The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Pope to Swift - 13

DAWLEY, JUNE 28, 1728.

I NOW hold the pen for my lord Bolingbroke, who is reading your letter between two haycocks, but his attention is sometimes diverted by casting his eyes on the clouds, not in admiration of what you say, but for fear of a shower. He is pleased with your placing him in the triumirate between yourself and me: though he says that he doubts he shall fare like Lepidus, while one of us runs away with all the power like Augustus, and another with all the pleasures like Anthony. It is upon a foresight of this, that he has fitted up his farm, and you will agree, that this scheme of retreat at least is not founded upon weak appearances. Upon his return from the Bath, all peccant humours, he finds, are purged out of him; and his great temperance and economy are so signal, that the first, is fit for my constitution, and the latter, would enable you to lay up so much money, as to buy a bishoprick in England. As to the return of his health and vigour, were you here, you might inquire of his haymakers; but as to his temperance, I can answer that (for one whole day) we have had nothing for dinner but mutton broth, beans and bacon, and a barndoor fowl.

Now his lordship is run after his cart, I have a moment left to myself to tell you, that I overheard him yesterday agree with a painter for 200l. to paint his country hall with trophies of rakes, spades, prongs, &c. and other ornaments merely to countenance his calling this place a farm now turn over a new leaf.

He bids me assure you, he should be sorry not to have more schemes of kindness for his friends, than of ambition for himself: there, though his schemes may be weak, the motives at least are strong; and he says farther, if you could bear as great a fall, and decrease of your revenues, as he knows by experience he can, you would not live in Ireland an hour.

The Dunciad is going to be printed in all pomp, with the inscription, which makes me proudest. It will be attended with proeme, prolegomena, testimonia scriptorum, index authorum, and notes variorum. As to the latter, I desire you to read over the text, and make a few in any way you like best[1], whether dry raillery, upon the style and way of commenting of trivial criticks; or humourous, upon the authors in the poem; or historical, of persons, places, times; or explanatory, or collecting the parallel passages of the ancients. Adieu. I am pretty well, my mother not ill. Dr. Arbuthnot vexed with his fever by intervals; I am afraid he declines, and we shall lose a worthy man: I am troubled about him very much.

I am, &c.

  1. Dr. Swift did so.