The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Pope to Swift - 30

MARCH 23, 1736-7.

THOUGH you were never to write to me, yet what you desired in your last, that I would write often to you, would be a very easy task: for every day I talk with you, and of you, in my heart; and I need only set down what that is thinking of. The nearer I find myself verging to that period of life which is to be labour and sorrow, the more I prop myself upon those few supports that are left me. People in this state are like props indeed, they cannot stand alone, but two or more of them can stand, leaning and bearing upon one another. I wish you and I might pass this part of life together. My only necessary care is at an end. I am now my own master too much; my house is too large; my gardens furnish too much wood and provision for my use. My servants are sensible and tender of me, they have intermarried, and are become rather low friends than servants: and to all those that I see here with pleasure, they take a pleasure in being useful. I conclude this is your case too in your domestick life, and I sometimes think of your old housekeeper as my nurse; though I tremble at the sea, which only divides us. As your fears are not so great as mine, and I firmly hope your strength still much greater, is it utterly impossible, it might once more be some pleasure to you to see England? My sole motive in proposing France to meet in, was the narrowness of the passage by sea from hence, the physicians having told me the weakness of my breast, &c. is such, as a seasickness might endanger my life. Though one or two of our friends are gone, since you saw your native country, there remain a few more who will last so till death; and who I cannot but hope have an attractive power to draw you back to a country, which cannot quite be sunk or enslaved, while such spirits remain. And let me tell you, there are a few more of the same spirit, who would awaken all your old ideas, and revive your hopes of her future recovery and virtue. These look up to you with reverence, and would be animated by the sight of him, at whose soul they have taken fire, in his writings, and derived from thence as much love of their species, as is consistent with a contempt for the knaves of it.

I could never be weary, except at the eyes, of writing to you; but my real reason (and a strong one it is) for doing it so seldom, is fear; fear of a very great and experienced evil, that of my letters being kept by the partiality of friends, and passing into the hands, and malice of enemies; who publish them with all their imperfections on their head, so that I write not on the common terms of honest men.

Would to God you would come over with lord Orrery, whose care of you in the voyage I could so certainly depend on; and bring with you your old housekeeper and two or three servants. I have room for all, a heart for all, and (think what you will) a fortune for all. We could, were we together, contrive to make our last days easy, and leave some sort of monument, what friends two wits could be in spite of all the fools in the world. Adieu.