« PreviousContinue »
yet knew any person one tenth part fo heartily difpo fed as you are to do good offices to others, without the least private view.
Was it a gafconade to please me, that you faid your fortune was increased 100 1. a-year fince I left you? You fhould have told me how. Thofe fubfidia fenectuti are extremely defirable, if they could be got with juftice, and without avarice; of which vice though I cannot charge myself yet, nor feel any approaches towards it, yet no ufurer more wishes to be richer, (or rather to be furer of his rents). But I am not half fo moderate as you; for I declare I cannot live easily under double to what you are fatisfied with.
I hope Mr Gay will keep his 3000 1. and live on the intereft, without decreafing the principal one penny; but I do not like your seldom seeing him. I hope he is grown more difengaged from his intentnefs on his own affairs, which I ever difliked, and is quite the reverse to you, unless you are a very dextrous difguifer. I defire my humble service to Lord Oxford, Lord Bathurst, and particularly to Mrs B-, but to no lady at court. God bless you for being a greater dupe than I. I love that character too myself, but I want your charity. Adieu.
08. 9. 1729
T pleases me that you received my books at lat:
but you have never once told me if you approve the whole, or difapprove not of fome parts of the com mentary, &c. It was my principal aim in the entire work, to perpetuate the friendship between us, and to fhew, that the friends or the enemies of one were the friends or enemies of the other. If, in any particular, any thing be stated or mentioned in a different manner from what you like, pray tell me freely, that the new editions now coming out here, may have it rectified. You'll find the octavo rather more correct than the quarto, with fome additions to the notes and epigrams caft in, which I wish had been increased by your ac quaintance in Ireland. I rejoice in hearing that Dra
piers-hill is to emulate Parnaffus. I fear the country about it is as much impoverished. I truly fhare in all that troubles you, and with you removed from a scene of diftrefs, which I know works your compassionate temper too strongly. But if we are not to fee you here, I believe I shall once in my life fee you there. You think more for me, and about me, than any friend I have, and you think better for me. Perhaps you'll not be contented, though I am, that the additional 100 1. a-year is only for my life. My mother is yet living, and I thank God for it: the will never be troublesome to
me, if the be not fo to herself. But a melancholy object it is, to obferve the gradual decays both of body and mind, in a perfon to whom one is tied by the links of both. I can't tell whether her death itself would be fo afflicting.
You are too careful of my worldly affairs. I am rich enough, and I can afford to give away 100 1. a-year. Don't be angry: I will not live to be very old; I have revelations to the contrary. I would not crawl upon the earth without doing a little good when I have a mind to do it. I will enjoy the pleasure of what I give, by giving it alive, and feeing another enjoy it. When I die, I fhould be afhamed to leave enough to build me a monument, if there were wanting a friend above ground.
Mr Gay affures me his 3000 l. is kept entire and facred. He feems to languifh after a line from you, and complains tenderly. Lord Bolingbroke has told me. ten times over he was going to write to you. Has he, or not? The Doctor is unalterable, both in friendship and quadrille. His wife has been very near death lait week: his two brothers buried their wives within these fix weeks. Gay is fixty miles off, and has been fo all this fummer, with the Duke and Duchefs of Queensberry. He is the fame man; fo is every one here that you know. Mankind is unamendable, Optimus ille qui minimis urgetur. Poor Mrs ** is like the reft; fhe cries at the thorn in her foot, but will fuffer no body to pull it out. The court-lady I have a good opinion of; yet I have treated her more negligently than you would do, be caufe you like to fee the infide of a court, which I do not, I have seen her but twice. You have a defpe
rate hand at dashing out a character by great ftrokes, and at the fame time a delicate one at fine touches. God forbid you should draw mine, if I were conscious of any guilt: but if I were confcious only of folly, God fend it! for as no body can detect a great fault fo well as you, no body would fo well hide a small one. But, after all, that lady means to do good, and does_no harm, which is a vaft deal for a courtier. I can affure you, that Lord Peterborow always fpeaks kindly of you, and certainly has as great a mind to be your friend as any one. muft throw away my pen; it cannot, it will never tell you, what I inwardly am to you. Quod nequeo monftrare, et fentio tantum.
Lord BOLINGBROKE to Dr SWIFT.
Bruffels, Sept. 27. 1729.
Have brought your French acquaintance* thus far on her way into her own country, and confiderably better in health than he was when he went to Aix. I begin to entertain hopes, that she will recover fuch a degree of health as may render old age fupportable. Both of us have clofed the tenth luftre, and it is high time to determine how we fhall play the last act of the farce. Might not my life be intitled much more properly a What-dye-call-it, than a farce? Some comedy, a great deal of tragedy, and the whole interspersed with scenes of Harlequin, Scaramouch, and Dr Baloardo, the prototype of your hero.I used to think fometimes formerly of old age and of death; enough to prepare my mind, not enough to anticipate forrow, to dafh the joys of youth, and to be all my life a-dying. I find the benefit of this practice now, and find it more as I proceed on my journey: little regret when I look back. wards, little apprehenfion when I look forward. You complain grievously of your fituation in Ireland: I would complain of mine too in England; but I will not;
nay, I ought not; for I find by long experience, that I can be unfortunate without being unhappy. I do not approve your joining together the figure of living and the pleasure af giving, though your old prating friend Montague does fomething like it in one of his rhapsodies. To tell you my reasons would be to write an effay, and I shall hardly have time to write a letter: but if you will come over, and live with Pope and me, I'll (hew you in an instant why those two things fhould not aller de pair; and that forced retrenchments on both may be made, without making us even unealy. You know that I am too expenfive, and all mankind knows that I have been cruelly plundered; and yet I feel in my mind the power of defcending without anxiety two or three stages more. In fhort, Mr Dean, if you will come to a certain farm in Middlefex, you fhall find that I can live frugally without growling at the world, or being peevish with those whom Fortune has appointed to eat my bread, instead of appointing me to eat theirs and yet I have naturally as little difpofition to frugality as any man alive. You fay you are no philofopher, and I think you are in the right to diflike a word which is fo often abused. But I am fure you like to follow reason, not custom, (which is fometimes the reafon, and oftner the caprice of others, of the mob of the world). Now, to be fure of doing this, you must wear your philofophical Spectacles as conftantly as the Spaniards ufed to wear theirs. You must make them part of your dress; and fooner part with your broad-brimmed beaver, your gown, your scarf, or even that emblematical vestment your furplice. Through this medium you will fee few things to be vexed at, few perfons to be angry at: and yet there will frequently be things which we ought to with altered, and perfons whom we ought to with hanged.
In your letter to Pope, you agree, that a regard for fame becomes a man more towards his exit than at his entrance into life; and yet you confefs, that the longer you live, the more you grow indifferent about it. Your fentiment is true and natural; your reasoning, I am afraid, is not fo upon this occafion. Prudence will make us defire fame, because it gives us many real and great advantages in all the affairs of life. Fame is the wife VOL. VIII. I
man's means; his ends are his own good, and the good of fociety. You poets and orators have inverted this order; you propose fame as the end; and good, or at leaft great actions, as the means. You go further; you teach our felf-love to anticipate the applaufe which we fuppofe will be paid by pofterity to our names; and with idle notions of immortality you turn other heads befides your own. I am afraid this may have done fome harm in the world.
Fame is an object which men pursue fuccessfully by various and even contrary courfes. Your doctrine leads them to look on this end as effential, and on the means as indifferent; fo that Fabricius and Craffus, Cato and Cæfar, preffed forward to the fame goal. After all, perhaps it may appear, from a confideration of the depravity of mankind, that you could do no better, nor keep up virtue in the world, without calling this passion, or this direction of felf love into your aid. Tacitus has crouded this excufe for you, according to his manner, into a maxim, Contemptu fame contemni virtutes. But now, whether we confider fame as an useful inftrument in all the occurrences of private and public life, or whether we confider it as the cause of that pleasure which our felf-love is fo fond of; methinks, our entrance into life, or (to fpeak more properly) our youth, not our old age, is the feafon when we ought to defire it moft, and therefore when it is most becoming to defire it with ardor. If it is useful, it is to be defired moft when we have, or may hope to have, a long fcene of action open before us Towards our exit, this fcene of action is, or fhould be closed; and then, methinks, it is unbecoming to grow fonder of a thing which we have no longer occafion for. If it is pleafant, the fooner we are in poffeffion of fame, the longer we fhall enjoy this pleasure. When it is acquired early in life, it may tickle us on till old age; but when it is acquired late, the fen fation of pleasure will be more faint, and mingled with the regret of our not having tasted it sooner.
From my farm, O&. 5.
I am here. I have feen Pope, and one of my firft inquiries was after you. He tells me a thing I am sorry