The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Pope to Swift - 9


NOV. 16, 1726.

I HAVE resolved to take time; and in spite of all misfortunes and demurs, which sickness, lameness or disability of any kind can throw in my way, to write you (at intervals) a long letter. My two least fingers of one hand hang impediments to the other[1], like useless dependants, who only take up room, and never are active or assistant to our wants: I shall never be much the better for them I congratulate you first upon what you call your cousin's wonderful book, which is publica trita manu[2] at present, and I prophecy will be hereafter the admiration of all men. That countenance with which it is received by some statesmen, is delightful; I wish I could tell you how every single man looks upon it, to observe which has been my whole diversion this fortnight. I have never been a night in London since you left me, till now for this very end, and indeed it has fully answered my expectations.

I find no considerable man very angry at the book; some indeed think it rather too bold, and too general a satire: but none that I hear of accuse it of particular reflections (I mean no persons of consequence, or good judgment; the mob of criticks, you know, always are desirous to apply satire to those they envy for being above them) so that you needed not to have been so secret upon this head. Motte[3] received the copy (he tells me) he knew not from whence, nor from whom, dropped at his house in the dark, from a hackney coach; by computing the time, I found it was after you left England, so for my part, I suspend my judgment.

I am pleased with the nature and quality of your present to the princess. The Irish stuff[4] you sent to Mrs. Howard, her royal highness laid hold of, and has made up for her own use. Are you determined to be national in every thing, even in your civilities? you are the greatest politician in Europe at this rate; but as you are a rational politician, there is no great fear of you, you will never succeed.

Another thing in which you have pleased me, was what you say of Mr. Pulteney, by which it seems to me that you value no man s civility above your own dignity, or your own reason. Surely, without flattery, you are now above all parties of men, and it is high time to be so, after twenty or thirty years observation of the great world.

Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri[5].

I question not, many men would be of your intimacy, that you might be of their interest; but God forbid an honest or witty man should be of any, but that of his country. They have scoundrels enough to write for their passions and their designs; let us write for truth, for honour, and for posterity. If you must needs write about politicks at all, (but perhaps it is full as wise to play the fool any other way) surely it ought to be so as to preserve the dignity and integrity of your character with those times to come, which will most impartially judge of you.

I wish you had writ to lord Peterborow, no man is more affectionate toward you. Do not fancy none but tories are your friends; for at that rate I must be, at most, but half your friend, and sincerely I am wholly so. Adieu, write often, and come soon, for many wish you well, and all would be glad of your company.

  1. This was occasioned by a bad accident as he was returning home in a friend's chariot, which in passing through a river, the bridge being broken down, was overturned. The glasses being up, and Mr. Pope unable to break them, he was in immediate danger of drowning, when the footman who had just recovered himself, beat the glass which lay uppermost to pieces, a fragment of which cut one of Mr. Pope's hands very dangerously.
  2. In every body's hands.
  3. An eminent bookseller, publisher of the Travels.
  4. The dean at this time courted the princess, and was in hopes of getting his Irish deanery changed for some preferment in England. But the ministry were afraid to bring him on this side the water. Sir Robert Walpole dreaded his abilities.
  5. To follow any party leader's call.