The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Swift to Pope - 17

OCT. 31, 1729.

YOU were so careful of sending me the Dunciad, that I have received five of them, and have pleased four friends. I am one of every body who approve every part of it, text and comment; but am one abstracted from every body, in the happiness of being recorded your friend, while wit, and humour, and politeness shall have any memorial among us. As for your octavo edition, we know nothing of it, for we have an octavo of our own, which has sold wonderfully, considering our poverty, and dulness the consequence of it.

I writ this post to lord Bolingbroke, and tell him in my letter, that with a great deal of loss for a frolick, I will fly as soon as build: I have neither years, nor spirits, nor money, nor patience for such amusements. The frolick is gone off, and I am only 100l. the poorer. But this kingdom is grown so excessively poor, that we wise men must think of nothing but getting a little ready money. It is thought there are not two hundred thousand pounds of species in the whole island[1]; for we return thrice as much to our absentees, as we get by trade, and so are all inevitably undone; which I have been telling them in print these ten years, to as little purpose as if it came from the pulpit. And this is enough for Irish politicks, which I only mention, because it so nearly touches myself. I must repeat what I believe I have said before, that I pity you much more than Mrs. Pope. Such a parent and friend hourly declining before your eyes, is an object very unfit for your health, and duty, and tender disposition, and I pray God it may not affect you too much. I am as much satisfied that your additional 100l. per annum is for life as if it were for ever. You have enough to leave your friends, I would not have them glad to be rid of you; and I shall take care that none but my enemies will be glad to get rid of me. You have embroiled me with lord B——— about the figure of living, and the pleasure of giving. I am under the necessity of some little paltry figure in the station I am; but I make it as little as possible. As to the other part you are base, because I thought myself as great a giver as ever was of my ability; and yet in proportion you exceed, and have kept it till now a secret even from me, when I wondered how you were able to live with your whole little revenue.


  1. This is a very melancholy picture of the then state of Ireland.