The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Alexander Pope to John Boyle - 1


AFTER having condoled several times with you on your own illness, and that of our friends, I now claim some share myself; for I have been down with a fever, which yet confines me to my chamber. Just before, I wrote a letter to the dean, full of my heart; and, among other things, pressed him (which, I must acquaint your lordship, I had done twice before, for near a twelvemonth past) to secure me against that rascal printer, by returning me my letters, (which if he valued so much) I promised to send him copies of, merely that the originals might not fall into such ill hands, and thereby a hundred particulars be at his mercy; which would expose me to the misconstruction of many, the malice of some, and the censure, perhaps, of the whole world. A fresh incident made me press this again, which I enclose to you, that you may show him. The man's declaration, "That he had these two letters of the dean's from your side the water," with several others yet lying by, (which I cannot doubt the truth of, because I never had a copy of either) is surely a just cause for my request. Yet the dean, answering every other point of my letter, with the utmost expressions of kindness, is silent upon this; and, the third time silent. I begin to fear he has already lent them out of his hands: and in whatever hands, while they are Irish hands, allow me, my lord, to say, they are in dangerous hands. Weak admirers are as bad as malicious enemies, and operate in these cases alike to an author's disparagement or uneasiness. I think this I made the dean, so just a request, that I beg your lordship to second it, by showing him what I write. I told him as soon as I found myself obliged to publish an edition of letters to my great sorrow, that I wished to make use of some of these: nor did I think any part of my correspondencies would do me a greater honour, and be really a greater pleasure to me, than what might preserve the memory how well we loved one another. I find the dean was not quite of the same opinion, or he would not, I think, have denied this. I wish some of those sort of people always about a great man in wit, as well as a great man in power, have not an eye to some little interest in getting the whole of these into their possession: I will venture, however to say, they would not add more credit to the dean's memory, by their management of them, than I by mine: and if, as I have a great deal of affection for him, I have with it some judgment at least, I presume my conduct herein might be better confided in.

Indeed, this silence is so remarkable, it surprises me: I hope in God it is not to be attributed to what he complains of, a want of memory. I would rather suffer from any other cause, than what would be so unhappy to him. My sincere love for this valuable, indeed, incomparable man, will accompany him through life, and pursue his memory, were I to live a hundred lives, as many as his works will live: which are absolutely original, unequalled, unexampled. His humanity, his charity, his condescension, his candour, are equal to his wit; and require as good and true a taste to be equally valued. When all this must die, (this last I mean) I would gladly have been the recorder of so great a part of it as shines in his letters to me, and of which my own are but as so many acknowledgments. But, perhaps, before this reaches your hands, my cares may be over; and Curll, and every body else, may say and lie of me as they will: the dean, old as he is, may have the task to defend me.