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Et. 12, 1710.
I Deferr'd answering your last
, upon the
Advice I receiv'd that you were leaving the Town for fome time, and expected your Return with Impatience, having then a Design of seeing my Friends there, among the first of which I have reason to account yourself. But my almost continual Illneffes prevent that, as well as most other Satisfactions of my life: However I may fay one good thing of Sickness, that it is the best Cure in Nature for Ambition, and Designs upon the World or Fortune : It makes a man pretty indifferent for the future, provided he can but be easy, by Intervals, for the prefent. He will be content to compound for his Quiet only, and leave all the circumftantial Part and Pomp of Life to those, who have a Health vigofous enough to enjoy all the Mistresses of their Defires. I thank God, there is nothing out of myself which I would be at the trouble of seeking, except a Friend ; a Happiness I once hop'd to have polsefs’d in Mr Wycherley; but-Quantum mutatus ab illo ! - I have for some Years been employ'd much like Children that build Houses with Cards, endeavouring very busily and eagerly to raise a Friendship, which the first Breath of any ill-naturd By-ftander cou'd puff away.-But I will trouble you no farther with writing, nor myself with thinking, of this Subject.
I was mightily pleas'd to perceive by your Quotation from Voiture, that you hạd track'd me so far as France. You see 'tis with weak Heads as with weak-Stomachs, they immediately throw out what they receiv'd laft; and what they read floats upon the Surface of their Mind, like Oil upon Water, without incorporating. This, I think however, i can't be said of the Love-verses I last troubled you with, where all (I am afraid) is so puerile, and so
like the Author, that no body will suspect any thing to be borrow'd. Yet you, (as a Friend, entertain ing a better Opinion of 'em) it seems search'd isy Waller, but search'd in vain. Your Judgment of 'em is (I think) very right for it was my own Opinion before. If you think 'em not worth the trouble of correcting, pray tell me so freely, and it will save me a Labour , if you think the contrary, you wou'd particularly oblige me by your Remarks on the several Thoughts as they occur. I long to be nibbling at your Verses, and have not forgot who promis’d me Ovid's Elegy ad Amicam Navigantem, Had Ovid been as long composing it, as you in sending it, the Lady
might have faild to Gades, and receiv'd it at her Return. I have really a great Itch of Criticism upon me, but want Matter here in the Country; which I desire you to furnish me with, as I do you in the Town,
Sic fervat studii Födera quisque sui. I am oblig'd to Mr Caryl (whom you tell me you met at Epsom) for telling you Truth, as a man is in these days to any one that will tell Truth to his advantage, and I think none is more to mine, than what he told you, and I thou'd be glad to tell all the world, that I have an extreme Affection and esteem for you. Tecum etenim longos memini confumere foles, Et tecum primas epulis decerpere noctes, Unum Opus & Requiem pariter disponimus ambo,.. Atque' verecunda laxamus seria mensa.
By these Epulæ, as I take it, Persius meant the Portugal Snuff and burn'd Claret, which he took with his master Cornutus ; and the Verecunda Mensa was, without dispute, some Coffe-house table of the Antients.-I will only observe, that these four lines are as elegant and musical as any in Persiusa
not excepting those fix or seven which Mr Dryden quotes as the only such in all that Au. thor.— I could be heartily glad to repeat the satisfaction defcrib'd in them, being truly,
Otober 28,. 1710. I Am glad to find by your last letter that you
write to me with the freedom of a friend, fetting down your thoughts as they occur, and dealing plainly with me in the matter of my own Trifles, which I assure you I never valu’d half fo much as I do that Sincerity in you, which they were the occasion of discovering to me ; and which while I am happy in, I may be trusted with that dangerous weapon, Poetry; fince I fall do nothing with it but after asking and following your advice. I value Sincerity the more, as I find by fad ex® perience, the practice of it is more dangerous; Writers rarely pardoning the executioners of their Verses, ev'n tho' themselves pronounce sentence upon them.---- As to Mr Philips's Pastorals, I take the first to be infinitely the best, and the second the worst; the third is for the greatest part a Translation from Virgil's Daphnis. I will not forestal your judgment of the rest, only observe in that of the Nightingale these lines, (speaking of the Musician's playing on the Harp) Now lightly skimming o'er the Strings they pass, Like Winds that gently brush the plying grass, And melting Airs arise at their command ; And now, laborious, with a weighty hand, He sinks into the Cords, with folemn pace, And gives the swelling Tones a manly grace,
To which nothing can be objected, but that they are too lofty for Pastoral, especially being put into the mouth of a Shepherd, as they are here;
in the Poet's own person they had been ( I believe ) more proper.
These are more after Virgils manner than that of Theocritus, whom yet in the character of Pastoral he rather seems to imitate. In the whole, I agree with the Tatler, that we have no better Eclogues in our language. There is a small copy of the fame Author publish'd in the Tatler No, 12. on the Danish Winter: 'Tis Poetical Painting, and I recommend it to your perusal.
Dr Garth's Poem I have not seen, but believe I fhall be of that Critic's opinion you mention at Will's, who swore it was good: For tho? I am very cautions of swearing after Critics, yet I think one may do it more fafely when they commend, than when they blame.
I agree with you in your cenfure of the use of Sea-Terms in Mr Dryden's Virgil; not only because Helenus was no_great Prophet in those matters, but because no Terms of} Art, or Cant-Words, fuit with the Majesty and dignity of Style which Epic Poetry requires. Cui mens divinior atque os magne foniturum. --- The Tarpawlin Phrase can please none but such Qui aurem habent Batavam; they must not expect Auribus Atticis probari, I find by you (I think I have brought in two phrases of Martial here very dexteroully).
Tho' you say you did not rightly take my Meaning in the verse I quoted from Juvenal, yet I will not explain it ; because tho' it seems you are resolv'd to take me for a Critic, I wou'd by no means be thought a Commentator. ------And for another reason too, because I have quite forgot both the Verse and the Application.
I hope it will be no offence to give my most hearty service to Mr Wycherley, tho I perceive by his last to me, I am not to trouble him with my letters, since he there told me he was going in
fantly out of Town, and till his return was my Servant, &c. I guess by your’s he is yet with you, and beg you to do what you may with all Truth and Honour, that is, aflure him I have ever borne all the Respect and Kindness imaginable to him. I do not know to his hour what it is that has estrang'd him for me; but this I know, that he may for the future be more fafely my friend, since no invitation of his shall ever more make me fo free with him. I cou'd not have thought any man had been fo very cautious and fuspicious, as not to credit his own Experience of a friend. Indeed to believe no body, may be a Maxim of Safety, but not so much of Honesty. There is but one way I know of conversing safely with all men, that is, not by concealing what we say or do, but by faying or doing nothing that deserves to be con ceal'd, and I can truly boaft this comfort in my affairs with Mr Wycherley. But I pardon his Jeas lousy, which is become his Nature, and fhall never be his enemy whatsoever he says of me.
Mr C... to Mr Pope
Nov. 5, 1710. I
Find I am oblig'd to the light of your Love .
verses for your opinion of my sincerity; which had never been call'd in question, if you had not forc'd me, upon so many other occasions, to express my esteem.
I have just read and compar'd * Mr Rowe's Version of the 9th of Lucan, with very great pleasure, where I find none of those absurdities
frequent in that of Virgil, except in two pla* Picer printed in the 620 Vol, of Tonson's Miscellanies.