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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Pope to Swift - 15


OCT. 9. 1729.


IT pleases me that you received my books at last: but you have never once told me if you approve the whole, or disapprove not of some parts, of the commentary, &c. It was my principal aim in the entire work to perpetuate the friendship between us, and to show that the friends or the enemies of one were the friends or enemies of the other: if in any particular, any thing be stated or mentioned in a different manner from what you like, pray tell me freely, that the new editions now coming out here, may have it rectifyed. You will find the octavo rather more correct than the quarto, with some additions to the notes and epigrams cast in, which I wish had been increased by your acquaintance in Ireland. I rejoice in hearing that Drapiers Hill is to emulate Parnassus; I fear the country about it is as much impoverished. I truly share in all that troubles you, and wish you removed from a scene of distress, which I know works your compassionate temper too strongly. But if we are not to see you here, I believe I shall once in my life see you there. You think more for me, and about me, than any friend I have, and you think better for me. Perhaps you will not be contented, though I am, that the additional 100l. a year is only for my life. My mother is yet living, and I thank God for it: she will never be troublesome to me, if she be not so to herself: but a melancholy object it is, to observe the gradual decays both of body and mind, in a person to whom one is tied by the links of both. I cannot tell whether her death itself would be so afflicting.

You are too careful of my worldly affairs; I am rich enough, and can afford to give away 100l. a year. Do not be angry; I will not live to be very old. I have revelations to the contrary. I would not crawl upon the earth without doing a little good when I have a mind to do it: I will enjoy the pleasure of what I give, by giving it, alive, and seeing another enjoy it. When I die, I should be ashamed to leave enough to build me a monument, if there were a wanting friend above ground.

Mr. Gay assures me his 3000l. is kept entire and sacred; he seems to languish after a line from you, and complains tenderly. Lord Bolingbroke has told me ten times over he was going to write to you. Has he, or not? The Dr. is unalterable, both in friendship and quadrille: his wife has been very near death last week: his two brothers buried their wives within these six weeks, Gay is sixty miles off, and has been so all this summer, with the duke and duchess of Queensberry. He is the same man: so is every one here that you know: mankind is unamendable. Optimus ille Qui minimis urgetur[1] Poor Mrs. is like the rest, she cries at the thorn in her foot, but will suffer no body to pull it out. The court lady[2], I have a good opinion of, yet I have treated her more negligently than you would do, because you like to see the inside of a court, which I do not. I have seen her but twice. You have a desperate hand at dashing out a character by great strokes, and at the same time a delicate one at fine touches. God forbid you should draw mine, if I were conscious of any guilt: but if I were conscious only of folly, God send it! for as no body can detect a great fault so well as you, no body would so well hide a small one. But after all, that lady means to do good, and does no harm, which is a vast deal for a courtier. I can assure you that lord Peterborow always speaks kindly of you, and certainly has as great a mind to be you friend as any one. I must throw away my pen: it cannot, it will never tell you, what I inwardly am to you. Quod nequeo monstrare, & sentio tantum[3].


  1. He is the best who has the fewest faults.
  2. Mrs. Howard.
  3. Which I am unable to express, and can only feel.