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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Swift to Pope - 27

< The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift‎ | Volume 14


DUBLIN, APRIL 22, 1736.


MY common illness is of that kind which utterly disqualifies me for all conversation; I mean my deafness; and indeed it is that only which discourages me from all thoughts of going to England; because I am never sure that it may not return in a week. If it were a good honest gout, I could catch an interval to take a voyage, and in a warm lodging get an easy chair, and be able to hear and roar among my friends. "As to what you say of your letters, since you have many years of life more than I, my resolution is to direct my executors to send you all your letters, well sealed and packetted, along with some legacies mentioned in my will, and leave them entirely to your disposal: those things are all tied up, endorsed and locked in a cabinet, and I have not one servant who can properly be said to write or read: no mortal shall copy them, but you shall surely have them when I am no more." I have a little repined at my being hitherto slipped by you in your epistles; not from any other ambition than the title of a friend, and in that sense I expect you shall perform your promise, if your health, and leisure, and inclination will permit. I deny your losing on the side of poetry; I could reason against you a little from experience; you are, and will be some years to come, at the age when invention still keeps its ground, and judgment is at full maturity; but your subjects are much more difficult when confined to verse. I am amazed to see you exhaust the whole science of morality in so masterly a manner. Sir W. Temple said that the loss of friends was a tax upon long life: it need not be very long, since you have had so great a share, but I have not above one left: and in this country I have only a few general companions of good nature, and middling understandings. How should I know Cheselden? On your side, men of fame start up and die before we here (at least I) know any thing of the matter. I am a little comforted with what you say of lord Bolingbroke's genius still keeping up, and preparing to appear by effects worthy of the author, and useful to the world. Common reports have made me very uneasy about your neighbour Mr. Pulteney. It is affirmed that he hath been very near death: I love him for being a patriot in most corrupted times, and highly esteem his excellent understanding. Nothing but the perverse nature of my disorders, as I have above described them, and which are absolute disqualifications for converse, could hinder me from waiting on you at Twitenham, and nursing you to Paris. In short my ailments amount to a prohibition; although I am as you describe yourself, what I must call well; yet I have not spirits left to ride out, which (excepting walking) was my only diversion. And I must expect to decline every month, like one who lives upon his principal sum which must lessen every day: and indeed I am likewise literally almost in the same case, while every body owes me, and nobody pays me. Instead of a young race of patriots on your side, which gives me some glimpse of joy, here we have the direct contrary; a race of young dunces and atheists, or old villains and monsters, whereof four fifths are more wicked and stupid than Chartres. Your wants are so few, that you need not be rich to supply them; and my wants are so many, that a king's seven millions of guineas would not support me.