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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 compli. ment 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; fo friend. ship, like love, cannot be without some incenfe, to perfume the name it would praise and immortalize. But since you say you do not write 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 muit take pains to do it: and though I am proud to be of your opinion, when you talk of any 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 las letter is the worst (since the longest) you have favoured me with ; which I the core china the best, as the longer lif: (if a good one) is iha
best; as it yields the more variety, and is the more . exemplary ; as a chearful summer's day, tho' longer
than a dull one in the winter, is less tedious and more entertaining. Therefore let but your friendfhip be like your letter, as lasting as it is agreeable, and it can never be tedious, but more acceptable and obliging to
L ETTER V.
April 7, 1705. T Have received yours of the fifth, wherein your 1 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, whilft 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 partakes 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 fa., vourite 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 fcribler 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 ETTER VI.
April 30, 1705. T Cannot contend with you: You must give me I leave at once to wave all your compliments, and to collect only this in generai 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 polessed of that, it would put an end to all thof speeches with which you now make me bluth; and
change them to wholesome advices, and free sentín ments, 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 mult pardon me if I cannot forbear telling you a few notions of mine, in opposition to that opinion.
In the first place 'tis obfervable, 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 occafioned by love of pleasure or voluptuousness, each being desirous for his own sake of one to afimt or encourage 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 intere:t ; and an old man, who may be weary of himself, has, or should have less of self-love; so the friendihip between them is the more likely to be true, and unmixed with too much felf-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 i 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.
June 23, 1705. T Should believe myself happy in your good opiI nion, 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, to help to give him the finishing stroke.
Every man is apt to think his neighbour overItock'd with vanity, yet, I cannot but fancy there are certain times, when most people are in a disposition of being informed; and 'tis incredible what a vait good a little truth might do, spoken in such feasons.
* Mr. Wycherley was at this time about seventy years old, Mr. Pope under seventeen.