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when she will in the world', my old worn out jade of a lost 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 pleasure yet, one way or other, for mankind. I approve of your making Tonson your muse's introductor into the world, or master of the ceremonies, who has been so long a pimp, or gentleman-usher to the Muses.
I wish you good fortune ; since 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
May 17, 1709. I must thank you for a book of your Miscellanies, which Tonson sent me, I suppose, by your order;
3 This, and what follows, is a full confutation of John Dennis and others, who asserted that Mr. Pope wrote these verses on himself (though published by Mr. Wycherley six years before his death). We find here, it was a voluntary act of his, promised beforehand, and written while Mr. Pope was absent. The first Broüillon of those verses, and the second Copy with corrections, are both yet extant in Mr. Wycherley's own hand : in another of his letters of May 18, 1708, are these words, “I have made a damned compliment in verse upon the printing your Pastorals, which you shall see when you see me.” P.
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 displeased the critics by pleasing them too well; having not left them a word to say for themselves, against 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 loser at last, and to be undone by his good fortune and merit.
But hitherto your miscellanies have safely run the gauntlet, through all the coffee-houses; which are now entertained with a whimsical new news-paper, 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 Westminster-hall, 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
. ....: Your, etc.
May 20, 1709. I am glad you received the* Miscellany, if it were only to shew you that there are as bad poets in this nation as your servant. This modern custom 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 hodie mortalium aut nascitur, aut moritur, aut. præliatur, aut rusticatur, aut abit peregre, aut redit, aut nubit, aut est, aut non est, (nam etiam mortuis isti canunt ) cui non illi exemplo cudant Epicedia, Genethliaca, Protreptica, Panegyrica, Epithalamia, Vaticinia, Propemptica, Soterica, Parænetica, Nænias, Nugas. As to the success, which, you say, my part has met with, it is to be attributed to what you was 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 say 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
* Jacob Tonson's sixth Vol. of Miscellany Poems. P.
mother, kindly takes care to supply her sons with as much of their own, as is necessary for their satisfaction. If my verses 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 pretensions to all the rich and thriving arts : those who have once made their court to those mistresses without portions, the Muses, are never like to set up for fortunes. But for my part, I shall be satisfied 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 say of fame as he did of honour, “ If it comes, it comes unlook'd for; and there's an end on’t.” I can be content with a bare saving game, without being thought an eminent hand (with which title Jacob has graciously dignified his adventurers and volunteers in poetry). Jacob creates poets, as Kings sometimes do knights, not for their honour, but for their money. Certainly he ought to be esteemed a worker of miracles, who is grown rich by poetry.
What Authors lose, their Booksellers have won,
I am your, etc.
FROM MR. WYCHERLEY.
May 26, 1709. The last I received from you was dated the 22d 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 said to leave the world, since I shall enjoy in your conversation all that I can desire of it; nay, can learn more from you alone, than from my long experience of the great, or little vulgar in it.
As to the success of your poems in the late miscellany, which I told you of in last; upon my word I made you no compliment, for you may be assured that all sort of readers like them, except they are writers too; but for them (I must needs say) 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 insipid hotch-potch it is mingled with ; and you will make