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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Swift to Pope - 19

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DUBLIN, 1732-3.


I RECEIVED yours with a few lines from the doctor, and the account of our losing Mr. Gay, upon which event I shall say nothing. I am only concerned that long living has not hardened me: for even in this kingdom, and in a few days past, two persons of great merit whom I loved very well, have died in the prime of their years, but a little above thirty, I would endeavour to comfort myself upon the loss of friends, as I do upon the loss of money; by turning to my account book, and seeing whether I have enough left for my support? but in the former case I find I have not, any more than in the other; and know not any man who is in a greater likelihood than myself, to die poor and friendless. You are a much greater loser than I by his death, as being a more intimate friend, and often his companion; which latter I could never hope to be, except perhaps once more in my life for a piece of a summer. I hope he has left you the care of any writings he may have left, and I wish, that with those already extant, they could be all published in a fair edition under your inspection. Your poem on the Use of Riches has been just printed here, and we have no objection but the obscurity of several passages by our ignorance in facts and persons, which make us lose abundance of the satire. Had the printer given me notice, I would have honestly printed the names at length, where I happened to know them; and writ explanatory notes, which however would have been but few, for my long absence has made me ignorant of what passes out of the scene where I am. I never had the least hint from you about this work, any more than of your former, upon Taste. We are told here, that you are preparing other pieces of the same bulk to be inscribed to other friends, one (for instance) to my lord Bolingbroke, another to lord Oxford, and so on doctor Delany presents you his most humble service, he behaves himself very commendably, converses only with his former friends, makes no parade, but entertains them constantly at an elegant plentiful table, walks the streets as usual, by daylight, does many acts of charity and generosity, cultivates a country house two miles distant, and is one of those very few within my knowledge, on whom a great access of fortune hath made no manner of change. And particularly he is often without money, as he was before. We have got my lord Orrery among us, being forced to continue here on the ill condition of his estate by the knavery of an agent; he is a most worthy gentleman, whom I hope you will be acquainted with. I am very much obliged by your favour to Mr. P, which I desire may continue no longer than he shall deserve by his modesty, a virtue I never knew him to want, but is hard for young men to keep, without abundance of ballast. If you are acquainted with the duchess of Queensberry, I desire you will present her my most humble service: I think she is a greater loser by the death of a friend than either of us. She seems a lady of excellent sense and spirits. I had often postscripts from her in our friend's letters to me, and her part was sometimes longer than his, and they made up a great part of the little happiness I could have here. This was the more generous, because I never saw her since she was a girl of five years old, nor did I envy poor Mr. Gay for any thing so much as being a domestick friend to such a lady. I desire you will never fail to send me a particular account of your health. I dare hardly inquire about Mrs. Pope, who I am told is but just among the living, and consequently a continual grief to you: she is sensible of your tenderness, which robs her of the only happiness she is capable of enjoying. And yet I pity you more than her, you cannot lengthen her days, and I beg she may not shorten yours.