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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Swift to Pope - 21


DUBLIN, JULY 8, 1733.


I MUST condole with you for the loss of Mrs. Pope, of whose death the papers have been full. But I would rather rejoice with you, because if any circumstances can make the death of a dear parent and friend a subject for joy, you have them all. She died in an extreme old age, without pain, under the care of the most dutiful son that I have ever known or heard of, which is a felicity not happening to one in a million. The worst effect of her death falls upon me, and so much the worse, because I expected aliquis damno usus in illo, that it would be followed by making me and this kingdom, happy with your presence. But I am told to my great misfortune, that a very convenient offer happening, you waved the invitation pressed on you, alleging the fear you had of being killed here with eating and drinking. By which I find that you have given some credit to a notion of our great plenty and, hospitality. It is true, our meat and wine is cheaper here, as it is always in the poorest countries, because there is no money to pay for them: I believe there are not in this whole city three gentlemen out of employment, who are able to give entertainments once a month. Those who are in employments of church or state, are three parts in four from England, and amount to little more than a dozen: those indeed may once or twice invite their friends, or any person of distinction that makes a voyage hither. All my acquaintance tell me, they know not above three families where they can occasionally dine in a whole year: Dr. Delany is the only gentleman I know, who keeps one certain day in the week to entertain seven or eight friends at dinner, and to pass the evening, where there is nothing of excess, either in eating or drinking. Our old friend Southern (who has just left us) was invited to dinner once or twice by a judge, a bishop, or a commissioner of the revenues, but most frequented a few particular friends, and chiefly the doctor, who is easy in his fortune, and very hospitable. The conveniences of taking the air, winter or summer, do far exceed those in London, For the two large strands just at two edges of the town, are as firm and dry in winter, as in summer. There are at least six or eight gentlemen of sense, learning good humour and taste, able and desirous to please you, and orderly females, some of the better sort, to take care of you. These were the motives that I have frequently made use of to entice you hither. And there would be no failure among the best people here, of any honours that could be done you. As to myself, I declare my health is so uncertain that I dare not venture among you at present. I hate the thoughts of London, where I am not rich enough to live otherwise than by shifting, which is now too late. Neither can I have conveniences in the country for three horses and two servants, and many others which I have here at hand. I am one of the governors of all the hackney coaches, carts, and carriages round this town, who dare not insult me like your rascally waggoners or coachmen, but give me the way; nor is there one lord or 'squire for a hundred of yours, to turn me out of the road, or run over me with their coaches and six. Thus, I make some advantage of the publick poverty, and give you the reasons for what I once writ, why I choose to be a freeman among slaves, rather than a slave among freemen. Then, I walk the streets in peace without being justled, nor even without a thousand blessings from my friends the vulgar. I am lord mayor of 120 houses, I am absolute lord of the greatest cathedral in the kingdom, am at peace with the neighbouring princes the lord mayor of the city, and the archbishop of Dublin; only the latter, like the K. of France, sometimes attempts encroachments on my dominions, as old Lewis did upon Lorrain. In the midst of this raillery, I can tell you with seriousness, that these advantages contribute to my ease, and therefore I value them. And in one part of your letter relating to lord Bolingbroke and yourself, you agree with me entirely, about the indifference, the love of quiet, the care of health, &c. that grow upon men in years. And if you discover those inclinations in my lord and yourself, what can you expect from me, whose health is so precarious? and yet at your or his time of life, I could have leaped over the moon.