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for me, in making and keeping you two my friends. Do not you be too angry at it, and let not him be too angry at it; it has done and can do neither of you any manner of harm, as long as it has not, and cannot burn your works while thofe fubfift, you will both appear the greatest men of the time, in fpite of princes and minifters; and the wifeft, in fpite of all the little errors you may please to commit.
Adieu. May better health attend you, than, I fear, you poffefs; may but as good health attend you always as mine is at prefent; tolerable, when an eafy mind is joined with it.
From Dr SWIFT.
Dec. 2. 1736.
Think you owe me a letter; but whether you do or not, I have not been in a condition to write. Years and infirmities have quite broke me; I mean that odious continual diforder in my head. I neither read, nor write, nor remember, nor converfe. All I have left is to walk and ride: the first I can do tolerably; but the latter, for want of good weather at this season,
feldom in my power; and having not an ounce of flesh about me, my fkin comes off in ten miles riding, because my skin and bone cannot agree together. But 1 am angry, becaufe you will not fuppofe me as fick as I am, and write to me out of perfect charity, although I firould not be able to answer. I have too many vexa tions, by my station and the impertinence of people, to be able to bear the mortification of not hearing from a very few diftant friends that are left; and, confidering how time and fortune have ordered matters, I have hardly one friend left but yourfelf. What Horace says, Singula de nobis anni prædantur, I feel every month at fartheft; and by this computation, if I hold out two years, I fhall think it a miracle. My comfort is, you begun to diftinguish fo confounded early, that your acquaintance with diftinguished men of all kinds was almost as an
cient as mine; I mean Wycherly, Rowe, Prior, Congreve, Addifon, Parnell, &c. and in fpite of your heart, you have owned me a cotemporary; not to mention Lords Oxford, Bolingbroke, Harcourt, Peterborow. In fhort, I was the other day recollecting twenty-feven great minifters, or men of wit and learning, who are all dead, and all of my acquaintance, within twenty years paft; neither have I the grace to be forry, that the prefent times are drawn to the dregs as well as my own life.-May my friends be happy in this and a better life; but I value not what becomes of pofterity, when I confider from what monsters they are to fpring.- -My Lord Orrery writes to you to-mor row, and you fee I fend this under his cover, or at least franked by him. He has 3000 I. a-year about Cork, and the neighbourhood, and has more than three years rent unpaid: this is our condition in these bleffed times. I writ to your neighbour about a month ago, and fubfcribed my name; I fear he hath not received my letter, and wish you would ask him: but perhaps he is ftill a-rambling; for we hear of him at Newmarket, and that Boerhaave hath reftored his health.How my fervices are leffened of late with the number of my friends on your fide! yet my Lord Bathurst, and Lord Mafham, and Mr Lewis remain; and being your acquaintance, I defire, when you fee them, to deliver my compliments; but chiefly to Mrs P. B. and let me know whether the be as young and agreeable as when I faw her laft. Have you got a fupply of new friends to make up for thofe who are gone? and are they equal to the firft? I am afraid it is with friends as with times; and that the laudator temporis a&i se puero, is equally applicable to both. I am lefs grieved for living here, beeaufe it is a perfect retirement, and confequently fitteft for those who are grown good for nothing: for this town and kingdom are as much put of the world as North Wales.- My head is fo ill that I cannot write a paper full as I used to do; and yet I will not forgive a blank of half an inch from you. I had reafon to expect from fome of your letters, that we were to hope for more epiftles of morality; and, I affure you, my ac quaintance refent that they have not feen my name at
the head of one. The fubjects of fuch epiftles are more ufeful to the public, by your manner of handling them, than any of all your writings; and although in fo profligate a world as ours, they may poffibly not much mend our manners, yet pofterity will enjoy the benefit, whenever a court happens to have the least relish for virtue and religion.
To Dr SWIFT.
Dec. 30. 1736.
kind letter has made me more melancho ly, than almost any thing in this world now cando. For I can bear every thing in it, bad as it is, better than the complaints of my friends. Though others tell me you are in pretty good health, and in good spi rits, I find the contrary when you open your mind to And indeed it is but a prudent part, to feem not fo concerned about others, nor fo crazy ourfelves as we really are for we fhall neither be beloved nor esteemed the more, by our common acquaintance, for any afflic tion or any infirmity. But to our true friend we may, we must complain, of what (it is a thousand to one) he complains with us: for if we have known him long, he is old; and if he has known the world long, he is out of humour at it. If you have but as much more health than others at your age, as you have more wit and good temper, you shall not have much of my pity: but if you ever live to have lefs, you shall not have lefs of my affection. A whole people will rejoice at every year that fhall be added to you, of which you have had a late inftance in the public rejoicings on your birthday. I can affure you, fomething better and greater than high birth and quality must go toward acquiring those demonstra tions of public efteem and love. I have feen a royal birthday uncelebrated, but by one vile ode, and one hired bonfire. Whatever years may take away from you, they will not take away the general esteem for your fenfe, virtue, and charity.
The moft melancholy effect of years is that
tion, the catalogue of thofe we loved and have loft, perpetually increafing. How much that reflection ftruck me, you will fee from the motto I have prefixed to my book of letters, which fo much against my inclination has been drawn from me. It is from Catullus :
Quo defiderio veteres revocamus amores,
I detain this letter till I can find fome fafe conveyance; in nocent as it is, and as all letters of mine must be, of any thing to offend my fuperiors, except the reverence I bear to true merit and virtue. "But I have much reafon to "fear, those which you have too partially kept in your "hands, will get out in fome very difagreeable shape, "in cafe of our mortality: and the more reason to "fear it, fince this last month Curl has obtained from "Ireland two letters, (one of Lord Bolingbroke and one of mine to you, which we wrote in the year 1723), and he has printed them, to the best of my memory, rightly, except one paffage concerning Dawley, which must have been fince inferted, fince 66 my Lord had not that place at that time. Your an"fwer to that letter he has not got; it has never been "out of my cuftody; for whatever is lent is loft, (wit "as well as money), to these needy poetical readers." The world will certainly be the better for his change of life. He feems, in the whole turn of his letters, to be a fettled and principled philofopher, thanking Fortune for the tranquillity he has been led into by her averfion, like a man driven by a violent wind, from the fea into a calm harbour. You ask me, if I have got any fupply of new friends to make up for those that are gone? I think that impoffible; for not our friends only, but fo much of ourselves is gone, by the mere Alux and courfe of years, that, were the fame friends to be restored to us, we could not be restored to ourselves, to enjoy them. But as when the continual washing of a river takes away our flowers and plants, it throws weeds and fedges in their room *; fo the course of time bring.
• There are some ftrokes in this letter, which can be accounted for no otherwise, than by the author's extreme compaffion and ten
us fomething, as it deprives us of a great deal; and inftead of leaving us what we cultivated, and expected to flourish, and adorn us, gives us only what is of fome little ufe, by accident. Thus I have acquired, without my seeking, a few chance-acquaintance, of young men, who look rather to the past age than the prefent, and therefore the future may have fome hopes of them. If I love them, it is because they honour fome of thofe whom I, and the world, have loft, or are lofing. Two or three of them have distinguished themselves in parliament; and you will own, in a very uncommon manner, when I tell you, it is by their afferting of independency, and contempt of corruption. One or two are linked to me, by their love of the fame ftudies, and the fame authors. But I will own to you, my moral capacity has got fo much the better of my poetical, that I have few acquaintance on the latter fcore, and none without a cafting weight on the former. But I find my heart hardened, and blunt to new impreffions; it will fcarce receive or retain affections of yesterday; and those friends who have been dead these twenty years, are more prefent to me now than those I fee daily. You, dear Sir, are one of the former fort to me in all refpects, but that we can yet correfpond together. I don't know whether it is not more vexatious to know we are both in one world, without any farther intercourse. Adieu. I can fay no more, I feel fo much. Let me drop into common things.- -Lord Masham has just married his
fon. Mr Lewis has just buried his wife. wept over your letter in pure kindness. more for you than for the loss of youth. She fays fhe will be agreeable many years hence, for fhe has learned that fecret from fome receipts of your writing.-Adieu..
March 23. 1736-7
Hough you were never to write to me, yet what
nefs of heart, too much affected by the complaints of a peevith old man, (labouring and impatient under his infirmities), and too intent in the friendly office of mollifying them, Warb.