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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Pope to Swift - 23


JAN. 6, 1733-4.


I NEVER think of you and can never write to you, without drawing many of those short sighs of which we have formerly talked: the reflection both of the friends we have been deprived of by death, and of those from whom we are separated almost as eternally by absence, checks me to that degree, that it takes away in a manner the pleasure (which yet I feel very sensibly too) of thinking I am now conversing with you. You have been silent to me as to your works? whether those printed here are, or are not genuine? but one I am sure is yours; and your method of concealing yourself puts me in mind of the Indian bird I have read off, who hides his head in a hole, while all his feathers and tail stick out. You will have immediately by several franks (even before it is here published) my Epistle to lord Cobham, part of my Opus Magnum, and the last Essay on Man; both which I conclude will be grateful to your bookseller on whom you please to bestow them so early. There is a woman's war declared against me by a certain lord; his weapons are the same which women and children use, a pin to scratch, and a squirt to bespatter: I writ a sort of answer, but was ashamed to enter the lists with him, and after showing it to some people, suppressed it: otherwise it was such as was worthy of him, and worthy of me. I was three weeks this autumn with lord Peterborow, who rejoices in your doings, and always speaks with the greatest affection of you. I need not tell you who else do the same, you may be sure almost all those whom I ever see, or desire to see. I wonder not that B—— paid you no sort of civility while he was in Ireland: he is too much a half wit to love a true wit, and too much half honest, to esteem any entire merit. I hope and think he hates me too, and I will do my best to make him: he is so insupportably insolent in his civility to me when he meets me at one third place, that I must affront him to be rid of it. That strict neutrality as to publick parties, which I have constantly observed in all my writings, I think gives me the more title to attack such men, as slander and belie my character in private, to those who know me not. Yet even this is a liberty I shall never take, unless at the same time they are pests of private society, or mischievous members of the publick, that is to say, unless they are enemies to all men as well as to me. Pray write to me when you can: if ever I can come to you, I will: if not, may Providence be our friend and our guard through this simple world, where nothing is valuable, but sense and friendship. Adieu, dear sir, may health attend your years, and then may many years be added to you.


P. S. I am just now told a very curious lady intends to write to you to pump you about some poems said to be yours. Pray tell her, that you have not answered me on the same questions, and that I shall take it as a thing never to be forgiven from you, if you tell another what you have concealed from me.