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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 chusing 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 fome civil Diffention; 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 my self; 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 Catechisın might be published by Authority, four Times a Year, in order to instruct us how we are to speak and write, and act during the current Quarter. I have by Experience felt the Want of such an Instructor: For intending to make my Court to fome People on the prevailing Side, by advancing certain old
whiggish whiggish Principles, which it seemeth 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 hath 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 andaccuse 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 lie 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 with 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 hath 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 fowered 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 funk by encreasing Years, I have at least enough Discretion 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.
L E T T E R V.
Dr. Swift to Mr, GAY,
Dublin, Jan, 8, 1722-3, YOming home after a short Christmas Ram,
ble, I found a Letter upon my Table, and little expected when I opened it to read your Name at the Bottom. The best and greatest Part of my Life, until these last eight Years, I spent in England, there I made my Friendships, and there I left my Desires: I am condemned for ever to another Country; what is in Prudence to be done? I think, to be * oblitusque meorum obliviscendus & illis. What can be the Design of your Letter but Malice, to wake me out of a scurvy Sleep, which however is better than
I am towards nine Years older since I left you, yet that is the least of
my Alterations my Business, my Diversions, my Conversations, are all entirely changed for the worse, and so are my Studies and my Amusements in Writing ; yet after all, this humdrum Way of Life might be paffable enough, if you would let me alone.
* Both forgetting my Friends, and to be fore gotten by them.
I shall not be able to relish my Wine, my Parions, my Horses, nor my Garden, for three Months, until the Spirit you have raised shall be difpoffefsed. I have sometimes wondered that I have not visited
but I have been stopt by too many Reasons, besides Years and Laziness, and yet these are very good ones. Upon my Return after half a Year amongst you, there would be to me * Desiderio nec pudor nec modus. I was three Years reconciling my self to the Scene, and the Business, to which Fortune hath condemned me, and Stupidity was that I had Recourse to. Besides, what a Figure should I make in London, while my Friends are in Poverty, Exile, Distress, or Imprisonment, and my Enemies with Rods of Iron? Yet I often threaten my self with the Journey, and am every Summer practising to ride and get Health to bear it: The only Inconvenience is, that I grow old in the Experiment. Although I care not to talk to you as a Divine, yet I hope you have not been Author of
your Cholick: do
you drink bad Wine, or keep bad Company? Are you not as many Years older así? it will not be always $ Et tibi quos mihi dempserit apponet annos. I am heartily sorry you have any Dealings with that ugly Distemper, and I believe our Friend Arbuthnot will recommend
* No measure in my concern for having left you.
§ Time Sall add to you those Pears it taketh from me.
you to Temperance and Exercise. I wish they could have as good an Effect upon the Giddiness I am subject to, and which this Moment I am not free from. I should have been glad if you had lengthened your Letter by telling me the present Condition of many of my old Acquaintance, Congreve, Arbuthnot, Lewis, &c. but you mention only Mr. Pope, who I believe is lazy, or else he might have added three Line ; of his own.
I am extremely glad he is not in your Case of needing great Mens Favour, and could heartily with that you were in his. I have been considering why Poets have such ill Success in making their Courts, since they are allowed to be the greatest and best of all flatterers: The Defect is, that they flatter only in Print or in Writing, but not by Word of Mouth: They will give Things under their Hand which they make a Conscience of Speaking; besides they are too libertine to haunt Anti-chambers, too poor to bribe Porters and Footmen, and too proud to cringe to second-hand Favourites in a great Family. Tell me, are you not under original Sin by the Dedication of your Eclogues to Lord Bolingbroke? I am an ill Judge at this Distance; and besides, am, for my Ease, utterly ignorant of the commonest Things that pass in the World; but if all Courts have a Sámeness in them (as the Parsons phrase it) Things may be as they were in my Time, when all Employments went to Parliament-mens Friends, who had been useful in Elections, and there was always a huge