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on the Duke of Marlborough, and two others. I have done all that I thought could be of advantage to them : some I have contracted, as we do fun-beams, to improve their energy and force : fome I have taken quite away, as we take branches from a tree, to add to the fruit; 0thers I have entirely new exprefs'd, and turn'd more into poetry. Donne (like one of his successors) had infinitely more wit than he wanted versific:rtion; for the great dealers of 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 commission'd me to paint your shop, and I have done my best to brusha you up like your neiglıbours *. But I can no more pretend to the merit of the production, than a midwife to the virtues and good qualities of the child she helps into the light.
The few things I have entirely added, you willexcuse; you may take them lawfully for your own, because they are no more than sparks lighted up by your fire : and you may omit them at last, if you think them but fquibs in your triumphs.
L E T T E R XII.
Nov. II, 1707.
Received yours of the gth yesterday, which has (like
the rest of your letters) at once pleas'd and instructed me; fo that, I assure you, you can no more write too much to your absent 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 show their judgment, in ceasing to write or talk, especially to you, or in your company. However,
* Several of Mr. Pope's lines, very easy to be distinguish'd, may be found in the Posthumous Editions of Wycherley's Poems: particularly those on Sokitude, on sbe Public, and on tbe Mixed Life.
So that you
I speak or write to you, not to please you, but iny self ; since I provoke your answers; which whilst they humble me, give me vanity; tho’I am lessen'd by you even when you commend me : since you commend my little sense with so much more of yours, that you put me out of countenance, whilft you would keep me in it. have found a way (against the custom of great wits) to fhew even a great deal of good nature with a great deal of good sense.
I thank you for the book you promis’d me, by which I find you would not only correct my lines, but my life.
As to the damn'd verses I entrusted you with, I hope you will let them undergo your purgatory, to save them from the 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 felect what you think beft or moft tolerable, and look over them again; for I resolve suddenly to print some of them, as a harden'd old gamefter will (in spite of all former ill usage by fortune) push on an ill hand in expectation of recovering himself; especially since I have fuch a Croupier or Second to stand by me as Mr. Pope.
Nov. 20, 1707. MR. Englefyld being upon his journey to London,
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 poem *on Dulness, which was not then finish’d, and which I should not care to hazard by the common poft. Mr. Englefyld is ignorant of the
* The original of it in blots, and with figures of the References from copy to copy, in Mr. Pope's hand, is yet extant among other fuch Brouillons of Mr. Wych y's poems, corrected by him.
contents, and I hope your prudence will let him remain so, for my fake no less than your own; since if you should reveal any thing of this nature, it would be no wonder reports fhould be rais’d, and there are those (I fear) who would be ready to improve them to my disadvantage.
I am forry you told the great man, whom you met in the court of requests, that your p.pers were in my hands : no man alive shall ever know any such thing from me; and I give you this warning besides, that tho’yourself should fay I had any ways assisted you, I am notwithstanding resoly'd to deny it.
The method of the copy I send you is very different from what it was, and much more regular : for the better help of your memory, I desire you to compare it by the figures in the margin, answering to the saine in this letter. The poem is now divided into four parts, marked with the literal figures 1. 2. 3. 4. The first contains the Praise of Dulness, and shews how upon several fyppositions it passes for 1. religion, 2. philosophy, 3next ample, 4. wit, and 5. the cause of wit, and the end of it. The second part contains the Advantages of Dulfress ; ift, in business; and 2dly, at Court; where the fimili. tudes of the Byass of a bowl, aud the Weights of a clock, are directly tending to the subject, tho’introduced before in a place where there was no mention made of those advantages (which was your only objection to my adding them.) The third contains the Happiness of Dulness in all stations, and shews in a great many particulars, that it is so fortunate as to be efteem'd some good quality or other in all sorts of people; that it is thought quiet, sense, caution, policy, prudence, majesty, valour, circumspection, honesty, etc. The fourth part I have wholiy added, as a climax which sums up all ihe praise, advantage, and happiness of Dulness in a few words, and ftrengthens them by the opposition of the difgrace, disadvantage, and unhappiness of Wit, with which it concludes *.
This is totally omitted in the present Edition : Some of the lines are these : VOL, III
Tho' the whole be as short again as at first, there is not one thought omitted, but what is a repetition of something in your first volume, or in this very paper : some thoughts are contracted, where they seem'd encompass'd with too many words; and some new express’d, or added, where I thought there wanted heightning (as you'll see particularly in the Simile of the clockweights) and the versification throughout is, I believe, such as no body can be shock'd at.
The repeated permillions you give me of dealing freely with you, will (I hope) excuse what I have done : for if I have not spar'd you when I thought severity would do you a kindness, I have not mangled you where I thought there was no absolute need of amputation. As to particulars, I can fatisfy you better when we meet; in the mean time pray write to me when you can, you cannot too often.
L ET TER XIV.
From Mr. WYCHERLEY,
Nov. 22, 1707. You may see by my style, I had the happiness and
satisfaction to receive yesterday by the hands of Mr. Englefyld, your extreme kind and obliging letter of the
« Thus Dulness, the safe opiate of the mind,
“ Unfear'd, unhated, undisturb'd it lives,” etc. It was originally thus express'd :
"s As Clocks run fastest when most lead is on," in a Letter of Mr. Pope to Mr. Wycherley, dated April 3, 1705, and in a papir of verses of his, To the Author of a poem called Successio, which got out in a miscellany in 1712, three years before M5 Wychesley died, and two after he had laid aside the whole design of publishing any poems.
# These two similes of the Biass of a Bowl, and the Weights of a Cl-ek, were at length put into the first book of the Danciad. And thus we have the history of their birth, fortunes, and final establishment.
20th of this month; which, like all the rest of yours, did at once mortify me, and make me vain; since it tells me with so much more wit, sense, and kindness than mine can express, that my letters are always welcome to you. So that even while your kindness invites me to write to you, your wit and judgment forbid me; since I may return you a letter, but never an answer.
Now, as for my owning your assistance to me, in overlooking my unmusical numbers, and harsher fenle, and correcting them both with your genius, or judgment; I must tell you I always own it (in spite of your unpoetic modesty) who would do with your friendship as your charity; conceal your bounty to magnify the obligation; and even whilft you lay on your friend the favour, acquit him of the debt : but that shall not serve your turn ; I will always own, 'tis my infallible Pope has, or would redeem me from a poetical damning, the second time; and save my rhimes from being condemn’d to the critics flames to all eternity ; but (by the faith you profess) you know your works of supererogation, transferr'd upon an humble, acknowledging finner, may fave even him : having good works enough of your own besides, to ensure yours, and their immortality.
And now for the pains you have taken to recommend! my Dulness, by making it more methodical, I give you a thousand thanks; since true and natural Dulnets is thewn more by its pretence to form and method, as the sprightliness of wit by its defpifing both. I thank you a thoufand tiines for your repeated invitations to come to Binfield : You will find, it will be as hard for you to get quit of my mercenary kindness to you, as it would for me to deferve, or return yours; however, it shall be the endeavour of my future life, as it will be to demonstrate myself