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Binfield, Dec. 8. 1713. NOT to trouble you at present with a recital of
all my obligations to you, I lhall.only mention two things, which I take particularly kind of you ; your desire that I should write to you; and your proposals of giving me twenty guineas to change my religion : which last you must give me leave to make the subject of this letter.
Sure, no clergyman ever offered so much out of his own purse for the sake of any religion. 'Tis almost as many pieces of gold, as an apostle could get of silver from the priests of old, on a much more valuable consideration. I believe it will be better worth my while to propose a change of my faith by subscription, ihan a translation of Homer. And to convince you how well disposed I am to the reformation, I thall be content, if you can prevail
* This letter was wrote by Mr. Pope in answer to one f:om Dr. Swift, wherein he had jncofely made an offer to his friend of a sum of money, ex caufa religionis, or, in plain English, to induce Mr. Pope to change bis religion, Orrery, li was never inseried in any former edition of Swift's wori.s..
with my Lord Treasurer and the ministry to rise to the same sum, each of them, on this pious account, as my Lord Halifax has done in the profane one. I am afraid there is no being at once a poet and a good Christian; and I am very much straitened between two, while the Whigs seem willing to contribute as much, to continue me the one, as you would, to make me the other. But if you can move every man in the government, who has above ten thousand pounds a-year, to subscribe as much as yourself, I shall become a convert, as most men do, when the Lord turns it to my interest. I know they have the truth of religion so much at heart, that they'd certainly give more to have one good subject translated from Popery to the church of England, than twenty Heathenish authors out of any unknown tongue into ours. I therefore commission you, Mr. Dean, with full authority, to tranfact this affair in my name, and to propose as follows. First, That as to the head of our church, the Pope, I may engage to renounce his power, whensoever I shall receive any particular indulgences from the head of your church, the Queen.
As to communion in one kind, I shall alfo pro. mife to change it for communion in both, as foon as the ministry will allow me.
For invocations to saints, inine fhall be turned to dedications to finners, when I shall find the great ones of the world as willing to do me any good, as I believe those of the other are. . You see I shall not be obstinate in the main points. But there is one article I must reserve, and which you seemed not unwilling to allow me, prayer for the dead. There are people to whole souls I with as well as to my own; and I must crave leave humbly to lay before them, that though the fubfcriprions above mentioned will suffice for myself, there are necessary perquisites and additions, which
I must demand on the score of this charitable article. It is also to be considered, that the greater part of those whole souls I am most concerned for, were unfortunately heretics, schismatics, poets, painters, or persons of such lives and manners, as few or no churchers are willing to save. The expence will therefore be the greater to make an ef. fectual provision for the said souls.
Old Dryden, though a Roman Catholic, was a poet; and it is revealed in the visions of some ancient saints, that no poet was ever saved under some hundred of masses. I cannot set his delivery from purgatory at less than fifty pounds Sterling. · Walsh was not only a Socinian, but (what you'll own is harder to be saved) a. Whig. He cannot modestly be rated at less than an hundred.
L'Estrange, being a Tory, we compute him bu at twenty pounds; which I hope no friend of the party can deny to give, to keep him from damning in the next life, considering they never gave him sixpence to keep him from starving in this.
All this together amounts to one hundred and feventy pounds.
In the next place, I must desire you to represent, that there are several of my friends yet living, whom I design, God willing, to outlive, in confi. deration of legacies; out of which it is a doctrine in the reformed church, that not a farthing shall be allowed to save their souls who gave them.
There is one **** who will die within these few months, with ****** one Mr. Jervas, who hath grievously offended in making the likeness of almost all things in heaven above and earth below; and one Mr. Gay, an unhappy youth, who writes pastorals during the time of divine service; whose case is the more deplorable, as he hath miserably lavished away all that silver he should have reserved for his soul's health, in buttons and loops for his coat,
I cannot I cannot pretend to have these people honestly faved under some hundred pounds, whether you consider the difficulty of such a work, or the extreme love and tenderness I bear them, which will infallibly make me push this charity as far as I am able. , 1 here is but one more whose falvation I infist upon, and then I have done; but indeed it may prove of so much greater charge than all the rest, that I will only lay the case before you and the ministry, and leave to their prudence and generosity, what fum they shall think fit to bestow upon it.
The person I mean, is Dr. Swift, a dignified clergyman, but one, who, by his own confeflion, has compofed more libels than sermons. If it be true, what I have heard often affirmed by innocent people, That too much wit is dangerous to falvation, this unfortunate gentleman must certainly be damned to all eternity. But I hope his long experience in the world, and frequent conversation with great men, will cause him (as it has some others) to have less and less wit every day. Be it as it will, I should not think my own soul deserved to be laved, if I did not endeavour to save his : for I have all the obligations in nature to him. He has brought me into better company than I cared for, made me merrier when I was fick than I had a mind to be, and put me upon making poems, on purpose that he might alter them, &c.
I once thought I could never have discharged my debt to his kindness; but have lately been informed, to my unspeakable comfort, that I have more than paid it all. For Mons. de Montagne has assured me, “ that the person who receives a bene“ nefit, obliges the giver :" for since the chief endeavour of one friend is to do good to the other, he who administers both the matter and occafion, is the man who is liberal. At this rate it is impoffible Dr. Swift should be ever out of my debt,
as matters stand already; and for the future, he may expect daily more obligations from
His most faithful, affectionate,
I have finished The Rape of the Lock; but I · believe I may stay here till Christinas, without hins
drance of business.
: June 18. 1714. W Hatever 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 fplenetic as a cat in the country. In that circumstance, I know by experience, a letter is a very uses ful, as well as amusing thing. If you are too bufied in state-affairs to read it, yet you may find entertainment in folding it into divers figures ; either doubling it into a pyramidical, or twifting it into a serpentine forın : 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 fit longer than ordinary; where, after an abrupt division of the paper, it may not be unpleasant to try to refit 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 pretent contemplative situation. VOL. IX.