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rival to her wit, or fame : so that let your Countrygentlewoman appear when she will in the world *, my old worn-out jade of a loft 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 pleafure 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-ulher 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 wilh 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
· * This, and what follows, is a full Confutation of John
L ET TER XVIII.
From Mr. WYCHER LE Y.
May 17, 1709. T Must thank you for a book of your Miscellanies, I which Tonson sent me, I suppose, by your order ; and all I can tell you of it is, that nothing has lately been better receiv'd by the public, than your part of it. You have only displeas'd the critics by pleasing them too well ; having not left them a word to say for themselves, against you and your perfor. mances ; so that, now your hand is in, you must persevere, till my prophecies of you be fulfill'd. 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 lik’d 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 firft, 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 gantlet, through all the coffee-houses; which are row entertain'd with a whimsical new news paper, call’d 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 satisfy'd with ; fo 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 fervant, than
L ETTER XIX.
May 20, 1709. I Am glad you receiv'd the * Miscellany, if it I were only to show you that there are as bad poets in this nation as your servant. This modern cuftom 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 nafcitur, aut moritur, aut præliatur, aut rufticatur, aut abit peregre, aut redit, aut nubit, aut est, aut non eft, (nam etiam'mortuis ifti canunt) cui non illi extemplo cudant Eficedia, Genethliaca, Protreptica, Panegyrica, Epithalamia, Vaticinia, Propemptica, Soterica, Parænetica, Nenias, Nugas.
* Jacob Tonson's fixth Vol. of Miscellany Poems.
As to the success which, you say, my part has met with, it is to be attributed to what you was pleas'd 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 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 pleas'd with them, when he confiders 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 appear'd 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 miftreffes without portions, the Muses, are never like to set up for fortunes. But for my part, I shall be satisfy'd if I can lose my time agreeably this way, without losing my reputation : as for gaining
AND . 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 dignify'd his adventurers and voluntiers in poetry.) Jacob creates poets, as Kings sometimes do knights, not for their honour, but for their money. Certainly he ought to be esteem'd a worker of miracles, who is grown rich by poetry.
What Authors lose, their Booksellers have won,
I am your, &c.
From Mr. WYCHER LE Y..
May 26, 1709. T HE last I received from you was dated the
1 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, fince I shall enjoy