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correct too much; for in Poetry, as in Painting, a Man may lay Colours one upon another, till they stisfen and deaden the Piece. Besides, to bestow heightning on every Part is monstrous: Some Parts ought to be lower than the rest; and nothing looks more ridiculous, than a Work, where the Thoughts, however disferent in their own Nature, seem all on a level: 'Tis like a Meadow newly mown, where Weeds, Grass, and Flowers are all laid even, and appear undistinguish'd. I believe too, that sometimes our sirst Thoughts are the best, as the first squeezing of the Grapes makes the finest and richest Wine.
I have not attempted any Thing of Pastoral Comedy, because I think the Taste of our Age will not relish a Poem of that Sort. People seek for what they call Wit, on all Subjects, and in all Places; not considering that Nature loves Truth so well, that it hardly ever admits of flourishing; Conceit is to Nature what Paint is to Beauty; it is not only needless, but impairs what it wou'd improve. There is a certain Majesty in Simplicity, which is far ahove all the Quaintnese of Wit: Insomuch, that the Criticks have excluded it from the loftiest Poetry, as well as the lowest, and forbid it to the Epic no less than the Pastoral. I shou'd certainly displease all those who are charm'd with Guarini and Bonarelli, and imitate Tajso not only in the Simplicity of his Thoughts, but in that of the Fable too. If surprising Discoveries shou'd have Place in the Story of a Pastoral Comedy, I believe it wou'd be more agreeable to Probability, to make them the Esfects of Chance than of Design; Intrigues not being very consistent with that Innocence which ought to constitute a Shepherd's Character. There is nothing in all the Aminta (as I remember) but happens by meer Accident; unlesp it be the meeting of Aminta with Sylvia at the Fountain, which is the Contrivance of Daphne, and even that is the most simple in the World: The contrary is observable in Pajior Fia\ where Corisca is so perfect a Mistress of Intrigue, that the Plot could not have been brought to pass without her. I am inclin'd to think the Pastoral Comer dy has another Difadvantage, as to the Manners : Tts General Design is to make us in love with the Inr nocence of a rural.Lise, so that tp introduce Shepherds of a vicious Character, must in some measure debase it; and hence it may come, to pass, that even the virtuous Characters will not shine, so much, for Wapt of being opposed to their Contraries,—These Thoughts are purely, my own, and therefore I have reason to doubt them: But I hope your Judgment will set me right.
Mr. Walsh to Mr. Pope.
July 20. 1706.
T Had sooner return'd you Thanks for the Favour JL of your Letter, : but that I was in hopes of giving you an Accpunt at the fame time of my Journey to Windsor; but I am-now forced to put that quite off, being engaged to go to my Corporation of Richmond in Yorkjhire. I think you are persectly in the right in your Notions of Pastoral; but I am of Opir nion, that the Redundancy of Wit you mention, tho' 'tis what pleases the common People, is not what ever pleases the best Judges. Pajior Fido inr deed has had more Admirers than Aminta; but I will venture to fay, there isa great deal of Difference between the Admirers of one and the other. Corisca, which is a Character generally admir'd by the
ordinary ordinary Judges, is intolerable in a Pastoral; and 5anarelli's Fancy, of making his Shepherdess in love with two Men equally, is not to be desended, whatever Pains he has taken to do it.
Now to return to Mr. Pope.
It was about this Time he began to correspond by Letters to such of his learned and poetical Friends as were at a Distance from him; and one of the first of these was Mr. Wycherley, who was above fifty Years older than Mr. Pope, had wrote several applauded Comedies, and is mention'd by a very great Critick and Wit, to be one of the two who in that Age had ever hit upon the true Comedy. This Gentleman is very ill used by Giles Jacob, in his Lives and Characters of the Englijh Poets; where, without mentioning one of the very fine Things he has wrote, he contents himself with faying:
William Wycherley, Esq-,
THIS ingenious Gentleman published a Volnme of Poems in Folio; but he thereby rather lessened his Fame, than increas'd it; tho' he tells you in the Postscript to his Preface, that they were written at a Time, when "twas not so much his Head's Occasion to write, as his Pocket's; when he design'd his Works should have made him live, and not he to have made them live; and that he wrote not to give Pains to his Mind, but to ease it from Pains; to play the Fool with ridiculous Thoughts, rather than run mad with anxious ones. He has a Satirical Preface to his Criticks, who were such before they were his Readers: He begins; " To you, 1 fay, you *' Anti-Wits, I direct my Discourse; who, like "Gamesters ante manum, venture your little Stocks of Wit or Credit in Parnajsus, but to de
"prive "prive others of theirs, tho'you have no other Sort « of Wit, but what you first borrow, or purloin, "from the bold Pushers for Fame, the Scribblers, "your adventrous Benefactors; whom you, like ** Rooks at Play, (when you have got all you can '* by them) attack and push with their own Coin "and Stores of Sense; so, like the other Rooks, "live on the Destruction of your best Friends and "Maintainers; and upon gutting a Book, as the "Midnight Judicature do upon gutting a House." His Preface is long and full of Wit and pointed Satire against the Criticks; and he has a Dedication to the greatest Friend of the Muses, Vanity: which ends with a Satire on himself, and his large Work.
And outward Greatness does consess,
To his Bookseller, who desir'd his Picture before his
To show this Book my Writing, Act, and Deed, You'd have me to it put my Mark or Head.
Of Love he writes thus:
If Love's a Blessing (as it is) you fay,
This Description of Love I take to be very good:
Know, Know, Love is not by Precept taught,
Ncr what it is, can keafon prove, Above Expression, above Thought,
Instinct, by Which bur Senses niove \' Which, by Denying, is cottsess'd,
And oft express'd by Dumbness best.
He has these Lines on a Lady's Posteriors, which he discoVer'd on her falling over a Stile:
My Heart held out against your Fice and Eyes,-^ Butcou'd no more, against ydurBreecn and Thighs, > Which they both took and wounded by Surprize; 3 Who did (as 'twerej 'till then in Ambush lie For my poor Lise, at least my Liberty; So secret Enemies more Mischief do, The less still they their Pow'r to So it, show. By that Assassinate my Lise's betray'd—
Mr. Wycherley, in his Poems, is very fatirical on Courtiers, especially in his Praise of Ignorance, dedicated to the Court; and his Heroick Epistle, to the Honour of Pimps and Pimping, dedicated to the Court, and written at a Time when such were most considerable there. And speaking of Wit recommending a Person, he has these Verses:
To Court, to gain Mens, Womens Favour, go, Be sure, no more Wit than they have to show; Since each Sex sears Men most, of the most Wit, Will such into their Secrets least admit, For Fear of their discovering their Shame, Avoid their Courtship, but to 'scape their Blame, > And still their Pleasure lose, to keep their Fame. J
This Gentleman, at the End of his humorous Preface