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L E T T E R LVI.
Dr. Swift to Mr. GAY.
Dublin, May 4, 1732. Am now as lame as when you writ your
letter itfelf, for want of that limb from my Lady Dutchess, which you promised, and without which I wonder how it could limp hither. I am not in a condition to make a true step even on Aimsbury Downs, and I declare that a corporeal false step is worse than a political one; nay worse than a thousand political ones, for which I appeal to Courts and Ministers, who hobble on and prosper without the sense of feeling. To talk of riding and walking is insulting me, for I can as soon fly as do either. It is your pride or laziness, more than chairhire, that makes the town expensive : no honour is lost by walking in the dark; and in the day, you may beckon a black-guard-boy under a gate near your visiting place, (*experto crede) save eleven pence, and get half a crown's worth of health. The worst of
my present misfortune is, that I eat and drink and
* Believe me who have experienced it.
can digest neither for want of exercise; and to encrease my misery, the knaves are sure to find me at home, and make huge void spaces in my cellars. I congratulate with you, for lofing your Great acquaintance; in such a case, Philosophy teaches that we must submit and be content with Good ones. I like Lord Cornbury's refusing his pension, but I demur at his being elected for Oxford ; which I conceive is wholly changed and entirely devoted to new principles ; so it appeared to me the two last times I was there.
I find by the whole cast of your letter that you are as giddy and as volatile as ever, just the reverse of Mr. Pope, who hath always loved a domestick life from his youth. I was going to wish you had some little place that you could call your own; but I profess I do not know you well enough to contrive any one system of life that would please you. You pretend to preach up riding and walking to the Dutchess, yet my knowledge of you after twenty years, you always joined a violent desire of perpetually shifting places and company, with a rooted laziness, and an utter impatience of fatigue. A coach and fix horses is the utmost exercise you can bear, and this only when you can fill it with such company as is best suited to
your taste; and how glad would you be if it : could waft you in the air to avoid jolting? while I who am so much later in life can, or at least
500 miles on a trotting horse. You mortally hate writing, only because it is the thing you chiefly ought to do; as well to keep up the vogue you have in the world, as to make you easy in your fortune.
fortune. You are merciful to everything but money, your best friend, which you treat with inhumanity. Be assured, I will hire people to watch all your motions, and to return me a faithful account. have
your Absence of mind? can you attend to trifles ? can you at Aimsbury write domestick libels to divert the family and neighbouring squires for five miles round? or venture so far on horseback without apprehending a stumble at every step? can you set the footmen laughing as they wait at dinner ? and do the Dutchess's women admire your wit ? in what esteem are you with the Vicar of the parilh? can you play with him at back-gammon? have the farmers found out that you cannot distinguish rye from barley, or an oak from a crab-tree? You are sensible that I know the full extent of your country skill is in fishing for Roaches, or Gudgeons at the highest.
I love to do you good offices, with your friends, and therefore desire you will shew this letter to the Dutchess, to improve her Grace's good opinion of your qualifications, and convince her how useful you are like to be in the family. Her Grace shall have the honour of my correspondence again when she goeth to Aimsbury.
Hear a piece of Irish news, I buried the famous General Meredyth's father last night in my Cathedral, he was ninety six-years old : so that Mrs. Pope may live seven years longer.
You saw Mr. Pope in health, pray is he generally more healthy than when I was amongst you? I would know how your own health is, and how much wine you drink in a day? My stint in company is a pint at noon, and half as much at night ; but I often dine alone like an hermit, and then I drink little or none at all. Yet I differ from you, for I would have society if I could get what I like; people of middle understanding and middle rank.
LETTER L E T T E R LVII.
Dr. SWIFT to Mr. Gay.
in the way.
Dublin, July 10, 1732. Had your letter by Mr. Ryves a long time after the date, for I suppose he stayed long
I am glad you determine upon something; there is no writing I esteem more than Fables, nor any thing so difficult to succeed in, which however you have done excellently well, and I have often admired
your happiness in such a kind of performance, which I have frequently endeavoured at in vain. I remember I acted as you seem to hint; I found a Moral first and then studied for a Fable, but could do nothing that pleased me, and so left off that scheme for ever.
I remember one, which was to represent what scoundrels rise in Armies by a long War, wherein I supposed the Lion was engaged, and having lost all his animals of worth, at last Serjeant Hog came to be a Brigadier, and Corporal Ass a Colonel, &c. I agree with you likewise about getting something by the stage, which when it fucceedeth is the best crop for poetry in England : But
pray take some new scheme, quite different from any thing you have already touched. The present humour of the players, who hardly (as I was told in London) regard any new play, and your present situation at the Court, are the