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temptible opponents. May their envy and ill nature ever increase, to the glory and pleasure of those they wou'd injure ; may thcy represent me what they will, as long as you think me what I am,
To the fame.
July 13, 1714 OU mention the account I gave you
some time ago of the things which Philips said in his foolishness; but I can't tell from any thing in your Letter, whrea ther you receiv'd a long one from me aj? bout a fortnight since. It was principally intended to thank you for the last obliging favour you did nie; and perhaps for that reason you pass it in silence. I there launched into some account of my tem poral affairs, and intend now to give you fome hints of my spiritual. The conclus fion of your Lerrer draws this upon you, where you tell me, you pray'd for me: Your proceeding, Sir, is contrary to that of most other Friends, who never talk of praying for a Man afver they have done
him a service, but only when they will do him none.
Nothing can be more kind than the hint you give me of the vanity of human Sciences, which I assure you I am daily more and more convinc'd of; and indeed I have for some years past, look'd upon all of 'em go better than amusements. To make them the ultimate end of our pursuit, is a miserable and short ambition, which will drop from us at ev'ry little difappointments here, and even in case of no disappointmentr here, will infallibly desert us hereafrer. The utmost fame they are capable of bestowing, is never worth the pains they cost us, and the time they lose
you attain the top of your desires that way, all those who envy you will do you
harm; and of those who admire you, few will do you good. The unsuccessful writers are your declared enemies, and probably the fuccessful your secret ones: For those bate not more to be excelled, than these to be rivalled. And at the upshot, after a lite of perpetual application, to reflect that you have been doing nothing for yourself, and that the same or less Industry might have gain'd you a Friendship that can never deceive or end, a satisfaction which praise cannot bestow, nor vanity feel, and a glory which (tho' in one respect like fame, not to be had 'till after death,) yet
fhall be felt and enjoy'd to eternity. These, dear Sir, are unfeignedly my sentiments, whenever I think at all; for half the things that employ our heads deserve not the name of thoughts, they are only stronger dreams or impressions upon the imagination: Qur fchemes of government, our fystems of philofophy, our golden worlds of poetry, are all but lo many thadowy images, and airy profpeats, which arise to us but so much the livelier and more frequent, as we are more o'ercast with the darkness, and disturbd with the fumes of human vanity.
The same thing that makes old men willing to leave this world, makes me willing to leave poetry, long-habit, and wearinels of the same track. Homer will work a cure upon me; fifteen thousand verses are equivalent to fourscore years, to make one old in Rbime : And I shou'd be forry and ashamed, to go on jingling to the latt step, like a waggoner's horse, in the fame road, and so leave my Bells to the next filly animal that will be proud of 'em. That man makes a mean figure in the eyes of reason, who is measuring fyllables and coupling thimes, when he should be mending his own Soul, and securing his own immortality. If I had nor this opinion, I fhould be unwor. thy even of those small and limited parts
which God has given me; and unworthy of the friendship of such a man as you.
To the fame.
Fuly 25, 1714 Have no better. excuse to offer you, that
I have omitted a task naturally fo plealing to me as conversing upon paper with you; but that my time and eyes have been wholly entploy'd upon Homer, whom I almost fear I shall find but one way of imitae ting, which is, in his blindness. I am pers petually afflicted with headach's, that very much affect my light; and indeed fince my coming hither I have fcarce passed an hour agreeably, except that in which I read your letter, i would serioafly have you think, you have no man who niore truly knows to place a righe value on your friendship, than he who least deserves ic. on all other
rac, counts than his due fenfe of it. But let me tell you, you can hardly guess what a task you undertake, when you profess your self my friend); there are fonie Tories Who will take you tor a Whig, fome Whigs
wbo will take you for a Tory, fome Proa testants who will esteem you a rank Papist, and some Papists who will account you a Heretick.
I find by dear experience, we live in an age, where it is criminal to be moderate; and where no one man can be allowed to be just to all men. The notions of right and wrong are so far ftrain'd, that perhaps to be in the right so very violently, may be of worse consequence than to be easily and quietly in the wrong. I really wish all men to well, that I am satisfied but few can wish ine so; but if those few are such as tell me they do, I am content, for they are the best people I know: While you believe me what I profess as to Religion, I can bear any thing the Bigotted may lay; while Mr. Congreve likes my poetry, I can endure Dennis and a thousand more like him ; while the most honest and moral of each party think me no ill man, I can eafily support it, tho' the most violent and mad of all parties rofe up to throw dirt ar me.
I must expect an hundred attacks upon the publication of my Homer. Whoever in our times would be a professor of learning above his fellows, ought at the very first to enter the world with the constancy and resolution of a primitive Christian, and be prepared to suffer all sorts of publick Perse