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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Pope to Swift - 22

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


SEPT. 1, 1733.


I HAVE every day wished to write to you, to say a thousand things; and yet I think I should not have writ to you now, if I was not sick of writing any thing, sick of myself, and (what is worse) sick of my friends too. The world is become too busy for me; every body is so concerned for the publick, that all private enjoyments are lost, or disrelished, I write more to show you I am tired of this life, than to tell you any thing relating to it. I live as I did, I think as I did, I love you as I did: but all these are to no purpose: the world will not live, think, or love, as I do. I am troubled for, and vexed at, all my friends by turns. Here are some whom you love, and who love you; yet they receive no proofs of that affection from you, and they give none of it to you. There is a great gulf between. In earnest, I would go a thousand miles by land to see you, but the sea I dread. My ailments are such, that I really believe a seasickness, (considering the oppression of colical pains, and the great weakness of my breast) would kill me: and if I did not die of that, I must of the excessive eating and drinking of your hospitable town, and the excessive flattery of your most poetical country. I hate to be crammed either way. Let your hungry poets, and your rhyming peers digest it, I cannot. I like much better to be abused and half starved, than to be so overpraised and overfed. Drown Ireland! for having caught you, and for having kept you: I only reserve a little charity for her for knowing your value, and esteeming you: you are the only patriot I know, who is not hated for serving his country. The man who drew your character and printed it here was not much in the wrong in many things he said of you: yet he was a very impertinent fellow, for saying them in words quite different from those you had yourself employed before on the same subject: for surely to alter your words is to prejudice them: and I have been told, that a man himself can hardly say the same thing twice over with equal happiness: nature is so much a better thing than artifice.

I have written nothing this year: it is no affectation to tell you, my mother's loss has turned my frame of thinking. The habit of a whole life is a stronger thing than all the reason in the world. I know I ought to be easy, and to be free: but I am dejected, I am confined: my whole amusement is in reviewing my past life, not in laying plans for my future. I wish you cared as little for popular applause as I; as little for any nation in contradistinction to others, as I; and then I fancy, you that are not afraid of the sea, you that are a stronger man at sixty than ever I was at twenty, would come and see several people who are (at last) like the primitive christians, of one soul and of one mind. The day is come, which I have often wished, but never thought to see; when every mortal that I esteem is of the same sentiment in politicks and in religion.

Adieu. All you love, are yours, but all are busy, except (dear sir) your sincere friend.