannot (even in my own partial Judgment) think my Alterations much to the Purpose. So that I must needs desire you would apply your Care wholly at present to those which are yet unpublished, of which there are more than enough to make a confiderable Volume, of
* Printed in Folio, in the Year 1704. + Vid. Letter of Nov, 20, 1707• -4.
full as good ones, nay, I verily believe, of better than any in Vol. 1. which I could with you would defer, at least 'till you have finished these that are yet unprinted.
I send you a Sample of some few of these ; namely, the Verses to Mr. Waller in his old Age; your new ones on the Duke of Marlboroug?', and two others. I have done all that I thought could be of Advantage to them: Some I have contracted as we do Sun-beams, to improve their Energy and Force; some I have taken quite away, as we take Branches from a Tree, to add to the Fruit; others I have entirely new express'd, and turned more into Poetry. 'Donne like one of his Successors) had infinitely more Wit ihan he wanted Verlification : for the great dealers in Wit, like those in Trade, take least Pains to set off their Goods ; while the Haberdashers of small Wit spare for no Decorations or Ornaments.. You have commiflion'd me to paint your Shop, and I have done my best to brush you up like your Neighbours. But I can no more pretend to the Merit of the Production, than a Midwife to the Vertues and good Qualities of the Child she helps into the Light.
The few Things I have entirely added, you will excuse ; you may take them lawfully for your own, because they are no more than Sparks lighted up by your lire ; and you may omit them at latt, if you think them but Squibs in your Triumphs.
I am, &c.
Mr. Wycherley to Mr. Pope.
Feb. 19. 1706-7.
is ingenious, for which therefore I most heartily thank you. It would have been much more welcome to me, had it not informed me of your · want of Health ; but you who have a Mind so vigorous, may well be contented with its crazy Habitation ; since (you know) the old Similitude says : The Keenness of the Mind soonest wears out the Body, as the sharpest Sword sooneft destroys the Scabbard : So that (as I say) you must be satisfied with your Apprehension of an uneasy Life, tho' I hope not a short one; notwithstanding that generally you found Wits (tho weak Bodies) are immortal hereafter by that Genius, which shortens your present Life, to prolong that of the future. But I yet hope, your great, vigorous, and active Mind will not be able to destroy your little, tender, and
Now to say something to what you write concerning the present epidemic Distemper of the Mind and Age, Calumny ; I know it is no more to be avoided (at one time or another of our Lives) than a Fever or an Ague ; and as often those Diftempers attend, or threaten the best Constitutions, from the worst Air ; so does that malignant Air of Calumny soonest attack the sound and elevated in Mind, as Storms of Wind the tallest and most fruitful Trees; whilst the low and weak, for bowing and moving to and fro, are by their Weakness secure from the Danger and Violence of the Tempest. But so much for stinking Ru
mour, which weakest Minds are most afraid of; as Iris-Men, tho' the naftieft of Mankind, are most offended at a Fart.
Mr. Wycherley to Mr. Pope.
Nov. 11, 1707 I
Receiv'd yours of the 9th yesterday, which has instructed me; so that I aflure you, you can no more write too much to your abient Friends, than speak too much to the present. This is a Truth that all Men own, who have either seen your Writings, or heard your Discourse; enough to make others how their Judgment, in ceafing to write or talk, especially to you, or in your Company. However, I speak or write to you, not to please you, but my self; since I provoke your Answers, which, whilst they humble me, give me Vanity, tho' I am lessened by you even when you commend me; since you commend my litile Sense with so much more of yours, that you put me out of Countenance, whilst you would keep me in it. So that you have found a way (against the Custom of great Wits) to shew. even a great deal of Good Nature with a great deal of good Sense.
I thank you for the Book you promised me, by which I find you would not only correct my lines, but my Life.
As to the damned Verses I entrusted you with, I hope you will let them undergo your Purgatory, to save them from other People's damning them; since
the Critics, who are generally the first damn'd in this Life, like the Damn'd below, never leave to bring those above them under their own Circumstances. I beg you to peruse my Papers, and select what you think best, or most tolerable, and look over them again ; for I refolve suddenly to print some of them, as a harden'd old Gamester will (in spite of all former ill usage by Fortune) push on an ill Hand, in expectation of recovering himself ; especially fince I have such a Croupier or Second to stand by me aş Mr. Pope.
Mr. Pope to Mr. Wycherlcy.
Nov. 20, 1707.
R. Englefyld being upon his Journey to Lons
don, tells me I must write to you by him, which I do, not more to comply with his desire; than to gratify my own; tho' I did it fo lately by the Messenger you sent hither: I take it too as an Opportunity of sending you the fair Copy of the Poeni (a) on Dulness, which was not then finishid, and which I should not care to hazard by the common Post. Mr. Englefyld is ignorant of the Contents, and I hope your Prudence will let him remain
(2) The Original of it in Blots, and with Figures of thie References from Cong to Copy, in Mr. Pope's Hand, is in the Harley. Library among other such Brouillons of My Wycherley's Poems, corrected by him. Vid. Letc. Ap 10, 3705 6. Noce (1)