The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letters Between Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope – Complete
JUNE 18, 1714.
WHATEVER apologies it might become me to make at any other time for writing to you, I shall use none now, to a man who has owned himself as splenetick as a cat in the country. In that circumstance, I know by experience a letter is a very useful, as well as amusing thing: if you are too busied in state affairs to read it, yet you may find entertainment in folding it into divers figures, either doubling it into a pyramidical, or twisting it into a serpentine form; or if your disposition should not be so mathematical, in taking it with you to that place where men of studious minds are apt to sit longer than ordinary; where, after an abrupt division of the paper, it may not be unpleasant to try to fit and rejoin the broken lines together. All these amusements I am no stranger to in the country, and doubt not but (by this time) you begin to relish them, in your present contemplative situation.
I remember a man, who was thought to have some knowledge in the world, used to affirm, that no people in town ever complained they were forgotten by their friends in the country: but my increasing experience convinces me he was mistaken, for I find a great many here grievously complaining of you, upon this score. I am told farther, that you treat the few you correspond with in a very arrogant style, and tell them you admire at their insolence in disturbing your meditations, or even inquiring of your retreat: but this I will not positively assert, because I never received any such insulting epistle from you. My lord Oxford says you have not written to him once since you went: but this perhaps may be only policy, in him or you: and I, who am half a whig, must not entirely credit any thing he affirms. At Button's it is reported you are gone to Hanover, and that Gay goes only on an embassy to you. Others apprehend some dangerous state treatise from your retirement; and a wit who affects to imitate Balzac, says, that the ministry now are like those heathens of old, who received their oracles from the woods. The gentlemen of the Roman catholick persuasion are not unwilling to credit me, when I whisper that you are gone to meet some Jesuits commissioned from the court of Rome, in order to settle the most convenient methods to be taken for the coming of the pretender. Dr. Arbuthnot is singular in his opinion, and imagines your only design is to attend at full leisure to the life and adventures of Scriblerus. This indeed must be granted of greater importance than all the rest; and I wish I could promise so well of you. The top of my own ambition is to contribute to that great work, and I shall translate Homer by the by. Mr. Gay has acquainted you what progress I have made in it. I cannot name Mr. Gay, without all the acknowledgments which I shall ever owe you, on his account. If I writ this in verse, I would tell you, you are like the sun, and while men imagine you to be retired or absent, are hourly exerting your indulgence, and bringing things to maturity for their advantage. Of all the world, you are the man (without flattery) who serve your friends with the least ostentation; it is almost ingratitude to thank you, considering your temper; and this is the period of all my letter which I fear you will think the most impertinent. I am with the truest affection,
DR. SWIFT TO MR. POPE.
DUBLIN, JAN. 28, 1715.
MY lord bishop of Clogher gave me your kind letter full of reproaches for my not writing. I am naturally no very exact correspondent, and when I leave a country without probability of returning, I think as seldom as I can of what I loved or esteemed in it, to avoid the desiderium which of all things makes life most uneasy. But you must give me leave to add one thing, that you talk at your ease, being wholly unconcerned in publick events: For, if your friends the whigs continue, you may hope for some favour; if the tories return, you are at least sure of quiet. You know how well I loved both lord Oxford and Bolingbroke, and how dear the duke of Ormond is to me: do you imagine I can be easy while their enemies are endeavouring to take off their heads; I nunc, & versus tecum meditare canoros —— Do you imagine I can be easy, when I think of the probable consequences of these proceedings perhaps upon the very peace of the nation, but certainly of the minds of so many hundred thousand good subjects? Upon the whole, you may truly attribute my silence to the eclipse, but it was that eclipse which happened on the first of August.
I borrowed your Homer from the bishop (mine is not yet landed) and read it out in two evenings. If it pleases others as well as me, you have got your end in profit and reputation: Yet I am angry at some bad rhymes and triplets, and pray in your next do not let me have so many unjustifiable rhymes to war and gods. I tell you all the faults I know, only in one or two places you are a little obscure; but I expected you to be so in one or two and twenty. I have heard no foul talk of it here, for indeed it is not come over; nor do we very much abound in judges, at least I have not the honour to be acquainted with them. Your notes are perfectly good, and so are your preface and essay. You were pretty bold in mentioning lord Bolingbroke in that preface. I saw the Key to the Lock but yesterday: I think you have changed it a good deal, to adapt it to the present times.
God be thanked I have yet no parliamentary business, and if they have none with me, I shall never seek their acquaintance. I have not been very fond of them for some years past, not when I thought them tolerably good; and therefore if I can get leave to be absent, I shall be much inclined to be on that side when there is a parliament on this: but truly I must be a little easy in my mind before I can think of Scriblerus.
You are to understand, that I live in the corner of a vast unfurnished house; my family consists of a steward, a groom, a helper in the stable, a footman, and an old maid, who are all at board wages, and when I do not dine abroad, or make an entertainment, (which last is very rare) I eat a mutton pie, and drink half a pint of wine; my amusements are defending my small dominions against the archbishop, and endeavouring to reduce my rebellious choir. Perditur hæc inter misero lux. I desire you will present my humble service to Mr. Addison, Mr. Congreve, and Mr. Rowe, and Gay. I am, and will be always, extremely yours, &c.
JUNE 20, 1716.
I CANNOT suffer a friend to cross the Irish seas, without bearing a testimony from me of the constant esteem and affection I am both obliged and inclined to have for you. It is better he should tell you than I, how often you are in our thoughts and in our cups, and how I learn to sleep less, and drink more, whenever you are named among us. I look upon a friend in Ireland as upon a friend in the other world, whom (popishly speaking) I believe constantly well-disposed toward me, and ready to do me all the good he can, in that state of separation, though I hear nothing from him, and make addresses to him but very rarely. A protestant divine cannot take it amiss that I treat him in the same manner with my patron saint.
I can tell you no news, but what you will not sufficiently wonder at, that I suffer many things as an author militant: whereof in your days of probation, you have been a sharer, or you had not arrived to that triumphant state you now deservedly enjoy in the church. As for me, I have not the least hopes of the cardinalate, though I suffer for my religion in almost every weekly paper. I have begun to take a pique at the psalms of David, if the wicked may be credited, who have printed a scandalous one in my name. This report I dare not discourage too much, in a prospect I have at present of a post under the marquis de Langallerre, wherein if I can but do some signal service against the pope, I may be considerably advanced by the Turks, the only religious people I dare confide in. If it should happen hereafter that I should write for the holy law of Mahomet, I hope it may make no breach between you and me; every one must live, and I beg you will not be the man to manage the controversy against me. The church of Rome I judge (from many modern symptoms, as well as ancient prophecies) to be in a declining condition; that of England will in a short time be scarce able to maintain her own family; so churches sink as generally as banks in Europe, and for the same reason; that religion and trade, which at first were open and free, have been reduced into the management of companies, and the roguery of directors.
I do not know why I tell you all this, but that I always loved to talk to you; but this is not the time for any man to talk to the purpose. Truth is a kind of contraband commodity which I would not venture to export, and therefore the only thing tending that dangerous way which I shall say, is, that I am and always will be with the utmost sincerity,
AUGUST 30, 1716.
I HAD the favour of yours by Mr. Ford, of whom, before any other question relating to your health, or fortune, or success as a poet, I inquired your principles in the common form, "Is he a whig or a tory?" I am sorry to find they are not so well tallied to the present juncture as I could wish. I always thought the terms of facto and jure had been introduced by the poets, and that possession of any sort in kings was held an unexceptionable title in the courts of Parnassus. If you do not grow a perfect good subject in all its present latitudes, I shall conclude you are become rich, and able to live without dedications to men in power, whereby one great inconvenience will follow, that you and the world and posterity will be utterly ignorant of their virtues. For, either your brethren have miserably deceived us these hundred years past; or power confers virtue, as naturally as five of your popish sacraments do grace. — You sleep less, and drink more. — But your master Horace was vini somnique benignus: and, as I take it, both are proper for your trade. As to wine, there are a thousand poetical texts to confirm the one; and as to the other, I know, it was anciently the custom to sleep in temples for those who would consult the oracles, "Who dictates to me slumbering," &c.
You are an ill catholick, or a worse geographer, for I can assure you, Ireland is not Paradise, and I appeal even to any Spanish divine, whether addresses were ever made to a friend in Hell or Purgatory. And who are all those enemies you hint at? I can only think of Curll, Gildon, squire Burnet, Blackmore, and a few others, whose fame I have forgot: tools, in my opinion, as necessary for a good writer, as pen, ink and paper. And besides, I would fain know whether every draper does not show you three or four damned pieces of stuff to set off his good one? However, I will grant that one thorough bookselling rogue is better qualified to vex an author, than all his contemporary scribblers in critick or satire, not only by stolen copies of what was incorrect or unfit for the publick, but by downright laying other men's dulness at your door. I had a long design upon the ears of that Curll, when I was in credit; but the rogue would never allow me a fair stroke at them, although my penknife was ready drawn and sharp. I can hardly believe the relation of his being poisoned, although the historian pretends to have been an eyewitness: but I beg pardon, sack might do it, although ratsbane would not. I never saw the thing you mention as falsely imputed to you; but I think the frolicks of merry hours, even when we are guilty, should not be left to the mercy of our best friends, until Curll and his resemblers are hanged.
With submission to the better judgment of you and your friends, I take your project of an employment under the Turks to be idle and unnecessary. Have a little patience, and you will find more merit and encouragement at home, by the same methods. You are ungrateful to your country; quit but your own religion, and ridicule ours, and that will allow you a free choice for any other, or for none at all, and pay you well into the bargain. Therefore pray do not run and disgrace us among the Turks, by telling them you were forced to leave your native home, because we would oblige you to be a christian; whereas we will make it appear to all the world, that we only compelled you to be a whig.
There is a young ingenious quaker in this town who writes verses to his mistress, not very correct, but in a strain purely what a poetical quaker should do, commending her look and habit, &c. It gave me a hint that a set of quaker pastorals might succeed, if our friend Gay could fancy it, and I think it a fruitful subject; pray hear what he says. I believe farther, the pastoral ridicule is not exhausted; and that a porter, footman, or chairman's pastoral might do well. Or what think you of a Newgate pastoral, among the whores and thieves there?
Lastly to conclude, I love you never the worse for seldom writing to you. I am in an obscure scene, where you know neither thing nor person. I can only answer yours, which I promise to do after a sort whenever you think fit to employ me. But I can assure you, the scene and the times have depressed me wonderfully, for I will impute no defect to those two paltry years which have slipped by since I had the happiness to see you. I am with the truest esteem.
DUBLIN, JAN. 10, 1721.
A THOUSAND things have vexed me of late years, upon which I am determined to lay open my mind to you. I rather choose to appeal to you than to my lord chief justice Whitshed, under the situation I am in. For, I take this cause properly to lie before you: you are a much fitter judge of what concerns the credit of a writer, the injuries that are done him, and the reparations he ought to receive. Besides, I doubt, whether the arguments I could suggest to prove my own innocence, would be of much weight from the gentlemen of the long robe to those in furs; upon whose decision about the difference of style or sentiments, I should be very unwilling to leave the merits of my cause.
Give me leave then to put you in mind, (although you cannot easily forget it) that about ten weeks before the queen's death, I left the town, upon occasion of that incurable breach among the great men at court, and went down to Berkshire, where you may remember that you gave me the favour of a visit. While I was in that retirement, I writ a discourse which I thought might be useful in such a juncture of affairs, and sent it up to London; but upon some difference in opinion between me and a certain great minister now abroad, the publishing of it was deferred so long, that the queen died, and I recalled my copy, which hath been ever since in safe hands. In a few weeks after the loss of that excellent princess, I came to my station here; where I have continued ever since in the greatest privacy, and utter ignorance of those events which are most commonly talked of in the world, I neither know the names nor number of the royal family which now reigns, farther than the prayer book informs me. I cannot tell who is chancellor, who are secretaries, nor with what nations we are in peace or war. And this manner of life was not taken up out of any sort of affection, but merely to avoid giving offence, and for fear of provoking party zeal.
I had indeed written some memorials of the four last years of the queen's reign, with some other informations, which I received, as necessary materials to qualify me for doing something in an employment then designed me: but, as it was at the disposal of a person that had not the smallest share of steadiness or sincerity, I disdained to accept it.
These papers, at my few hours of health and leisure, I have been digesting into order by one sheet at a time, for I dare not venture any farther, lest the humour of searching and seizing papers should revive; not that I am in pain of any danger to myself, (for they contain nothing of present times or persons, upon which I shall never lose a thought while there is a cat or a spaniel in the house) but to preserve them from being lost among messengers and clerks.
I have written in this kingdom, a discourse to persuade the wretched people to wear their own manufactures, instead of those from England: this treatise soon spread very fast, being agreeable to the sentiments of the whole nation, except of those gentlemen who had employments, or were expectants. Upon which a person in great office here, immediately took the alarm; he sent in haste for the chief justice, and informed him of a seditious, factious, and virulent pamphlet, lately published with a design of setting the two kingdoms at variance; directing at the same time that the printer should be prosecuted with the utmost rigour of law. The chief justice had so quick an understanding, that he resolved, if possible, to outdo his orders. The grand juries of the county and city were practised effectually with to represent the said pamphlet with all aggravating epithets, for which they had thanks sent them from England, and their presentments published for several weeks in all the newspapers. The printer was seized, and forced to give great bail: after his trial the jury brought him in not guilty, although they had been culled with the utmost industry; the chief justice sent them back nine times, and kept them eleven hours, until being perfectly tired out, they were forced to leave the matter to the mercy of the judge, by what they call a special verdict. During the trial, the chief justice, among other singularities, laid his hand on his breast, and protested solemnly that the author's design was to bring in the pretender; although there was not a single syllable of party in the whole treatise, and although it was known that the most eminent of those who professed his own principles, publickly disallowed his proceedings. But the cause being so very odious and unpopular, the trial of the verdict was deferred from one term to another, until upon the duke of Grafton the lord lieutenant's arrival, his grace, after mature advice, and permission from England, was pleased to grant a noli prosequi.
This is the more remarkable, because it is said that the man is no ill decider in common cases of property, where party is out of the question: but when that intervenes, with, ambition at heels to push it forward, it must needs confound any man of little spirit, and low birth, who has no other endowment than that sort of knowledge, which, however possessed in the highest degree, can possibly give no one good quality to the mind.
It is true, I have been much concerned for several years past, upon account of the publick as well as of myself, to see how ill a taste for wit and sense prevails in the world, which, politicks and South Sea, and party, and operas, and masquerades have introduced. For, beside many insipid papers which the malice of some has entitled me to, there are many persons appearing to wish me well, and pretending to be judges of my style and manner, who have yet ascribed some writings to me, of which any man of common sense and literature would be heartily ashamed. I cannot forbear instancing a treatise called a Dedication upon Dedications, which many would have to be mine, although it be as empty, dry, and servile a composition, as I remember at any time to have read. But above all, there is one circumstance which makes it impossible for me to have been author of a treatise, wherein there are several pages containing a panegyrick on king George, of whose character and person I am utterly ignorant, nor ever had once the curiosity to inquire into either, living at so great a distance as I do, and having long done with whatever can relate to publick matters.
Indeed I have formerly delivered my thoughts very freely, whether I were asked or not; but never affected to be a counsellor, to which I had no manner of call. I was humbled enough to see myself so far outdone by the earl of Oxford in my own trade as a scholar, and too good a courtier not to discover his contempt of those who would be men of importance out of their sphere. Besides, to say the truth, although I have known many great ministers ready enough to hear opinions, yet I have hardly seen one that would ever descend to take advice; and this pedantry arises from a maxim themselves do not believe at the same time they practise by it, that there is something profound in politicks, which men of plain honest sense cannot arrive to.
I only wish my endeavours had succeeded better in the great point I had at heart, which was that of reconciling the ministers to each other. This might have been done, if others who had more concern, and more influence, would have acted their parts; and if this had succeeded, the publick interest both of church and state would not have been the worse, nor the protestant succession endangered.
But, whatever opportunities a constant attendance for four years might have given me, for endeavouring to do good offices to particular persons, I deserve at least to find tolerable quarter from those of the other party: for many of which I was a constant advocate with the earl of Oxford, and for this I appeal to his lordship: He knows how often I pressed him in favour of Mr. Addison, Mr. Congreve, Mr. Rowe, and Mr. Steele, although I freely confess that his lordship's kindness to them was altogether owing to his generous notions, and the esteem he had for their wit and parts, of which I could only pretend to be a remembrancer. For, I can never forget the answer he gave to the late lord Halifax, who, upon the first change of the ministry, interceded with him to spare Mr. Congreve: it was by repeating these two lines of Virgil,
Non obtusa adeo gestamus pectora Pœni,
Non tam aversus equos Tyriâ Sol jungit ah urbe.
Pursuant to which, he always treated Mr. Congreve with the greatest personal civilities, assuring him of his constant favour and protection, and adding that he would study to do something better for him.
I remember it was in those times a usual subject of raillery toward me among the ministers, that I never came to them without a whig in my sleeve; which I do not say with any view toward making my court: for, the new principles fixed to those of that denomination, I did then, and do now from my heart abhor, detest, and abjure, as wholly degenerate from their predecessors. I have conversed in some freedom with more ministers of state of all parties, than usually happens to men of my level, and I confess, in their capacity as ministers, I look upon them as a race of people, whose acquaintance no man would court, otherwise than upon the score of vanity or ambition. The first quickly wears off (and is the vice of low minds, for a man of spirit is too proud to be vain) and the other was not my case. Besides, having never received more than one small favour, I was under no necessity of being a slave to men in power, but chose my friends by their personal merit, without examining how far their notions agreed with the politicks then in vogue. I frequently conversed with Mr. Addison, and the others I named (except Mr. Steele) during all my lord Oxford's ministry; and Mr. Addison's friendship to me continued inviolable, with as much kindness as when we used to meet at my lord Somers or Halifax, who were leaders of the opposite party.
I would infer from all this, that it is with great injustice I have these many years been pelted by your pamphleteers, merely upon account of some regard which the queen's last ministers were pleased to have for me: and yet in my conscience I think I am a partaker in every ill design they had against the protestant succession, or the liberties and religion of their country; and can say with Cicero, "that I should be proud to be included with them in all their actions, tanquam in equo Trojano." But, if I have never discovered by my words, writings, or actions, any party virulence, or dangerous designs against the present powers; if my friendship and conversation were equally shown among those who liked or disapproved the proceedings then at court, and that I was known to be a common friend of all deserving persons of the latter sort, when they were in distress; I cannot but think it hard, that I am not suffered to run quietly among the common herd of people, whose opinions unfortunately differ from those which lead to favour and preferment.
I ought to let you know, that the thing we call a whig in England, is a creature altogether different from those of the same denomination here; at least it was so during the reign of her late majesty. Whether those on your side have changed or not, it has not been my business to inquire. I remember my excellent friend Mr. Addison, when he first came over hither secretary to the earl of Wharton then lord lieutenant, was extremely offended at the conduct and discourse of the chief managers here: he told me they were a sort of people who seemed to think, that the principles of a whig consisted in nothing else but damning the church, reviling the clergy, abetting the dissenters, and speaking contemptibly of revealed religion.
I was discoursing some years ago with a certain minister about that whiggish or fantastical genius so prevalent among the English of this kingdom; his lordship accounted for it by that number of Cromwell's soldiers, adventurers established here, who were all of the sourest leaven, and the meanest birth, and whose posterity are now in possession of their lands and their principles. However, it must be confessed that of late some people in this country are grown weary of quarrelling, because interest, the great motive of quarrelling, is at an end; for, it is hardly worth contending who shall be an exciseman, a country vicar, a crier in the courts, or an under clerk.
You will perhaps be inclined to think, that a person so ill treated as I have been, must at some time or other have discovered very dangerous opinions in government; in answer to which, I will tell you what my political principles were in the time of her late glorious majesty, which I never contradicted by any action, writing, or discourse.
First, I always declared myself against a popish successor to the crown, whatever title he might have by the proximity of blood: neither did I ever regard the right line, except upon two accounts; first, as it was established by law; and secondly, as it has much weight in the opinions of the people. For, necessity may abolish any law, but cannot alter the sentiments of the vulgar; right of inheritance being perhaps the most popular of all topicks; and therefore in great changes, when that is broke, there will remain much heart-burning and discontent among the meaner people; which (under a weak prince and corrupt administration) may have the worst consequences upon the peace of any state.
As to what is called a revolution principle, my opinion was this; that whenever those evils which usually attend and follow a violent change of government, were not in probability so pernicious as the grievance we suffer under a present power, then the publick good will justify such a revolution; and this I took to have been the case in the prince of Orange's expedition; although in the consequences it produced some very bad effects, which are likely to stick long enough by us.
I had likewise in those days a mortal antipathy against standing armies in times of peace. Because I always took standing armies to be only servants hired by the master of the family, for keeping his own children in slavery. And because I conceived that a prince who could not think himself secure without mercenary troops, must needs have a separate interest from that of his subjects. Although I am not ignorant of those artificial necessities which a corrupted ministry can create, for keeping up forces to support a faction against the publick interest.
As to parliaments, I adored the wisdom of that gothick institution, which made them annual: and I was confident our liberty could never be placed upon a firm foundation, until that ancient law were restored among us. For, who sees not, that while such assemblies are permitted to have a longer duration, there grows up a commerce of corruption between the ministry and the deputies, wherein they both find their accounts, to the manifest danger of liberty; which traffick would neither answer the design nor expense, if parliaments met once a year.
I ever abominated that scheme of politicks, (now about thirty years old) of setting up a monied interest in opposition to the landed. For I conceived, there could not be a truer maxim in our government than this, that the possessors of the soil are the best judges of what is for the advantage of the kingdom. If others had thought the same way, funds of credit and South sea projects would neither have been felt nor heard of.
I could never discover the necessity of suspending any law upon which the liberty of the most innocent persons depended: neither do I think this practice has made the taste of arbitrary power so agreeable, as that we should desire to see it repeated. Every rebellion subdued, and plot discovered, contribute to the firmer establishment of the prince: In the latter case, the knot of conspirators is entirely broken, and they are to begin their work anew under a thousand disadvantages; so that those diligent inquiries into remote and problematical guilt, with a new power of enforcing them by chains and dungeons to every person whose face a minister things fit to dislike, are not only opposite to that maxim, which declares it better that ten guilty men should escape, than one innocent suffer; but likewise leave a gate wide open to the whole tribe of informers, the most accursed, and prostitute, and abandoned race, that God ever permitted to plague mankind.
It is true the Romans had a custom of choosing a dictator, during whose administration, the power of other magistrates was suspended; but this was done upon the greatest emergencies; a war near their doors, or some civil dissension: for, armies must be governed by arbitrary power. But when the virtue of that commonwealth gave place to luxury and ambition, this very office of dictator became perpetual in the persons of the Cæsars and their successors, the most infamous tyrants that have any where appeared in story.
These are some of the sentiments I had, relating to publick affairs, while I was in the world; what they are at present, is of little importance either to that or myself; neither can I truly say I have any at all, or if I had, I dare not venture to publish them: for, however orthodox they may be while I am now writing, they may become criminal enough to bring me into trouble before midsummer. And indeed I have often wished for some time past, that a political catechism might be published by authority four times a year, in order to instruct us how we are to speak, write and act during the current quarter. I have by experience felt the want of such an instructer: For, intending to make my court to some people on the prevailing side, by advancing certain old whiggish principles, which it seems had been exploded about a month before, I have passed for a disaffected person. I am not ignorant how idle a thing it is, for a man in obscurity to attempt defending his reputation as a writer, while the spirit of faction has so universally possessed the minds of men, that they are not at leisure to attend to any thing else. They will just give themselves time to libel and accuse me, but cannot spare a minute to hear my defence. So, in a plot-discovering age, I have often known an innocent man seized and imprisoned, and forced to he several months in chains, while the ministers were not at leisure to hear his petition, until they had prosecuted and hanged the number they proposed.
All I can reasonably hope for by this letter, is to convince my friends, and others who are pleased to wish me well, that I have neither been so ill a subject, nor so stupid an author, as I have been represented by the virulence of libellers: whose malice has taken the same train in both, by fathering dangerous principles in government upon me, which I never maintained, and insipid productions which I am not capable of writing. For, however I may have been soured by personal ill treatment, or by melancholy prospects for the publick, I am too much a politician to expose my own safety by offensive words. And if my genius and spirit be sunk by increasing years, I have at least discretion enough left, not to mistake the measure of my own abilities, by attempting subjects where those talents are necessary, which perhaps I may have lost with my youth.
JAN. 12, 1723.
I FIND a rebuke in a late letter of yours that both stings and pleases me extremely. Your saying that I ought to have writ a postscript to my friend Gay's, makes me not content to write less than a whole letter; and your seeming to take his kindly, gives me hopes you will look upon this as a sincere effect of friendship. Indeed as I cannot but own the laziness with which you tax me, and with which I may equally charge you, for both of us have had (and one of us has both had and given) a surfeit of writing; so I really thought you would know yourself to be so certainly entitled to my friendship, that it was a possession you could not imagine stood in need of any farther deeds or writings to assure you of it.
Whatever you seem to think of your withdrawn and separate state at this distance, and in this absence; dean Swift lives still in England, in every place and company where he would choose to live, and I find him in all the conversations I keep, and in all the hearts in which I desire any share.
We have never met these many years without mention of you. Beside my old acquaintance, I have found that all my friends of a later date, are such as were yours before: lord Oxford, lord Harcourt, and lord Harley, may look upon me as one entailed upon them by you: lord Bolingbroke is now returned (as I hope) to take me with all his other hereditary rights: and, indeed, he seems grown so much a philosopher, as to set his heart upon some of them as little, as upon the poet you gave him. It is surely my ill fate, that all those I most loved, and with whom I most lived, must be banished. After both of you left England, my constant host was the bishop of Rochester. Sure this is a nation that is cursedly afraid of being overrun with too much politeness, and cannot regain one great genius, but at the expense of another. I tremble for my lord Peterborow, whom I now lodge with; he has too much wit, as well as courage, to make a solid general. and if he escapes being banished by others, I fear he will banish himself. This leads me to give you some account of the manner of my life and conversation, which has been infinitely more various and dissipated, than when you knew me and cared for me; and among all sexes, parties, and professions. A glut of study and retirement in the first part of my life, cast me into this; and this, I begin to see, will throw me again into study and retirement.
The civilities I have met with from opposite sets of people, have hindered me from being violent or sour to any party; but at the same time the observations and experiences I cannot but have collected, have made me less fond of, and less surprised at, any: I am therefore the more afflicted, and the more angry, at the violences and hardships I see practised by either. The merry vein you knew me in, is sunk into a turn of reflection, that has made the world pretty indifferent to me; and yet I have acquired a quietness of mind, which by fits improves into a certain degree of cheerfulness, enough to make me just so good humoured as to wish that world well. My friendships are increased by new ones, yet no part of the warmth I felt for the old is diminished. Aversions I have none, but to knaves, (for fools I have learned to bear with) and such I cannot be commonly civil to; for I think those men are next to knaves who converse with them. The greatest man in power of this sort shall hardly make me bow to him, unless I had a personal obligation, and that I will take care not to have. The top pleasure of my life is one I learned from you, both how to gain, and how to use the freedom of friendship, with men much my superiours. To have pleased great men, according to Horace, is a praise; but not to have flattered them, and yet not have displeased them, is a greater. I have carefully avoided all intercourse with poets and scribblers, unless where by great chance I have found a modest one. By these means I have had no quarrels with any personally; none have been enemies, but who were also strangers to me; and as there is no great need for an éclaircissement with such, whatever they writ or said I never retaliated, not only never seeming to know, but often really never knowing, any thing of the matter. There are very few things that give me the anxiety of a wish; the strongest I have would be to pass my days with you, and a few such as you: but fate has dispersed them all about the world; and I hnd to wish it is as vain, as to wish to see the millennium and the kingdom of the just upon earth.
If I have sinned in my long silence, consider there is one to whom you yourself have been as great a sinner. As soon as you see his hand, you will learn to do me justice, and feel in your heart how long a man may be silent to those he truly loves and respects.
I AM not so lazy as Pope, and therefore you must not expect from me the same indulgence to laziness; in defending his own cause he pleads yours, and becomes your advocate while he appeals to you as his judge: You will do the same on your part; and I, and the rest of your common friends, shall have great justice to expect from two such righteous tribunals: You resemble perfectly the two alehousekeepers in Holland, who were at the same time burgomasters of the town, and taxed one another's bills alternately. I declare beforehand I will not stand to the award; my title to your friendship is good, and wants neither deeds nor waitings to confirm it; but annual acknowledgments at least are necessary to preserve it: and I begin to suspect, by your defrauding me of them, that you hope in time to dispute it, and to urge prescription against me. I would not say one word to you about myself (since it is a subject on which you appear to have no curiosity) were it not to try how far the contrast between Pope's fortune and manner of life, and mine, may be carried.
I have been, then, infinitely more uniform, and less dissipated, than when you knew me and cared for me. That love which I used to scatter with some profusion among the female kind, has been these many years devoted to one object. A great many misfortunes (for so they are called, though sometimes very improperly) and a retirement from the world, have made that just and nice discrimination between my acquaintance and my friends, which we have seldom sagacity enough to make for ourselves: those insects of various hues, which used to hum and buz about me while I stood in the sunshine, have disappeared since I lived in the shade. No man comes to a hermitage but for the sake of the hermit; a few philosophical friends come often to mine, and they are such as you would be glad to live with, if a dull climate and duller company have not altered you extremely from what you were nine years ago.
The hoarse voice of party was never heard in this quiet place; gazettes and pamphlets are banished from it, and if the lucubrations of Isaac Bickerstaff be admitted, this distinction is owing to some strokes, by which it is judged that this illustrious philosopher, had (like the Indian Fohu, the Grecian Pythagoras, the Persian Zoroaster, and others his precursors among the Zabians, Magians, and the Egyptian seers) both his outward and his inward doctrine, and that he was of no side at the bottom. When I am there, I forget I ever was of any party myself; nay, I am often so happily absorbed by the abstracted reason of things, that I am ready to imagine there never was any such monster as party. Alas, I am soon awakened from that pleasing dream by the Greek and Roman historians, by Guicciardin, by Machiavel, and Thuanus; for I have vowed to read no history of our own country, till that body of it which you promise to finish, appears.
I am under no apprehensions that a glut of study and retirement should cast me back into the hurry of the world; on the contrary, the single regret which I ever feel, is, that I fell so late into this course of life; my philosophy grows confirmed by habit, and if you and I meet again, I will extort this approbation from you. Fam non consilio bonus, sed more eo-perductus, ut non tantum recte facere possim, sed nisi recte facere non possim. The little incivilities I have met with from opposite sets of people, have been so far from rendering me violent or sour to any, that I think myself obliged to them all: some have cured me of my fears, by showing me how impotent the malice of the world is; others have cured me of my hopes, by showing how precarious popular friendships are; all have cured me of surprise. In driving me out of party, they have driven me out of cursed company; and in stripping me of titles, and rank, and estate, and such trinkets, which every man that will, may spare, they have given me that which no man can be happy without.
Reflection and habit have rendered the world so indifferent to me, that I am neither afflicted nor rejoiced, angry nor pleased, at what happens in it, any farther than personal friendships interest me in the affairs of it, and this principle extends my cares but a little way. Perfect tranquillity is the general tenour of my life: good digestions, serene weather, and some other mechanick springs, wind me above it now and then, but I never fall below it; I am sometimes gay, but I am never sad; I have gained new friends, and have lost some old ones; my acquisitions of this kind give me a good deal of pleasure, because they have not been made lightly. I know no vows so solemn as those of friendship, and therefore a pretty long noviciate of acquaintance should methinks precede them; my losses of this kind give me but little trouble, I contributed nothing to them, and a friend who breaks with me unjustly, is not worth preserving. As soon as I leave this town (which will be in a few days) I shall fall back into that course of life, which keeps knaves and fools at a great distance from me: I have an aversion to them both, but in the ordinary course of life, I think I can bear the sensible knave, better than the fool: One must, indeed, with the former, be in some or other of the attitudes of those wooden men whom I have seen before a sword cutler's shop in Germany; but even in these constrained postures, the witty rascal will divert me: and he that diverts me does me a great deal of good, and lays me under an obligation to him, which I am not obliged to pay in another coin: the fool obliges me to be almost as much upon my guard as the knave, and he makes me no amends; he numbs me like the torpor, or he teases me like the fly. This is the picture of an old friend, and more like him than that will be which you once asked, and which he will send you, if you continue still to desire it — Adieu, dear Swift, with all thy faults I love thee entirely; make an effort, and love me on with all mine.
DUBLIN, SEPT. 20, 1723.
RETURNING from a summer expedition of four months on account of my health, I found a letter from you, with an appendix longer than yours from lord Bolingbroke. I believe there is not a more miserable malady than an unwillingness to write letters to our best friends, and a man might be philosopher enough in finding out reasons for it. One thing is clear, that it shows a mighty difference betwixt friendship and love, for a lover (as I have heard) is always scribbling to his mistress. If I could permit myself to believe what your civility makes you say, that I am still remembered by my friends in England, I am in the right to keep myself here —— Non sum qualis eram. I left you in a period of life when one year does more execution than three at yours, to which if you add the dulness of air, and of the people, it will make a terrible sum. I have no very strong faith in your pretenders to retirement, you are not of an age for it, nor have gone through either good or bad fortune enough to go into a corner, and form conclusions de contemptu mundi & fuga sæculi, unless a poet grows weary of too much applause, as ministers do of too much weight of business.
Your happiness is greater than your merit, in choosing your favourites so indifferently among either party: this you owe partly to your education, and partly to your genius employing you in an art in which faction has nothing to do, for I suppose Virgil and Horace are equally read by whigs and tories. You have no more to do with the constitution of church and state, than a christian at Constantinople; and you are so much the wiser and the happier, because both parties will approve your poetry, as long as you are known to be of neither.
Your notions of friendship are new to me: I believe every man is born with his quantum, and he cannot give to one without robbing another. I very well know to whom I would give the first places in my friendship, but they are not in the way: I am condemned to another scene, and therefore I distribute it in pennyworths to those about me, and who displease me least; and should do the same to my fellow prisoners, if I were condemned to jail. I can likewise tolerate knaves much better than fools, because their knavery does me no hurt in the commerce I have met with them, which however I own is more dangerous, though not so troublesome, as that of fools. I have often endeavoured to establish a friendship among all men of genius, and would fain have it done; they are seldom above three or four contemporaries, and if they would be united would drive the world before them. I think it was so among the poets in the time of Augustus: but envy, and party, and pride, have hindered it among us. I do not include the subalterns, of which you are seldom without a large tribe. Under the name of poets and scribblers, I suppose you mean the fools you are content to see sometimes, when they happen to be modest; which was not frequent among them while I was in the world.
I would describe to you my way of living, if any method could be called so in this country. I choose my companions among those of least consequence and most compliance: I read the most trifling books I can find, and whenever I write, it is upon the most trifling subjects: but riding, walking, and sleeping take up eighteen of the twenty-four hours. I procrastinate more than I did twenty years ago, and have several things to finish which I put off to twenty years hence; Hæc est vita solutorum, &c. I send you the compliments of a friend of yours, who has passed four months this summer with two grave acquaintance at his country house, without ever once going to Dublin, which is but eight miles distant; yet when he returns to London, I will engage you shall find him as deep in the court of requests, the park, the operas, and the coffeehouse, as any man there. I am now with him for a few days.
You must remember me with great affection to Dr. Arbuthnot, Mr. Congreve, and Gay —— I think there are no more eodem tertios between you and me, except Mr. Jervas, to whose house I address this, for want of knowing where you live: for it was not clear from your last whether you lodge with lord Peterborow, or he with you!
I am ever, &c.
SEPT. 14, 1725.
I NEED not tell you, with what real delight I should have done any thing you desired, and in particular any good offices in my power toward the bearer of your letter, who is this day gone for France. Perhaps it is with poets as with prophets, they are so much better liked in another country than their own, that your gentleman, upon arriving in England, lost his curiosity concerning me. However, had he tried he had found me his friend; I mean he had found me yours. I am disappointed at not knowing better a man whom you esteem, and comfort my self only with having got a letter from you with which (after all) I sit down a gainer; since to my great pleasure it confirms my hope of once more seeing you. After so many dispersions, and so many divisions, two or three of us may yet be gathered together; not to plot, not to contrive silly schemes of ambition, or to vex our own or others hearts with busy vanities (such as perhaps at one time of life or other take their tour in every man) but to divert ourselves, and the world too if it pleases; or at worst, to laugh at others as innocently and as unhurtfully as at ourselves. Your travels I hear much of; my own I promise you shall never more be in a strange land, but a diligent, I hope useful investigation of my own territories. I mean no more translations, but something domestick, fit for my own country, and for my own time.
If you come to us I will find you elderly ladies enough that can halloo, and two that can nurse, and they are too old and feeble to make too much noise; as you will guess when I tell you they are my own mother, and my own nurse. I can also help you to a lady who is as deaf, though not so old, as yourself; you will be pleased with one another I will engage, though you do not hear one another: you will converse like spirits by intuition. What you will most wonder at is, she is considerable at court, yet no party woman; and lives in court, yet would be easy and make you easy.
One of those you mention (and I dare say always will remember) Dr. Arbuthnot, is at this time ill of a very dangerous distemper, an imposthume in the bowels; which is broke, but the event is very uncertain. Whatever that be (he bids me tell you, and I write this by him) he lives or dies your faithful friend; and one reason he has to desire a little longer life, is the wish to see you once more.
He is gay enough in this circumstance to tell you he would give you (if he could) such advice as might cure your deafness, but he would not advise you, if you were cured, to quit the pretence of it; because you may by that means hear as much as you will, and answer as little as you please. Believe me
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. I have employed my time (beside ditching) in finishing, correcting, amending, and transcribing my travels, 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; 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, and to show it should be only rationis capax. 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.
OCTOBER 15, 1725.
I AM wonderfully pleased with the suddenness of your kind answer. It makes me hope you are coming toward us, and you incline more and more to your old friends in proportion as you draw nearer to them; and are getting into our vortex. Here is one, who was once a powerful planet, but has now (after long experience of all that comes of shining) learned to be content with returning to his first point, without the thought or ambition of shining at all. Here is another, who thinks one of the greatest glories of his father was to have distinguished and loved you, and who loves you hereditarily. Here is Arbuthnot, recovered from the jaws of death, and more pleased with the hope of seeing you again, than that of reviewing a world, every part of which he has long despised, but what is made up of a few men like yourself. He goes abroad again, and is more cheerful than even health can make a man, for he has a good conscience into the bargain, which is the most catholick of all remedies, though not the most universal. I knew it would be a pleasure to you to hear this, and in truth that made me write so soon to you.
I am sorry poor P. is not promoted in this age; for certainly if his reward be of the next, he is of all poets the most miserable. I am also sorry for another reason; if they do not promote him, they will spoil the conclusion of one of my satires, where having endeavoured to correct the taste of the town in wit and criticism, I end thus,
Our friend Gay is used as the friends of tories are by whigs, and generally by tories too. Because he had humour, he was supposed to have dealt with Dr. Swift; in like manner as when any one had learning formerly, he was thought to have dealt with the devil. He puts his whole trust at court in that lady whom I described to you, and whom you take to be an allegorical creature of fancy: I wish she really were riches for his sake; though as for yours, I question whether (if you knew her) you would change her for the other?
Lord Bolingbroke had not the least harm by his fall, I wish he had received no more by his other fall; lord Oxford had none by his. But lord Bolingbroke is the most improved mind since you saw him, that ever was improved without shifting into a new body, or being: paulo minus ab angelis. I have often imagined to myself, that if ever all of us meet again, after so many varieties and changes; after so much of the old world and of the old man in each of us has been altered, that scarce a single thought of the one, any more than a single atom of the other, remains just the same; I have fancied, I say, that we should meet like the righteous in the millennium, quite in peace, divested of all our former passions, smiling at our past follies, and content to enjoy the kingdom of the just in tranquillity. But I find you would rather be employed as an avenging angel of wrath, to break your vial of indignation over the heads of the wretched creatures of this world; nay would make them eat your book, which you have made (I doubt not) as bitter a pill for them as possible.
I would not tell you what designs I have in my head (beside writing a set of maxims in opposition to all Rochefoucault's principles) till I see you here, face to face. Then you shall have no reason to complain of me, for want of a generous disdain of ths world, though I have not lost my ears in yours and their service. Lord Oxford too (whom I have now the third time mentioned in this letter, and he deserves to be always mentioned in every thing that is addressed to you, or comes from you) expects you: that ought to be enough to bring you hither; it is a better reason than if the nation expected you. For I really enter as fully as you can desire, into your principle of love of individuals: and I think the way to have a publick spirit, is first to have a private one; for who can believe (said a friend of mine) that any man can care for a hundred thousand people, who never cared for one? No ill humoured man can ever be a patriot, any more than a friend.
I designed to have left the following page for Dr. Arbuthnot to fill, but he is so touched with the period in yours to me concerning him, that he intends to answer it by a whole letter. He too is busy about a book, which I guess he will tell you of. So adieu. — What remains worth telling you? Dean Berkeley is well, and happy in the prosecution of his scheme. Lord Oxford and lord Bolingbroke in health, Duke Disney so also; sir William Wyndham better, lord Bathurst well. These and some others, preserve their ancient honour, and ancient friendship. Those who do neither, if they were d—d, what is it to a protestant priest, who has nothing to do with the dead? I answer for my own part as a papist, I would not pray them out of Purgatory.
My name is as bad a one as yours, and hated by all bad people, from Hopkins and Sternhold, to Gildon and Cibber. The first prayed against me with the Turk; and a modern imitator of theirs (whom I leave you to find out) has added the Christian to them, with proper definitions of each in this manner:
The pope's the whore of Babylon,
The Turk he is a Jew:
The christian is an infidel
That sitteth in a pew.
NOV. 26, 1725.
I SHOULD sooner have acknowledged yours, if a feverish disorder and the relicks of it had not disabled me for a fortnight. I now begin to make excuses, because I hope I am pretty near seeing you, and therefore I would cultivate an acquaintance; because if you do not know me when we meet, you need only keep one of my letters, and compare it with my face, for my face and letters are counterparts of my heart. I fear I have not expressed that right, but I mean well, and I hate blots: I look in your letter, and in my conscience you say the same thing, but in a better manner. Pray tell my lord Bolingbroke that I wish he was banished again, for then I should hear from him, when he was full of philosophy, and talked de contemptu mundi. My lord Oxford was so extremely kind as to write to me immediately an account of his son's birth; which I immediately acknowledged, but before my letter could reach him, I wished it in the sea; I hope I was more afflicted than his lordship. It is hard that parsons and beggars should be overrun with brats, while so great and good a family wants an heir to continue it, I have received his father's picture, but I lament (sub sigillo confessionis) that it is not so true a resemblance as I could wish. Drown the world! I am not content with despising it, but I would anger it, if I could with safety. I wish there were an hospital built for its despisers, where one might act with safety, and it need not be a large building, only I would have it well endowed. P * * is fort chancelant whether he shall turn parson or not. But all employments here are engaged, or in reversion. Cast wits and cast beaux have a proper sanctuary in the church: yet we think it a severe judgment, that a fine gentleman, and so much a finer for hating ecclesiasticks, should be a domestick humble retainer to an Irish prelate. He is neither secretary nor gentleman usher, yet serves in both capacities. He has published several reasons why he never came to see me, but the best is, that I have not waited on his lordship. We have had a poem sent from London in imitation of that on miss Carteret. It is on miss Harvey of a day old; and we say and think it is yours. I wish it were not, because I am against monopolies. — You might have spared me a few more lines of your satire, but I hope in a few months to see it all. To hear boys like you talk of millenniums and tranquillity! I am older by thirty years, lord Bolingbroke by twenty, and you but by ten, than when we last were together; and we should differ more than ever, you coquetting a maid of honour, my lord looking on to see how the gamesters play, and I railing at you both. I desire you and all my friends will take a special care that my disaffection to the world may not be imputed to my age, for I have credible witnesses ready to depose, that it hath never varied from the twenty-first to the f--ty-eighth year of my life (pray fill that blank charitably). I tell you after all, that I do not hate mankind, it is vous autres who hate them, because you would have them reasonable animals, and are angry at being disappointed: I have always rejected that definition, and made another of nw own. I am no more angry with —— than I was with the kite that last week flew away with one of my chickens; and yet I was pleased when one of my servants shot him two days after. This I say, because you are so hardy as to tell me of your intentions to write maxims in opposition to Rochefoucault, who is my favourite, because I found my whole character in him; however I will read him again, because it is possible I may have since undergone some alterations — Take care the bad poets do not outwit you, as they have served the good ones in every age, whom they have provoked to transmit their names to posterity. Mævius is as well known as Virgil, and Gildon will be as well known as you, if his name gets into your verses: and as to the difference between good and bad fame, it is a perfect trifle. I ask a thousand pardons, and so leave you for this time, and I will write again without concerning myself whether you write or not.
I am, &c.
DECEMBER 10, 1725.
I FIND myself the better acquainted with you for a long absence, as men are with themselves for a long affliction: Absence does but hold off a friend, to make one see him more truly. I am infinitely more pleased to hear you are coming near us, than at any thing you seem to think in my favour; an opinion which has perhaps been aggrandised by the distance or dulness of Ireland, as objects look larger through a medium of fogs: and yet I am infinitely pleased with that too. I am much the happier for finding (a better thing than our wits) our judgments jump, in the notion that all scribblers should be past by in silence. To vindicate ones self against such nasty slander, is much as wise as it was in your countryman, when the people imputed a stink to him, to prove the contrary by showing his backside. So let Gildon and Philips rest in peace! What Virgil had to do with Mævius, that he should wear him upon his sleeve to all eternity, I do not know. I have been the longer upon this, that I may prepare you for the reception both you and your works may possibly meet in England. We your true acquaintance will look upon you as a good man, and love you; others will look upon you as a wit, and hate you. So you know the worst; unless you are as vindicative as Virgil, or the aforesaid Hibernian.
I wish as warmly as you, for an hospital in which to lodge the despisers of the world; only I fear it would be filled wholly like Chelsea, with maimed soldiers, and such as had been disabled in its service. I would rather have those, that out of such generous principles as you and I, despise it, fly in its face, than retire from it. Not that I have much anger against the great, my spleen is at the little rogues of it; it would vex one more to be knocked on the head with a pisspot, than by a thunder bolt. As to great oppressors, they are like kites or eagles, one expects mischief from them; but to be squirted to death (as poor Wycherley said to me on his deathbed) by apothecaries apprentices, by the understrappers of undersecretaries to secretaries who were no secretaries — this would provoke as dull a dog as Ph—s himself.
So. much for enemies, now for friends. Mr. L —— thinks all this indiscreet: the Dr. not so; he loves mischief the best of any good natured man in England. Lord B. is above trifling: when he writes of any thing in this world, he is more than mortal; if ever he trifles, it, must be when he turns a divine. Gay is writing tales for prince William: I suppose Mr. Philips will take this very ill, for two reasons; one that he thinks all childish things belong to him, and the other, because he will take it ill to be taught that one may write things to a child, without being childish. What have I more to add? but that lord Oxford desires earnestly to see you: and that many others whom you do not think the worst of, will be gratified by it: none more, be assured, than
P. S. Pope and you are very great wits, and I think very indifferent philosophers: If you despised the world as much as you pretend, and perhaps believe, you would not be so angry with it. The founder of your sect, that noble original whom you think it so great an honour to resemble, was a slave to the worst part of the world, to the court; and all his big words were the language of a slighted lover, who desired nothing so much as a reconciliation, and feared nothing so much as a rupture. I believe the world has used me as scurvily as most people, and yet I could never find in my heart to be thoroughly angry with the simple, false, capricious thing. I should blush alike, to be discovered fond of the world, or piqued at it. Your definition of animal rationis, instead of the common one animal rationale, will not bear examination; define but reason, and you will see why your distinction is no better than that of the pontiff Cotta, between mala ratio, and bona ratio. But enough of this: make us a visit, and I will subscribe to any side of these important questions which you please. We differ less than you imagine, perhaps, when you wished me banished again: but I am not less true to you and to philosophy in England, than I was in France.
LONDON, AUG. 4, 1726.
I HAD rather live in forty Irelands than under the frequent disquiets of hearing you are out of order. I always apprehend it most after a great dinner; for the least transgression of yours, if it be only two bits and one sup more than your stint, is a great debauch; for which you certainly pay more than those sots who are carried dead drunk to bed. My lord Peterborow spoiled every body's dinner, but especially mine, with telling us that you were detained by sickness. Pray let me have three lines under any hand or pothook that will give me a better account of your health; which concerns me more than others, because I love and esteem you for reasons that most others have little to do with, and would be the same although you had never touched a pen, farther than with writing to me.
I am gathering up my luggage, and preparing for my journey; I will endeavour to think of you as little as I can, and when I write to you, I will strive not to think of you: this I intend in return to your kindness; and farther, I know nobody has dealt with me so cruelly as you, the consequences of which usage I fear will last as long as my life, for so long shall I be (in spite of my heart) entirely
AUG. 22, 1726.
MANY a short sigh you cost me the day I left you, and many more you will cost me, till the day you return. I really walked about like a man banished, and when I came home, found it no home. It is a sensation like that of a limb lopped off, one is trying every minute unawares to use it, and finds it is not. I may say you have used me more cruelly than you have done any other man: you have made it more impossible for me to live at ease without you: habitude itself would have done that, if I had less friendship in my nature than I have. Beside my natural memory of you, you have made a local one, which presents you to me in every place I frequent: I shall never more think of lord Cobham's, the woods of Ciceter, or the pleasing prospect of Byberry, but your idea must be joined with them; nor see one seat in my own garden, or one room in my own house, without a phantome of you, sitting or walking before me. I travelled with you to Chester, I felt the extreme heat of the weather, the inns, the roads, the confinement and closeness of the uneasy coach, and wished a hundred times I had either a deanery or horse in my gift. In real truth, I have felt my soul peevish ever since with all about me, from a warm uneasy desire after you. I am gone out of myself to no purpose, and cannot catch you, Inhiat in pedes was not more properly applied to a poor dog after a hare, than to me with regard to your departure. I wish I could think no more of it, but lie down and sleep till we meet again, and let that day (how far soever off it be) be the morrow. Since I cannot, may it be my amends that every thing you wish may attend you where you are, and that you may find every friend you have there, in the state you wish him, or her; so that your visits to us may have no other effect, than the progress of a rich man to a remote estate, which he finds greater than he expected; which knowledge only serves to make him live happier where he is, with no disagreeable prospect if ever he should choose to remove. May this be your state till it become what I wish. But indeed I cannot express the warmth, with which I wish you all things, and myself you. Indeed you are engraved elsewhere than on the cups you sent me, (with so kind an inscription) and I might throw them into the Thames without injury to the giver. I am not pleased with them, but take them very kindly too: and had I suspected any such usage from you, I should have enjoyed your company less than I really did, for at this rate I may say
Nec tecum possum vivere, nee sinc te.
I will bring you over just such another present, when I go to the deanery of St. Patrick's; which I promise you to do, if ever I am enabled to return your kindness. Donarum pateras, &c. Till then I'll drink (or Gay shall drink) daily healths to you, and I will add to your inscription the old Roman vow for years to come, VOTIS X. VOTIS XX. My mother's age gives me authority to hope it for yours. Adieu.
SEPT. 3, 1726.
YOURS to Mr. Gay gave me greater satisfaction than that to me (though that gave me a great deal) for, to hear you were safe at your journey's end, exceeds the account of your fatigues while in the way to it; otherwise believe me, every tittle of each is important to me, which sets any one thing before my eyes that happens to you. I writ you a long letter, which I guess reached you the day after your arrival. Since then I had a conference with sir Robert Walpole, who expressed his desire of having seen you again before you left us; he said he observed a willingness in you to live among us; which I did not deny; but at the same time told him, you had no such design in your coming this time, which was merely to see a few of those you loved: but that indeed all those wished it, and particularly lord Peterborow and myself, who wished you loved Ireland less, had you any reason to love England more. I said nothing but what I think would induce any man to be as fond of you as I, plain truth, did they know either it, or you. I cannot help thinking, (when I consider the whole short list of our friends) that none of them except you and I are qualified for the mountains of Wales. The Dr. goes to cards. Gay to court; one loses money, one loses his time; another of our friends labours to be unambitious, but he labours in an unwilling soil. One lady you like, has too much of France to be fit for Wales: Another is too much a subject to princes and potentates, to relish that wild taste of liberty and poverty. Mr. Congreve is too sick to bear a thin air; and she that leads him too rich to enjoy any thing. Lord Peterborow can go to any climate, but never stay in any. Lord Bathurst is too great a husbandman to like barren hills, except they are his own to improve. Mr. Bethel indeed is too good and too honest to live in the world, but yet it is fit, for its example, he should. We are left to ourselves in my opinion, and may live where we please, in Wales, Dublin, or Bermudas: and for me, I assure you I love the world so well, and it loves me so well, that I care not in what part of it I pass the rest of my days. I see no sunshine but in the face of a friend.
I had a glimpse of a letter of yours lately, by which I find you are (like the vulgar) apter to think well of people out of power, than of people in power; perhaps it is a mistake, but however there is something in it generous. Mr. Pulteney takes it extreme kindly, I can perceive, and he has a great mind to thank you for that good opinion, for which I believe he is only to thank his ill fortune: for if I am not in an errour, he would rather be in power, than out.
To show you how fit I am to live in the mountains, I will with great truth apply to myself an old sentence. "Those that are in, may abide in; and those that are out, may abide out: yet to me, those that are in, shall be as those that are out; and those that are out, shall be as those that are in."
I am indifferent as to all those matters, but I miss you as much as I did the first day, when (with a short sigh) I parted. Wherever you are, (or on the mountains of Wales, or on the coast of Dublin,
Tu mihi, magni superas dum saxa Timavi,
Sive oram Illyrici legis æquoris ——)
I am, and ever shall be,
NOV. 16, 1726.
I HAVE resolved to take time; and in spite of all misfortunes and demurs, which sickness, lameness or disability of any kind can throw in my way, to write you (at intervals) a long letter. My two least fingers of one hand hang impediments to the other, like useless dependants, who only take up room, and never are active or assistant to our wants: I shall never be much the better for them — I congratulate you first upon what you call your cousin's wonderful book, which is publica trita manu at present, and I prophecy will be hereafter the admiration of all men. That countenance with which it is received by some statesmen, is delightful; I wish I could tell you how every single man looks upon it, to observe which has been my whole diversion this fortnight. I have never been a night in London since you left me, till now for this very end, and indeed it has fully answered my expectations.
I find no considerable man very angry at the book; some indeed think it rather too bold, and too general a satire: but none that I hear of accuse it of particular reflections (I mean no persons of consequence, or good judgment; the mob of criticks, you know, always are desirous to apply satire to those they envy for being above them) so that you needed not to have been so secret upon this head. Motte received the copy (he tells me) he knew not from whence, nor from whom, dropped at his house in the dark, from a hackney coach; by computing the time, I found it was after you left England, so for my part, I suspend my judgment.
I am pleased with the nature and quality of your present to the princess. The Irish stuff you sent to Mrs. Howard, her royal highness laid hold of, and has made up for her own use. Are you determined to be national in every thing, even in your civilities? you are the greatest politician in Europe at this rate; but as you are a rational politician, there is no great fear of you, you will never succeed.
Another thing in which you have pleased me, was what you say of Mr. Pulteney, by which it seems to me that you value no man s civility above your own dignity, or your own reason. Surely, without flattery, you are now above all parties of men, and it is high time to be so, after twenty or thirty years observation of the great world.
Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri.
I question not, many men would be of your intimacy, that you might be of their interest; but God forbid an honest or witty man should be of any, but that of his country. They have scoundrels enough to write for their passions and their designs; let us write for truth, for honour, and for posterity. If you must needs write about politicks at all, (but perhaps it is full as wise to play the fool any other way) surely it ought to be so as to preserve the dignity and integrity of your character with those times to come, which will most impartially judge of you.
I wish you had writ to lord Peterborow, no man is more affectionate toward you. Do not fancy none but tories are your friends; for at that rate I must be, at most, but half your friend, and sincerely I am wholly so. Adieu, write often, and come soon, for many wish you well, and all would be glad of your company.
DUBLIN, NOV. 17, 1726.
I AM just come from answering a letter of Mrs. H——'s, writ in such mystical terms, that I should never have found out the meaning, if a book had not been sent me called Gulliver's Travels, of which you say so much in yours. I read the book over, and in the second volume observed several passages which appear to be patched and altered, and the style of a different sort, unless I am mistaken. Dr. Arbuthnot likes the projectors least, others you tell me, the flying island; some think it wrong to be so hard upon whole bodies or corporations, yet the general opinion is, that reflections on particular persons are most to be blamed: so that in these cases, I think the best method is to let censure and opinion take their course. A bishop here said, that book was full of improbable lies, and for his part, he hardly believed a word of it; and so much for Gulliver.
Going to England is a very good thing, if it were not attended with an ugly circumstance of returning to Ireland. It is a shame you do not persuade your ministers to keep me on that side, if it were but by a court expedient of keeping me in prison for a plotter; but at the same time I must tell you, that such journeys very much shorten my life, for a month here is longer than six at Twickenham.
How comes friend Gay to be so tedious? another man can publish fifty thousand lies, sooner than he can publish fifty fables.
I am just going to perform a very good office, it is to assist with the archbishop, in degrading a parson who couples all our beggars, by which I shall make one happy man: and decide the great question of an indelible character in favour of the principles in fashion; this I hope you will represent to the ministry in my favour, as a point of merit; so farewell till I return.
I am come back, and have deprived the parson, who by a law here is to be hanged the next couple he marries: he declared to us that he resolved to be hanged, only desired that when he was to go to the gallows, the archbishop would take off his excommunication. Is not he a good catholick? and yet he is but a Scotchman. This is the only Irish event I ever troubled you with, and I think it deserves notice. — Let me add, that if I were Gulliver's friend, I would desire all my acquaintance to give out that his copy was basely mangled, and abused, and added to, and blotted out by the printer; for so to me it seems, in the second volume particularly.
DEC 5, 1726.
I BELIEVE the hurt in your hand affects me more than it does yourself, and with reason, because I may probably be a greater loser by it. What have accidents to do with those who are neither jockeys, nor foxhunters, nor bullies, nor drunkards? And yet a rascally groom shall gallop a foundered horse ten miles upon a causeway, and get home safe.
I am very much pleased that you approve what was sent, because I remember to have heard a great man say, that nothing required more judgment than making a present; which when it is done to those of high rank, ought to be of something that is not readily got for money. You oblige me, and at the same time do me justice in what you observe as to Mr. Pulteney. Besides it is too late in life for me to act otherwise, and therefore I follow a very easy road to virtue, and purchase it cheap. If you will give me leave to join us, is not your life and mine a state of power, and dependance a state of slavery? We care not three pence whether a prince or minister will see us or not: we are not afraid of having ill offices done us, nor are at the trouble of guarding our words for fear of giving offence. I do agree that riches are liberty, but then we are to put into the balance how long our apprenticeship is to last in acquiring them.
Since you have received the verses, I most earnestly entreat you to burn those which you do not approve; and in those few where you may not dislike some parts, blot out the rest, and sometimes (though it be against the laziness of your nature) be so kind as to make a few corrections, if the matter will bear them. I have some few of those things I call thoughts moral and diverting; if you please I will send the best I can pick from them, to add to the new volume. I have reason to choose the method you mention of mixing the several verses, and I hope thereby among the bad criticks to be entitled to more merit than is my due.
This moment I am so happy as to have a letter from my lord Peterborow, for which I entreat you will present him with my humble respects and thanks, though he all-to-be-Gullivers me by very strong insinuations. Though you despise riddles, I am strongly tempted to send a parcel to be printed by themselves, and make a ninepenny job for the bookseller. There are some of my own, wherein I exceed mankind, mira poemata! the most solemn that were ever seen; and some writ by others, admirable indeed, but far inferiour to mine, but I will not praise myself. You approve that writer who laughs and makes others laugh; but why should I who hate the world, or you who do not love it, make it so happy? therefore I resolve from henceforth to handle only serious subjects, nisi quid tu docte Trebati, dissentis.
MARCH 8, 1726-27.
MR. Stopford will be the bearer of this letter, for whose acquaintance I am, among many other favours, obliged to you: and I think the acquaintance of so valuable, ingenious, and unaffected a man, to be none of the least obligations.
Our miscellany is now quite printed. I am prodigiously pleased with this joint volume, in which methinks we look like friends, side by side, serious and merry by turns, conversing interchangeably, and walking down hand in hand to posterity; not in the stiff forms of learned authors, flattering each other, and setting the rest of mankind at nought: but in a free, unimportant, natural, easy manner; diverting others, just as we diverted ourselves. The third volume consists of verses, but I would choose to print none but such as have some peculiarity, and may be distinguished for ours, from other writers. There's no end of making books, Solomon said, and above all of making miscellanies, which all men can make. For unless there be a character in every piece, like the mark of the elect, I should not care to be one of the twelve thousand signed.
You received, I hope, some commendatory verses from a horse and a Lilliputian, to Gulliver; and an heroick epistle of Mrs. Gulliver. The bookseller would fain have printed them before the second edition of the book, but I would not permit it without your approbation: nor do I much like them. You see how much like a poet I write, and if you were with us, you would be deep in politicks. People are very warm, and very angry, very little to the purpose, but therefore the more warm and the more angry: Non nostrum est, tantas componere lites. I stay at Twitnam, without so much as reading newspapers, votes, or any other paltry pamphlets: Mr. Stopford will carry you a whole parcel of them, which are sent for your diversion, but not imitation. For my own part, methinks, I am at Glubdubdrib, with none but ancients and spirits about me.
I am rather better than I use to be at this season, but my hand (though as you see, it has not lost its cunning) is frequently in very awkward sensations, rather than pain. But to convince you it is pretty well, it has done some mischief already, and just been strong enough to cut the other hand, while it was aiming to prune a fruit tree.
Lady Bolingbroke has writ you a long, lively letter, which will attend this; she has very bad health, he very good. Lord Peterborow has writ twice to you; we fancy some letters have been intercepted, or lost by accident. About ten thousand things I want to tell you: I wish you were as impatient to hear them, for if so, you would, you must come early this spring. Adieu. Let me have a line from you. I am vexed at losing Mr. Stopford as soon as I knew him: but I thank God I have known him no longer. If every man one begins to value must settle in Ireland, pray make me know no more of them, and I forgive you this one.
OCTOBER 2, 1727.
IT is a perfect trouble to me to write to you, and your kind letter left for me at Mr. Gay's affected me so much, that it made me like a girl. I cannot tell what to say to you; I only feel that I wish you well in every circumstance of life; that it is almost as good to be hated as to be loved, considering the pain it is to minds of any tender turn, to find themselves so utterly impotent to do any good, or give any ease, to those who deserve most from us. I would very fain know, as soon as you recover your complaints, or any part of them. Would to God I could ease any of them, or had been able even to have alleviated any! I found I was not, and truly it grieved me. I was sorry to find you could think yourself easier in any house than in mine, though at the same time I can allow for a tenderness in your way of thinking, even when it seemed to want that tenderness. I cannot explain my meaning, perhaps you know it: But the best way of convincing you of my indulgence, will be, if I live, to visit you in Ireland, and act there as much in my own way as you did here in yours. I will not leave your roof, if I am ill. To your bad health I fear there was added some disagreeable news from Ireland, which might occasion your so sudden departure: for, the last time I saw you, you assured me you would not leave us the whole winter, unless your health grew better, and I do not find it did so. I never complied so unwillingly in my life with any friend as with you, in staying so entirely from you: nor could I have had the constancy to do it, if you had not promised that before you went, we should meet, and you would send to us all to come. I have given your remembrances to those you mention in yours: we are quite sorry for you, I mean for ourselves. I hope, as you do, that we shall meet in a more durable and more satisfactory state; but the less sure I am of that, the more I would indulge it in this. We are to believe, we shall have something better than even a friend there, but certainly here we have nothing so good.
Adieu for this time; may you find every friend you go to as pleased and happy, as every friend you went from is sorry and troubled.
DUBLIN, OCT. 12, 1727.
I HAVE been long reasoning with myself upon the condition I am in, and in conclusion have thought it best to return to what fortune has made my home; I have there a large house, and servants and conveniences about me. I may be worse than I am, and have no where to retire. I therefore thought it best to return to Ireland, rather than go to any distant place in England. Here is my maintenance, and here my convenience. If it pleases God to restore me to my health, I shall readily make a third journey; if not, we must part as all human creatures have parted. You are the best and kindest friend in the world, and I know no body alive or dead to whom I am so much obliged; and if ever you made me angry, it was for your too much care about me. I have often wished that God Almighty would be so easy to the weakness of mankind, as to let old friends be acquainted in another state; and if I were to write a Utopia for Heaven, that would be one of my schemes. This wildness you must allow for, because I am giddy and deaf.
I find it more convenient to be sick here, without the vexation of making my friends uneasy; yet my giddiness alone would not have done, if that unsociable comfortless deafness had not quite tired me. And I believe I should have returned from the inn, if I had not feared it was only a short intermission, and the year was late, and my license expiring. Surely beside all other faults, I should be a very ill judge, to doubt your friendship and kindness. But it has pleased God that you are not in a state of health, to be mortified with the care and sickness of a friend. Two sick friends never did well together; such an office is fitter for servants and humble companions, to whom it is wholly indifferent whether we give them trouble or not. The case would be quite otherwise if you were with me; you could refuse to see any body, and here is a large house where we need not hear each other if we were both sick. I have a race of orderly elderly people of both sexes at command, who are of no consequence, and have gifts proper for attending us; who can bawl when I am deaf, and tread softly when I am only giddy and would sleep.
I had another reason for my haste hither, which was changing my agent, the old one having terribly involved my little affairs; to which however I am grown so indifferent, that I believe I shall lose two or three hundred pounds rather than plague myself with accompts: so that I am very well qualified to be a lord, and put into Peter Walter's hands.
Pray God continue and increase Mr. Congreve's amendment, though he does not deserve it like you, having been too lavish of that health which nature gave him.
I hope my Whitehall landlord is nearer to a place than when I left him; as the preacher said, "the day of judgment was nearer, than ever it had been before."
Pray God send you health, det salutem, det opes, animam æquam ipse tibi parabis. You see Horace wishes for money as well as health; and I would hold a crown he kept a coach; and I shall never be a friend to the court, till you do so too.
OCTOBER, 30, 1727.
THE first letter I writ after my landing was to Mr. Gay, but it would have been wiser to direct it to Tonson or Lintot, to whom I believe his lodgings are better known than to the runners of the postoffice. In that letter you will find what a quick change I made in seven days from London to the deanery, through many nations and languages unknown to the civilized world. And I have often reflected in how few hours, with a swift horse or a strong gale, a man may come among a people as unknown to him as the antipodes. If I did not know you more by your conversation and kindness than by your letter, I might be base enough to suspect, that in point of friendship, you acted like some philosophers, who writ much better upon virtue, than they practised it. In answer, I can only swear that you have taught me to dream, which I had not done in twelve years farther than by inexpressible nonsense; but now I can every night distinctly see Twitenham, and the Grotto, and Dawley, and many other et ceteras, and it is but three nights since I beat Mrs. Pope. I must needs confess, that the pleasure I take in thinking on you, is very much lessened by the pain I am in about your health: you pay dearly for the great talents God has given you; and for the consequences of them in the esteem and distinction you receive from mankind, unless you can provide a tolerable stock of health; in which pursuit I cannot much commend your conduct, but rather entreat you would mend it by following the advice of my lord Bolingbroke, and your other physicians. When you talked of cups and impressions, it came into my head to imitate you in quoting scripture, not to your advantage; I mean what was said to David by one of his brothers: "I knew thy pride and the naughtiness of thy heart;" I remember when it grieved your soul to see me pay a penny more than my club at an inn, when you had maintained me three months at bed and board; for which if I had dealt with you in the Smithfield way, it would have cost me a hundred pounds, for I live worse here upon more. Did you ever consider that I am for life almost twice as rich as you, and pay no rent, and drink French wine twice as cheap as you do port, and have neither coach, chair, nor mother? As to the world I think you ought to say to it with St. Paul, if we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? this is more proper still if you consider the French word spiritual, in which sense the world ought to pay you better than they do. If you made me a present of a thousand pounds, I would not allow myself to be in your debt; and if I made you a present of two, I would not allow myself to be out of it. But I have not half your pride: witness what Mr. Gay says in his letter, that I was censured for begging presents, though I limited them to ten shillings. I see no reason, (at least my friendship and vanity see none) why you should not give me a visit, when you shall happen to be disengaged: I will send a person to Chester to take care of you, and you shall be used by the best folks we have here, as well as civility and good nature can contrive; I believe local motion will be no ill physick, and I will have your coming inscribed on my tomb, and recorded in never dying verse.
I thank Mrs. Pope for her prayers, but I know the mystery. A person of my acquaintance who used to correspond with the last great duke of Tuscany, showing one of the duke's letters to a friend, and professing great sense of his highness's friendship, read this passage out of the letter, I would give one of my fingers to procure your real good. The person to whom this was read, and who knew the duke well, said, the meaning of real good, was only that the other might turn a good catholick. Pray ask Mrs. Pope whether this story is applicable to her and me? I pray God bless her, for I am sure she is a good christian, and (which is almost as rare) a good woman. Adieu.
POPE charges himself with this letter: he has been here two days, he is now hurrying to London, he will hurry back to Twickenham in two days more, and before the end of the week he will be, for ought I know, at Dublin. In the mean time his Dulness grows and flourishes as if he was there already. It will indeed be a noble work: the many will stare at it, the few will smile, and all his patrons, from Bickerstaff to Gulliver, will rejoice, to see themselves adorned in that immortal piece.
I hear that you have had some return of your illness which carried you so suddenly from us, if indeed it was your own illness which made you in such haste to be at Dublin. Dear Swift take care of your health, I will give you a receipt for it, à la Montaigne, or which is better, à la Bruyere. "Nourisser bien votre corps; ne le fatiguer jamais: laisser rouiller l'esprit, meuble inutil, voire outil dangereux: Laisser sonner vos cloches le matin pour éveiller les chanoines, et pour faire dormir le doyen d'un sommeil doux et profond, qui lui procure de beaux songes: Lever vous tard, et aller al' église, pour vous faire payer d' avoir bien dormi et bien déjeûné."
As to myself (a person about whom I concern myself very little) I must say a word or two out of complaisance to you, I am in my farm, and here I shoot strong and tenacious roots: I have caught hold of the earth, (to use a gardener's phrase) and neither my enemies nor my friends will find it an easy matter to transplant me again. Adieu, let me hear from you, at least of you: I love you for a thousand things, for none more than for the just esteem and love which you have for all the sons of Adam.
P. S. According to lord Bolingbroke's account I shall be at Dublin in three days. I cannot help adding a word, to desire you to expect my soul there with you by that time; but as for the jade of a body that is tacked to it, I fear there will be no dragging it after. I assure you I have few friends here to detain me, and no powerful one at court absolutely to forbid my journey. I am told the gynocracy are of opinion, that they want no better writers than Cibber, and the British Journalist; so that we may live at quiet, and apply ourselves to our more abstruse studies. The only courtiers I know, or have the honour to call my friends, are John Gay and Mr. Bowry; the former is at present so employed in the elevated airs of his opera, and the latter in the exaltation of his high dignity (that of her majesty's waterman) that I can scarce obtain a categorical answer from either, to any thing I say to them. But the opera succeeds extremely, to yours and my extreme satisfaction, of which he promises this post to give you a full account. I have been in a worse condition of health than ever, and think my immortality is very near out of my enjoyment: so it must be in you, and in posterity, to make me what amends you can for dying young. Adieu. While I am, I am yours. I Pray love me, and take care of yourself.
MARCH, 23, 1727-8.
I SEND you a very odd thing, a paper printed in Boston in New England, wherein you will find a real person, a member of their parliament, of the name of Jonathan Gulliver. If the fame of that traveler has travelled thither, it has travelled very quick, to have folks christened already by the name of the supposed author. But if you object, that no child so lately christened could be arrived at years of maturity to be elected into parliament, I reply (to solve the riddle) that the person is an anabaptist, and not christened till full age, which sets all right. However it be, the accident is very singular, that these two names should be united.
Mr. Gay's opera has acted near forty days running, and will certainly continue the whole season. So he has more than a fence about his thousand pounds: he will soon be thinking of a fence about his two thousand. Shall no one of us live as we would wish each other to live? Shall he have no annuity, you no settlement on this side, and I no prospect of getting to you on the other? This world is made for Cæsar — as Cato said; for ambitious, false, or flattering people to domineer in: nay they would not, by their good will, leave us our very books, thoughts, or words, in quiet. I despise the world yet, I assure you, more than either Gay or you, and the court more than all the rest of the world. As for those scribblers for whom you apprehend I would suppress my Dulness, (which by the way, for the future you are to call by a more pompous name, the Dunciad) how much that nest of hornets are my regard, will easily appear to you when you read the Treatise of the Bathos.
At all adventures, yours and my name shall stand linked as friends to posterity, both in verse and prose, and (as Tully calls it) in consuetudine studiorum. Would to God our persons could but as well, and as surely, be inseparable! I find my other ties dropping from me; some worn off, some torn off, others relaxing daily: my greatest, both by duty, gratitude, and humanity, time is shaking every moment, and it now hangs but by a thread! I am many years the older, for living so much with one so old; much the more helpless, for having been so long helped and tended by her; much the more considerate and tender, for a daily commerce with one who required me justly to be both to her; and consequently the more melancholy and thoughtful; and the less fit for others, who want only in a companion or a friend, to be amused or entertained. My constitution too has had its share of decay, as well as my spirits, and I am as much in the decline at forty as you at sixty. I believe we should be fit to live together, could I get a little more health, which might make me not quite insupportable: Your deafness would agree with my dulness; you would not want me to speak when you could not hear. But God forbid you should be as destitute of the social comforts of life, as I must when I lose my mother; or that ever you should lose your more useful acquaintance so utterly, as to turn your thoughts to such a broken reed as I am, who could so ill supply your wants. I am extremely troubled at the returns of your deafness; you cannot be too particular in the accounts of your health to me; every thing you do or say in this kind obliges me, nay delights me, to see the justice you do me in thinking me concerned in all your concerns; so that though the pleasantest thing you can tell me be that you are better or easier; next to that it pleases me that you make me the person you would complain to.
As the obtaining the love of valuable men is the happiest end I know of this life, so the next felicity is to get rid of fools and scoundrels; which I cannot but own to you was one part of my design in falling upon these authors, whose incapacity is not greater than their insincerity, and of whom I have always found (if I may quote myself)
That each bad author is as bad a friend.
This Poem will rid me of those insects,
Cedite Romani Scriptores, cedite Graii,
Nescio quid majus nascitur Iliade.
DUBLIN, MAY 10, 1728,
I HAVE with great pleasure shown the New England newspaper with the two names Jonathan Gulliver; and I remember Mr. Fortescue sent you an account from the assizes, of one Lemuel Gulliver who had a cause there, and lost it on his ill reputation of being a liar. These are not the only observations I have made upon odd strange accidents in trifles, which in things of great importance would have been matter for historians. Mr. Gay's opera has been acted here twenty times, and my lord lieutenant tells me it is very well performed; he has seen it often, and approves it much.
You give a most melancholy account of yourself, and which I do not approve. I reckon that a man subject like us to bodily infirmities, should only occasionally converse with great people, notwithstanding all their good qualities, easinesses, and kindnesses. There is another race which I prefer before them, as beef and mutton for constant diet before partridges: I mean a middle kind both for understanding and fortune, who are perfectly easy, never impertinent, complying in every thing, ready to do a hundred little offices that you and I may often want, who dine and sit with me five times for once that I go to them, and whom I can tell without offence, that I am otherwise engaged at present. This you cannot expect from any of those, that either you, or I, or both are acquainted with on your side; who are only fit for our healthy seasons, and have much business of their own. God forbid I should condemn you to Ireland (Quanquam O!) and for England I despair: and indeed a change of affairs would come too late at my season of life, and might probably produce nothing on my behalf. You have kept Mrs. Pope longer, and have had her care beyond what from nature you could expect; not but her loss will be very sensible whenever it shall happen. I say one thing, that both summers and winters are milder here than with you; all things for life in general better for a middling fortune: you will have an absolute command of your company, with whatever obsequiousness or freedom you may expect or allow. I have an elderly housekeeper, who has been my Walpole above thirty years, whenever I lived in this kingdom. I have the command of one or two villas near this town: you have a warm apartment, in this house, and two gardens for amusement. I have said enough, yet not half. Except absence from friends, I confess freely that I have no discontent at living here, beside what arises from a silly spirit of liberty, which as it neither sours my drink, nor hurts my meat, nor spoils my stomach, farther than in imagination, so I resolve to throw it off.
JAN. 1, 1728-9.
I LOOK upon my lord Bolingbroke and us two, as a peculiar triumvirate, who have nothing to expect, or to fear; and so far fittest to converse with one another: only he and I are a little subject to schemes, and one of us (I would not say which) upon very weak appearances, and this you have nothing to do with. I do profess without affectation, that your kind opinion of me as a patriot (since you call it so) is what I do not deserve; because what I do is owing to perfect rage and resentment, and the mortifying sight of slavery, folly, and baseness about me, among which I am forced to live. And I will take my oath that you have more virtue in an hour, than I in seven years; for you despise the follies, and hate the vices of mankind, without the least ill effect on your temper; and with regard to particular men, you are inclined always rather to think the better, whereas with me it is always directly contrary. I hope however, this is not in you from a superiour principle of virtue, but from your situation, which has made all parties and interests indifferent to you; who can be under no concern about high and low church, whig and tory, or who is first minister — Your long letter was the last I received till this by Dr. Delany, although you mention another since. The Dr. told me your secret about the Dunciad, which does not please me, because it defers gratifying my vanity in the most tender point, and perhaps may wholly disappoint it. As to one of your inquiries, I am easy enough in great matters, but have a thousand paltry vexations in my little station, and the more contemptible, the more vexatious. There might be a Lutrin writ upon the tricks used by my chapter to tease me. I do not converse with one creature of station or tide, but I have a set of easy people whom I entertain when I have a mind: I have formerly described them to you, but when you come you shall have the honours of the country as much as you please, and I shall, on that account, make a better figure as long as I live. Pray God preserve Mrs. Pope for your sake and ease; I love and esteem her too much to wish it for her own: if I were five and twenty, I would wish to be of her age, to be as secure as she is of a better life. Mrs. P. B. has writ to me, and is one of the best letter writers I know; very good sense, civility and friendship, without any stiffness or constraint. The Dunciad has taken wind here, but if it had not, you are as much known here as in England, and the university-lads will crowd to kiss the hem of your garment. I am grieved to hear that my lord Bolingbroke's ill health forced him to the Bath. Tell me, is not temperance a necessary virtue for great men, since it is the parent of ease and liberty? so necessary for the use and improvement of the mind, and which philosophy allows to be the greatest felicities of life? I believe, had health been given so liberally to you, it would have been better husbanded, without shame to your parts.
DAWLEY, JUNE 28, 1728.
I NOW hold the pen for my lord Bolingbroke, who is reading your letter between two haycocks, but his attention is sometimes diverted by casting his eyes on the clouds, not in admiration of what you say, but for fear of a shower. He is pleased with your placing him in the triumirate between yourself and me: though he says that he doubts he shall fare like Lepidus, while one of us runs away with all the power like Augustus, and another with all the pleasures like Anthony. It is upon a foresight of this, that he has fitted up his farm, and you will agree, that this scheme of retreat at least is not founded upon weak appearances. Upon his return from the Bath, all peccant humours, he finds, are purged out of him; and his great temperance and economy are so signal, that the first, is fit for my constitution, and the latter, would enable you to lay up so much money, as to buy a bishoprick in England. As to the return of his health and vigour, were you here, you might inquire of his haymakers; but as to his temperance, I can answer that (for one whole day) we have had nothing for dinner but mutton broth, beans and bacon, and a barndoor fowl.
Now his lordship is run after his cart, I have a moment left to myself to tell you, that I overheard him yesterday agree with a painter for 200l. to paint his country hall with trophies of rakes, spades, prongs, &c. and other ornaments merely to countenance his calling this place a farm — now turn over a new leaf. —
He bids me assure you, he should be sorry not to have more schemes of kindness for his friends, than of ambition for himself: there, though his schemes may be weak, the motives at least are strong; and he says farther, if you could bear as great a fall, and decrease of your revenues, as he knows by experience he can, you would not live in Ireland an hour.
The Dunciad is going to be printed in all pomp, with the inscription, which makes me proudest. It will be attended with proeme, prolegomena, testimonia scriptorum, index authorum, and notes variorum. As to the latter, I desire you to read over the text, and make a few in any way you like best, whether dry raillery, upon the style and way of commenting of trivial criticks; or humourous, upon the authors in the poem; or historical, of persons, places, times; or explanatory, or collecting the parallel passages of the ancients. Adieu. I am pretty well, my mother not ill. Dr. Arbuthnot vexed with his fever by intervals; I am afraid he declines, and we shall lose a worthy man: I am troubled about him very much.
I am, &c.
JULY 16, 1728.
I HAVE often run over the Dunciad in an Irish edition (I suppose full of faults) which a gentleman sent me. The notes I could wish to be very large, in what relates to the persons concerned; for I have long observed that twenty miles from London nobody understands hints, initial letters, or town facts and passages; and in a few years not even those who live in London. I would have the names of those scribblers printed indexically at the beginning or end of the poem, with an account of their works, for the reader to refer to. I would have all the parodies (as they are called) referred to the author they imitate — When I began this long paper, I thought I should have filled it with setting down the several passages I had marked in the edition I had, but I find it unnecessary, so many of them falling under the same rule. After twenty times reading the whole, I never in my opinion saw so much good satire, or more good sense, in so many lines. How it passes in Dublin I know not yet; but I am sure it will be a great disadvantage to the poem, that the persons and facts will not be understood, till an explanation comes out, and a very full one. I imagine it is not to be published till toward winter, when folks begin to gather in town. Again I insist, you must have your astericks filled up with some real names of real dunces.
I am now reading your preceding letter, of June 28, and find that all I have advised above is mentioned there. I would be glad to know whether the quarto edition is to come out anonymously, as published by the commentator, with all his pomp of prefaces, &c. and among many complaints of spurious editions? I am thinking whether the editor should not follow the old style of, this excellent author, &c. and refine in many places when you meant no refinement? and into the bargain take all the load of naming the dunces, their qualities, histories, and performances?
As to yourself, I doubt you want a spurrer on to exercise and to amusements; but to talk of decay at your season of life is a jest. But you are not so regular as I. You are the most temperate man Godward, and the most intemperate yourselfward, of most I have known. I suppose Mr. Gay will return from the Bath with twenty pounds more flesh, and two hundred less in money: Providence never designed him to be above two and twenty, by his thoughtlessness and cullibility. He hath as little foresight of age, sickness, poverty, or loss of admirers, as a girl at fifteen. By the way, I must observe, that my lord Bolingbroke (from the effects of his kindness to me) argues most sophistically: the fall from a million to a hundred thousand pounds, is not so great, as from eight hundred pounds a year to one: besides, he is a controller of fortune, and poverty dares not look a great minister in the face, under his lowest declension. I never knew him live so greatly and expensively as he has done since his return from exile; such mortals have resources that others are not able to comprehend. But God bless you, whose great genius has not so transported you as to leave you to the courtesy of mankind; for wealth is a liberty, and liberty is a blessing fittest for a philosopher — and Gay is a slave just by two thousand pounds too little. — And Horace was of my mind, and let my lord contradict him if he dares. —
BATH, NOV. 12, 1728.
I HAVE passed six weeks in quest of health, and found it not; but I found the folly of solicitude about it in a hundred instances; the contrariety of opinions and practices, the inability of physicians, the blind obedience of some patients, and as blind rebellion of others. I believe at a certain time of life, men are either fools, or physicians for themselves; and zealots, or divines for themselves.
It was much in my hopes that you intended us a winter's visit, but last week I repented that wish, having been alarmed with a report of your lying ill on the road from Ireland; from which I am just relieved by an assurance that you are still at sir A——'s planting and building; two things that I envy you for, beside a third, which is the society of a valuable lady. I conclude (though I know nothing of it) that you quarrel with her, and abuse her every day, if she is so. I wonder I hear of no lampoons upon her, either made by yourself, or by others because you esteem her. I think it a vast pleasure that whenever two people of merit regard one another, so many scoundrels envy and are angry at them; it is bearing testimony to a merit they cannot reach; and if you knew the infinite content I have received of late, at the finding yours and my name constantly united in any silly scandal, I think you would go near to sing Io Triumphe! and celebrate my happiness in verse; and I believe if you will not, I shall. The inscription to the Dunciad is now printed and inserted in the poem. Do you care I should say any thing farther how much that poem is yours? since certainly without you, it had never been. Would to God we were together for the rest of our lives! the whole weight of scribblers would just serve to find us amasement, and not more, I hope you are too well employed to mind them: every stick you plant, and every stone you lay, is to some purpose; but the business of such lives as theirs, is but to die daily, to labour, and raise nothing. I only wish we could comfort each other under our bodily infirmities, and let those who have so great a mind to have more wit than we, win it and wear it. Give us but ease, health, peace, and fair weather! I think it is the best wish in the world, and you know whose it was. If I lived in Ireland, I fear the wet climate would endanger more than my life; my humour, and health, I am so atmospherical a creature.
I must not omit acquainting you, that what you heard of the words spoken of you in the drawing room was not true. The sayings of princes are generally as ill related as the sayings of wits. To such reports little of our regard should be given, and less of our conduct influenced by them.
DUBLIN, FEB. 13, 1728-9.
I LIVED very easily in the country: sir Arthur is a man of sense, and a scholar, has a good voice, and my lady a better; she is perfectly well bred, and desirous to improve her understanding, which is very good, but cultivated too much like a fine lady. She was my pupil there, and severely chid when she read wrong; with that, and walking, and making twenty little amusing improvements, and writing family verses of mirth by way of libels on my lady, my time past very well and in very great order; infinitely better than here, where I see no creature but my servants and my old presbyterian housekeeper, denying myself to every body, till I shall recover my ears.
The account of another lord lieutenant was only in a common newspaper, when I was in the country; and if it should have happened to be true, I would have desired to have had access to him as the situation I am in requires. But this renews the grief for the death of our friend Mr. Congreve, whom I loved from my youth, and who surely, beside his other talents, was a very agreeable companion. He had the misfortune to squander away a very good constitution in his younger days; and I think a man of sense and merit like him, is bound in conscience to preserve his health for the sake of his friends, as well as of himself. Upon his own account I could not much desire the continuance of his life, under so much pain, and so many infirmities. Years have not yet hardened me; and I have an addition of weight on my spirits since we lost him; though I saw him so seldom, and possibly if he had lived on, should never have seen him more. I do not only wish as you ask me, that I was unacquainted with any deserving person, but almost, that I never had a friend. Here is an ingenious good humoured physician, a fine gentleman, an excellent scholar, easy in his fortunes, kind to every body, has abundance of friends, entertains them often and liberally; they pass the evening with him at cards, with plenty of good meat and wine, eight or a dozen together; he loves them all, and they him; he has twenty of these at command; if one of them dies, it is no more than poor Tom; he gets another, or takes up with the rest, and is no more moved than at the loss of his cat; he offends no body, is easy with every body — is not this the truly happy man? I was describing him to my lady A——, who knows him too, but she hates him mortally by my character, and will not drink his health: I would give half my fortune for the same temper, and yet I cannot say I love it, for I do not love my lord —— who is much of the doctor's nature. I hear Mr. Gay's second opera which you mention, is forbid; and then he will be once more fit to be advised, and reject your advice. Adieu.
DUBLIN, MARCH 21, 1729.
YOU tell me you have not quitted the design of collecting, writing, &c. This is the answer of every sinner who defers his repentance. I wish Mr. Pope were as great an urger as I, who long for nothing more than to see truth under your hands, laying all detraction in the dust — I find myself disposed every year, or rather every month, to be more angry and revengeful; and my rage is so ignoble, that it descends even to resent the folly and baseness of the enslaved people among whom I live. I knew an old lord in Leicestershire who amused himself with mending pitchforks and spades for his tenants gratis. Yet I have higher ideas left, if I were nearer to objects on which I might employ them; and contemning my private fortune, would gladly cross the channel and stand by, while my betters were driving the boars out of the garden, if there be any probable expectation of such an endeavour. When I was of your age I often thought of death, but now after a dozen years more, it is never out of my mind, and terrifies me less. I conclude that Providence has ordered our fears to decrease with our spirits; and yet I love la bagatelle better than ever: for finding it troublesome to read at night, and the company here growing tasteless, I am always writing bad prose, or worse verses, either of rage or raillery, whereof some few escape to give offence, or mirth, and the rest are burnt.
They print some Irish trash in London, and charge it on me, which you will clear me of to my friends, for all are spurious except one paper, for which Mr. Pope very lately chid me. I remember your lordship used to say, that a few good speakers would in time carry any point that was right; and that the common method of a majority, by calllng to the question, would never hold long when reason was on the other side. Whether politicks do not change, like gaming, by the invention of new tricks, I am ignorant: but I believe in your time you would never, as a minister, have suffered an act to pass through the H. of C——s, only because you were sure of a majority in the H. of L—s, to throw it out; because it would be unpopular, and consequently a loss of reputation. Yet this we are told has been the case in the qualification bill relating to pensioners. It should seem to me, that corruption, like avarice, has no bounds. I had opportunities to know the proceedings of your ministry better than any other man of my rank; and having not much to do, I have often compared it with these last sixteen years of a profound peace all over Europe, and we running seven millions in debt. I am forced to play at small game, to set the beasts here a madding, merely for want of better game. Tentanda via est qua me quoque possim &c. — The Devil take those politicks, where a dunce might govern for a dozen years together. I will come in person to England, if I am provoked, and send for the dictator from the plough. I disdain to say, O mihi præteritos — but cruda deo viridisque senectus. Pray my lord how are the gardens? have you taken down the mount, and removed the yew hedges? have you not bad weather for the spring corn? has Mr. Pope gone farther in his ethick poems? and is the head land sown with wheat? and what says Polybius? and how does my lord St. John? which last question is very material to me, because I love burgundy, and riding between Twickenham and Dawley. I built a wall five years ago, and when the masons played the knaves, nothing delighted me so much as to stand by while my servants threw down what was amiss. I have likewise seen a monkey overthrow all the dishes and plates in a kitchen, merely for the pleasure of seeing them tumble, and hearing the clatter they made in their fall. I wish you would invite me to such another entertainment; but you think as I ought to think, that it is time for me to have done with the world; and so I would, if I could get into a better, before I was called into the best, and not die here in a rage, like a poisoned rat in a hole. I wonder you are not ashamed to let me pine away in this kingdom while you are out of power.
I come from looking over the mélange above-written, and declare it to be a true copy of my present disposition, which must needs please you since nothing was ever more displeasing to myself. I desire you to present my most humble respects to my lady.
DUBLIN, APRIL 5, 1729.
I DO not think it could be possible for me to hear better news than that of your getting over your scurvy suit, which always hung as a dead weight on my heart; I hated it in all its circumstances, as it affected your fortune and quiet, and in a situation of life that must make it every way vexatious. And as I am infinitely obliged to you for the justice you do me in supposing your affairs do at least concern me as much as my own; so I would never have pardoned your omitting it. But before I go on, I cannot forbear mentioning what I read last summer in a newspaper, that you were writing the history of your own times. I suppose such a report might arise from what was not secret among your friends, of your intention to write another kind of history; which you often promised Mr. Pope and me to do: I know he desires it very much, and I am sure I desire nothing more for the honour and love I bear you, and the perfect knowledge I have of your publick virtue. My lord, I have no other notion of economy than that it is the parent of liberty and case, and I am not the only friend you have who has chid you in his heat for the neglect of it, though not with his mouth, as I have done. For there is a silly errour in the world, even among friends otherwise very good, not to intermeddle with men's affairs in such nice matters. And my lord, I have made a maxim, that should be writ in letters of diamonds, that a wise man ought to have money in his head, but not in his heart. Pray my lord inquire whether your prototype, my lord Digby, after the restoration when he was at Bristol, did not take some care of his fortune, notwithstanding that quotation I once sent you out of his speech to the H. of commons? In my conscience, I believe Fortune, like other drabs, values a man gradually less for every year he lives. I have demonstration for it; because if I play at piquet for sixpence with a man or woman two years younger than myself, I always lose; and there is a young girl of twenty who never fails of winning my money at backgammon, though she is a bungler, and the game be ecclesiastick. As to the publick, I confess nothing could cure my itch of meddling with it but these frequent returns of deafness, which have hindred me from passing last winter in London; yet I cannot but consider the perfidiousness of some people, who, I thought, when I was last there, upon a change that happened, were the most impudent in forgetting their professions that I have ever known. Pray will you please to take your pen, and blot me out that political maxim from whatever book it is in, that Res nolunt diu male administrari; the commonness makes me not know who is the author, but sure he must be some modern.
I am sorry for lady Bolingbroke's ill health; but I protest I never knew a very deserving person of that sex, who had not too much reason to complain of ill health. I never wake without finding life a more insignificant thing than it was the day before: which is one great advantage I get by living in this country, where there is nothing I shall be sorry to lose. But my greatest misery is recollecting the scene of twenty years past, and then all on a sudden dropping into the present. I remember, when I was a little boy, I felt a great fish at the end of my line which I drew up almost on the ground, but it dropped in, and the disappointment vexes me to this very day, and I believe it was the type of all my future disappointments. I should be ashamed to say this to you, if you had not a spirit fitter to bear your own misfortunes, than I have to think of them. Is there patience left to reflect, by what qualities wealth and greatness are got, and by what qualities they are lost? I have read my friend Congreve's verses to lord Cobham, which end with a vile and false moral, and I remember is not in Horace to Tibullus, which he imitates; "that all times are equally virtuous and vicious:" wherein he differs from all poets, philosophers, and christians that ever writ. It is more probable that there may be an equal quantity of virtues always in the world, but sometimes there may be a peck of it in Asia, and hardly a thimblefull in Europe. But if there be no virtue, there is abundance of sincerity; for I will venture all I am worth, that there is not one human creature in power, who will not be modest enough to confess that he proceeds wholly upon a principle of corruption: I say this because I have a scheme, in spite of your notions, to govern England upon the principles of virtue, and when the nation is ripe for it, I desire you will send for me. I have learned this by living like a hermit, by which I am got backward about nineteen hundred years in the era of the world, and begin to wonder at the wickedness of men. I dine alone upon half a dish of meat, mix water with my wine, walk ten miles a day, and read Baronius. Hic explicit epistola ad dom. Bolingbroke, & incipt ad amicum Pope.
Having finished my letter to Aristippus, I now begin to you. I was in great pain about Mrs. Pope, having heard from others that she was in a very dangerous way, which made me think it unseasonable to trouble you. I am ashamed to tell you, that when I was very young I had more desire to be famous than ever since; and fame, like all things else in this life, grows with me every day more a trifle. But you who are so much younger, although you want that health you deserve, yet your spirits are as vigorous as if your body were sounder. I hate a crowd where I have not an easy place to see and be seen. A great library always makes me melancholy, where the best author is as much squeezed, and as obscure, as a porter at a coronation. In my own little library, I value the compilements of Grævius and Gronovius, which make thirty-one volumes in folio (and were given me by my lord Bolingbroke) more than all my books besides; because whoever comes into my closet, casts his eyes immediately upon them, and will not vouchsafe to look upon Plato or Xenophon. I tell you it is almost incredible how opinions change by the decline or decay of spirits, and I will farther tell you, that all my endeavours, from a boy, to distinguish myself, were only for want of a great title and fortune, that I might be used like a lord by those who have an opinion of my parts; whether right or wrong, it is no great matter; and so the reputation of wit or great learning does the office of a blue riband, or of a coach and six horses. To be remembered for ever on the account of our friendship, is what would exceedingly please me; but yet I never loved to make a visit, or be seen walking with my betters, because they get all the eyes and civilities from me. I no sooner writ this than I corrected myself, and remembered sir Fulk Grevil's epitaph, "Here lies, &c. who was friend to sir Philip Sidney." And therefore I most heartily thank you for your desire that I would record our friendship in verse, which if I can succeed in, I will never desire to write one more line in poetry while I live. You must present my humble service to Mrs. Pope, and let her know I pray for her continuance in the world, for her own reason, that she may live to take care of you.
AUGUST 11, 1729.
I AM very sensible that in a former letter I talked very weakly of my own affairs, and of my imperfect wishes and desires, which however I find with some comfort do now daily decline, very suitably to my state of health for some months past. For my head is never perfectly free from giddiness, and especially toward night. Yet my disorder is very moderate, and I have been without a fit of deafness this half year; so I am like a horse, which, though off his mettle, can trot on tolerably; and this comparison puts me in mind to add that I am returned to be a rider, wherein I wish you would imitate me. As to this country, there have been three terrible years dearth of corn, and every place strowed with beggars; but dearths are common in better climates, and our evils here lie much deeper. Imagine a nation the two thirds of whose revenues are spent out of it, and who are not permitted to trade with the other third, and where the pride of women will not suffer them to wear their own manufactures, even where they excel what come from abroad: this is the true state of Ireland in a very few words. These evils operate more every day, and the kingdom is absolutely undone, as I have been telling often in print these ten years past.
What I have said requires forgiveness, but I had a mind for once to let you know the state of our affairs, and my reason for being more moved than perhaps becomes a clergyman, and a piece of a philosopher: and perhaps the increase of years and disorders may hope for some allowance to complaints, especially when I may call myself a stranger in a strange land. As to poor Mrs. Pope (if she be still alive) I heartily pity you and pity her: her great piety and virtue will infallibly make her happy in a better life, and her great age has made her fully ripe for Heaven and the grave, and her best friends will most wish her eased of her labours, when she has so many good works to follow them. The loss you will feel by the want of her care and kindness, I know very well; but she has amply done her part, as you have yours. One reason why I would have you in Ireland when you shall be at your own disposal, is, that you may be master of two or three years revenues, proviso frugis in annos copia so as not to be pinched in the least when years increase, and perhaps your health impairs: and when this kingdom is utterly at an end, you may support me for the few years I shall happen to live; and who knows but you may pay me exorbitant interest for the spoonful of wine, and scraps of a chicken it may cost me to feed you? I am confident you have too much reason to complain of ingratitude; for I never yet knew any person, one tenth part so heartily disposed as you are, to do good offices to others, without the least private view.
Was it a gasconade to please me, that you said your fortune was increased 100l. a year since I left you? you should have told me how. Those subsidia senectuti are extremely desirable, if they could be got with justice, and without avarice; of which vice, though I cannot charge myself yet, nor feel any approaches toward it, yet no usurer more wishes to be richer, or rather to be surer of his rents. But I am not half so moderate as you, for I declare I cannot live easily under double to what you are satisfied with.
I hope Mr. Gay will keep his 3000l. and live on the interest without decreasing the principal one penny; but I do not like your seldom seeing him. I hope he is grown more disengaged from his intentness on his own affairs, which I ever disliked, and is quite the reverse to you, unless you are a very dextrous disguiser. I desire my humble service to lord Oxford, lord Bathurst, and particularly to Mrs. Blount, but to no lady at court. God bless you for being a greater dupe than I: I love that character too myself, but I want your charity. Adieu.
OCT. 9. 1729.
IT pleases me that you received my books at last: but you have never once told me if you approve the whole, or disapprove not of some parts, of the commentary, &c. It was my principal aim in the entire work to perpetuate the friendship between us, and to show that the friends or the enemies of one were the friends or enemies of the other: if in any particular, any thing be stated or mentioned in a different manner from what you like, pray tell me freely, that the new editions now coming out here, may have it rectifyed. You will find the octavo rather more correct than the quarto, with some additions to the notes and epigrams cast in, which I wish had been increased by your acquaintance in Ireland. I rejoice in hearing that Drapiers Hill is to emulate Parnassus; I fear the country about it is as much impoverished. I truly share in all that troubles you, and wish you removed from a scene of distress, which I know works your compassionate temper too strongly. But if we are not to see you here, I believe I shall once in my life see you there. You think more for me, and about me, than any friend I have, and you think better for me. Perhaps you will not be contented, though I am, that the additional 100l. a year is only for my life. My mother is yet living, and I thank God for it: she will never be troublesome to me, if she be not so to herself: but a melancholy object it is, to observe the gradual decays both of body and mind, in a person to whom one is tied by the links of both. I cannot tell whether her death itself would be so afflicting.
You are too careful of my worldly affairs; I am rich enough, and can afford to give away 100l. a year. Do not be angry; I will not live to be very old. I have revelations to the contrary. I would not crawl upon the earth without doing a little good when I have a mind to do it: I will enjoy the pleasure of what I give, by giving it, alive, and seeing another enjoy it. When I die, I should be ashamed to leave enough to build me a monument, if there were a wanting friend above ground.
Mr. Gay assures me his 3000l. is kept entire and sacred; he seems to languish after a line from you, and complains tenderly. Lord Bolingbroke has told me ten times over he was going to write to you. Has he, or not? The Dr. is unalterable, both in friendship and quadrille: his wife has been very near death last week: his two brothers buried their wives within these six Gay is sixty miles off, and has been so all this summer, with the duke and duchess of Queensberry. He is the same man: so is every one here that you know: mankind is unamendable. Optimus ille Qui minimis urgetur — Poor Mrs. is like the rest, she cries at the thorn in her foot, but will suffer no body to pull it out. The court lady, I have a good opinion of, yet I have treated her more negligently than you would do, because you like to see the inside of a court, which I do not. I have seen her but twice. You have a desperate hand at dashing out a character by great strokes, and at the same time a delicate one at fine touches. God forbid you should draw mine, if I were conscious of any guilt: but if I were conscious only of folly, God send it! for as no body can detect a great fault so well as you, no body would so well hide a small one. But after all, that lady means to do good, and does no harm, which is a vast deal for a courtier. I can assure you that lord Peterborow always speaks kindly of you, and certainly has as great a mind to be you friend as any one. I must throw away my pen: it cannot, it will never tell you, what I inwardly am to you. Quod nequeo monstrare, & sentio tantum.
OCT. 31, 1729.
YOU were so careful of sending me the Dunciad, that I have received five of them, and have pleased four friends. I am one of every body who approve every part of it, text and comment; but am one abstracted from every body, in the happiness of being recorded your friend, while wit, and humour, and politeness shall have any memorial among us. As for your octavo edition, we know nothing of it, for we have an octavo of our own, which has sold wonderfully, considering our poverty, and dulness the consequence of it.
I writ this post to lord Bolingbroke, and tell him in my letter, that with a great deal of loss for a frolick, I will fly as soon as build: I have neither years, nor spirits, nor money, nor patience for such amusements. The frolick is gone off, and I am only 100l. the poorer. But this kingdom is grown so excessively poor, that we wise men must think of nothing but getting a little ready money. It is thought there are not two hundred thousand pounds of species in the whole island; for we return thrice as much to our absentees, as we get by trade, and so are all inevitably undone; which I have been telling them in print these ten years, to as little purpose as if it came from the pulpit. And this is enough for Irish politicks, which I only mention, because it so nearly touches myself. I must repeat what I believe I have said before, that I pity you much more than Mrs. Pope. Such a parent and friend hourly declining before your eyes, is an object very unfit for your health, and duty, and tender disposition, and I pray God it may not affect you too much. I am as much satisfied that your additional 100l. per annum is for life as if it were for ever. You have enough to leave your friends, I would not have them glad to be rid of you; and I shall take care that none but my enemies will be glad to get rid of me. You have embroiled me with lord B——— about the figure of living, and the pleasure of giving. I am under the necessity of some little paltry figure in the station I am; but I make it as little as possible. As to the other part you are base, because I thought myself as great a giver as ever was of my ability; and yet in proportion you exceed, and have kept it till now a secret even from me, when I wondered how you were able to live with your whole little revenue.
NOV. 19, 1729.
I FIND that you have laid aside your project of building in Ireland, and that we shall see you in this island cum zephyris, & hirundine prima. I know not whether the love of fame increases as we advance in age; sure I am that the force of friendship does. I loved you almost twenty years ago: I thought of you as well as I do now, better was beyond the power of conception, or to avoid an equivoque, beyond the extent of my ideas. Whether you are more obliged to me for loving you as well when I knew you less, or for loving you as well after loving you so many years, I shall not determine. What I would say is this: while my mind grows daily more independent of the world, and feels less need of leaning on external objects, the ideas of friendship return oftener, they busy me, they warm me more: Is it that we grow more tender as the moment of our great separation approaches? or is it that they who are to live together in another state, (for vera amicitia non nisi inter bonos) begin to feel more strongly that divine sympathy which is to be the great band of their future society? There is no one thought which sooths my mind like this: I encourage my imagination to pursue it, and am heartily afflicted when another faculty of the intellect comes boisterously in, and wakes me from so pleasing a dream, if it be a dream. I will dwell no more on economicks than I have done in my former letter. Thus much only I will say, that otium cum dignitate is to be had with 500l. a year as well as with 5000l: the difference will be found in the value of the man, and not in that of the estate. I do assure you, that I have never quitted the design of collecting, revising, improving, and extending several materials which are still in my power; and I hope that the time of setting myself about this last work of my life is not far off. Many papers of much curiosity and importance are lost, and some of them in a manner which would surprise and anger you. However, I shall be able to convey several great truths to posterity, so clearly and so authentically, that the Burnets and the Oldmixons of another age may rail, but not be able to deceive. Adieu my friend. I have taken up more of this paper than belongs to me, since Pope is to write to you; no matter, for upon recollection the rules of proportion are not broken; he will say as much to you in one page, as I have said in three. Bid him talk to you of the work he is about, I hope in good earnest; it is a fine one; and will be in his hands an original. His sole complant is, that he finds it too easy in the execution. This flatters his laziness, it flatters my judgment, who always thought that (universal as his talents are) this is eminently and peculiarly his, above all the writers I know living or dead: I do not except Horace. Adieu.
NOV. 28, 1729.
THIS letter (like all mine) will be a rhapsody; it is many years ago since I wrote as a wit. How many occurrences or informations must one omit, if one determined to say nothing that one could not say prettily? I lately received from the widow of one dead correspondent, and the father of another, several of my own letters of about fifteen and twenty years old; and it was not unentertaining to myself to observe, how and by what degrees I ceased to be a witty writer; as either my experience grew on the one hand, or my affection to my correspondents on the other. Now as I love you better than most I have ever met with in the world, and esteem you too the more, the longer I have compared you with the rest of the world; so inevitably I write to you more negligently, that is more openly, and what all but such as love one another, will call writing worse. I smile to think how Curll would be bit, ere our epistles to fall into his hands, and how gloriously they would fall short of every ingenious reader's expectations?
You cannot imagine what a vanity it is to me, to have something to rebuke you for in the way of economy. I love the man that builds a house subito ingenio and makes a wall for a horse; then cries, "We wise men must think of nothing but getting ready money." I am glad you approve my annuity; all we have in this world is no more than an annuity, as to our own enjoyment: but I will increase your regard for my wisdom, and tell you, that this annuity includes also the life of another, whose concern ought to be as near me as my own, and with whom my whole prospects ought to finish. I throw my javelin of hope no farther. Cur brevi fortes jaculamur ævo — &c.
The second (as it is called, but indeed the eighth) edition of the Dunciad, with some additional notes and epigrams, shall be sent you if I know any opportunity; if they reprint it with you, let them by all means follow that octavo edition. — The Drapier's letters are again printed here, very laudably as to paper, print, &c. for you know I disapprove Irish politicks (as my commentator tells you) being a strong and jealous subject of England. The lady you mention, you ought not to complain of for not acknowledging your present; she having lately received a much richer present from Mr. Knight of the S. Sea; and you are sensible she cannot ever return it to one in the condition of an outlaw. It's certain as he can never expect any favour, his motive must be wholly disinterested. Will not this reflection make you blush? Your continual deplorings of Ireland, make me wish you were here long enough to forget those scenes that so afflict you: I am only in fear if you were, you would grow such a patriot here too, as not to be quite at ease, for your love of old England. — It is very possible your journey, in the time I compute, might exactly tally with my intended one to you; and if you must soon again go back, you would not be unattended. For the poor woman decays perceptibly every week; and the winter may too probably put an end to a very long, and a very irreproachable, life. My constant attendance on her does indeed affect my mind very much, and lessen extremely my desires of long life; since I see the best that can come of it is a miserable benediction. I look upon myself to be many years older in two years since you saw me: the natural imbecility of my body, joined now to this acquired old age of the mind, makes me at least as old as you, and we are the fitter to crawl down the hill together; I only desire I may be able to keep pace with you. My first friendship at sixteen, was contracted with a man of seventy: and I found him not grave enough or consistent enough for me, though we lived well to his death. I speak of old Mr. Wycherly; some letters of whom (by the by) and of mine, the booksellers have got and printed, not without the concurrence of a noble friend of mine and yours. I do not much approve of it; though there is nothing for me to be ashamed of, because I will not be ashamed of any thing I do not do myself, or of any thing that is not immoral but merely dull; as for instance, if they printed this letter I am now writing, which they easily may, if the underlings at the postoffice please to take a copy of it. I admire on this consideration, your sending your last to me quite open, without a seal, wafer, or any closure whatever, manifesting the utter openness of the writer. I would do the same by this, but fear it would look like affectation to send two letters so together. — I will fully represent to our friend (and I doubt not it will touch his heart) what you so feelingly set forth as to the badness of your Burgundy, &c. He is an extremely honest man, and indeed ought to be so, considering how very indiscreet and unreserved he is: but I do not approve this part of his character, and will never join with him in any of his idlenesses in the way of wit. You know my maxim to keep as clear of all offence, as I am clear of all interest in either party. I was once displeased before at you, for complaining to Mr. —— of my not having a pension; and am so again at your naming it to a certain lord. I have given proof in the course of my whole life, (from the time when I was in the friendship of lord Bolingbroke and Mr. Craggs, even to this when I am civilly treated by sir R. Walpole) that I never thought myself so warm in any party's cause as to deserve their money; and therefore would never have accepted it: but give me leave to tell you, that of all mankind the two persons I would least have accepted any favour from, are those very two, to whom you have unluckily spoken of it. I desire you to take off any impressions which that dialogue may have left on his lordship's mind, as if I ever had any thought of being beholden to him, or any other, in that way. And yet you know I am no enemy to the present constitution; I believe as sincere a well wisher to it, nay even to the church established, as any minister in, or out of employment whatever: or any bishop of England or Ireland. Yet am I of the religion of Erasmus, a catholick; so I live, so I shall die; and hope one day to meet you, bishop Atterbury, the younger Craggs, Dr. Garth, dean Berkeley, and Mr. Hutchenson, in that place, to which God of his infinite mercy bring us, and every body!
APRIL 12, 1730.
THIS is a letter extraordinary, to do and say nothing but recommend to you, (as a clergyman, and a charitable one) a pious and a good work, and for a good and an honest man: moreover he is above seventy, and poor, which you might think included in the word honest. I shall think it a kindness done myself, if you can propagate Mr. Wesley's subscription for his Commentary on Job, among your divines, (bishops excepted, of whom there is no hope) and among such as are believers, or readers of Scripture. Even the curious may find something to please them, if they scorn to be edified. It has been the labour of eight years of this learned man's life; I call him what he is, a learned man, and I engage you will approve his prose more than you formerly could his poetry. Lord Bolingbroke is a favourer of it, and allows you to do your best to serve an old tory, and a sufferer for the church of England, though you are a whig, as I am.
We have here some verses in your name, which I am angry at. Sure you would not use me so ill as to flatter me? I therefore think it is some other weak Irishman.
P. S. I did not take the pen out of Pope's hands, I protest to you. But since he will not fill the remainder of the page, I think I may without offence. I seek no epistolary fame, but am a good deal pleased to think that it will be known hereafter that you and I lived in the most friendly intimacy together. — Pliny writ his letters for the publick, so did Seneca, so did Balsac, Voiture, &c. Tully did not, and therefore these give us more pleasure than any which have come down to us from antiquity. When we read them, we pry into a secret which was intended to be kept from us. That is a pleasure. We see Cato, and Brutus, and Pompey and others, such as they really were, and not such as the gaping multitude of their own age took them to be, or as historians and poets have represented them to ours. That is another pleasure. I remember to have seen a procession at Aix la Chapelle, wherein an image of Charlemagne is carried on the shoulders of a man, who is hid by the long robe of the imperial saint. Follow him into the vestry, you see the bearer slip from under the robe, and the gigantick figure dwindles into an image of the ordinary size, and is set by among other lumber. — I agree much with Pope, that our climate is rather better than that you are in, and perhaps your publick spirit would be less grieved, or oftener comforted, here than there. Come to us therefore on a visit at least. It will not be the fault of several persons here, if you do not come to live with us. But great good will, and little power, produce such slow and feeble effects as can be acceptable to Heaven alone, and heavenly men. — I know you will be angry with me, if I say nothing to you of a poor woman, who is still on the other side of the water in a most languishing state of health. If she regains strength enough to come over, (and she is better within a few weeks) I shall nurse her in this farm with all the care and tenderness possible. If she does not, I must pay her the last duty of friendship wherever she is, though I break through the whole plan of life which I have formed in my mind. Adieu.
I am most faithfully and affectionately yours.
JAN. 17, 1730-31.
I BEGIN my letter by telling you that my wife has been returned from abroad about a month, and that her health, though feeble and precarious, is better than it has been these two years. She is much your servant, and as she has been her own physician with some success, imagines she could be yours with the same. Would to God you was within her reach. She would I believe prescribe a great deal of the medicina animi, without having recourse to the books of Trismegistus. Pope and I should be her principal apothecaries in the course of the cure; and though our best botanists complain, that few of the herbs and simples which go to the composition of these remedies, are to be found at present in our soil, yet there are more of them here than in Ireland; besides, by the help of a little chymistry, the most noxious juices may become salubrious, and rank poison a specifick. — Pope is now in my library with me, and writes to the world, to the present and to future ages, while I begin this letter which he is to finish to you. What good he will do to mankind I know not; this comfort he may be sure of, he cannot do less than you have done before him. I have sometimes thought that if preachers, hangmen, and moral writers keep vice at a stand, or so much as retard the progress of it, they do as much as human nature admits: a real reformation is not to be brought about by ordinary means; it requires these extraordinary means which become punishments as well as lessons: national corruption must be purged by national calamities. — Let us hear from you. We deserve this attention, because we desire it, and because we believe that you desire to hear from us.
I HAVE delayed several posts answering your letter of January last, in hopes of being able to speak to you about a project which concerns us both, but me the most, since the success of it would bring us together. It has been a good while in my head, and at my heart, if it can be set agoing, you shall hear more of it. I was ill in the beginning of the winter for near a week, but in no danger either from the nature of my distemper, or from the attendance of three physicians. Since that bilious intermitting fever, I have had, as I had before, better health than the regard I have paid to health deserves. We are both in the decline of life, my dear dean, and have been some years going down the hill; let us make the passage as smooth as we can. Let us fence against physical evil by care, and the use of those means which experience must have pointed out to us: let us fence against moral evil by philosophy. I renounce the alternative you propose. But we may, nay (if we will follow nature, and do not work up imagination against her plainest dictates) we shall of course grow every year more indifferent to life, and to the affairs and interests of a system out of which we are soon to go. This is much better than stupidity. The decay of passion strengthens philosophy, for passion may decay, and stupidity not succeed. Passions, (says Pope, our divine, as you will see one time or other) are the gales of life: let us not complain that they do not blow a storm. What hurt does age do us, in subduing what we toil to subdue all our lives? It is now six in the morning; I recall the time (and am glad it is over) when about this hour I used to be going to bed, surfeited with pleasure, or jaded with business: my head often full of schemes, and my heart as often full of anxiety. Is it a misfortune, think you, that I rise at this hour, refreshed, serene, and calm? that the past, and even the present affairs of life stand like objects at a distance from me, where I can keep off the disagreeable so as not to be strongly affected by them, and from whence I can draw the others nearer to me? Passions in their force, would bring all these, nay even future contingencies, about my ears at once, and reason would but ill defend me in the scuffle.
I leave Pope to speak for himself, but I must tell you how much my wife is obliged to you. She says she would find strength enough to nurse you, if you were here, and yet God knows she is extremely weak; the slow fever works under, and mines the constitution; we keep it off sometimes, but still it returns, and makes new breaches before nature can repair the old ones. I am not ashamed to say to you, that I admire her more every hour of my life; Death is not to her the king of terrours; she beholds him without the least. When she suffers much, she wishes for him as a deliverer from pain; when life is tolerable, she looks on him with dislike, because he is to separate her from those friends to whom she is more attached than life itself. — You shall not stay for my next, as long as you have for this letter; and in every one. Pope shall write something much better than the scraps of old philosophers, which were the presents, munuscula, that stoical fop Seneca used to send in every epistle to his friend Lucilius.
P. S. My Lord has spoken justly of his lady: why not I of my mother? Yesterday was her birthday, now entering on the ninety-first year of her age; her memory much diminished, but her senses very little hurt, her sight and hearing good; she sleeps not ill, eats moderately, drinks water, says her prayers; this is all she does. I have reason to thank God for continuing so long to me a very good and tender parent, and for allowing me to exercise for some years, those cares which are now as necessary to her, as hers have been to me. An object of this sort daily before one's eyes very much softens the mind, but perhaps may hinder it from the willingness of contracting other ties of the like domestick nature, when one finds how painful it is even to enjoy the tender pleasures. I have formerly made so strong efforts to get and to deserve a friend: perhaps it were wiser never to attempt it, but live extempore, and look upon the world only as a place to pass through, just pay your hosts their due, disperse a little charity, and hurry on. Yet am I just now writing (or rather planning) a book, to make mankind look upon this life with comfort and pleasure, and put morality in good humour. — And just now too, I am going to see one I love very tenderly; and to morrow to entertain several civil people, whom if we call friends, it is by the courtesy of England. — Sic, sic juvat ire sub umbras. While we do live, we must make the best of life.
Cantantes licet usque (minus via lædat) eamus,
as the shepherd said in Virgil, when the road was long and heavy. I am yours.
YOU may assure yourself, that if you come over this spring, you will find me not only got back into the habits of study, but devoted to that historical task, which you have set me these many years. I am in hopes of some materials which will enable me to work in the whole extent of the plan I propose to myself. If they are not to be had, I must accommodate my plan to this deficiency. In the mean time Pope has given me more trouble than he or I thought of; and you will be surprised to find that I have been partly drawn by him, and partly by myself, to write a pretty large volume upon a very grave and very important subject: that I have ventured to pay no regard whatever to any authority except sacred authority, and that I have ventured to start a thought which must, if it is pushed as successfully as I think it is, render all your metaphysical theology both ridiculous and abominable. There is an expression in one of your letters to me, which makes me believe you will come into my way of thinking on this subject; and yet I am persuaded that divines and freethinkers would both be clamorous against it, if it was to be submitted to their censure, as I do not intend that it shall. The passage I mean, is that, where you say you told Dr. Delany the grand points of Christianity ought to be taken as infallible revelations, &c.
It happened that while I was writing this to you, the Dr. came to make me a visit from London, where I heard he was arrived some time ago: he was in haste to return, and is I perceive in great haste to print. He left with me eight Dissertations, a small part, as I understand, of his work, and desired me to peruse, consider, and observe upon them against Monday next, when he will come down again. By what I have read of the two first, I find myself unable to serve him. The principles he reasons upon are begged in a disputation of this sort, and the manner of reasoning is by no means close and conclusive. The sole advice I could give him in conscience would be that which he would take ill and not follow. I will get rid of this task as well as I can, for I esteem the man, and should be sorry to disoblige him where I cannot serve him.
As to retirement, and exercise, your notions are true: the first should not be indulged so much as to render us savage, nor the last neglected so as to impair health. But I know men, who, for fear of being savage, live with all who live with them; and who, to preserve their health, saunter away half their time. Adieu: Pope calls for the paper.
P. S. I hope what goes before will be a strong motive to your coming. God knows if ever I shall see Ireland; I shall never desire it, if you can be got hither, or keep here. Yet I think I shall be, too soon, a freeman. — Your recommendations I constantly give to those you mention; though some of them I see but seldom, and am every day more retired. I am less fond of the world, and less curious about it; yet no way out of humour, disappointed, or angry: though in my way I receive as many injuries as my betters; but I do not feel them, therefore I ought not to vex other people, nor even to return injuries. I pass almost all my time at Dawley and at home; my lord (of which I partly take the merit to myself) is as much estranged from politicks as I am. Let philosophy be ever so vain it is less vain now than politicks, and not quite so vain at present as divinity: I know nothing that moves strongly but satire, and those who are ashamed of nothing else, are so of being ridiculous. I fancy if we three were together but for three years, some good might be done even upon this age.
I know you will desire some account of my health: It is as usual, but my spirits rather worse. I write little or nothing. You know I never had either taste or talent for politicks, and the world minds nothing else. I have personal obligations which I will ever preserve, to men of different sides, and I wish nothing so much as publick quiet, except it be my own quiet. I think it a merit, if I can take off any man from grating or satyrical subjects, merely on the score of party: and it is the greatest vanity of my life that I have contributed to turn my lord Bolingbroke to subjects moral, useful, and more worthy his pen. Dr. Delany's book is what I cannot commend so much as dean Berkeley's, though it has many things ingenious in it, and is not deficient in the writing part: but the whole book, though he meant it ad populum, is I think purely ad clerum. Adieu.
DUBLIN, JUNE 12, 1731.
I DOUBT, habit has little power to reconcile us with sickness attended by pain. With me, the lowness of spirits has a most unhappy effect; I am grown less patient with solitude, and harder to be pleased with company; which I could formerly better digest, when I could be easier without it than at present. As to sending you any thing that I have written since I left you (either verse or prose) I can only say, that I have ordered by my will, that all my papers of any kind shall be delivered you to dispose of as you please. I have several things that I have had schemes to finish, or to attempt, but I very foolishly put off the trouble, as sinners do their repentance: for I grow every day more averse from writing, which is very natural, and when I take a pen say to myself a thousand times non est tanti. As to those papers of four or five years past, that you are pleased to require soon; they consist of little accidental things writ in the country; family amusements, never intended farther than to divert ourselves and some neighbours: or some effects of anger on publick grievances here, which would be insignificant out of this kingdom. Two or three of us had a fancy three years ago to write a weekly paper, and call it an Intelligencer. But it continued not long; for the whole volume (it was reprinted in London and I find you have seen it) was the work only of two, myself and Dr. Sheridan. If we could have got some ingenious young man to have been the manager, who should have published all that might be sent to him, it might have continued longer, for there were hints enough. But the printer here could not afford such a young man one farthing for his trouble, the sale being so small, and the price one halfpenny; and so it dropped. In the volume you saw, (to answer your questions) the 1, 3, 5, 7, were mine. Of the 8th I writ only the verses, (very uncorrect, but against a fellow we all hated) the 9th mine, the 10th only the verses, and of those not the four last slovenly lines; the 15th is a pamphlet of mine printed before with Dr. Sh—'s preface, merely for laziness not to disappoint the town; and so was the 19th, which contains only a parcel of facts relating purely to the miseries of Ireland, and wholly useless and unentertaining. As to other things of mine since I left you; there are, in prose, a View of the State of Ireland; a Project for eating Children; and a Defence of lord Carteret: in verse, a Libel on Dr. D— and lord Carteret; a Letter to Dr. D— on the Libels writ against him; the Bararck (a stolen copy); the Lady's Journal; the Lady's Dressingroom (a stolen copy); the Plea of the Damned (a stolen copy); all these have been printed in London. (I forgot to tell you that the Tale of sir Ralph was sent from England.) Beside these there are five or six (perhaps more) papers of verses writ in the north, but perfect family things, two or three of which may be tolerable, the rest but indifferent, and the humour only local, and some that would give offence to the times. Such as they are, I will bring them, tolerable or bad, if I recover this lameness, and live long enough to see you either here or there. I forget again to tell you that the Scheme of paying Debts by a Tax on Vices, is not one syllable mine, but of a young clergyman whom I countenance; he told me it was built upon a passage in Gulliver, where a projector hath something upon the same thought. This young man is the most hopeful we have: a book of his poems was printed in London; Dr. D— is one of his patrons: he is married and has children, and makes up about 100l. a year, on which he lives decently. The utmost stretch of his ambition is, to gather up as much superfluous money as will give him a sight of you, and half an hour of your presence; after which he will return home in full satisfaction, and in proper time die in peace.
My poetical fountain is drained, and I profess I grow gradually so dry, that a rhime with me is almost as hard to find as a guinea, and even prose speculations tire me almost as much. Yet I have a thing in prose, begun above twenty-eight years ago, and almost finished. It will make a four shilling volume, and is such a perfection of folly, that you shall never hear of if till it is printed, and then you shall be left to guess. Nay I have another of the same age, which will require a long time to perfect, and is worse than the former, in which I will serve you the same way. I heard lately from Mr. —— who promises to be less lazy in order to mend his fortune. But women who live by their beauty, and men by their wit, are seldom provident enough to consider that both wit and beauty will go off with years, and there is no living upon the credit of what is past.
I am in great concern to hear of my lady Bolingbroke's ill health returned upon her, and I doubt my lord will find Dawley too solitary without her. In that, neither he nor you are companions young enough for me, and I believe the best part of the reason why men are said to grow children when they are old, is because they cannot entertain themselves with thinking; which is the very case of little boys and girls, who love to be noisy among their playfellows. I am told Mrs. Pope is without pain, and I have not heard of a more gentle decay, without uneasiness to herself or friends; yet I cannot but pity you, who are ten times the greater sufferer, by having the person you most love so long before you, and dying daily; and I pray God it may not affect your mind or your health.
DEC. 5, 1732.
IT is not a time to complain that you have not answered me two letters (in the last of which I was impatient under some fears). It is not now indeed a time to think of myself, when one of the nearest and longest ties I have ever had, is broken all on a sudden, by the unexpected death of poor Mr. Gay. An inflammatory fever hurried him out of this life in three days. He died last night at nine a clock, not deprived of his senses entirely at last, and possessing them perfectly till within five hours. He asked of you a few hours before, when in acute torment by the inflammation in his bowels and breast. His effects are in the duke of Queensberry's custody. His sisters, we suppose, will be his heirs, who are two widows; as yet it is not known whether or no he left a will — Good God! how often are we to die before we go quite off this stage? in every friend we lose a part of ourselves, and the best part. God keep those we have left! few are worth praying for, and one's self the least of all.
I shall never see you now I believe; one of your principal calls to England is at an end. Indeed he was the most amiable by far, his qualities were the gentlest, but I love you as well and as firmly. Would to God the man we have lost had not been so amiable, nor so good! but that's a wish for our own sakes, not for his. Sure if innocence, and integrity can deserve happiness, it must be his. Adieu. I can add nothing to what you will feel, and diminish nothing from it. Yet write to me, and soon. Believe no man now living loves you better, I believe no man ever did, than
Dr. Arbuthnot, whose humanity you know heartily commends himself to you. All possible diligence and affection has been shown, and continued attendance on this melancholy occasion. Once more adieu, and write to one who is truly disconsolate.
P. S. BY DR. ARBUTHNOT.
I am sorry that the renewal of our correspondence should be upon such a melancholy occasion. Poor Mr. Gay died of an inflammation, and I believe at last a mortification, of the bowels; it was the most precipitate case I ever knew, having cut him off in three days. He was attended by two physicians beside myself. I believed the distemper mortal from the beginning. I have not had the pleasure of a line from you these two years; I wrote one about your health, to which I had no answer. I wish you all health and happiness, being with great affection and respect, sir, your, &c.
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.
FEB. 16, 1732-3.
IT is indeed impossible to speak on such a subject as the loss of Mr. Gay, to me an irreparable one. But I send you what I intend for the inscription on his tomb, which the duke of Queensberry will set up at Westminster. As to his writings, he left no will, nor spoke a word of them, or any thing else, during his short and precipitate illness, in which I attended him to his last breath. The duke has acted more than the part of a brother to him, and it will be strange if the sisters do not leave his papers totally to his disposal, who will do the same that I would with them. He has managed the comedy (which our poor friend gave to the playhouse the week before his death) to the utmost advantage for his relations; and proposes to do the same with some fables he left finished.
There is nothing of late which I think of more than mortality, and what you mention, of collecting the best monuments we can of our friends, their own images in their writings: for those are the best, when their minds are such as Mr. Gay's was, and as yours is. I am preparing also for my own, and have nothing so much at heart, as to show the silly world that men of wit, or even poets, may be the most moral of mankind. A few loose things sometimes fall from them, by which censorious fools judge as ill of them as possibly they can, for their own comfort: and indeed, when such unguarded and trifling jeux d'esprit have once got abroad, all that prudence or repentance can do, since they cannot be denied, is to put them fairly upon that foot; and teach the publick (as we have done in the preface to the four volumes of Miscellanies) to distinguish betwixt our studies and our idlenesses, our works and our weaknesses. That was the whole end of the last vol. of Miscellanies, without which our former declaration in that preface, "That these volumes contained all that we have ever offended in, that way," would have been discredited. It went indeed to my heart, to omit what you called the libel on Dr. D—— and the best panegyrick on myself, that either my own times or any other could have afforded, or will ever afford to me. The book as you observe was printed in great haste; the cause whereof was, that the booksellers were doing the same, in collecting your pieces, the corn with the chaff; I do not mean that any thing of yours is chaff, but with other wit of Ireland which was so, and the whole in your name. I meant principally to oblige them to separate what you writ seriously from what you writ carelesly; and thought my own weeds might pass for a sort of wild flowers, when bundled up with them.
It was I that sent you those books into Ireland, and so I did my epistle to lord Bathurst even before it was published, and another thing of mine, which is a parody from Horace, writ in two mornings. I never took more care in my life of any thing than of the former of these, nor less than of the latter: yet every friend has forced me to print it, though in truth my own single motive was about twenty lines toward the latter end, which you will find out.
I have declined opening to you by letters the whole scheme of my present work, expecting still to do it in a better manner in person: but you will see pretty soon, that the letter to lord Bathurst is a part of it, and you will find a plain connexion between them, if you read them in the order just contrary to that they were published in. I imitate those cunning tradesmen, who show their best silks last: or, (to give you a truer idea, though it sounds too proudly) my works will in one respect be like the works of nature, much more to be liked and understood when considered in the relation they bear with each other, than when ignorantly looked upon one by one; and often, those parts which attract most at first sight, will appear to be not the most, but the least considerable.
I am pleased and flattered by your expression of orna me. The chief pleasure this work can give me is, that I can in it, with propriety, decency, and justice, insert the name and character of every friend I have, and every man that deserves to be loved or adorned. But I smile at your applying that phrase to my visiting you in Ireland; a place where I might have some apprehension (from their extraordinary passion for poetry, and their boundless hospitality) of being adorned to death and buried under the weight of garlands, like one I have read of somewhere or other. My mother lives (which is an answer to that point) and I thank God though her memory be in a manner gone, is yet awake and sensible to me, though scarce to any thing else; which doubles the reason of my attendance, and at the same time sweetens it. I wish (beyond any other wish) you could pass a summer here; I might (too probably) return with you, unless you preferred to see France first, to which country I think you would have a strong invitation. Lord Peterborow has narrowly escaped death, and yet keeps his chamber: he is perpetually speaking in the most affectionate manner of you: he has written you two letters which you never received, and by that has been discouraged from writing more. I can well believe the postoffice may do this, when some letters of his to me have met the same fate, and two of mine to him. Yet let not this discourage you from writing to me, or to him enclosed in the common way, as I do to you: innocent men need fear no detection of their thoughts; and for my part, I would give them free leave to send all I write to Curll if most of what I write was not too silly.
I desire my sincere services to Dr. Delany, who I agree with you is a man every way esteemable: my lord Orrery is a most virtuous and good natured nobleman, whom I should be happy to know. Lord B. received your letter through my hands; it is not to be told you how much he wishes for you: the whole list of persons to whom you sent your services return you theirs, with proper sense of the distinction — Your lady friend is semper eadem, and I have written an epistle to her, on that qualification in a female character; which is thought by my chief critick in your absence to be my chef d'oeuvre: but it cannot be printed perfectly, in an age so sore of satire, and so willing to misapply characters.
As to my own health, it is good as usual. I have lain ill seven days of a slight fever (the complaint here) but recovered by gentle sweats, and the care of Dr. Arbuthnot. The play Mr. Gay left succeeds very well; it is another original in its kind. Adieu. God preserve your life, your health, your limbs, your spirits, and your friendships!
APRIL 2, 1733.
YOU say truly, that death is only terrible to us as it separates us from those we love, but I really think those have the worst of it who are left by us, if we are true friends. I have felt more (I fancy) in the loss of Mr. Gay, than I shall suffer in the thought of going away myself into a state that can feel none of this sort of losses. I wished vehemently to have seen him in a condition of living independent, and to have lived in perfect indolence the rest of our days together, the two most idle, most innocent, undesigning poets of our age. I now as vehemently wish you and I might walk into the grave together, by as slow steps as you please, but contentedly and cheerfully: whether that ever can be, or in what country, I know no more, than into what country we shall walk out of the grave. But it suffices me to know it will be exactly what region or state our Maker appoints, and that whatever is, is right. Our poor friend's papers are partly in my hands, and for as much as is so, I will take care to suppress things unworthy of him. As to the epitaph, I am sorry you gave a copy, for it will certainly by that means come into print, and I would correct it more, unless you will do it for me, and that I shall like as well. Upon the whole I earnestly wish your coming over hither, for this reason among many others, that your influence may be joined with mine to suppress whatever we may judge proper of his papers. To be plunged in my neighbours and my papers, will be your inevitable fate as soon as you come. That I am an author whose characters are thought of some weight, appears from the great noise and bustle that the court and town make about any I give; and I will not render them less important or less interesting, by sparing vice and folly, or by betraying the cause of truth and virtue. I will take care they shall be such as no man can be angry at, but the persons I would have angry. You are sensible with what decency and justice I paid homage to the royal family, at the same time that I satirized false courtiers, and spies, &c. about them. I have not the courage however to be such a satirist as you, but I would be as much, or more, a philosopher. You call your satires, libels; I would rather call my satires, epistles: they will consist more of morality than of wit, and grow graver, which you will call duller. I shall leave it to my antagonists to be witty (if they can) and content myself to be useful, and in the right. Tell me your opinion as to lady Mary Wortley's or lord Harvey's performance? they are certainly the top wits of the court, and you may judge by that single piece what can be done against me; for it was laboured, corrected, precommended and postdisapproved, so far as to be disowned by themselves, after each had highly cried it up for the other's. I have met with some complaints, and heard at a distance of some threats, occasioned by my verses: I sent fair messages to acquaint them where I was to be found in town, and to offer to call at their houses to satisfy them, and so it dropped. It is very poor in any one to rail and threaten at a distance, and have nothing to say to you when they see you. — I am glad you persist and abide by so good a thing as that poem, in which I am immortal for my morality: I never took any praise so kindly, and yet I think I deserve that praise better than I do any other. When does your collection come out, and what will it consist of? I have but last week finished another of my epistles, in the order of the system; and this week (exercitandi gratiâ) I have translated (or rather parodied) another of Horace's, in which I introduce you advising me about my expenses, housekeeping, &c. But these things shall lie by, till you come to carp at them, and alter rhymes, and grammar, and triplets, and cacophonies of all kinds. Our parliament will set till Midsummer, which I hope may be a motive to bring you rather in summer than so late as autumn: you used to love what I hate, a hurry of politicks, &c. Courts I see not, courtiers I know not, kings I adore not, queens I compliment not; so I am never likely to be in fashion, nor in dependance. I heartily join with you in pitying, our poor lady for her unhappiness, and should only pity her more, if she had more of what they at court call happiness. Come then, and perhaps we may go all together into France at the end of the season, and compare the liberties of both kingdoms. Adieu. Believe me, dear sir, (with a thousand warm wishes, mixed with short sighs) ever yours.
DUBLIN, MAY 1, 1733.
I ANSWER your letter the sooner because I have a particular reason for doing so. Some weeks ago came over a poem called, "The Life and Character of Dr. Swift, written by himself." It was reprinted here, and is dedicated to you. It is grounded upon a maxim in Rochefoucault, and the dedication after a formal story says, that my manner of writing is to be found in every line. I believe I have told you, that I writ a year or two ago near five hundred lines upon the same maxim in Rochefoucault, and was a long time about it, as that impostor says in his dedication, with many circumstances, all pure invention. I desire you to believe, and to tell my friends, that in this spurious piece there is not a single line, or bit of a line, or thought, any way resembling the genuine copy, any more than it does Virgil's Æneis, for I never gave a copy of mine, nor lent it out of my sight. And although I showed it to all common acquaintance indifferently, and some of them, (especially one or two females) had got many lines by heart, here and there, and repeated them often; yet it happens that not one single line or thought is contained in this imposture, although it appears that they who counterfeited me, had heard of the true one. But even this trick shall not provoke me to print the true one, which indeed is not proper to be seen till I can be seen no more: I therefore desire you will undeceive my friends, and I will order an advertisement to be printed here, and transmit it to England, that every body may know the delusion, and acquit me, as I am sure you must have done yourself, if you have read any part of it, which is mean, and trivial, and full of that cant that I most despise: I would sink to be a vicar in Norfolk rather than be charged with such a performance. Now I come to your letter.
When I was of your age, I thought every day of death, but now every minute; and a continual giddy disorder more or less is a greater addition than that of my years. I cannot affirm that I pity our friend Gay, but I pity his friends, I pity you, and would at least equally pity myself, if I lived among you; because I should have seen him oftener than you did, who are a kind of hermit, how great a noise soever you make by your ill nature in not letting the honest villains of the times enjoy themselves in this world, which is their only happiness, and terrifying them with another. I should have added in my libel, that of all men living, you are the most happy in your enemies and your friends: and I will swear you have fifty times more charity for mankind than I could ever pretend to. Whether the production you mention came from the lady or the lord, I did not imagine that they were at least so bad versifiers. Therefore, facit indignatio versus, is only to be applied when the indignation is against general villany, and never operates when some sort of people write to defend themselves. I love to hear them reproach you for dulness, only I would be satisfied since you are so dull, why are they so angry? give me a shilling, and I will ensure you, that posterity shall never know you had one single enemy, excepting those whose memory you have preserved.
I am sorry for the situation of Mr. Gay's papers. You do not exert yourself as much as I could wish in this affair. I had rather the two sisters were hanged than to see his works swelled by any loss of credit to his memory. I would be glad to see the most valuable printed by themselves, those which ought not to be seen, burned immediately, and the others that have gone abroad, printed separately like opuscula, or rather be stifled and forgotten. I thought your epitaph was immediately to be engraved, and therefore I made less scruple to give a copy to lord Orrery, who earnestly desired it, but to nobody else; and he tells me, he gave only two which he will recal. I have a short epigram of his upon it, wherein I would correct a line, or two at most, and then I will send it you, with his permission. I have nothing against yours, but the last line, striking their aching, the two participles, as they are so near, seem to sound too like. I shall write to the duchess, who has lately honoured me with a very friendly letter, and I will tell her my opinion freely about our friend's papers. I want health, and my affairs are enlarged: but I will break through the latter, if the other mends. I can use a course of medicines, lame and giddy. My chief design, next to seeing you, is to be a severe critick on you and your neighbour; but first kill his father, that he may be able to maintain me in my own way of living, and particularly my horses. It cost me near 600l. for a wall to keep mine, and I never ride without two servants for fear of accidents; hic vivimus ambitiosa paupertate. You are both too poor for my acquaintance, but he much the poorer. With you I shall find grass, and wine, and servants, but with him not. — The collection you speak of is this. A printer came to me to desire he might print my works (as he called them) in four volumes by subscription. I said I would give no leave, and should be sorry to see them printed here. He said they could not be printed in London; I answered, they could, if the partners agreed. He said, "he would be glad of my permission, but as he could print them without it, and was advised that it could do me no harm, and having been assured of numerous subscriptions, he hoped I would not be angry at his pursuing his own interest," &c. much of this discourse past, and he goes on with the matter, wherein I determined not to intermeddle, though it be much to my discontent: and I wish it could be done in England, rather than here, although I am grown pretty indifferent in every thing of that kind. This is the truth of the story.
My vanity turns at present on being personated in your quæ virtus, &c. You will observe in this letter many marks of an ill head and a low spirit; but a heart wholly turned to love you with the greatest earnestness and truth.
MAY 28, 1733.
I HAVE begun two or three letters to you by snatches, and been prevented from finishing them by a thousand avocations and dissipations. I must first acknowledge the honour done me by lord Orrery, whose praises are that precious ointment Solomon speaks of, which can be given only by men of virtue: all other praise, whether from poets or peers, is contemptible alike: and I am old enough and experienced enough to know, that the only praises worth having, are those bestowed by virtue for virtue. My poetry I abandon to the criticks, my morals I commit to the testimony of those who know me: and therefore I was more pleased with your libel, than with any verses I ever received. I wish such a collection of your writings could be printed here, as you mention going on in Ireland. I was surprised to receive from the printer that spurious piece called, The Life and Character of Dr. Swift, with a letter telling me the person who "published it had assured him the dedication to me was what I would not take ill, or else he would not have printed it." I cannot tell who the man is, who took so far upon him as to answer for my way of thinking; though had the thing been genuine, I should have been greatly displeased at the publisher's part, in doing it without your knowledge.
I am as earnest as you can be, in doing my best to prevent the publishing of any thing unworthy of Mr. Gay; but I fear his friends partiality. I wish you would come over. All the mysteries of my philosophical work shall then be cleared to you, and you will not think that I am merry enough, nor angry enough: It will not want for satire, but as for anger I know it not; or at least only that sort of which the Apostle speaks, "Be ye angry and sin not."
My neighbour's writings have been metaphysical, and will next be historical. It is certainly from him only, that a valuable history of Europe in these later times can be expected. Come, and quicken him; for age, indolence, and contempt of the world, grow upon men apace, and may often make the wisest indifferent whether posterity be any wiser than we. To a man in years, health and quiet become such rarities, and consequently so valuable, that he is apt to think of nothing more than of enjoying them whenever he can, for the remainder of life; and this I doubt not has caused so many great men to die without leaving a scrap to posterity.
I am sincerely troubled for the bad account you give of your own health. I wish every day to hear a better, as much, as I do to enjoy my own, I faithfully assure you.
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.
SEPT. 1, 1733.
I HAVE every day wished to write to you, to say a thousand things; and yet I think I should not have writ to you now, if I was not sick of writing any thing, sick of myself, and (what is worse) sick of my friends too. The world is become too busy for me; every body is so concerned for the publick, that all private enjoyments are lost, or disrelished, I write more to show you I am tired of this life, than to tell you any thing relating to it. I live as I did, I think as I did, I love you as I did: but all these are to no purpose: the world will not live, think, or love, as I do. I am troubled for, and vexed at, all my friends by turns. Here are some whom you love, and who love you; yet they receive no proofs of that affection from you, and they give none of it to you. There is a great gulf between. In earnest, I would go a thousand miles by land to see you, but the sea I dread. My ailments are such, that I really believe a seasickness, (considering the oppression of colical pains, and the great weakness of my breast) would kill me: and if I did not die of that, I must of the excessive eating and drinking of your hospitable town, and the excessive flattery of your most poetical country. I hate to be crammed either way. Let your hungry poets, and your rhyming peers digest it, I cannot. I like much better to be abused and half starved, than to be so overpraised and overfed. Drown Ireland! for having caught you, and for having kept you: I only reserve a little charity for her for knowing your value, and esteeming you: you are the only patriot I know, who is not hated for serving his country. The man who drew your character and printed it here was not much in the wrong in many things he said of you: yet he was a very impertinent fellow, for saying them in words quite different from those you had yourself employed before on the same subject: for surely to alter your words is to prejudice them: and I have been told, that a man himself can hardly say the same thing twice over with equal happiness: nature is so much a better thing than artifice.
I have written nothing this year: it is no affectation to tell you, my mother's loss has turned my frame of thinking. The habit of a whole life is a stronger thing than all the reason in the world. I know I ought to be easy, and to be free: but I am dejected, I am confined: my whole amusement is in reviewing my past life, not in laying plans for my future. I wish you cared as little for popular applause as I; as little for any nation in contradistinction to others, as I; and then I fancy, you that are not afraid of the sea, you that are a stronger man at sixty than ever I was at twenty, would come and see several people who are (at last) like the primitive christians, of one soul and of one mind. The day is come, which I have often wished, but never thought to see; when every mortal that I esteem is of the same sentiment in politicks and in religion.
Adieu. All you love, are yours, but all are busy, except (dear sir) your sincere friend.
JAN. 6, 1733-4.
I NEVER think of you and can never write to you, without drawing many of those short sighs of which we have formerly talked: the reflection both of the friends we have been deprived of by death, and of those from whom we are separated almost as eternally by absence, checks me to that degree, that it takes away in a manner the pleasure (which yet I feel very sensibly too) of thinking I am now conversing with you. You have been silent to me as to your works? whether those printed here are, or are not genuine? but one I am sure is yours; and your method of concealing yourself puts me in mind of the Indian bird I have read off, who hides his head in a hole, while all his feathers and tail stick out. You will have immediately by several franks (even before it is here published) my Epistle to lord Cobham, part of my Opus Magnum, and the last Essay on Man; both which I conclude will be grateful to your bookseller on whom you please to bestow them so early. There is a woman's war declared against me by a certain lord; his weapons are the same which women and children use, a pin to scratch, and a squirt to bespatter: I writ a sort of answer, but was ashamed to enter the lists with him, and after showing it to some people, suppressed it: otherwise it was such as was worthy of him, and worthy of me. I was three weeks this autumn with lord Peterborow, who rejoices in your doings, and always speaks with the greatest affection of you. I need not tell you who else do the same, you may be sure almost all those whom I ever see, or desire to see. I wonder not that B—— paid you no sort of civility while he was in Ireland: he is too much a half wit to love a true wit, and too much half honest, to esteem any entire merit. I hope and think he hates me too, and I will do my best to make him: he is so insupportably insolent in his civility to me when he meets me at one third place, that I must affront him to be rid of it. That strict neutrality as to publick parties, which I have constantly observed in all my writings, I think gives me the more title to attack such men, as slander and belie my character in private, to those who know me not. Yet even this is a liberty I shall never take, unless at the same time they are pests of private society, or mischievous members of the publick, that is to say, unless they are enemies to all men as well as to me. — Pray write to me when you can: if ever I can come to you, I will: if not, may Providence be our friend and our guard through this simple world, where nothing is valuable, but sense and friendship. Adieu, dear sir, may health attend your years, and then may many years be added to you.
P. S. I am just now told a very curious lady intends to write to you to pump you about some poems said to be yours. Pray tell her, that you have not answered me on the same questions, and that I shall take it as a thing never to be forgiven from you, if you tell another what you have concealed from me.
SEPT. 15, 1734.
I HAVE ever thought you as sensible as any man I knew, of all the delicacies of friendship; and yet I fear (from what lord B. tells me you said in your last letter) that you did not quite understand the reason of my late silence. I assure you it proceeded wholly from the tender kindness I bear you. When the heart is full, it is angry at all words that cannot come up to it; and you are now the man in all the world I am most troubled to write to, for you are the friend I have left whom I am most grieved about. Death has not done worse to me in separating poor Gay, or any other, than disease and absence in dividing us. I am afraid to know how you do, since most accounts I have give me pain for you, and I am unwilling to tell you the condition of my own health. If it were good, I would see you; and yet if I found you in that very condition of deafness, which made you fly from us while we were together, what comfort could we derive from it? In writing often I should find great relief, could we write freely; and yet when I have done so, you seem by not answering in a very long time, to feel either the same uneasiness I do, or to abstain from some prudential reason. Yet I am sure, nothing that you and I would say to each other, (though our whole souls were to be laid open to the clerks of the postoffice) could hurt either of us so much, in the opinion of any honest man or good subject, as the intervening, officious, impertinence of those goers between us, who in England pretend to intimacies with you, and in Ireland to intimacies with me. I cannot but receive any that call upon me in your name, and in truth they take it in vain too often. I take all opportunities of justifying you against these friends, especially those who know all you think and write, and repeat your slighter verses. It is generally on such little scraps that witlings feed; and it is hard the world should judge of our housekeeping from what we fling out to the dogs, yet this is often the consequence. But they treat you still worse, mix their own with yours, print them to get money, and lay them at your door. This I am satisfied was the case in the Epistle to a Lady; it was just the same hand (if I have any judgment in style) which printed your Life and Character before, which you so strongly disavowed in your letters to lord Carteret, myself, and others. I was very well informed of another fact which convinced me yet more; the same person who gave this to be printed, offered to a bookseller a piece in prose of yours, as commissioned by you, which has since appeared and been owned to be his own. I think (I say once more) that I know your hand, though you did not mine in the Essay on Man. I beg your pardon for not telling you, as I should, had you been in England: but no secret can cross your Irish Sea, and every clerk in the postoffice had known it. I fancy, though you lost sight of me in the first of those essays, you saw me in the second. The design of concealing myself was good, and had its full effect: I was thought a divine, a philosopher, and what not? and my doctrine had a sanction I could not have given to it. Whether I can proceed in the same grave march like Lucretius, or must descend to the gayeties of Horace, I know not, or whether I can do either? but be the future as it will, I shall collect all the past in one fair quarto this winter, and send it you, where you will find frequent mention of yourself. I was glad you suffered your writings to be collected more completely than hitherto, in the volumes I daily expect from Ireland; I wish it had been in more pomp, but that will be done by others: yours are beauties, that can never be too finely dressed, for they will ever be young. I have only one piece of mercy to beg of you; do not laugh at my gravity, but permit me to wear the beard of a philosopher, till I pull it off, and make a jest of it myself. It is just what my lord Bolingbroke is doing with metaphysicks. I hope, you will live to see, and stare at the learned figure he will make, on the same shelf with Locke and Malbranche.
You see how I talk to you (for this is not writing) if you like I should do so, why not tell me so? if it be the least pleasure to you, I will write once a week most gladly: but can you abstract the letters from the person who writes them, so far, as not to feel more vexation in the thought of our separation, and those misfortunes which occasion it, than satisfaction in the nothings he can express? If you can, really and from my heart, I cannot. I return again to melancholy. Pray however tell me, is it a satisfaction? that will make it one to me: and we will think alike, as friends ought, and you shall hear from me punctually just when you will.
P. S. Our friend who is just returned from a progress of three months, and is setting out in three days with me for the Bath, where he will stay till toward the midde of October, left this letter with me yesterday, and I cannot seal and dispatch it till I have scribbled the remainder of this page full. He talks very pompously of my metaphysicks, and places them in a very honourable station. It is true I have writ six letters and a half to him on subjects of that kind, and I propose a letter and a half more, which would swell the whole up to a considerable volume. But he thinks me fonder of the name of an author than I am. When he and you, and one or two other friends have seen them satis magnum theatrum mihi estis, I shall not have the itch of making them more publick. I know how little regard you pay to writings of this kind: but I imagine that if you can like any such, it must be those that strip metaphysicks of all their bombast, keep within the sight of every well constituted eye, and never bewilder themselves while they pretend to guide the reason of others. I writ to you a long letter sometime ago, and sent it by the post. Did it come to your hands? or did the inspectors of private correspondence stop it, to revenge themselves of the ill said of them in it? vale & me ama.
NOV. 1, 1734.
I HAVE yours with my lord Bolingbroke's Postscript of September 15, it was long on its way, and for some weeks after the date I was very ill with my two inveterate disorders, giddiness and deafness. The latter is pretty well off, but the other makes me totter towards evenings, and much dispirits me. But I continue to ride and walk, both of which, although they be no cures, are at least amusements. I did never imagine you to be either inconstant, or to want right notions of friendship, but I apprehend your want of health; and it has been a frequent wonder to me how you have been able to entertain the world so long, so frequently, so happily, under so many bodily disorders. My lord Bolingbroke says you have been three months rambling, which is the best thing you can possibly do in a summer season; and when the winter recalls you, we will for our own interests leave you to your speculations. God be thanked I have done with every thing, and of every kind, that requires writing, except now and then a letter; or, like a true old man, scribbling trifles only fit for children or schoolboys of the lowest class at best, which three or four of us read and laugh at to day, and burn to morrow. Yet, what is singular, I never am without some great work in view, enough to take up forty years of the most vigorous healthy man: although I am convinced that I shall never be able to finish three treatises, that have lain by me several years, and want nothing but correction. My lord B. said in his postscript that you would go to Bath in three days; we since heard that you were dangerously ill there, and that the newsmongers gave you over. But a gentleman of this kingdom, on his return from Bath, assured me he left you well, and so did some others whom I have forgot. I am sorry at my heart that you are pestered with people who come in my name, and I profess to you, it is without my knowledge. I am confident I shall hardly ever have occasion again to recommend, for my friends here are very few, and fixed to the freehold, from whence nothing but death will remove them. Surely I never doubted about your Essay on Man; and I would lay any odds, that I would never fail to discover you in six lines, unless you had a mind to write below or beside your self on purpose. I confess I did never imagine you were so deep in morals, or that so many new and excellent rules could be produced so advantageously and agreeably in that science, from any one head. I confess in some few places I was forced to read twice; I believe I told you before what the duke of Dorset said to me on that occasion, how a judge here, who knows you, told him, that on the first reading those essays, he was much pleased, but found some lines a little dark: on the second, most of them cleared up, and his pleasure increased: on the third, he had no doubt remained, and then he admired the whole. My lord Bolingbroke's attempt of reducing metaphysicks to intelligible sense and usefulness, will be a glorious undertaking; and as I never knew him fail in any thing he attempted, if he had the sole management, so I am confident he will succeed in this. I desire you will allow that I write to you both at present, and so I shall while I live: it saves your money, and my time; and he being your genius, no matter to which it is addressed. I am happy that what you write is printed in large letters; otherwise between the weakness of my eyes, and the thickness of my hearing, I should lose the greatest pleasure that is left me. Pray command my lord Bolingbroke to follow that example, if I live to read his metaphysicks. Pray God bless you both. I had a melancholy account from the doctor of his health. I will answer his letter as soon as I can, I am ever entirely yours.
TWITENHAM, DEC. 19, 1734.
I AM truly sorry for any complaint you have, and it is in regard to the weakness of your eyes that I write (as well as print) in folio. You will think (I know you will, for you have all the candour of a good understanding) that the thing which men of our age feel the most, is the friendship of our equals; and that therefore whatever affects those who are stept a few years before us, cannot but sensibly affect us who are to follow. It troubles me to hear you complain of your memory, and if I am in any part of my constitution younger than you, it will be in my remembering every thing that has pleased me in you, longer than perhaps you will. The two summers we passed together dwell always on my mind, like a vision which gave me a glimpse of a better life and better company, than this world otherwise afforded. I am now an individual, upon whom no other depends; and may go where I will, if the wretched carcase I am annexed to did not hinder me. I rambled by very easy journeys this year to lord Bathurst, and lord Peterborow, who upon every occasion commemorate, love, and wish for you. I now pass my days between Dawley, London, and this place; not studious, nor idle: rather polishing old works, than hewing out new. I redeem now and then a paper that has been abandoned several years; and of this sort you will see one, which I inscribe to our old friend Arbuthnot.
Thus far I had written, and thinking to finish my letter the same evening, was prevented by company, and the next morning found myself in a fever, highly disordered, and so continued in bed for five days, and in my chamber till now; but so well recovered as to hope to go abroad to morrow, even by the advice of Dr. Arbuthnot. He himself, poor man, is much broke, though not worse than for these two last months he has been. He took extremely kind your letter. I wish to God we could once meet again, before that separation, which yet I would be glad to believe shall reunite us: but he who made us, not for ours but his purposes, knows only whether it be for the better or the worse, that the affections of this life should, or should not continue into the other: and doubtless it is as it should be. Yet I am sure that while I am here, and the thing that I am, I shall be imperfect without the communication of such friends as you: you are to me like a limb lost, and buried in another country; though we seem quite divided, every accident makes me feel you were once a part of me. I always consider you so much as a friend, that I forget you are an author, perhaps too much; but it is as much as I would desire you would do to me. However if I could inspirit you to bestow correction upon those three treatises which you say are so near completed, I should think it a better work than any I can pretend to of my own. I am almost at the end of my morals, as I have been, long ago, of my wit; my system is a short one, and my circle narrow. Imagination has no limits, and that is a sphere in which you may move on to eternity; but where one is confined to truth (or to speak more like a human creature, to the appearances of truth) we soon find the shortness of our tether. Indeed by the help of a metaphysical chain of ideas, one may extend the circulation, go round and round for ever, without making any progress beyond the point to which Providence has pinned us: but this does not satisfy me, who would rather say a little to no purpose, than a great deal. Lord Bolingbroke is voluminous, but he is voluminous only to destroy volumes. I shall not live, I fear, to see that work printed; he is so taken up still, (in spite of the monitory hint given in the first line of my Essay) with particular men, that he neglects mankind, and is still a creature of this world, not of the universe: this world, which is a name we give to Europe, to England, to Ireland, to London, to Dublin, to the court, to the castle, and so diminishing, till it comes to our own affairs, and our own persons. When you write (either to him or to me, for we accept it all as one) rebuke him for it, as a divine if you like it, or as a badineur, if you think that more effectual.
What I write will show you that my head is yet weak. I had written to you by that gentleman from the Bath, but I did not know him, and every body that comes from Ireland pretends to be a friend of the dean's. I am always glad to see any that are truly so, and therefore do not mistake any thing I said, so as to discourage your sending any such to me. Adieu.
MAY 12, 1735.
YOUR letter was sent me yesterday by Mr. Stopford, who landed the same day, but I have not seen him. As to my silence, God knows it is my great misfortune. My little domestick affairs are in great confusion by the villany of agents, and the miseries of this kingdom, where there is no money to be had: nor am I unconcerned to see all things tending toward absolute power, in both nations (it is here in perfection already) although I shall not live to see it established. This condition of things, both publick, and personal to myself, has given me such a kind of despondency, that I am almost unqualified for any company, diversion, or amusement. The death of Mr. Gay and the doctor, have been terrible wounds near my heart. Their living would have been a great comfort to me, although I should never have seen them; like a sum of money in a bank from which I should receive at least annual interest, as I do from you, and have done from my lord Bolingbroke. To show in how much ignorance I live, it is hardly a fortnight since I heard of the death of my lady Masham, my constant friend in all changes of times. God forbid that I should expect you to make a voyage that would in the least affect your health: but in the mean time how unhappy am I, that my best friend should have perhaps the only kind of disorder, for which a sea voyage is not in some degree a remedy. The old duke of Ormond said, he would not change his dead son (Ossory) for the best living son in Europe. Neither would I change you my absent friend, for the best present friend round the globe.
I have lately read a book imputed to lord Bolingbroke, called a Dissertation upon Parties. I think it very masterly written.
Pray God reward you for your kind prayers: I believe your prayers will do me more good than those of all the prelates in both kingdoms, or any prelates in Europe, except the bishop of Marseilles. And God preserve you for contributing more to mend the world, than the whole pack of (modern) parsons in a lump.
I am, ever entirely yours.
SEPT. 3, 1735.
THIS letter will be delivered to you by Faulkner the printer, who goes over on his private affairs. This is an answer to yours of two months ago, which complains of that profligate fellow Curll. I heartily wish you were what they call disaffected, as I am, I may say as David did, I have sinned greatly, but what have these sheep done? You have given no offence to the ministry, nor to the lords, nor commons, nor queen, nor the next in power. For you are a man of virtue, and therefore must abhor vice and all corruption, although your discretion holds the reins. "You need not fear any consequence in the commerce that has so long passed between us; although I never destroyed one of your letters. But my executors are men of honour and virtue, who have strict orders in my will to burn every letter left behind me." Neither did our letters contain any turns of wit, or fancy, or politicks, or satire, but mere innocent friendship; yet I am loth that any letters, from you and a very few other friends, should die before me; I believe we neither of us ever leaned our head upon our left hand to study what we should write next; yet we have held a constant intercourse from your youth and my middle age, and from your middle age it must be continued till my death, which my bad state of health makes me expect every month. I have the ambition, and it is very earnest as well as in haste, to have one epistle inscribed to me while I am alive, and you just in the time when wit and wisdom are in the height. I must once more repeat Cicero's desire to a friend; orna me. A month ago were sent me over by a friend of mine, the works of John Hughes, esq., they are in verse and prose. I never heard of the man in my life, yet I find your name as a subscriber too. He is too grave a poet for me, and I think among, the mediocribus in prose as well as verse. I have the honour to know Dr. Rundle; he is indeed worth all the rest you ever sent us, but that is saying nothing, for he answers your character; I have dined thrice in his company. He brought over a worthy clergyman of this kingdom as his chaplain, which was a very wise and popular action. His only fault is, that he drinks no wine, and I drink nothing else.
This kingdom is now absolutely starving, by the means of every oppression that can be inflicted on mankind — shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord. You advise me right, not to trouble myself about the world: but, oppression tortures me, and I cannot live without meat and drink, nor get either without money; and money is not to be had, except they will make me a bishop, or a judge, or a colonel, or a commissioner of the revenues.
TO answer your question as to Mr. Hughes, what he wanted as to genius he made up as an honest man: but he was of the class you think him.
I am glad you think of Dr. Rundle as I do. He will be an honour to the bishops, and a disgrace to one bishop, two things you will like: but what you will like more particularly, he will be a friend and benefactor even to your unfriended, unbenefitted nation; he will be a friend to the human race, wherever he goes. Pray tell him my best wishes for his health and long life: I wish you and he came over together, or that I were with you. I never saw a man so seldom, whom I liked so much, as Dr. Rundle.
Lord Peterborow I went to take a last leave of, at his setting sail for Lisbon: no body can be more wasted, no soul can be more alive. Immediately after the severest operation of being cut into the bladder for a suppression of urine, he took coach, and got from Bristol to Southampton. This is a man that will neither live nor die like any other mortal.
Poor lord Peterborow! there is another string lost, that would have helped to draw you hither! he ordered on his deathbed his watch to be given me (that which had accompanied him in all his travels) with this reason, "That I might have something to put me every day in mind of him." It was a present to him from the king of Sicily, whose arms and insignia are graved on the inner case; on the outer, I have put this inscription. "Victor Amadeus, rex Siciliæ, dux Sabaudiæ, &c, &c. Carolo Mordaunt, comiti de Peterborow, D. D. Car, Mor. com. de Pet. Alexandro Pope moriens legavit. 1735."
Pray write to me a little oftener: and if there be a thing left in the world that pleases you, tell it one who will partake of it. I hear with approbation and pleasure, that your present care is to relieve the most helpless of this world, those objects which most want our compassion, though generally made the scorn of their fellow creatures, such as are less innocent than they. You always think generously; and of all charities, this is the most disinterested, and least vainglorious, done to such as never will thank you, or can praise you for it.
God bless you with ease, if not with pleasure; with a tolerable state of health, if not with its full enjoyment; with a resigned temper of mind, if not a very cheerful one. It is upon these terms I live myself, though younger than you; and I repine not at my lot, could but the presence of a few that I love be added to these. Adieu.
OCT. 21, 1735.
I ANSWERED your letter relating to Curll, &c. I believe my letters have escaped being published, because I write nothing but nature and friendship, and particular incidents which could make no figure in writing. I have observed that not only Voiture, but likewise Tully and Pliny writ their letters for the publicly view, more than for the sake of their correspondents; and I am glad of it, on account of the entertainment they have given me. Balsac did the same thing, but with more stiffness, and consequently less diverting: now I must tell you that you are to look upon me as one going very fast out of the world; but my flesh and bones are to be carried to Holyhead, for I will not lie in a country of slaves. It pleases me to find that you begin to dislike things in spite of your philosophy; your Muse cannot forbear her hints to that purpose. I cannot travel to see you; otherwise I solemnly protest I would do it. I have an intention to pass this winter in the country with a friend forty miles off, and to ride only ten miles a day, yet is my health so uncertain that I fear it will not be in my power. I often ride a dozen miles, but I come home to my own bed at night: my best way would be to marry, for in that case any bed would be better than my own. I found you a very young man, and I left you a middle aged one; you knew me a middle aged man, and now I am an old one. Where is my lord ——? methinks I am inquiring after a tulip of last year. — "You need not apprehend any Curll's medling with your letters to me; I will not destroy them, but have ordered my executors to do that office." I have a thousand things more to say, longævitas est garrula, but I must remember I have other letters to write if I have time, which I spend to tell you so; I am ever, dearest sir, your, &c.
FEB. 7, 1735-6.
IT is some time since I dined at the bishop of Derry's, where Mr. secretary Cary told me with great concern, that you were taken very ill. I have heard nothing since, only I have continued in great pain of mind, yet for my own sake and the world's more than for yours; because I well know how little you value life, both as a philosopher, and a christian; particularly the latter, wherein hardly one in a million of us hereticks can equal you. If you are well recovered, you ought to be reproached for not putting me especially out of pain, who could not bear the loss of you; although we must be for ever distant as much as if I were in the grave, for which my years and continual indisposition are preparing me every season. I have staid too long from pressing you to give me some ease by an account of your health; pray do not use me so ill any more. I look upon you as an estate from which I receive my best annual rents, although I am never to see it. Mr. Tickel was at the same meeting under the same real concern; and so were a hundred others of this town who had never seen you.
I read to the bishop of Derry the paragraph in your letter which concerned him, and his lordship expressed his thankfulness in a manner that became him. He is esteemed here as a person of learning, and conversation, and humanity, but he is beloved by all people.
I have nobody now left but you: pray be so kind as to outlive me, and then die as soon as you please, but without pain, and let us meet in a better place, if my religion will permit, but rather my virtue, although much unequal to yours. Pray let my lord Bathurst know how much I love him; I still insist on his remembering me, although he is too much in the world to honour an absent friend with his letters. My state of health is not to boast of; my giddiness is more or less too constant; I sleep ill, and have a poor appetite. I can as easily write a poem in the Chinese language as my own: I am as fit for matrimony as invention; and yet I have daily schemes for innumerable essays in prose, and proceed sometimes to no less than half a dozen lines, which the next morning become waste paper. What vexes me most is, that my female friends, who could bear me very well a dozen years ago, have now forsaken me, although I am not so old in proportion to them, as I formerly was: which I can prove by arithmetick, for then I was double their age, which now I am not. Pray put me out of fear as soon as you can, about that ugly report of your illness; and let me know who this Cheselden is, that has so lately sprung up in your favour? Give me also some account of your neighbour who writ to me from Bath: I hear he resolves to be strenuous for taking off the test; which grieves me extremely, from all the unprejudiced reasons I ever was able to form, and against the maxims of all wise christian governments, which always had some established religion, leaving at best a toleration to others.
Farewell my dearest friend! ever, and upon every account that can create friendship and esteem.
FEB. 9, 1735-6.
I CANNOT properly call you my best friend, because I have not another left who deserves the name, such a havock have time, death, exile, and oblivion made. Perhaps you would have fewer complaints of my ill health and lowness of spirits, if they were not some excuse for my delay of writing even to you. It is perfectly right what you say of the indifference in common friends, whether we are sick or well, happy or miserable. The very maid servants in a family have the same notion: I have heard them often say, oh, I am very sick, if any body cared for it! I am vexed when my visiters come with the compliment usual here, Mr. dean I hope you are very well. My popularity that you mention is wholly confined to the common people, who are more constant than those we miscal their betters. I walk the streets, and so do my lower friends, from whom and from whom alone, I have a thousand hats and blessings upon old scores, which those we call the gentry have forgot. But I have not the love, or hardly the civility, of any one man in power or station; and I can boast that I neither visit or am acquainted with any lord temporal or spiritual in the whole kingdom; nor am able to do the least good office to the most deserving man, except what I can dispose of in my own cathedral upon a vacancy. What has sunk my spirits more than even years and sickness, is, reflecting on the most execrable corruptions that run through every branch of publick management.
I heartily thank you for those lines translated, Singula de nobis anni, &c. You have put them in a strong and admirable light; but however I am so partial, as to be more delighted with those which are to do me the greatest honour I shall ever receive from posterity, and will outweigh the malignity of ten thousand enemies. I never saw them before, by which it is plain that the letter you sent me miscarried. — I do not doubt that you have choice of new acquaintance, and some of them may be deserving: for, youth is the season of virtue: corruptions grow with years, and I believe the oldest rogue in England is the greatest. You have years enough before you to watch whether these new acquaintance will keep their virtue when they leave you and go into the world; how long will their spirit of independency last against the temptations of future ministers, and future kings. — As to the new lord lieutenant, I never knew any of the family; so that I shall not be able to get any job done by him for any deserving friend.
MARCH 25, 1736.
IF ever I write more epistles in verse, one of them shall be addressed to you. I have long concerted it, and begun it, but I would make what bears your name as finished as my last work ought to be, that is to say, more finished than any of the rest. The subject is large, and will divide into four epistles, which naturally follow the Essay on Man, viz. 1. Of the Extent and Limits of Human Reason and Science. 2. A View of the useful and therefore attainable, and of the unuseful and therefore unattainable, Arts: 3. Of the Nature, Ends, Application, and Use of different Capacities: 4. Of the Use of Learning, of the science of the World, and of Wit. It will conclude with a Satire against the misapplication of all these, exemplified by pictures, characters, and examples.
But alas! the task is great, and non sum qualis eram! My understanding indeed, such as it is, is extended rather than diminished: I see things more in the whole, more consistent, and more clearly deduced from, and related to each other. But what I gain on the side of philosophy, I lose on the side of poetry: the flowers are gone, when the fruits begin to ripen, and the fruits perhaps will never ripen perfectly. The climate (under our Heaven of a court) is but cold and uncertain; the winds rase, and the winter comes on. I find myself but little disposed to build a new house; I have nothing left but to gather up the relicks of a wreck, and look about me to see how few friends I have left. Pray whose esteem or admiration should I desire now to procure by my writing? whose friendship or conversation to obtain by them? I am a man of desperate fortunes, that is, a man whose friends are dead: for I never aimed at any other fortune than in friends. As soon as I had sent my last letter, I received a most kind one from you, expressing great pain for my late illness at Mr. Cheselden's. I conclude you was eased of that friendly apprehension in a few days after you had despatched yours, for mine must have reached you then. I wondered a little at your quere, who Cheselden was? it shows that the truest merit does not travel so far any way as on the wings of poetry; he is the most noted, and most deserving man, in the whole profession of chirurgery; and has saved the lives of thousands by his manner of cutting for the stone. — I am now well, or what I must call so.
I have lately seen some writings of lord Bolingbroke's, since he went to France. Nothing can depress his genius: whatever befals him, he will still be the greatest man in the world, either in his own time, or with posterity.
Every man you know or care for here, inquires of you, and pays you the only devoir he can, that of drinking your health. I wish you had any motive to see this kingdom. I could keep you, for I am rich; that is, I have more than I want. I can afford room for yourself and two servants; I have indeed room enough, nothing but myself at home: the kind and hearty housewife is dead! the agreeable and instructive neighbour is gone! yet my house is enlarged, and the gardens extend and flourish, as knowing nothing of the guest they have lost. I have more fruit trees and kitchen garden than you have any thought of; nay I have good melons and pineapples of my own growth. I am as much a better gardener, as I am a worse poet, than when you saw me: but gardening is near akin to philosophy, for Tully says, agricultura proxima sapientiæ. For God's sake, why should not you, (that are a step higher than a philosopher, a divine, yet have more grace and wit than to be a bishop) even give all you have to the poor of Ireland (for whom you have already done every thing else) so quit the place, and live and die with me? And let tales amimæ concordes be our motto and our epitaph.
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.
AUG. 17, 1736.
I FIND, though I have less experience than you, the truth of what you told me some time ago, that increase of years makes men more talkative but less writative; to that degree, that I now write no letters but of plain business, or plain how-d'yes, to those few I am forced to correspond with, either out of necessity, or love, and I grow laconick even beyond laconicism; for sometimes I return only yes, or no, to questionary or petitionary epistles of half a yard long. You and lord Bolingbroke are the only men to whom I write, and always in folio. You are indeed almost the only men I know, who either can write in this age, or whose writings will reach the next: others are mere mortals. Whatever failings such men may have, a respect is due to them, as luminaries whose exaltation renders their motion a little irregular, or rather causes it to seem so to others. I am afraid to censure any thing I hear of dean Swift, because I hear it only from mortals, blind and dull: and you should be cautious of censuring any action or motion of lord B. because you hear it only from shallow, envious, or malicious reporters. What you writ to me about him I find to my great scandal repeated in one of yours to —— Whatever you might hint to me, was this for the prophane? the thing, if true, should be concealed; but it is I assure you absolutely untrue, in every circumstance. He has fixed in a very agreeable retirement near Fontainbleau, and makes it his whole business vacare literis. But tell me the truth, were you not angry at his omitting to write to you so long? I may, for I hear from him seldomer than from you, that is twice or thrice a year at most. Can you possibly think he can neglect you, or disregard you? if you catch yourself at thinking such nonsense, your parts are decayed. For believe me, great geniuses must and do esteem one another, and I question if any others can esteem or comprehend uncommon merit. Others only guess at that merit, or see glimmerings of their minds: a genius has the intuitive faculty: therefore imagine what you will, you cannot be so sure of any man's esteem as of his. If I can think that neither he nor you despise me, it is a greater honour to me by far, and will be thought so by posterity, than if all the house of lords writ commendatory verses upon me, the commons ordered me to print my works, the universities gave me publick thanks, and the king, queen, and prince crowned me with laurel. You are a very ignorant man: you do not know the figure his name and yours will make hereafter: I do, and will preserve all the memorials I can, that I was of your intimacy; longo, sed proximus, intervallo. I will not quarrel with the present age; it has done enough for me, in making and keeping you two my friends. Do not you be too angry at it, and let not him be too angry at it; it has done, and can do, neither of you any manner of harm, as long as it has not, and cannot burn your works: while those subsist, you will both appear the greatest men of the time, in spite of princes and ministers; and the wisest, in spite of all the little errours you may please to commit.
Adieu. May better health attend you, than I fear you possess; may but as good health attend you always as mine is at present; tolerable, when an easy mind is joined with it.
DECEMBER 2, 1736.
I THINK you owe me a letter, but whether you do or not, I have not been in a condition to write. Years and infirmities have quite broke me; I mean that odious continual disorder in my head. I neither read, nor write, nor remember, nor converse. All I have left is to walk and ride; the first I can do tolerably; but the latter for want of good weather at this season is seldom in my power; and having not an ounce of flesh about me, my skin comes off in ten miles riding, because my skin and bone cannot agree together. But I am angry, because you will not suppose me as sick as I am, and write to me out of perfect charity, although I should not be able to answer. I have too many vexations by my station and the impertinence of people, to be able to bear the mortification of not hearing from a very few distant friends that are left; and, considering how time and fortune have ordered matters, I have hardly one friend left but yourself. What Horace says, Singula de nobis anni prædantur, I feel every month, at farthest; and by this computation, if I hold out two years, I shall think it a miracle. My comfort is, you began to distinguish so confounded early, that your acquaintance with distinguished men of all kinds was almost as ancient as mine. I mean Wycherly, Rowe, Prior, Congreve, Addison, Parnell, &c. and in spite of your heart, you have owned me a contemporary. Not to mention lords Oxford, Bolingbroke, Harcourt, Peterborow: In short, I was the other day recollecting twenty-seven great ministers, or men of wit and learning, who are all dead, and all of my acquaintance, within twenty years past; neither have I the grace to be sorry, that the present times are drawn to the dregs, as well as my own life. — May my friends be happy in this and a better life, but I value not what becomes of posterity, when I consider from what monsters they are to spring. — My lord Orrery writes to you to morrow, and you see I send this under his cover, or at least franked by him. He has 30000l. a year about Cork, and the neighbourhood, and has more than three years rent unpaid; this is our condition in these blessed times. I writ to your neighbour about a month ago, and subscribed my name: I fear he has not received my letter, and wish you would ask him; but perhaps he is still a rambling; for we hear of him at Newmarket, and that Boerhaave has restored his health. — How my services are lessened of late with the number of my friends on your side! yet my lord Bathurst and lord Masham and Mr. Lewis remain; and being your acquaintance I desire when you see them to deliver my compliments; but chiefly to Mrs. Patty Blount, and let me know whether she be as young and agreeable as when I saw her last? Have you got a supply of new friends to make up for those who are gone? and are they equal to the first? I am afraid it is with friends as with times; and that the laudator temporis acti se puero, is equally applicable to both. I am less grieved for living here, because it is a perfect retirement, and consequently fittest for those who are grown good for nothing; for this town and kingdom are as much out of the world as North Wales. — My head is so ill that I cannot write a paper full as I used to do; and yet I will not forgive a blank of half an inch from you. — I had reason to expect from some of your letters, that we were to hope for more epistles of morality; and I assure you, my acquaintance resent that they have not seen my name at the head of one. The subjects of such epistles are more useful to the publick, by your manner of handling them, than any of all your writings; and although in so profligate a world as ours they may possibly not much mend our manners, yet posterity will enjoy the benefit, whenever a court happens to have the least relish for virtue and religion.
DEC. 30, 1736.
YOUR very kind letter has made me more melancholy, than almost any thing in this world now can do. For I can bear every thing in it, bad as it is, better than the complaints of my friends. Though others tell me you are in pretty good health, and in good spirits, I find the contrary when you open your mind to me: and indeed it is but a prudent part, to seem not so concerned about others, nor so crazy ourselves as we really are: for we shall neither be beloved or esteemed the more, by one common acquaintance, for any affliction or any infirmity. But to our true friend we may, we must complain, of what (it is a thousand to one) he complains with us; for if we have known him long, he is old, and if he has known the world long, he is out of humour at it. If you have but as much more health than others at your age, as you have more wit and good temper, you shall not have much of my pity: but if you ever live to have less, you shall not have less of my affection. A whole people will rejoice at every year that shall be added to you, of which you have had a late instance in the publick rejoicings on your birthday. I can assure you, something better and greater than high birth and quality, must go toward acquiring those demonstrations of publick esteem and love. I have seen a royal birthday uncelebrated, but by one vile ode, and one hired bonfire. Whatever years may take away from you, they will not take away the general esteem, for your sense, virtue, and charity.
The most melancholy effect of years is that you mention, the catalogue of those we loved and have lost, perpetually increasing. How much that reflection struck me, you will see from the motto I have prefixed to my Book of Letters, which so much against my inclination has been drawn from me. It is from Catullus,
Quo desiderio veteres revocamus amores,
Atque olim amissas flemus amicitias!
I detain this letter till I can find some safe conveyance; innocent as it is, and as all letters of mine must be, of any thing to offend my superiours, except the reverence I bear to true merit and virtue. But I have much reason to fear, those which you have too partially kept in your hands, will get out in some very disagreeable shape, in case of our mortality: and the more reason to fear it, since this last month Curll has obtained from Ireland two letters, (one of lord Bolingbroke, and one of mine, to you, which we wrote in the year 1723) and he has printed them, to the best of my memory, rightly; except one passage concerning Dawley which must have been since inserted, since my lord had not that place at that time. Your answer to that letter he has not got; it has never been out of my custody; for whatever is lent is lost; (wit as well as money) to these needy poetical readers.
The world will certainly be the better for his change of life. He seems, in the whole turn of his letters, to be a settled and principled philosopher, thanking fortune for the tranquillity he has been led into by her aversion, like a man driven by a violent wind, from the sea into a calm harbour. You ask me if I have got any supply of new friends to make up for those that are gone? I think that impossible; for not our friends only, but so much of ourselves is gone by the mere flux and course of years, that were the same friends to be restored to us, we could not be restored to ourselves, to enjoy them. But, as when the continual washing of a river takes away our flowers and plants, it throws weeds and sedges in their room; so the course of time brings us something, as it deprives us of a great deal; and instead of leaving us what we cultivated, and expected to flourish and adorn us, gives us only what is of some little use, by accident. Thus I have acquired, without my seeking, a few chance acquaintance, of young men, who look rather to the past age than the present, and therefore the future may have some hopes of them. If I love them, it is because they honour some of those whom I, and the world, have lost, or are losing. Two or three of them have distinguished themselves in parliament; and you will own in a very uncommon manner, when I tell you it is by their asserting of independency, and contempt of corruption. One or two are linked to me by their love of the same studies and the same authors: but I will own to you, my moral capacity has got so much the better of my poetical, that I have few acquaintance on the latter score, and none without a casting weight on the former. But I find my heart hardened and blunt to new impressions, it will scarce receive or retain affections of yesterday; and those friends who have been dead these twenty years, are more present to me now, than these I see daily. You, dear sir, are one of the former sort to me, in all respects, but that we can, yet, correspond together. I do not know whether it is not more vexatious, to know we are both in one world, without any farther intercourse. Adieu. I can say no more, I feel so much: let me drop into common things. — Lord Masham has just married his son. Mr. Lewis has just buried his wife. Lord Oxford wept over your letter in pure kindness. Mrs. B. sighs more for you, than for the loss of youth. She says she will be agreeable many years hence, for she has learned that secret from some receipts of your writing. Adieu.
MARCH 23, 1736-7.
THOUGH you were never to write to me, yet what you desired in your last, that I would write often to you, would be a very easy task: for every day I talk with you, and of you, in my heart; and I need only set down what that is thinking of. The nearer I find myself verging to that period of life which is to be labour and sorrow, the more I prop myself upon those few supports that are left me. People in this state are like props indeed, they cannot stand alone, but two or more of them can stand, leaning and bearing upon one another. I wish you and I might pass this part of life together. My only necessary care is at an end. I am now my own master too much; my house is too large; my gardens furnish too much wood and provision for my use. My servants are sensible and tender of me, they have intermarried, and are become rather low friends than servants: and to all those that I see here with pleasure, they take a pleasure in being useful. I conclude this is your case too in your domestick life, and I sometimes think of your old housekeeper as my nurse; though I tremble at the sea, which only divides us. As your fears are not so great as mine, and I firmly hope your strength still much greater, is it utterly impossible, it might once more be some pleasure to you to see England? My sole motive in proposing France to meet in, was the narrowness of the passage by sea from hence, the physicians having told me the weakness of my breast, &c. is such, as a seasickness might endanger my life. Though one or two of our friends are gone, since you saw your native country, there remain a few more who will last so till death; and who I cannot but hope have an attractive power to draw you back to a country, which cannot quite be sunk or enslaved, while such spirits remain. And let me tell you, there are a few more of the same spirit, who would awaken all your old ideas, and revive your hopes of her future recovery and virtue. These look up to you with reverence, and would be animated by the sight of him, at whose soul they have taken fire, in his writings, and derived from thence as much love of their species, as is consistent with a contempt for the knaves of it.
I could never be weary, except at the eyes, of writing to you; but my real reason (and a strong one it is) for doing it so seldom, is fear; fear of a very great and experienced evil, that of my letters being kept by the partiality of friends, and passing into the hands, and malice of enemies; who publish them with all their imperfections on their head, so that I write not on the common terms of honest men.
Would to God you would come over with lord Orrery, whose care of you in the voyage I could so certainly depend on; and bring with you your old housekeeper and two or three servants. I have room for all, a heart for all, and (think what you will) a fortune for all. We could, were we together, contrive to make our last days easy, and leave some sort of monument, what friends two wits could be in spite of all the fools in the world. Adieu.
DUBLIN, MAY 31, 1737.
IT is true, I owe you some letters, but it has pleased God, that I have not been in a condition to pay you. When you shall be at my age, perhaps you may lie under the same disability to your present or future friends. But my age is not my disability, for I can walk six or seven miles, and ride a dozen. But I am deaf for two months together, this deafness unqualifies me for all company, except a few friends with countertenor voices, whom I can call names, if they do not speak loud enough for my ears. It is this evil that has hindered me from venturing to the Bath, and to Twitenham; for deafness being not a frequent disorder, has no allowance given it; and the scurvy figure a man affected that way makes in company, is utterly insupportable.
It was I began with the petition to you of Orna me, and now you come like an unfair merchant, to charge me with being in your debt; which by your way of reckoning I must always be, for yours are always guineas, and mine farthings; and yet I have a pretence to quarrel with you, because I am not at the head of any one of your epistles. I am often wondering how you come to excel all mortals on the subject of morality, even in the poetical way; and should have wondered more, if nature and education had not made you a professor of it from your infancy. "All the letters I can find of yours, I have fastened in a folio cover, and the rest in bundles endorsed; but, by reading their dates, I find a chasm of six years, of which I can find no copies; and yet I keep them with all possible care: but, I have been forced, on three or four occasions to send all my papers to some friends, yet those papers were all sent sealed in bundles, to some faithful friends; however, what I have, are not much above sixty." I found nothing in any one of them to be left out: none of them have any thing to do with party, of which you are the clearest of all men, by your religion, and the whole tenour of your life; while I am raging every moment against the corruption of both kingdoms, especially of this; such is my weakness.
I have read your Epistle of Horace to Augustus: it was sent me in the English edition, as soon as it could come. They are printing it in a small octavo. The curious are looking out, some for flattery, some for ironies in it; the sour folks think they have found out some: but your admirers here, I mean every man of taste, affect to be certain, that the profession of friendship to me in the same poem, will not suffer you to be thought a flatterer. My happiness is that you are too far engaged, and in spite of you the ages to come will celebrate me, and know you are a friend who loved and esteemed me, although I died the object of court and party hatred.
Pray who is that Mr. Glover, who writ the epick poem called Leonidas, which is reprinting here, and has great vogue. We have frequently good poems of late from London. I have just read one upon conversation, and two or three others. But the crowd do not encumber you, who like the orator or preacher, stand aloft, and are seen above the rest, more than the whole assembly below.
I am able to write no more; and this is my third endeavour, which is too weak to finish the paper: I am, my dearest friend, yours entirely, as long as I can write, or speak, or think.
DUBLIN, JULY 23, 1737.
I SENT a letter to you some weeks ago, which my lord Orrery enclosed in one of his, to which I received as yet no answer; but it will be time enough when his lordship goes over, which will be as he hopes in about ten days, and then he will take with him "all the letters I preserved of yours, which are not above twenty-five. I find there is a great chasm of some years, but the dates are more early than my two last journeys to England, which makes me imagine, that in one of those journeys I carried over another cargo." But I cannot trust my memory half an hour; and my disorders of deafness and giddiness increase daily. So that I am declining as fast as it is easily possible for me, if I were a dozen years older.
We have had your volume of letters, which I am told are to be printed here. Some of those who highly esteem you, and a few who know you personally, are grieved to find you make no distinction between the English gentry of this kingdom, and the savage old Irish, (who are only the vulgar, and some gentlemen who live in the Irish parts of the kingdom) but the English colonies, who are three parts in four, are much more civilized than many counties in England, and speak better English, and are much better bred. And they think it very hard, that an American who is of the fifth generation from England, should be allowed to preserve that title, only because we have been told by some of them that their names are entered in some parish in London. I have three or four cousins here who were born in Portugal, whose parents took the same care, and they are all of them Londoners. Dr. Delany, who as I take it, is of an Irish family, came to visit me three days ago, on purpose to complain of those passages in your letters; he will not allow such a difference between the two climates, but will assert that North Wales, Northumberland, Yorkshire, and the other northern shires have a more cloudy ungenial air than any part of Ireland. In short, I am afraid your friends and admirers here will force you to make a palinody.
As for the other parts of your volume of letters, my opinion is, that there might be collected from them the best system that ever was writ for the conduct of human life, at least to shame all reasonable men out of their follies and vices. It is some recommendation of this kingdom, and of the taste of the people, that you are at least as highly celebrated here as you are at home. If you will blame us for slavery, corruption, atheism, and such trifles, do it freely, but include England, only with an addition of every other vice. — I wish you would give orders against the corruption of English by those scribblers who send us over their trash in prose and verse, with abominable curtailings and quaint modernisms. — I now am daily expecting an end of life: I have lost all spirit, and every scrap of health; I sometimes recover a little of my hearing, but my head is ever out of order. While I have any ability to hold a commerce with you, I will never be silent, and this chancing to be a day that I can hold a pen, I will drag it as long as I am able. Pray let my lord Orrery see you often; next to yourself I love no man so well; and tell him what I say, if he visits you. I have now done, for it is evening, and my head grows worse. May God always protect you, and preserve you long, for a pattern of piety and virtue.
Farewell my dearest and almost only constant friend. I am ever, at least in my esteem, honour, and affection to you, what I hope you expect me to be.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
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.
MY DEAR LORD,
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
my letters to me
you 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.
- Some time before the death of queen Anne, when her ministers were quarrelling, and the dean could not reconcile them, he retired to a friend's house in Berkshire, and never saw them after.
- This project (in which the principal persons engaged were Dr. Arbuthnot, Dr. Swift, and Mr. Pope) was a very noble one. It was to write a complete satire in prose upon the abuses in every branch of science, comprised in the history of the life and writings of Scriblerus; the issue of which were only some detached parts and fragments, such as the "Memoirs of Scriblerus," the "Travels of Gulliver," the "Treatise of the Profound," the literal "Criticisms on Virgil," &c.
- Dr. St. George Ash, formerly a fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, (to whom the dean was a pupil) afterward bishop of Clogher, and translated to the see of Derry in 1716-17. It was he who married Swift to Mrs. Johnson, 1716; and performed the ceremony in a garden.
- In a manuscript letter of lord Bolingbroke it is said, "that George I set out from Hanover with a resolution of oppressing no set of men that would be quiet subjects. But as soon as he came into Holland a contrary resolution was taken at the earnest importunity of the allies, and particularly of Heinsius, and some of the whigs. Lord Townshend came triumphing to acquaint lord Somers with all the measures of proscription and of persecution which they intended, and to which the king had at last consented. The old peer asked what he meant, and shed tears on the foresight of measures like those of the Roman triumvirate".
- The day of queen Anne's demise, 1714.
- He was frequently carping at Pope for many rhymes in many other parts of his works. His own were remarkably exact.
- Given to him by Parnell; and with which Pope told Mr. Spence, he was never well satisfied, though he corrected it again and again.
- Put these last two observations together, and it will appear, that Mr. Pope was never wanting to his friends for fear of party, nor would he insult a ministry to humour them. He said of himself, and I believe he said truly, that "he never wrote a line to gratify the animosity of any one party at the expense of another". See the "Letter to a noble Lord". W.
- Alluding to his constant custom of sleeping after dinner.
- In Curll's collection.
- It is observable that he doth not deny his being the writer of them.
- One who made a noise then, as count Bonneval has done since.
- These words are remarkable. What would he have said, if he had seen what has happened in France? and what is likely to happen, by the diffusion of learning and science, in all the other catholick countries of Europe? such events are stupendous; Non hæc sine numine Divum eveniunt.
- Indulgent to himself in sleep and wine.
- Milton, Paradise Lost, book ix. verse 23. On this passage Dr. Joseph Warton remarks, that "this is the only time Swift ever alludes to Milton; who was of an order of writers very different from what Swift admired and imitated;" an assertion which we shall take a future opportunity of examining. [See vol. XIX. p. vi.]
- Gay did write a pastoral of this kind, which is published in his works.
- Swift himself wrote one of this kind, "Dermot and Sheelah."
- This letter Mr. Pope never received, nor did he believe it was ever sent.
- No piece of Swift contains more political knowledge, more love of the English constitution, and rational liberty, than appears in this celebrated letter, and it is not a little wonderful that Pope should affirm he never received it.
- A Proposal for the universal Use of Irish Manufactures.
- Lord Chief Justice Whitshed.
- This is a very strange assertion. To suppose that a consummate knowledge of the laws, by which civilized societies are governed, can "give no one good quality to the mind," is making ethicks (of which publick laws are so considerable a part) a very unprofitable study.
- Our hearts are not so cold, nor flames the fire
Of Sol, so distant from the race of Tyre.
- He means particularly the principle at that time charged upon them by their enemies, of an intention to proscribe the tories.
- As if in the Trojan horse.
- It is in allusion to this sentiment of Swift that Dr. Stopford, the learned and amiable bishop of Cloyne, thus expresses himself in a Latin panegyrick on Swift. "Incorruptus inter pessimos mores; magni atque constantis animi; libertatis semper studiosus, atque nostri reipublicæ status, a Gothis quondam sapienter instituti, laudator perpetuus, propugnator acerrimus. Cujus tamen formam, ambitu et largitione adeo fœdatam, ut vix nunc dignosci possit, sæpius indignabundus ploravit."
- Alluding to his large work on Homer.
- The bishop of Rochester thought this to be indeed the case; and that the price agreed on for lord B.'s return, was his banishinent; an imagination which so strongly possessed him when he went abroad, that all the expostulations of his friends could not convince him of the folly of it.
- This Mr. Walsh seriously thought to be the case, where, in a letter to Mr. Pope, Sept. 9, 1716, he says: "When we were in the north, my lord Wharton showed me a letter he had received from a certain great general in Spain (lord Peterborow) I told him I would by all means have that general recalled, and set to writing here at home, for it was impossible that a man with so much wit as he showed, could be fit to command an army, or do any other business."
- This letter was printed at the end of the quarto edition very faultily (as for instance, Arabians for Zabians, Egyptian Seres for seers, &c.) occasioned by its being taken from Curll's stolen copy only: the original having been since recovered among Dr. Swift's papers, it is now correctly printed. This Note is taken from the Dublin edition.
- I am now good, not upon principle only, but by long habit am come to that pass, that I not only can act rightly, but it is out of my power to act otherwise.
- I am not what I was.
- Concerning the contempt of the world, and retirement from publick business.
- Yet they are the Christian notions.
- The Essay on Man.
- This is the first notice he gives Swift of his great work, and we presume that Swift certainly could but guess at the subject.
- The liberties of St. Patrick's cathedral.
- Gulliver's Travels.
- A sentiment that dishonoured him, as a man, a christian, and a philosopher.
- A rational amimal.
- Capable of reason.
- Lord Bolingbroke.
- Mrs. Howard.
- A little lower than angels.
- This is no great compliment to his own heart.
- Or Pope with Tibbald, Concanen, Smedley, &c.
- Here is one of those vulgar and disgusting images, on which our author too much delighted to dwell. Dr. Delany, from his partiality to Swift, is of opinion, that the dean caught his love of gross and filthy objects from Pope. The contrary seems to be the fact. One would think this love contagious; see two passages in the "View of Lord Bolingbroke's Philosophy," Letter II.
- Lord Shaftesbury in his Characteristicks, vol. III, p. 23, has given a very different opinion of Seneca, the person here alluded to.
- Lady Bolingbroke, a French lady.
- Mrs. Howard.
- The duchess of Marlborough.
- Whether Timavus or the Illyrian coast,
Whatever land or sea thy presence boast.
- This was occasioned by a bad accident as he was returning home in a friend's chariot, which in passing through a river, the bridge being broken down, was overturned. The glasses being up, and Mr. Pope unable to break them, he was in immediate danger of drowning, when the footman who had just recovered himself, beat the glass which lay uppermost to pieces, a fragment of which cut one of Mr. Pope's hands very dangerously.
- In every body's hands.
- An eminent bookseller, publisher of the Travels.
- The dean at this time courted the princess, and was in hopes of getting his Irish deanery changed for some preferment in England. But the ministry were afraid to bring him on this side the water. Sir Robert Walpole dreaded his abilities.
- To follow any party leader's call.
- This was the fact, which is complained of in the Dublin edition of the dean's works, and is rectified in all the subsequent editions.
- Because he understood it to be intended as a satire on the Royal Society.
- A just character of Swift's poetry, as well as his prose, is, that it "consists of proper words in proper places." Johnson said once to me, speaking of the simplicity of Swift's style, the rogue never hazards a figure." Dr. Warton.
- Wonderful Poems!
- Unless you, my learned friend, dissent.
- It is not ours such factions to compose.
- Madame Vlllette, relict of the marquis Villette, second wife to lord Bolingbroke, She was niece to the celebrated madame Maintenon.
- Let Jove give health, give riches, you shall find
An inward treasure in an equal mind.
- The Dunciad.
- The petticoat government.
- William Arnall, bred an attorney. It appears from the report of the secret committee in the year 1742, for inquiring into the conduct of sir Robert Walpole, that Arnall received for Free Britons, and other writings, in the space of four years, no less than ten thousand nine hundred and ninety-seven pounds, six shillings and eight pence, out of the treasury.
- Before Mr. Gay had fenced his thousand pounds, he had a consulsation with his friends about the disposal of it. Mr. Lewis advised him to intrust it to the funds, and live upon the interest; Dr. Arbuthnot, to intrust it to Providence, and live upon the principal; and Mr. Pope was for purchasing an annuity for life. In this uncertainty he could only say with the old man in Terence;
——— fecistis probe:
Incertior sum multo, quam dudum.
- Ye Greek and Roman Authors yield the prize,
See something greater than an Iliad rise.
- It did in a little time effectually silence them.
- A gentleman of the law, author of Stradling versus Styles.
- Fly abroad.
- Let it depart like a satiated
- Dr. Swift did so.
- Sir Arthur Acheson's.
- He was certainly one of the most polite, pleasing and well bred men of all his contemporaries. And it might have been said of him, as of Cowley, "You would not, from his conversation, have known him to have been a wit and a poet, it was so unassuming and courteous." Swift had always a great regard and affection for him; and introduced him, though a strenuous whig, to the favour of lord Oxford It is remarkable, that on the first publication, Congreve thought "the Tale of a Tub" gross and insipid.
- Entitled, "A Libel on Dr. Delany, and a certain great Lord."
- New ways I must attempt, my grovelling name
To raise aloft, and wing my flight to fame.
- O could I turn to that fair prime again!
———— yet in his years are seen
A manly vigour, and autumnal green.
- "I am afraid that he had money as much in his heart as his head. As he advanced in years, he grew shamefully parsimonious." Dr. Warton.
- Publick affairs cannot remain long in a state of ill management.
- Here ends the epistle to lord Bolingbroke, and begins to my friend Pope.
- In Montesquieu's Persian Letters, there is an admirable one upon this subject.
- Provision made for years to come.
- Supports to old age.
- He gained, we see, a considerable sum by his writings. Enough has been said of Milton's selling his Paradise Lost for ten pounds. Tonson gave Dryden only two hundred and fifty guineas for ten thousand verses to make up the volume of his "Fables." It may be of use to inform young adventurers, that Thompson sold his "Winter" to Millan for only three guineas. He gained but little more for his Spring. The year after, when he rose in reputation, 1728, Andrew Miller gave him fifty guineas for his "Summer." This was his first connexion with Thompson, whom he ever afterward honoured and assisted if called upon. Dr. Young received of Dodsley two hundred guineas for the first three "Night Thoughts." Dr. Akenside one hundred and twenty guineas for his "Pleasures of Imagination"; and Mallet the same sum for his "Amyntor and Theodora." Some modern booksellers behave to authors with much liberality and generosity." Dr. Warton.
- He is the best who has the fewest faults.
- Mrs. Howard.
- Which I am unable to express, and can only feel.
- This is a very melancholy picture of the then state of Ireland.
- With the zephyrs and the first swallow.
- True friendship is found only between good men.
- Retirement with dignity.
- Essay on Man; on which therefore, it appears, he was employed in 1729.
- He used to value himself on this particular.
- On a sudden thought.
- His brother's.
- Why do we dart with eager strife,
At things beyond the mark of life?
- He was mistaken in this. Knight was pardoned, and came here in the year 1742.
- A just and sensible criticism on epistolary wriiings, which we should bear in our minds whilst we are reading this collection of letters.
- Medicine of the mind.
- Bolingbroke has enlarged on this topick in his Philosophical Works, intending to depreciate Christianity by showing that it has not had a general effect on the morals of mankind, nor produced a real reformation: an argument nothing to the purpose, nor any impeachment of the doctrines of the Gospel; even if it were founded, as it certainly is not.
- France affords a striking example of this truth.
- She was niece to madame de Maintenon, educated at St. Cyr, and was a woman of a very beautiful person, and very agreeable manners. Her letters are written in very elegant French. She was a woman of much observation. Madame de Mainitenon mentions her in her letters. Dr. Trapp told me, that lord Bolingbroke boasting one day of his former gallantries, she said to him, smiling, "When I look at you, methinks I see the ruins of a fine old Roman aqueduct; but the water has ceased to flow." Dr. Warton.
- He means his "Essay on Man"; and alludes to the arguments he uses to make men satisfied even with their present state, without looking to another. Young wrote his "Night Thoughts" in direct opposition to this view of human life, but which, in truth Young has painted in colours too dark and uncomfortable.
- Thus, thus it pleases us to pass through life.
- Let us still go singing on, to beguile the tediousness of the way.
- The work here alluded to, was the first volume of Dr. Delany's "Revelation examined with Candour," published 1732; a work written in a florid and declamatory style, and with a greater degree of learning and ingenuity, than of sound reason and argument. The same may be said of this author's "Life of King David." The best of his works seems to be his "Reflections on Polygamy." Dr. Delany was an amiable, benevolent, and virtuous man; a character far superiour to that of the ablest controversial writer. His Defence of Revelation is of a very different cast from such solid and masterly works as the bishop of Llandaff's "Apology for the Bible," and archdeacon Paley's "Evidences of Christianity."
- It is not worth the trouble.
- Polite Conversation. See the Eighth volume of this edition.
- Directions to Servants.
- "On my dear friend Mr. Gay's death: Received December 15, but not read till the 20th, by an impulse foreboding some misfortune." This note is endorsed on the original letter in Dr. Swift's hand.
- Sat. I, lib. 2.
- Achilles, an opera.
- Victor Amadeus, king of Sicily, duke of Savoy, &c. &c. to Charles Mordaunt, earl of Peterborow, made a present of this watch. Charles Mordaunt, earl of Peterborow, on his deathbed bequeathed it as a legacy to Alexander Pope.
- The circling years on human pleasures prey,
They steal my humour and my mirth away.
- Ill natur'd censor of the present age,
And fond of all the follies of the past.
- How pants my heart old friendship to renew!
How pierc'd with grief old loves decay'd I view!
- 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.