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and his entrance was very early, he was admitted to familiarity with those whose rank or station made them most conspicuous.
From the age of fixteen the life of Pope, as an author, inay be properly computed. He now wrote his Pastorals, which were fhewn to the Poets and Criticks of that time; as they well deserved, they were read with admiration, and many praises were bestowed upon them and upon the Preface, which is both elegant and learned in a high degree: they were, however, not published till five years afterwards.
Cowley, Milton, and Pope, are distinguished among the English Poets by the carly exertion of their powers ; but the works of Cowley alone were pubJished in his childhood, and therefore of him only can it be certain that his
puerile performances received no improve* ment from his maturer studies.
At this time began his acquaintance with Wicherley, a man who seems to have had among his contemporaries his full share of reputation, to have been esteemed without virtue, and caressed without good-humour. Pope was proud of his notice; Wycherley wrote verses in his praise; which he was charged by Dennis with writing to himself, and
they agreed for a while to flatter one another. It is pleasant to remark how foon Pope learned the cant of an author, and began to treat criticks with contempt, though he had yet suffered nothing from them.
But the fondness of Wycherley was too violent to last. His esteem of Pope was such, that he submitted some poems to his revision; and when Pope, perhaps proud of such confidence, was sufficiently bold in his criticisms, and liberal in his alterations, the old scribler was angry to see his pages defaced, and felt more pain from the detection than content from the amendment of his faults. They parted; but Pope always considered him with kindness, and visie ted him a little time before he died.
Another of his early correspondents was Mr. Cromwel, of whom I have learved nothing particular but that he
used to ride a-hunting in a tye-wig. He was fond, and perhaps vain, of amusing himself with poetry and criticifm; and sometimes sent his performances to Pope, who did not forbear such remarks as were now-and-then unwelcome. Pope, in his turn, put the juvenile version of Statius into his hands for correction.
Their correspondence afforded the publick its first knowledge of Pope's Epistolary Powers; for his Letters were given by Cromwel to one Mrs. Thomas, and the many years afterwards sold them to Curll, who inserted them in a volume of his Miscellanies.
Walsh, a name yet preserved among the minor poets, was one of his first encouragers. His regard was gained
by by the Pastorals, and from him Pope received the counsel by which he -feems to have regulated his studies, Walsh advised him to correctness, which, as he told him, the English poets had hitherto neglected, and which therefore was left to him as a basis of fame; and, being delighted with rural poems, recommended to him to write a pastoral comedy, like those which are read fo eagerly in Italy; a design which Pope probably did not approve, as he did not follow it.