The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Pope to Swift - 4

SEPT. 14, 1725.

I NEED not tell you, with what real delight I should have done any thing you desired, and in particular any good offices in my power toward the bearer of your letter, who is this day gone for France. Perhaps it is with poets as with prophets, they are so much better liked in another country than their own, that your gentleman, upon arriving in England, lost his curiosity concerning me. However, had he tried he had found me his friend; I mean he had found me yours. I am disappointed at not knowing better a man whom you esteem, and comfort my self only with having got a letter from you with which (after all) I sit down a gainer; since to my great pleasure it confirms my hope of once more seeing you. After so many dispersions, and so many divisions, two or three of us may yet be gathered together; not to plot, not to contrive silly schemes of ambition, or to vex our own or others hearts with busy vanities (such as perhaps at one time of life or other take their tour in every man) but to divert ourselves, and the world too if it pleases; or at worst, to laugh at others as innocently and as unhurtfully as at ourselves. Your travels[1] I hear much of; my own I promise you shall never more be in a strange land, but a diligent, I hope useful investigation[2] of my own territories[3]. I mean no more translations, but something domestick, fit for my own country, and for my own time.

If you come to us I will find you elderly ladies enough that can halloo, and two that can nurse, and they are too old and feeble to make too much noise; as you will guess when I tell you they are my own mother, and my own nurse. I can also help you to a lady who is as deaf, though not so old, as yourself; you will be pleased with one another I will engage, though you do not hear one another: you will converse like spirits by intuition. What you will most wonder at is, she is considerable at court, yet no party woman; and lives in court, yet would be easy and make you easy.

One of those you mention (and I dare say always will remember) Dr. Arbuthnot, is at this time ill of a very dangerous distemper, an imposthume in the bowels; which is broke, but the event is very uncertain. Whatever that be (he bids me tell you, and I write this by him) he lives or dies your faithful friend; and one reason he has to desire a little longer life, is the wish to see you once more.

He is gay enough in this circumstance to tell you he would give you (if he could) such advice as might cure your deafness, but he would not advise you, if you were cured, to quit the pretence of it; because you may by that means hear as much as you will, and answer as little as you please. Believe me

Yours, &c.

  1. Gulliver.
  2. The Essay on Man.
  3. This is the first notice he gives Swift of his great work, and we presume that Swift certainly could but guess at the subject.