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to peruse my papers, and select what you think best or most tolerable, and look over them again ; for I resolve suddenly to print some of them, as
a hardened old gamester will ( in spite of all former ill usage by fortune) push on an ill hand in expectation of recovering himself; especially, since I have such a Croupier or Second to stand by me
of the poem
Nov. 20. 1707 MR
'R 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 delire, than to gratify my own; tho' I did it so lately by the messenger you fent hither: I take it too as an opportunity of sending you the fair copy
on Dulnels, which was not then finilh'd, and which I should not care to hazard by the common post. Mr Englefyld is ignorant of the 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 should be rais’d, and there are those (I fear) who would be ready to improve them to my disadvantage. I am sorry you told the great man, whom you met in the court of re
* The original of it in blots, and with figures of the references from copy to copy, in Mr Pope's band, is yet extant among other such Brouillons of Mr Wycherley's poems, corrected by him.
quests, that your papers were in my hands: no man
copy I send
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 on the margin, answering to the same in this letter. The poem is now divided into four parts, mark'd with the literal figures, 1. 2. 3. 4. The first contains the praise of Dulness, and shews how upon several suppositions it palses for 1. religion. 2. philosophy. 3. example. 4. wit, and 5. the cause of wit, and the end of it. The second part contains the Advantages of Dulness; ist, in business ; and 2dly, at Court; where the similitudes of the Byass of a bowl, and 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, pru. dence, majefty, valour, circumspection, honesty, &c. The fourth part I have wholly added, as a climax which sums up all the praise, advantage, and happiness of Dulness in a few words, and strengthens them by the opposition of the disgrace, dif.
advantage, and unhappiness of Wit, with which it concludes*.
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 ; m some thoughts are contracted, where they seem'd encompass’d with too many words; and some new press’d, or added, where I thought there wanted heightning (as you'll see particularly in the Simile of the clock-weights); and the versification throughout is, I believe, such as no body can be shock'd at. The repeated permissions 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 satisfy you better when we meet; in the mean time pray write to me when you can, you cannot too often.
* This is totally omitted in the present Edition : Some of the lines are these: “.Thus Dulness, the fafe opiate of the mind, “ The last kind refuge weary wit can find; “ Fit for all nations, and in each content, “ Is satisfy'd, secure, and innocent ; “ No pains it takes, and no offence it gives,
“Unfear'd, unhated, undisturbid it lives, &c. It was originally thus expressed :
o As Clocks run fastest when most Lead is on," in a Letter of Mr Pope to Mr Wycherley, dated April 3. 17050 and in a paper of verses of his, To the Author of a poem called Successio, which got out in a miscellany in 1712, three years before Mr Wycherly died, and two after he bad laid aside the whole design of publishing any poems.
LETTER XIV. '
From MR W'Y CHER LEY.
Nov. 22. 1707. OU may see by my style, I had the happiness and
fatisfaction to receive yesterday by the hands of Mr Englefyld, your extreme kind and obliging letter of the 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, fense, and kindness than mine can express, that my letters are always welcome to you. So that even whilst your kindness invites me to write to you, your wit and judgment forbid-me; since I return you a letter, but never an anfwer.
Now, as for my owning your assistance to me, in overlooking my unmusical numbers, and harsher sense, 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 yours friend!hip as your charity; conceal' your bounty to magnify the obligation; and even whilst you lay on your friend the favour, acquit him of the debt; but that shall not serve your turn; I will always own,
infallible Pope has, or would redeem me from a poetical damning, the second time; and save my shimes from being condemnd to the critics fames to all eternity; but (by the faith you profess) you know your works of supererogation, transfer'd upon an humble acknowledging finger, may fave even him: having Vol. V.
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 thouland thanks; since true and natural dulness is shown more by its pretence to form and method, as the sprightliness of wit by its despising both. I thank you a thousand times for your repeated invi. 'tations 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 deserve, or return yours; however, it mall be the endeavour of - ny future life, as it will be to demonstrate myfelf
Nov. 29. 1707 HE compliments ,
in regard of
any inconsiderable , very unkind, and do but tell me in other words, that my friend has so mean an opinion of me, as to think I expect acknowledgments for trifles : which upon my faith 1 shall equally take amiss, whether made to myself, or to any other. For God's sake (my dear friend) think better of ine, and believe I desire no sort of favour fo much, as that of serving you more considerably than I have been yet able to do.
I Mall proceed in this manner with some others of your pieces ; but since you desire I would not deface