self disposed every year, or rather every month, to be more angry and revengeful; and my rage is so ignoble, that it descends even to resent the folly and baseness of the enslaved people among whom I live. I knew an old Lord in Leicestershire, who amused himself with mending pitchforks and spades for his Tenants gratis. Yet I have higher ideas left, if I were nearer to objects on which I might employ them; and contemning my private fortune, would gladly cross the channel and stand by, while my betters were driving the Boars out of the garden, if there be any probable expectation of such an endeavour. When I was of your age I often thought of death, but now after a dozen years more, it is never out of my mind, and terrifies me less, I conclude that Providence hath order'd our fears to decrease with our fpirits; and yet I love la bagatelle better than ever: for finding it troublesome to read at night, and the company here growing tasteless, I am always writing bad prose, or worse verses, either of rage or raillery, whereof some few escape to give offence, or mirth, and the rest are burnt. .

They print some Irish trash in London, and charge it on me, which you will clear me of to my friends, for all are spurious except one * paper, for which Mr. Pope very lately chid me. I remember your Lordship us’d to say, that a few good speakers would in time carry any point that was right; and that the common method of a majority, by calling, To the question, would never hold long when reason was on the other side. Whether politics do not change like gaming by the invention of new tricks, I am ignorant ? but I believe in your time you would never, as a Minister, have suffer'd an Act to pass thro' the H. of C- s, only because you were sure

* Entituled, A Libel on Dr. Delany, ard a certain great Lord.

of a majority in the H. of L-s to throw. it out; because it would be unpopular, and consequently a loss of reputation. Yet this we are told hath been the case in the qualification-bill relating to Pensioners. It should seem to me, that Corruption, like avarice, hath no bounds. I had opportunities to know the proceedings of your ministry better than any other man of my rank; and having not much to do, I have often compar'd it with these last fixteen years of a profound peace all over Europe, and we running seven millions in debt. I am forc'd to play at small game, to set the beasts here a madding, meerly for want of better game, Tentanda via eft qua me quoque polim, &c.—The D-take those politics, where a Dunce might govern for a dozen years together. I will come in person to England, if I am provok'd, and send for the Dictator from the plough. I disdain to say, O mihi præteritos but cruda deo viridisque senectus. Pray, my Lord, how are the Gardens ? have you taken down the mount, and remov'd the yew hedges ? Have you not bad weather for the spring-corn? Has Mr. Pope gone farther in his Ethic Poems ? and is the headland sown with wheat ? and what says Polybius? and how does my Lord St. John? which last quertion is very material to me, because I love Burgundy, and riding between Twickenham and Dawley. -I built a wall five years ago, and when the mafons play'd the knaves, nothing delighted me so much as to stand by, while my servants threw down what was amiss: 'I have likewise feen a Monkey overthrow all the dishes and plates in a kitchen, merely for the pleasure of seeing them tumble and hearing the clatter they made in their fall. I wish you would invite me to such another entertainment; but you think, as I ought to think, that it is time for me to have done with the world, and so I would if I could get into a better before I was called into


Lord Sto, because im and Dine ma

[ocr errors]

the best, and not die here in a rage, like a poison'd rat in a hole. I wonder you are not ashamed to let me pine away in this kingdom while you are out of power.

I come from looking over the Melange abovewritten, and declare it to be a true copy of my present disposition, which must needs please you, fince nothing was ever more displeasing to my felf. I desire you to present my most humble respects to my Lady.


Dublin, April 5, 1729. I Do not think it could be poffible for me to hear I better news than that of your getting over your scurvy suit, which always hung as a dead weight on my heart; I hated it in all its circumstances, as it affected your fortune and quiet, and in a situation of life that must make it every way vexatious. And as I am infinitely obliged to you for the justice you do me in supposing your affairs do at least concern me as much as my own; so I would never have pardoned your omitting it. But before I go on, I cannot forbear mentioning what I read last summer in a news-paper, that you were writing the history of your own times. I suppose such a report might arise from what was not secret among your friends, of your intention to write another kind of history, which you often promis’d Mr. Pope and me to do: I know he desires it very much, and I am sure I defire nothing more, for the honour and love I bear you, and the perfect knowledge I have of your public virtue. My Lord, I have no other notion of


[ocr errors]

Oeconomy than that it is the parent of Liberty and
Ease, and I am not the only friend you have who
hath chid you in his heart for the neglect of it, tho'
not with his mouth, as I have done. For there is a
filly error in the world, even among friends other-
wife very good, not to intermeddle with mens af-
fairs in such nice matters. And, my Lord, I have
made a maxim, that fhould be writ in letters of
diamonds, That a wise man ought to have Money
in bis head, but not in his heart. Pray, my Lord,
enquire whether your Prototype, my Lord Digby,
after the Restoration when he was at Bristol, did
not take some care of his fortune, notwithstanding
that quotation I once sent you out of his speech to
the H. of Commons ? In my conscience, I believe
Fortune, like other drabbs, values a man gradually
lefs for every year he lives. I have demonstration
for it; becaufe if I play at piquet for fix-pence with
a man or a woman two years younger than myself,
I always losè ; and there is a young girl of twenty,
who never fails of winning my money at Back-
gammon, tho' she is a bungler, and the game be
Ecclefiaftic. As to the public, I confess nothing
could cure my itch of meddling with it but there
frequent returns of deafness, which have hindered
me from paffing last winter in London ; yet I can-
not but consider the perfidiousness of some people,
who I thought when I was last there, upon a change
that happened, were the most impudent in forget-
ting their professions that I have ever known. Pray,
will you please to take your pen, and blot me out
that political maxim from whatever book it is in,
that Res nolunt diu male administrari; the common-
ness makes me not know who is the author, but
fure he must be some Modern.

I am sorry for Lady Bolingbroke's ill health ; but I protest I never knew a very deserving person of that sex, who had not too much reason to complain

of ill health. I never wake without finding life a more insignificant thing than it was the day before : which is one great advantage I get by living in this country, where there is nothing I shall be sorry to lose. But my greatest misery is recollecting the scene of twenty years past, and then all on a sudden dropping into the present. I remember, when I was a little boy, I felt a great fish at the end of my line, which I drew up almost on the ground, but it dropt in, and the disappointment vexes me to this very day, and, I believe, it was the type of all my future disappointments. I should be asham’d to say this to you, if you had not a spirit fitter to bear your own misfortunes, than I have to think of them. Is there patience left to reflect, by what qualities wealth and greatness are got, and by what qualities they are lost? I have read my friend Congreve's verses to Lord Cobham, which end with a vile and false moral, and I remember is not in Horace to Tibullus, which he imitates, " that all times are equally “ virtuous and vicious," wherein he differs from all Poets, Philosophers, and Christians that ever writ. It is more probable that there may be an equal quantity of virtues always in the world, but sometimes there may be a peck of it in Asia, and hardly a thimble-full in Europe. But if there be no virtue, there is abundance of fincerity ; for I will venture all I am worth, that there is not one human creature in power, who will not be modest enough to confess that he proceeds wholly upon a principle of Corruption. I say this, because I have a scheme in spite of your notions, to govern England upon the principles of Virtue, and when the nation is ripe for it, I defire you will send for me. I have learn'd this by living like a Hermit, by which I am got backwards about nineteen hundred years in the Ära of the world, and begin to wonder at the wickedness of men. I dine alone upon half a dish

« VorigeDoorgaan »