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me to have done with the world; and so I would, if I could get into a better before I was called into the best, and not die here in a rage, like a poisoned 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 above written, and declare it to be a true copy of my prefent difpofition; which muft needs please you, fince nothing was ever more difpleafing to myfelf. I defire you to present my most humble refpects to my Lady.
Dr SWIFT to Lord BOLINGBROKE.
Dublin, April 5. 1729.
Do not think it could be poffible for me to hear better news than that of your getting over your fcurvy fuit, which always hung as a dead weight on my heart. I hated it in all its circumftances, as it affected your fortune and quiet, and in a fituation of life that must make it every way vexatious. And as I am infinitely obliged to you for the juftice you do me, in fuppofing your affairs do at least concern me as much as my own; fo I would never have pardoned your omitting it. But before I go on, I cannot forbear mentioning what I read laft fummer in a news-paper, that you were writing the hiftory of your own times. I fuppofe fuch a report might arife from what was not fecret among your friends, of your intention to write another kind of hiftory; which you often promifed Mr Pope and me to do. I know he defires it very much; and I am fure 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 OEconomy, than that it is the parent of Liberty and Eafe; and I am not the only friend you have who hath chid you in his heart for the neglect of it, though not with his mouth, as I have done. For there is a filly error in the world, even among friends otherwife very good, not to intermeddle with mens affairs in fuch nice matters. And, my Lord,
I have made a maxim, that should be writ in letters of diamonds, That a wife man ought to have money in his head, but not in his heart. Pray, my Lord, inquire, whether your prototype, my Lord Digby, after the reftoration, when he was at Bristol, did not take fome care of his fortune, notwithstanding that quotation I once fent you out of his fpeech to the H. of Commons ? In my confcience, I believe Fortune, like other drabs, values a man gradually lets for every year he lives. I have demonftration for it: because if I play at piquet for fixpence with a man or a woman two years younger than myself, I always lofe; and there is a young girl of twenty, who never fails of winning my nioney at backgammon, though fhe is a bungler, and the game be ecclefiaftic. As to the public, I confefs nothing could cure my itch of meddling with it, but thefe frequent returns of deafnefs, which have hindered me from paffing laft winter in London: yet I cannot but confider the perfidiousness of fome people, who I thought, when I was last there, upon a change that happened, were the most impudent in forgetting their profeffions 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 adminiftrari; the commonness makes ine not know who is the author, but fure he must be some modern.
I am forry for Lady Bolingbroke's ill health; but I protest I never knew a very deferving perfon of that sex, who had not too much reason to complain of ill health. I never wake without finding life a more infignificant thing than it was the day before; which is one great advantage I get by living in this country, where there is nothing I fhall be forry to lofe. But my greatest mi fery is recollecting the fcene of twenty years paft, and then all on a fudden dropping into the prefent. member, when I was a little boy, I felt a great fish at the end of my line, which I drew up almoft on the ground, but it dropt in; and the difappointment vexes me to this very day; and I believe it was the type of all my future difappointments. I fhould be afhamed to fay 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 loft? I have read my friend Congreve's verfes to Lord Cobham, which end with a vile and falfe moral, and I remember is not in Horace to Tibullus, which he imitates, "That all times are equally virtuous "and vitious;" wherein he differs from all poets, philofophers, and Chriftians, that ever writ. It is more probable, that there may be an equal quantity of vir tues always in the world; but fometimes 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 confefs that he proceeds wholly upon a principle of corruption. I fay this, because I have a scheme, in fpite 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 learned this by living like a hermit, by which I am got backwards about nineteen hundred years in the era of the world, and begin to wonder at the wickedness of men. I dine alone upon half a dish of meat, mix water with my wine, walk ten miles a-day, and read Baronius. explicit epiftola ad Dom. Bolingbroke, et incipit ad amicum Pope.
Having finished my letter to Ariftippus, I now begin to you. I was in great pain about Mrs Pope, having heard from others that he was in a very dangerous way, which made me think it unfeafonable to trouble you. I am ashamed to tell you, that when I was very young, I had more defire to be famous than ever fince; and fame, like all things elfe in this life, grows with me every day more a trifle. But you who are fo much younger, although you want that health you deferve, yet your fpirits are as vigorous as if your body were founder. I hate a croud, where I have not an eafy place to fee and be feen. A great library always makes me melancholy, where the best author is as much fqueezed, and as obfcure, as a porter at a coronation. In my own little library, I value the compilements of Græ
vius and Gronovius, which make thirty-one volumes in folio, (and were given me by my Lord Bolingbroke), more than all my books befides; because whoever comes into my clofet, cafts his eyes immediately upon them, and will not vouchfafe to look upon Plato or Xenophon. I tell you, it is almoft incredible how opinions change, by the decline or decay of fpirits; and I will further tell you, that all my endeavours from a boy to` diftinguish myself, were only for want of a great title and fortune, that I might be used like a lord by those who have an opinion of my parts; whether right or wrong, it is no great matter; and fo the reputation of wit or great learning does the office of a blue riband, or of a coach and fix horfes. To be remembered for ever on the account of our friendship, is what would exceedingly please me; but yet I never loved to make a vifit, or be feen walking with my betters, because they get all the eyes and civilities from me. I no fooner writ this than I corrected myself, and remembered Sir Fulk Grevil's epitaph, "Here lies, &c. who was friend ་་ to Sir Philip Sidney." And therefore I most heartily thank you, for your defire that I would record our friendship in verfe; which if I can fucceed in, I will never defire to write one more line in poetry while I live. You must present my humble fervice to Mrs Pope, and let her know I pray for her continuance in the world, for her own reafon, that fhe may live to take care of you.
From Dr SWIFT.
Aug. 11. 1729.
AM very fenfible, that in a former letter I talked very weakly of my own affairs, and of my imperfect wishes and defires; which however I find with fome comfort do now daily decline, very fuitable to my state of health for fome months paft. For my head is never perfectly free from giddinefs, and especially towards night. Yet my diforder is very moderate, and I have been without a fit of deafness this half-year; fo I am
like a horse, which, though off his mettle, can trot on tolerably; and this comparison puts me in mind to add, that I am returned to be a rider, wherein I wish you would imitate me. As to this country, there have been three terrible years dearth of corn, and every place ftrowed with beggars; but dearths are common in better climates, and our evils here lie much deeper. Imagine a nation, the two thirds of whofe revenues are spent out of it, and who are not permitted to trade with the other third, and where the pride of women will not suffer them to wear their own manufactures, even where they excel what come from abroad. This is the true state of Ireland in a very few words. Thefe evils operate more every day, and the kingdom is abfolutely undone, as I have been telling often in print these ten years paft.
What I have faid requires forgiveness; but I had a mind for once to let you know the state of our affairs, and my reafon for being more moved than perhaps becomes a clergyman, and a piece of a philofopher and perhaps the increase of years and diforders may hope for fome allowance to complaints, especially when I may call myself a stranger in a ftrange land. As to poor Mrs Pope, (if the be ftill alive), I heartily pity you and pity her. Her great piety and virtue will infallibly make her happy in a better life, and her great age hath made her fully ripe for heaven and the grave, and her best friends will most wish her eafed of her labours, when she hath fo many good works to follow them. The lofs you will feel by the want of her care and kindness, I know very well; but he has amply done her part, as you have yours. One reafon why I would have you in Ireland when you fhall be at your own difpofal, is, that you may be mafter of two or three years revenues, provifa frugis in annos copia, so as not to be pinched in the leaft when years increase, and perhaps your health impairs and when this kingdom is utterly at an end, you may fupport me for the few years I shall happen to live; and who knows but you may pay me exorbitant intereft, for the fpoonful of wine, and scraps of a chicken it will coft me to feed you? I am confident you have too much reafon to complain of ingratitude; for I never