The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Swift to Pope - 31


AUGUST 8, 1738.

I HAVE yours of July 25, and first I desire you will look upon me as a man worn with years, and sunk by publick as well as personal vexations. I have entirely lost my memory, uncapable of conversation by a cruel deafness, which has lasted almost a year, and I despair of any cure. I say not this to increase your compassion (of which you have already too great a part) but as an excuse for my not being regular in my letters to you, and some few other friends. I have an ill name in the postoffice of both kingdoms, which makes the letters addressed to me not seldom miscarry, or be opened and read, and then sealed in a bungling manner before they come to my hands. Our friend Mrs. B. is very often in my thoughts, and high in my esteem; I desire you will be the messenger of my humble thanks and service to her. That superiour universal genius you describe, whose handwriting I know toward the end of your letter, has made me both proud and happy; but by what he writes I fear he will be too soon gone to his forest abroad. He began in the queen's time to be my patron, and then descended to be my friend.

It is a great favour of Heaven, that your health grows better by the addition of years. I have absolutely done with poetry for several years past, and even at my best times I could produce nothing but trifles: I therefore reject your compliments on that score, and it is no compliment in me; for I take your second dialogue that you lately sent me, to equal almost any thing you ever writ; although I live so much out of the world, that I am ignorant of the facts and persons, which I presume are very well known from Temple Bar to St. James's; I mean the court exclusive.

"I can faithfully assure you, that every letter you have favoured me with, these twenty years and more, are sealed up in bundles, and delivered to Mrs. W, a very worthy, rational, and judicious cousin of mine, and the only relation whose visits I can suffer: all these letters she is directed to send safely to you upon my decease."

My lord Orrery is gone with his lady to a part of her estate in the north: she is a person of very good understanding as any I know of her sex. Give me leave to write here a short answer to my lord B.'s letter in the last page of yours.


I am infinitely obliged to your lordship for the honour of your letter, and kind remembrance of me. I do here confess, that I have more obligations to your lordship than to all the world besides. You never deceived me, even when you were a great minister of state: and yet I love you still more, for your condescending to write to me, when you had the honour to be an exile. I can hardly hope to live till you publish your history, and am vain enough to wish that my name could be squeezed in among the few subalterns, quorum pars parva fui: if not, I will be revenged, and contrive some way to be known to futurity, that I had the honour to have your lordship for my best patron; and I will live and die, with the highest veneration and gratitude, your most obedient, &c.

P. S. I will here in a postscript correct (if it be possible) the blunders I have made in my letter. I have showed my cousin the above letter, and she assures me, "that a great collection of your
letters to me
[1] are put up and sealed, and in some very safe hand."

I am, my most dear and honoured friend, entirely yours,

It is now Aug. 24, 1738.

  1. It is written just thus in the original. The series of correspondence in the present volume seems to be part of the collection here spoken of, as it contains not only the letters of Mr. Pope, but of Dr. Swift, both to him and Mr. Gay, which were returned to Mr. Pope after Mr. Gay's death: though any mention made by Mr. P. of the return or exchange of letters has been industriously suppressed in the publication, and only appears by some of the answers.