The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Swift to Pope - 5

SEPT. 29, 1725.

I AM now returning to the noble scene of Dublin, into the grande monde, for fear of burying my parts; to signalize myself among curates and vicars, and correct all corruptions crept in relating to the weight of bread and butter, through those dominions where I govern[1]. I have employed my time (beside ditching) in finishing, correcting, amending, and transcribing my travels[2], in four parts complete, newly augmented, and intended for the press when the world shall deserve them, or rather when a printer shall be found brave enough to venture his ears. I like the scheme of our meeting after distresses and dispersions, but the chief end I propose to myself in all my labours, is to vex the world rather than divert it; and if I could compass that design, without hurting my own person or fortune, I would be the most indefatigable writer you have ever seen, without reading. I am exceedingly pleased that you have done with translations; lord treasurer Oxford often lamented that a rascally world should lay you under a necessity of misemploying your genius for so long a time. But since you will now be so much better employed, when you think of the world, give it one lash the more at my request. I have ever hated all nations, professions, and communities; and all my love is toward individuals: for instance, I hate the tribe of lawyers, but I love counsellor such a one, and judge such a one: It is so with physicians, (I will not speak of my own trade) soldiers, English, Scotch, French, and the rest. But principally I hate and detest that animal called man[3]; although I heartily love John, Peter, Thomas, and so forth. This is the system upon which I have governed myself many years (but do not tell) and so I shall go on till I have done with them. I have got materials toward a treatise, proving the falsity of that definition animal rationale[4], and to show it should be only rationis capax[5]. Upon this great foundation of misanthropy (though not in Timon's manner) the whole building of my travels is erected; and I never will have peace of mind, till all honest men are of my opinion: by consequence you are to embrace it immediately, and procure that all who deserve my esteem may do so too. The matter is so clear, that it will admit of no dispute; nay, I will hold a hundred pounds that you and I agree in the point.

I did not know your Odyssey was finished, being yet in the country, which I shall leave in three days. I thank you kindly for the present, but shall like it three fourths the less, from the mixture you mention of other hands; however, I am glad you saved yourself so much drudgery —— I have been long told by Mr. Ford of your great achievements in building and planting, and especially of your subterranean passage to your garden, whereby you turned a blunder into a beauty, which is a piece of Ars Poetica.

I have almost done with harridans, and shall soon become old enough to fall in love with girls of fourteen. The lady whom you describe to live at court, to be deaf, and no party woman, I take to be mythology, but know not how to moralize it. She cannot be Mercy, for Mercy is neither deaf, nor lives at court: Justice is blind, and perhaps deaf, but neither is she a court lady: Fortune is both blind and deaf, and a court lady, but then she is a most damnable party woman, and will never make me easy, as you promise. It must be Riches which answers all your description: I am glad she visits you, but my voice is so weak, that I doubt she will never hear me.

Mr. Lewis sent me an account of Dr. Arbuthnot's illness, which is a very sensible affliction to me, who by living so long out of the world, have lost that hardness of heart contracted by years and general conversation. I am daily losing friends, and neither seeking nor getting others. O if the world had but a dozen Arbuthnots in it, I would burn my travels! but however he is not without fault: there is a passage in Bede, highly commending the piety and learning of the Irish in that age, where, after abundance of praises, he overthrows them all, by lamenting that alas! they kept Easter at a wrong time of the year. So our doctor has every quality and virtue that can make a man amiable or useful; but alas, he hath a sort of slouch in his walk! I pray God protect him, for he is an excellent christian though not a catholick.

I hear nothing of our friend Gay, but I find the court keeps him at hard meat. I advised him to come over here with a lord lieutenant. Philips writes little flams (as lord Leicester called those sorts of verses) on miss Carteret. A Dublin blacksmith, a great poet, has imitated his manner in a poem to the same miss. Philips is a complainer, and on this occasion I told lord Carteret, that complainers never succeed at court, though railers do.

Are you altogether a country gentleman? that I must address to you out of London, to the hazard of your losing this precious letter, which I will now conclude although so much paper is left. I have an ill name, and therefore shall not subscribe it, but you will guess it comes from one who esteems and loves you about half as much as you deserve, I mean as much as he can.

I am in great concern, at what I am just told is in some of the newspapers, that lord Bolingbroke is much hurt by a fall in hunting. I am glad he has so much youth and vigour left, (of which he has not been thrifty) but I wonder he has no more discretion.

  1. The liberties of St. Patrick's cathedral.
  2. Gulliver's Travels.
  3. A sentiment that dishonoured him, as a man, a christian, and a philosopher.
  4. A rational amimal.
  5. Capable of reason.