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MR. POPE TO DR. ŞWIFT.
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
# This is the first notice he gives Swift of his great work, and we presume that Swift certainly could but guess at the subject. D 2
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
DR. DR. SWIFT TO MR. POPE.
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
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
* The liberties of St. Patrick's cathedral. + Gulliver's Travels.
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 t, and to show it should be only rationis capax 1. 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
* A sentiment that dishonoured him, as a man, a christian, and a philosopher. + A rational animal. Capable of reason.
building 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, not 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 nan amiable or useful ; but alas, he hath a sort of slouch in his walk! I