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DR. SWIFT AND MR. POPE.
MR. POPE TO DR. SWIFT.
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, , 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. Vol. XIV.
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
* 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.
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 Aattery) 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,
* 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 “ Tra" vels of Gulliver," the “ Treatise of the Profound,” the literal “ Criticisms on Virgil,” &c.
DR. SWIFT TO MR. POPE.
DUBLIX, JAX. 28, 1715. My
Y 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 desideriun 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 wliolly unconcerned in publick events : For, if your friends the whigs continue, you may hope for some favour ; if the tories return t, 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
* 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, “ thảo “ 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 in.
portunity of the allies, and particularly of Heinsius, and sonio “ of the whigs. Lord Townshend came triumphing to
quaint 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 triumvi. « rate".
their enemies are endeavouring to take off their heads; I nunc, Esi 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 rhymest 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 g.
• The day of queeu Anne's demise, 1714. *** + He was frequently carping at Pope for many rhymes in many Other parts of his works. His own werè remarkably exact.
I 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