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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 are the most infipid, 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 unexperiencd Writer,
I am, etc.
March 29, 1705. YOUR
UR letter of the twenty-fifth of March I have re
ceived, which was more welcome to me than any thing could be out of the country, tho’ it were one's rent dụe that day ; and I can find no fault with it, but that it charges me with want of fincerity, or justice, for giving you your due ; who should not let your modesty be fo 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 fome fire ; and as the facrifice of incense, offered to the Gods would not have been half so sweet to others, if it had not been for its smoke; fo friendship, like love, cannot be without some incense, to perfume the name it would praise and immortalize. But fince you say you do not write to me to gain my praise, but my affe&tion, pray how is it possible to have the one without the other ? we muft 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 periuaried to it. Besides, the vanity of a feribler is such, that he will never part with his own judginent 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 any thing or man but yourielf, 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 (fince the longeft) you have favoured me with ; which I therefore think the beít, 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 suinmer's day, tho’ longer than a elull one in the winter, is less tedious and moie entertaining. Therefore let but your friendship be like your letter, as lafting as it is agreeable, and it can never be tedious, but more acceptable and obliging to
L ETTER V.
From Mr. WYCHER L EY.
April 7, 1705: 1 Have received yours of the fifth, wherein your mo
desty refuses the just praises I give you, by which you lay claiın to more, as a bishop gains his bishopric hy saying he will not episcopate ; but I must confess, whilft I displease you by commending you, I please myself : just as incense is sweeter to the offerer than the deity to whom 'ris offered, by his being so much above it : For indeed every man partakes of the praise he gives, when it is so juftly 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, jeaJouíy. I am, in my enquiry, like old Sir Bernard Gafcoign, 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,
L E T T E R VI.
April 30, 1905I 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 encou
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 generaly 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 be.
twixt people of different ages cannot well be so, the inclinations of such being commonly various. The friend. thip of two young men is often occafioned by love of pleasure or voluptuousness, cach being desirous for his own sake of one to affift or encoạrage him in the courses he pursues ; as that of two old men 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 friend hip 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 gay and agreeable to please the young one; and the young man more discreet and prudent by the help of the old one ; so it may prove a cure of those epidemical diseases of age and youth, fourness and madness. I hope you will not need many arguments to convince you of the possibility of this; one alone abundantly satisfies me, and convinces to the heart : which is, that * young as I am, and old as you are, I am your entirely affectionate, &c.
LET TER VII.
June 23, 1705 I Should believe myself happy in your good opinion, but
that you treat me so much in a style of compliment. It hath been observed of women, that they are more subject in their youth to be touched with vanity than men, on account of their being generally treated this way; but the weakest women are not more weak than that class of men, who are thought to pique themselves upon their Wit. The world is never wanting, when a coxcomb is accomplishing himself, o help to give him the finishing stroke.
* Mr. Wycherley was at this time about seventy years old, Mr. Pope
Every man is apt to think his neighbour overstock'd with vanity, yet, I cannot but fancy there are certain times, when inost people are in a disposition of heing informed; and 'tis incredible what a vast good a little truth might do, spoken in such seasons. A small alms will do a great kindness, to people in extreme necessity.
I could name an acquaintance of yours, who would at this time think himself more obliged to you for the information of his faults, than the confirmatinn of his follies. If you would make those the subject of a letter, it might be as long as I could wish your letters always were.
I do not wonder you have hitherto found foine dificulty (as you are pleased to say) in writing to me, since you have always chosen the task o commending me: take but the other way, and, I dare engage, you will find none at all.
As for my verses, which you praise so much, I may truly say they have never been the cause of any vanity in me, except what they gave me when they first occafioned my acquaintance with you. But I have several times since been in danger of this vice; as often, I mean, as I received any letters from you. 'Tis certain, the greatest magnifying glasses in the world are a man's own eyes, when they look upon his own person; yet even in those, I cannot fancy myself so extremely like Alexander the Great, as you would persuade me. If I inuft be like him, 'tis you will make me so by complimenting me into a better opinion of myself than I deserve : They made him think he was the fon of Jupiter, and you alsure me I am a man of parts. But is this all you can say to my honour ? you said ten times as much before, when you call'd me your friend. After having made me believe I possess'd a share in your affection, to treat me with compliments and sweet sayings, is like the proceeding with poor Sancho Panca : they persuaded him that he enjoy'd a great dominion, and then gave him nothing to subfift upon but wafers and marmalade. In our days the greatest obligation you can lay upon a Wit, is to Vol. III.