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so plainly discovered as in the brightest sunshine. Thus I am mortified by those commendations which were designed to encourage me: for praise to a young wit, is like rain to a tender flower8; if it be moderately bestowed, it chears and revives; but if too lavishly, over-charges and depresses him. Most men in years, as they are generally discouragers of youth, are like old trees, that, being past bearing themselves, will suffer no young plants to flourish beneath them: but, as if it were not enough to have outdone all your coevals in wit, you will excel them in good-nature too. As for9 my green essays, if you find any pleasure in them, it must be such as a man naturally takes in observing the first shoots and buddings of a tree which he has raised himself; and 'tis impossible they should be esteemed any otherwise, than as we value fruits for being early, which nevertheless are1 the most insipid, and the worst of the year. In a word, I must blame you for treating me with so much compliment, which is at best but the smoke of friendship. I neither write nor converse with you, to gain your praise, but your affection. Be so much my friend as to appear my enemy, and tell me my faults, if not as a young man, at least as an unexperienced Writer. I am, &c.
8 The perpetual attempt to be witty and brilliant; the accumulation of simile upon simile; the point, the antithesis, the cant of satire, and severity on authors, and critics, and women, are sufficiently disgusting in the Letters of this vain old man.
9 His Pastorals, written at sixteen years of age. P.
TO MR. WYCHERLEY.
March 29, 1705.
Your letter of the twenty-fifth of March I have received, which was more welcome to me than any thing could be out of the country, though it were one's rent due that day; and I can find no fault with it, but that it charges me with want of sincerity, or justice, for giving you your due; who should not let your modesty be so unjust to your merit, as to reject what is due to it, and call that compliment, which is so short of your desert, that it is rather degrading than exalting you. But if compliment be the smoke only of friendship, (as you say,) however, you must allow there is no smoke but there is some fire; and as the sacrifice of incense offered to the Gods would not have been half so sweet to others, if it had not been for its smoke; so friendship, like love, cannot be without some incense, to perfume the name it would praise and immortalize. But since you say you do not write to me to gain my praise, but my affection, pray how is it possible to have the one without the other? we must admire before we love. You affirm, you would have me so much your friend as to appear your enemy, and find out your faults rather than your perfections; but (my friend) that would be so hard to do, that I, who love no difficulties, can't be persuaded to it. Besides, the vanity of a scribler is such, that he will never part with his own judgment to gratify another's; especially when he must take pains to do it: and though I am proud to be of your opinion, when you talk of thing or man but yourself, I cannot suffer you to murder your fame with your own hand, without opposing you; especially when you say your last letter is the worst (since the longest) you have favoured me with; which I therefore think the best: as the longest life (if a good one) is the best; as it yields the more variety, and is the more exemplary; as a chearful summer's day, though longer than a dull one in the winter, is less tedious and more entertaining. Therefore let but your friendship be like your letter, as lasting as it is agreeable, and it can never be tedious, but more acceptable and obliging to
FROM MR. WYCHERLEY.
April 7, 1705.
I Have received your's of the fifth, wherein your modesty refuses the just praises I give you, by which you lay claim to more, as a bishop gains his bishopric by saying he will not episcopate: but I must confess, whilst I displease you by commending you, I please myself; just as incense is sweeter to the offerer than the deity to whom 'tis offered, by his being so much above it: For indeed every man par
takes of the praise he gives, when it is so justly given.
As to my enquiry after your intrigues with the Muses, you may allow me to make it, since no old man can give so young, so great, and able a favourite of theirs, jealousy. I am, in my enquiry, like old Sir Bernard Gascoign, who used to say, that when he was grown too old to have his visits admitted alone by the ladies, he always took along with him a young man to ensure his welcome to them: for had he come alone he had been rejected, only because his visits were not scandalous to them. So I am (like an old rook, who is ruined by gaming) forced to live on the good fortune of the Pushing young men, whose fancies are so vigorous that they ensure their success in their adventures with the Muses, by their strength of imagination.
Your papers are safe in my custody (you may be sure) from any one's theft but my own: for 'tis as dangerous to trust a scribler with your wit, as a gamester with the custody of your money.—If you happen to come to town, you will make it more difficult for me to leave it, who am Your, etc.
I Cannot contend with you: You must give me leave at once to wave all your compliments, and to collect only this in general from them, that your design is to encourage me. But I separate from all the rest that 'paragraph or two, in which you make me so warm an offer of your friendship. Were I possessed of that, it would put an end to all those speeches with which you now make me blush; and change them to wholesome advices, and free sentiments, which might make me wiser and happier. I know 'tis the general opinion, that friendship is best contracted betwixt persons of equal age; but I have so much interest to be of another mind, that you must pardon me if I cannot forbear telling you a few notions of mine in opposition to that opinion.
In the first place 'tis observable, that the love we bear to our friends, is generally caused by our finding the same dispositions in them, which we feel in ourselves. This is but self-love at the bottom: whereas the affection betwixt people of different ages cannot well be so, the inclinations of such being commonly various. The friendship of two young men is often occasioned by love of pleasure or voluptuousness, each being desirous, for his own sake, of one to assist or encourage him in the courses he pursues; as that of two old tnen is frequently on the score of some profit, lucre, or design upon others. Now, as a young man, who is less acquainted with the ways of the world, has in all probability less of interest; and an old man, who may be weary of himself, has, or should have less of self-love; so the friendship between them is the more likely to be true, and unmixed with too much self-regard. One may add to this, that such a friendship is of greater use and advantage to both; for the old man will grow