The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Swift to Pope - 11

OCTOBER, 30, 1727.

THE first letter I writ after my landing was to Mr. Gay, but it would have been wiser to direct it to Tonson or Lintot, to whom I believe his lodgings are better known than to the runners of the postoffice. In that letter you will find what a quick change I made in seven days from London to the deanery, through many nations and languages unknown to the civilized world. And I have often reflected in how few hours, with a swift horse or a strong gale, a man may come among a people as unknown to him as the antipodes. If I did not know you more by your conversation and kindness than by your letter, I might be base enough to suspect, that in point of friendship, you acted like some philosophers, who writ much better upon virtue, than they practised it. In answer, I can only swear that you have taught me to dream, which I had not done in twelve years farther than by inexpressible nonsense; but now I can every night distinctly see Twitenham, and the Grotto, and Dawley, and many other et ceteras, and it is but three nights since I beat Mrs. Pope. I must needs confess, that the pleasure I take in thinking on you, is very much lessened by the pain I am in about your health: you pay dearly for the great talents God has given you; and for the consequences of them in the esteem and distinction you receive from mankind, unless you can provide a tolerable stock of health; in which pursuit I cannot much commend your conduct, but rather entreat you would mend it by following the advice of my lord Bolingbroke, and your other physicians. When you talked of cups and impressions, it came into my head to imitate you in quoting scripture, not to your advantage; I mean what was said to David by one of his brothers: "I knew thy pride and the naughtiness of thy heart;" I remember when it grieved your soul to see me pay a penny more than my club at an inn, when you had maintained me three months at bed and board; for which if I had dealt with you in the Smithfield way, it would have cost me a hundred pounds, for I live worse here upon more. Did you ever consider that I am for life almost twice as rich as you, and pay no rent, and drink French wine twice as cheap as you do port, and have neither coach, chair, nor mother? As to the world I think you ought to say to it with St. Paul, if we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? this is more proper still if you consider the French word spiritual, in which sense the world ought to pay you better than they do. If you made me a present of a thousand pounds, I would not allow myself to be in your debt; and if I made you a present of two, I would not allow myself to be out of it. But I have not half your pride: witness what Mr. Gay says in his letter, that I was censured for begging presents, though I limited them to ten shillings. I see no reason, (at least my friendship and vanity see none) why you should not give me a visit, when you shall happen to be disengaged: I will send a person to Chester to take care of you, and you shall be used by the best folks we have here, as well as civility and good nature can contrive; I believe local motion will be no ill physick, and I will have your coming inscribed on my tomb, and recorded in never dying verse.

I thank Mrs. Pope for her prayers, but I know the mystery. A person of my acquaintance who used to correspond with the last great duke of Tuscany, showing one of the duke's letters to a friend, and professing great sense of his highness's friendship, read this passage out of the letter, I would give one of my fingers to procure your real good. The person to whom this was read, and who knew the duke well, said, the meaning of real good, was only that the other might turn a good catholick. Pray ask Mrs. Pope whether this story is applicable to her and me? I pray God bless her, for I am sure she is a good christian, and (which is almost as rare) a good woman. Adieu.