The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Swift to Pope - 13

JAN. 1, 1728-9.

I LOOK upon my lord Bolingbroke and us two, as a peculiar triumvirate, who have nothing to expect, or to fear; and so far fittest to converse with one another: only he and I are a little subject to schemes, and one of us (I would not say which) upon very weak appearances, and this you have nothing to do with. I do profess without affectation, that your kind opinion of me as a patriot (since you call it so) is what I do not deserve; because what I do is owing to perfect rage and resentment, and the mortifying sight of slavery, folly, and baseness about me, among which I am forced to live. And I will take my oath that you have more virtue in an hour, than I in seven years; for you despise the follies, and hate the vices of mankind, without the least ill effect on your temper; and with regard to particular men, you are inclined always rather to think the better, whereas with me it is always directly contrary. I hope however, this is not in you from a superiour principle of virtue, but from your situation, which has made all parties and interests indifferent to you; who can be under no concern about high and low church, whig and tory, or who is first minister Your long letter was the last I received till this by Dr. Delany, although you mention another since. The Dr. told me your secret about the Dunciad, which does not please me, because it defers gratifying my vanity in the most tender point, and perhaps may wholly disappoint it. As to one of your inquiries, I am easy enough in great matters, but have a thousand paltry vexations in my little station, and the more contemptible, the more vexatious. There might be a Lutrin writ upon the tricks used by my chapter to tease me. I do not converse with one creature of station or tide, but I have a set of easy people whom I entertain when I have a mind: I have formerly described them to you, but when you come you shall have the honours of the country as much as you please, and I shall, on that account, make a better figure as long as I live. Pray God preserve Mrs. Pope for your sake and ease; I love and esteem her too much to wish it for her own: if I were five and twenty, I would wish to be of her age, to be as secure as she is of a better life. Mrs. P. B. has writ to me, and is one of the best letter writers I know; very good sense, civility and friendship, without any stiffness or constraint. The Dunciad has taken wind here, but if it had not, you are as much known here as in England, and the university-lads will crowd to kiss the hem of your garment. I am grieved to hear that my lord Bolingbroke's ill health forced him to the Bath. Tell me, is not temperance a necessary virtue for great men, since it is the parent of ease and liberty? so necessary for the use and improvement of the mind, and which philosophy allows to be the greatest felicities of life? I believe, had health been given so liberally to you, it would have been better husbanded, without shame to your parts.