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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Pope to Swift - 20

< The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift‎ | Volume 14


APRIL 2, 1733.


YOU say truly, that death is only terrible to us as it separates us from those we love, but I really think those have the worst of it who are left by us, if we are true friends. I have felt more (I fancy) in the loss of Mr. Gay, than I shall suffer in the thought of going away myself into a state that can feel none of this sort of losses. I wished vehemently to have seen him in a condition of living independent, and to have lived in perfect indolence the rest of our days together, the two most idle, most innocent, undesigning poets of our age. I now as vehemently wish you and I might walk into the grave together, by as slow steps as you please, but contentedly and cheerfully: whether that ever can be, or in what country, I know no more, than into what country we shall walk out of the grave. But it suffices me to know it will be exactly what region or state our Maker appoints, and that whatever is, is right. Our poor friend's papers are partly in my hands, and for as much as is so, I will take care to suppress things unworthy of him. As to the epitaph, I am sorry you gave a copy, for it will certainly by that means come into print, and I would correct it more, unless you will do it for me, and that I shall like as well. Upon the whole I earnestly wish your coming over hither, for this reason among many others, that your influence may be joined with mine to suppress whatever we may judge proper of his papers. To be plunged in my neighbours and my papers, will be your inevitable fate as soon as you come. That I am an author whose characters are thought of some weight, appears from the great noise and bustle that the court and town make about any I give; and I will not render them less important or less interesting, by sparing vice and folly, or by betraying the cause of truth and virtue. I will take care they shall be such as no man can be angry at, but the persons I would have angry. You are sensible with what decency and justice I paid homage to the royal family, at the same time that I satirized false courtiers, and spies, &c. about them. I have not the courage however to be such a satirist as you, but I would be as much, or more, a philosopher. You call your satires, libels; I would rather call my satires, epistles: they will consist more of morality than of wit, and grow graver, which you will call duller. I shall leave it to my antagonists to be witty (if they can) and content myself to be useful, and in the right. Tell me your opinion as to lady Mary Wortley's or lord Harvey's performance? they are certainly the top wits of the court, and you may judge by that single piece what can be done against me; for it was laboured, corrected, precommended and postdisapproved, so far as to be disowned by themselves, after each had highly cried it up for the other's. I have met with some complaints, and heard at a distance of some threats, occasioned by my verses: I sent fair messages to acquaint them where I was to be found in town, and to offer to call at their houses to satisfy them, and so it dropped. It is very poor in any one to rail and threaten at a distance, and have nothing to say to you when they see you. I am glad you persist and abide by so good a thing as that poem, in which I am immortal for my morality: I never took any praise so kindly, and yet I think I deserve that praise better than I do any other. When does your collection come out, and what will it consist of? I have but last week finished another of my epistles, in the order of the system; and this week (exercitandi gratiâ) I have translated (or rather parodied) another of Horace's, in which I introduce you advising me about my expenses, housekeeping, &c. But these things shall lie by, till you come to carp at them, and alter rhymes, and grammar, and triplets, and cacophonies of all kinds. Our parliament will set till Midsummer, which I hope may be a motive to bring you rather in summer than so late as autumn: you used to love what I hate, a hurry of politicks, &c. Courts I see not, courtiers I know not, kings I adore not, queens I compliment not; so I am never likely to be in fashion, nor in dependance. I heartily join with you in pitying, our poor lady for her unhappiness, and should only pity her more, if she had more of what they at court call happiness. Come then, and perhaps we may go all together into France at the end of the season, and compare the liberties of both kingdoms. Adieu. Believe me, dear sir, (with a thousand warm wishes, mixed with short sighs) ever yours.