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lumnies, which a Man of any Genius or Merit is born to. I fhall never complain while I am happy in fuch noble Defenders, and in such contemptible Opponents. May their Envy and Ill-nature ever increase, to the Glory and Pleasure of those they wou'd injure; may they represent me what they will, as long as you think me what I am,
To the same.
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, whether you receiv'd a long one from me about a Fortnight since. It was principally intended to thank you for the last obliging Favour you did mes and perhaps for that Reason you pars it in filence. I there launched into some Account of my temporal Affairs, and intend now to give you fome Hints of my fpiritual. The Conclation of your
Letter 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 after 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 affure you I am daily more and more convinc'd of; and indeed I have for some Years past, look'd upon
all of 'em no better than AmuseTo make them the ultimate End of our Pursuit, is a miserable and short Ambition, which
will drop from us at ev'ry little Disappointments here, and even in case of no Disappointments here, will infallibly desert us hereafter. The utmost Fame they are capable of bestowing, is never worth the Pains they cost us, and the Time they lose us. If 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 successful your secret ones: For those hate not more to be excelled, than these to be rivalled. And at the upshot, after a Life 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 (though in one Respect like Fame, not to be had 'till after Death) yet shall 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 : Our Schemes of Government, our Systems of Philosophy, our golden Worlds of Poetry, are all but so many shadowy Images, and airy Prospects, which arise to us but so much the livelier and more frequent, as we are more o'ercast with the Darknefs, and disturbid with the Fumes of human Vanity.
The same thing that makes old Men willing to leave this World, mkes me willing to leave Poetry, Long-Habit, and Weariness of the fame Track.. Homer will work a Cure upon me; fifteen thoufand Verses are equivalent to fourscore Years, to make one old in Rhime: And I shou'd be furry and alhamed, to go on jingling to the lait Step, like a
Waggoner's Horse, in the same 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 Syllables and coupling Rhimes, when he should be mending his own Soul, and securing his own Immortality. If I had not this Opinion, I should be unworthy even of those small and limited Parts which God has given me ; and unworthy of the Friendship of such à Man as you. I am
To the sames
JULY 25, 1714. I Have no better Excuse to offer you, that I have
omited a Task naturally so pleasing to me as conversing upon Paper with you ; but that my Time and Eyes have been wholly employ’d upon Homer, whom I almost fear I Thall find but one way of imitating, which is in his Blindness. I am perpetually aflicted with Headachs, that very much affect my Sight; and indeed since my coming hither I have scarce pass’d an Hour agreeably, except that in which I read your Letter. I would seriously have you think,you have no Man who more truly knows to place a right Value on your Friendship, 'than he who least deserves it on all other Accounts than his due Sense of it. But let me tell you, you can hardly guess what a Task you undertake, when you profess yourself my Friend ; there are some Tories who will take you for a Whig ; some IV higs who will take you for a Tory; fome Protestants who will esteem you a rank Papist, and some Papists who will account you a Heretic.
essay their Parts, all People in general are prejudic'd.
I find, by dear Experience, we live in an Age, where 'tis criminal to be moderate ; and where no Man can be allow'd to be just to all Men. The Notions of Right and Wrong are fo far strain'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 fo well, that I am satisfy'd but few can with me fo; but if those few are such as tell me they, do, I am contents 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 fay; 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 easily support it, tho’ the most violent and mad of all Parties rose up to throw Dirt at 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 prepar'd to suffer all sorts of public Perfecution. It is certainly to be lamented, that if any Man does but endeavour to distinguish himself, or gratify others by his Studies, he is immediately treated as a common Enemy, instead of being look'd upon as a common Friend ; and assaulted as generally, as if his whole Design were to prejudice the State, and ruin the Public. I will venture to fay, no Man ever
. rose to any degree of Perfection in writing, but thro' Obstinacy and an inveterate Resolution against the Stream of Mankind; so that if the World has receiv'd any Benefit from the Labours of the Learned, it was in its own Despite. For when first they
ágainst new Beginners ; and when they have got a little above Contempt, then some particular Persons who were before unfortunate in their own Attempts, are sworn Foes to them, only because they succeed. ----Upon the whole, one may fay of the best Writers, that they pay a severe Fine for their Fame, which it is always in the Power of the most worthless Part of Mankind to levy upon them when they please.
I am, &c.
To Mr JER V A S.
JULY 28, 1714. I AM just enter'd upon the old Way of Life again,
Sleep and muling. It is my Employment to revive the Old of paft Ages to the present, as it is your's to transmit the Young of the present, to the future. I am copying the great Master in one Art, with the fame Love and Diligence with which the Painter hereafter will copy you in another.
Thus I should begin my Epistle to you, if it were a dedicatory one. But as it is a friendly Letter, you are to find nothing mention’d in your own Praise but what only one in the World is witness to, your particular good-natur’d Offices to me.
Whatever Mankind in general would allow you, that I am not to give you to your Face; and if I were to do it in your Absence, the World would tell me I am too partial to be permitted to pass any Judgment of you.
So" you see me cut out from any thing but common Acknowledgments, or common Discourse. The first you wou'd take ill, tho' I told you but half what I'ought; so, in short, the last only remains.