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


BATH, NOV. 12, 1728.


I HAVE passed six weeks in quest of health, and found it not; but I found the folly of solicitude about it in a hundred instances; the contrariety of opinions and practices, the inability of physicians, the blind obedience of some patients, and as blind rebellion of others. I believe at a certain time of life, men are either fools, or physicians for themselves; and zealots, or divines for themselves.

It was much in my hopes that you intended us a winter's visit, but last week I repented that wish, having been alarmed with a report of your lying ill on the road from Ireland; from which I am just relieved by an assurance that you are still at sir A——'s[1] planting and building; two things that I envy you for, beside a third, which is the society of a valuable lady. I conclude (though I know nothing of it) that you quarrel with her, and abuse her every day, if she is so. I wonder I hear of no lampoons upon her, either made by yourself, or by others because you esteem her. I think it a vast pleasure that whenever two people of merit regard one another, so many scoundrels envy and are angry at them; it is bearing testimony to a merit they cannot reach; and if you knew the infinite content I have received of late, at the finding yours and my name constantly united in any silly scandal, I think you would go near to sing Io Triumphe! and celebrate my happiness in verse; and I believe if you will not, I shall. The inscription to the Dunciad is now printed and inserted in the poem. Do you care I should say any thing farther how much that poem is yours? since certainly without you, it had never been. Would to God we were together for the rest of our lives! the whole weight of scribblers would just serve to find us amasement, and not more, I hope you are too well employed to mind them: every stick you plant, and every stone you lay, is to some purpose; but the business of such lives as theirs, is but to die daily, to labour, and raise nothing. I only wish we could comfort each other under our bodily infirmities, and let those who have so great a mind to have more wit than we, win it and wear it. Give us but ease, health, peace, and fair weather! I think it is the best wish in the world, and you know whose it was. If I lived in Ireland, I fear the wet climate would endanger more than my life; my humour, and health, I am so atmospherical a creature.

I must not omit acquainting you, that what you heard of the words spoken of you in the drawing room was not true. The sayings of princes are generally as ill related as the sayings of wits. To such reports little of our regard should be given, and less of our conduct influenced by them.