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L ET TER LXX.
Jan. 6, 1734. T Never think of you and can never write to 1 you, now, without drawing many of those short fighs of which we have formerly talk'd: The reflection both of the friends we have been depriv'd 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 of, who hides his head in a hole, while all his feathers and tail stick out. You'll have immediately by several franks (even before 'tis here publish'd) my Epistle to Lord Cobham, part of my Opus Magnum, and the last Effay 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 declar'd against me by a certain Lord; his weapons are the same wirich 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 shewing it to some people, suppress’d 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 public parties, which I have constantly observ'd in all my writings, I think gives me the more title to attack such men, as slander and belye my character in private, to those who know me not. Yet even this is a liberty I will never take, unless at the same time they are Pests to private society, or mischievous members of the public, that is to fay, 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 thro’
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 faid 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 conceald from me.
Sept. 15, 1734. | Have ever thought you as sensible as any I man I knew, of all the delicacies of friendThip, 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 as I do, or to abstain, from fome prudential reafon. Yet I am sure, nothing that you and I wou'd say to each other (tho' our own 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 thofe 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 lighter verses. It is generally on such little scraps that Witlings feed, and 'tis hard the world should judge of our house-keeping from what we Aing to our 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 fatiffied 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 difavow'd 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, offer'd to a bookseller a piece in prose as yours, and as commissioned by you, which has since appear'd, and been own'd to be his own. I think (I say once more) that I know your hand, tho' 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 post-office had known it. I fancy, tho' you loft 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;