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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From John Gay to Jonathan Swift - 4


LONDON, FEB. 3, 1722-3.

YOU made me happy in answering my last letter in so kind a manner, which, to common appearance, I did not deserve; but I believe you guessed my thoughts, and knew, that I had not forgot you, and that I always loved you. When I found, that my book was not sent to you by Tooke, Jervas undertook it, and gave it to Mr. Maxwell, who married a niece of Mr. Meredith's. I am surprised you have heard nothing of it; but Jervas has promised me to write about it, so that I hope you will have it delivered to you soon. Mr. Congreve I see often: he always mentions you with the strongest expressions of esteem and friendship. He labours still under the same afflictions, as to his sight and gout: but, in his intervals of health, he has not lost any thing of his cheerful temper. I passed all the last season with him at the Bath, and I have great reason to value myself upon his friendship; for I am sure he sincerely wishes me well. We pleased ourselves with the thoughts of seeing you there; but duke Disney, who knows more intelligence than any body besides, chanced to give us a wrong information. If you had been there, the duke promised, upon my giving him notice, to make you a visit. He often talks of you, and wishes to see you.

I was two or three days ago at Dr. Arbuthnot's, who told me, he had written you three letters, but had received no answer. He charged me to send you his advice, which is, to come to England and see your friends. This, he affirms (abstracted from the desire he has to see you) to be very good for your health. He thinks, that your going to Spa, and drinking the waters there, would be of great service to you, if you have resolution enough to take the journey. But he would have you try England first. I like the prescription very much, but I own, I have a self interest in it; for your taking this journey would certainly do me a great deal of good. Pope has just now embarked himself in another great undertaking as an author; for, of late, he has talked only as a gardener. He has engaged to translate the Odyssey in three years, I believe rather out of a prospect of gain than inclination; for I am persuaded he bore his part in the loss of the South-sea. He lives mostly at Twickenham, and amuses himself in his house and garden. I supped about a fortnight ago with lord Bathurst and Lewis, at Dr. Arbuthnot's. Whenever your old acquaintance meet, they never fail of expressing their want of you. I wish you would come, and be convinced, that all I tell you is true.

As for the reigning amusement of the town, it is entirely musick; real fiddles, base-viols, and hautboys; not poetical harps, lyres, and reeds. There's nobody allowed to say, I sing, but an eunuch, or an Italian woman. Every body is grown now as great a judge of musick, as they were, in your time, of poetry; and folks, that could not distinguish one tune from another, now daily dispute about the different styles of Handel, Bononcini, and Attilio. People have now forgot Homer, and Virgil, and Cæsar; or, at least, they have lost their ranks. For in London and Westminster, in all polite conversations, Senesino is daily voted to be the greatest man that ever lived.

I am obliged to you for your advice, as I have been formerly for your assistance, in introducing me into business. I shall this year be a commissioner of the state lottery, which will be worth to me a hundred and fifty pounds. And I am not without hopes, that I have friends, that will think of some better and more certain provision for me. You see I talk to you of myself, as a thing of consequence to you. I judge by myself; for to hear of your health and happiness, will always be one of my greatest satisfactions. Every one that I have named in the letter, give their service to you. I beg you to give mine, Mr. Pope's, and Mr. Kent's[1], to Mr. Ford. I am, dear sir, your most faithful and most humble servant,

P. S. My paper was so thin, that I was forced to make use of a cover. I do not require the like civility in return.

  1. A celebrated gardener, to whom Pope, speaking of Esher, a seat of the late Mr. Pelham's, pays a most elegant compliment;

    "Where Kent and nature vie for Pelham's love."