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abundantly satisfies me, and convinces to the heart; which is, that * young as I am, and old as you arez, I am your entirely affectionate, &c.
June 23. 1705.. 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 inore fubject in their youth to be touched with vanity than men, on account of their being generally treated this way, but the weakest women not more weak than that clafs 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 overstock d with vanity, yet, I cannot but fancy there are certain times, when most people are in a disposition of being informed ; and 'tis increlible 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 neceffity.
I could name an acquaintance of yours, who would at this time think hiinself more obliged to you for the information of his faults, than the con
* Mr Wycherley was now about 70 years old, Mr Pope
firmation 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 some difficulty (as you are pleased to say) in writing to me, since you have always chosen the task of 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 fay, they have never been the cause of any vanity in me, except what they gave me when they first occasioned 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 fo extremely like Alexander the great, as you would persuade me. If I must be like him, 'tis you will make me fo, by complimenting me into a better opinion of myself than I deserve : They made him think he was the son of Jupiter, and you
assure me I am a man of parts. But is this all you can say to
said ten times as much before, when you
friend. After having made me believe I poffefs'd a share in your affection, to treat me with compliments and sweet sayings, is like the proceeding with poor Sancho Panca : they perfuaded him that he enjoy'd a great dominion, and then gave him nothing to subsist upon but wafers and marmalade. In our days the greatest obligation you can lay upon a Wit, is to make a fool of him.
my honour ?
call'd me your
For as when madmen are found incurable, wife men give them their way, and please them as well as they can; fo when those incorrigible things, Poets, are once irrecoverably be-mus'd, the best way both to quiet themn, aud secure yourself from the effects. of their frenzy, is to feed their varity; which in. deed, for the most part, is all that is fed in a poet.
You may believe me, I could be heartily glad that all you fay were as true, applied to me, as it would be to yourself, for feveral weighty reasons ; but for none fo much, as that I might be to you what you deserve ;: whereas I can now be no more than is consistent with the small, tho' utmost capacity of, &c.
L E T T E R VITI.
Ot. 26. 1705. Have now changed the scene froin the town to:
the country; from Will's coffee-house to Windfor-foreft. I find no other difference than this, be-twixt the common town-wits, and the downright. country fools; that the first are pertly in the wrong, with a little more flourish and gayety; and the last neither in the right nor the wrong, but confirm'd in. a stupid settled medium betwixt both. However, methinks, these are most in the right, who quiet. ly and easily refign themselves over to the gentle reign of dulnefs, which the Wits must do at laft, though after a great deal of noise and reliftance. Ours are a sort of modeft inoffensive people, who neither have fenfe, nor pretend to any, but enjoy a jovial fort of dulness : They are commonly known in the
world by the name of honeft, civil gentlemen : They live much as they ride, at random ; a kind of hunt. ing life, pursuing with carneftness and hazard fomething not worth the catching ; never in the way, nor out of it.
I can't but prefer folitude to the company of all these ; for tho' a man's felf may possibly be the worst fellow to converse with in the world, yet one would think the company of a person whom we have the greatest regard to and affection for, could not be very unpleasant. As a man in love with a mistress, desires no conversation but her's, fo a man in love with himself (as most men are) may be beft pleased with his own. Besides, if the truest and most useful knowledge be the knowledge of ourselves, solitude, conducing most to make us look in. to ourselves, should be the most instructive state of life. We see nothing more commonly, than men, who for the sake of the circumstantial part and mere outside of life, have been half their days rambling out of their nature, and ought to be sent into folitude to study themselves over again. People are usually spoiled, instead of being taught, at their coming into the world? whereas, by being more conversant with Obscurity, without any pains, they would naturally follow what they were meant for. In a word, if a man be a coxcornb, Solitude is his best School; and if he be a fool, it is his best Sanctuary.
These are good reasons for my own stay here, but I wish I could give you any for your coming hither, except that I earnestly invite you. And yet I can't help saying I have suffered a great deal of difcontent
Y I have always done yours, with no little satil
AND that you do not come, tho'l so little merit that
I must complain of the shortness of your last. Those who have most wit, like those who have most money, are generally most sparing of either.
L E T T E R IX.
Nov. 5. 1705
“poor, which is
faction, and am proud to discover by it, that
find fault with the shortness of mine, which I think the beft excuse for it : And tho' they (as you say) who have most wit or money are most sparing of either ; there are some who appear poor, to be thought rich, and are
case. I cannot but rejoice, that you have undergone so much discontent for want of my company; but if you have a mind to punish me for my fault (which I could not help) defer your coming to town, and you will do it effectually. But I know your charity always exceeds your revenge, so that I will not despair of feeing you, and, in return to your inviting me to your forest, invite you to my forest, the town; where the beasts that inhabit, tame or wild, of long ears, or horns, pursue one another either out of love or hatred. You may have the pleasure to see one pack of blood-hounds pursue another herd of brutes, to bring each other to their fall, which is their whole sport : Or if you affect a less bloody chace, you may fee a pack of spaniels, called Lovers, in a hot pur