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am telling the worst that can come of you ; for as to vice, you are safe; but folly is many an honest man's, nay every good-humour'd man's lot : nay, it is the seasoning of life, and fools (in one fense) are the salt of the earth: a little is excellent, tho' indeed a whole mouthful is justly call’d the Devil.
So much for your diversions next winter, and for mine. I envy you much more at present, than I fhall then; for if there be on earth an image of paradise, it is such perfect Union and Society as you all poffefs. I would have my innocent envies and wishes of your state known to you all; which is far better than making you compliments, for it is inward approbation and esteem. My Lord Digby has in me a fincere servant, or would have, were there any occasion for me to manifest it.
LETTER XVII. .
Decemb. 28, 1724. T is now the season to wish you a good end of
one year, and a happy beginning of another : but both these you know how to make yourself, by only continuing such a life as you have been long accustomed to lead. As for good works, they are things I dare not name, either to those that do them, or to those that do them not; the first are too modeft, and the latter too selfish, to bear the mention of what are become either too old fashion'd, or too private, to constitute any part of the vanity or reputation of the present age. However, it were to be wilh'd people would now and then look upon good works as they do upon old wardrobes, merely in case any of them should by chance come into fashion again ; as ancient fardingales revive in modern hoop'd petticoats, (which may be properly
compared to charities, as they cover a multitude of fins.)
They tell me that at Coleshill certain antiquated charities, and obsolete devotions are yet subfifting : that a thing call'd Christian chearfulness (not incompatible with Christmas-pyes and plumb-broth) whereof frequent is the mention in old sermons and almanacks, is really kept alive and in practice: that feeding the hungry, and giving alms to the poor, do yet
make a part of good house-keeping, in a la titude not more remote from London than fourscore miles: and lastly, that prayers and roast-beef actually make some people as happy, as a whore and a bottle. But here in town, I assure you, men, women, and children have done with these things. Charity not only begins, but ends, at home. Instead of the four cardinal virtues, now reign four courtly ones : we have cunning for prudence, rapine for justice, time-serving for fortitude, and luxury for temperance. Whatever you may fancy where you live in a state of ignorance, and see nothing but quiet, religion, and good-humour, the case is just as I tell you where people understand the world, and know how to live with credit and glory.
I wish that Heaven would open the eyes of men, and make them sensible which of these is right; whether, upon a due conviction, we are to quit faction, and gaming, and high-feeding, and all manner of luxury, and take to your country way? or you to leave prayers, and almsgiving, and reading, and exercise, and come into our measures ? I with (I say) that this matter were as clear to all men, as it is to
Your affectionate, &c.
L E T T E R XVIII.
April 21, 1726. Have a great inclination to write to you, tho'I
cannot by writing, any more than I could by words, express what part 'I bear in your sufferings. Nature and Efteem in you are join'd to aggravate your affliction: the latter I have in a degree equal even to yours, and a tye of friendship approaches near to the tenderness of nature : yet, God knows, no man living is less fit to comfort you, as no man is more deeply sensible than myself of the greatness of the loss. That very virtue, which secures his present ftate from all the forrows incident to ours, does but aggrandize our sensation of its being remov'd from our fight, from our affection, and from our imitation ; for the friendship and society of good Men does not only make us happier, but it makes us better. Their death does but complete their felicity before our own, who probably are not yet arrived to that degree of perfection which merits an immediate reward. That your dear brother and my dear friend was so, I take his very removal to be a proof; Providence would certainly lend virtuous men to a world that so much wants them, as long as in its justice to them it could spare them to us. May my soul be with those 'who have meant well, and have acted well to that meaning ! and, I doubt not, if this prayer be granted, I fhall be with him. Let us preserve his memory in the way he would best like, by recollecting what his behaviour would have been, in every incident of our lives to come, and doing in each just as we think he would
Mr. Digby died in the year 1726, and is buried in the church of Sherburne in Dorsetshire, with an Epitaph written by the Author.
have done ; so we shall have him always before our eyes, and in our minds, and (what is more) in our lives and manners. I hope when we shall meet him next, we shall be more of a piece with him, and consequently not to be evermore separated from him, I will add but one word that relates to what remains of yourself and me, since so valued a part of us is gone; it is to beg you to accept, as yours by inheritance, of the vacancy he has left in a heart, which (while he could fill it with such hopes, wishes, and affections for him as suited a mortal creature) was truly and warmly his; and shall (I affure you in the sincerity of sorrow for my own lofs) be faithfully at your service while I continue to love his memory, that is, while I continue to be myself.
L E T T E R S
TO AND FROM
Dr. A T T E R BURY,
Bishop of RochesTER.
From the Year 1716 to 1723.
LET TER 1.
The Bishop of Rochester to Mr. Pope.
Decemb. 1716. Return your * Preface, which I have read twice with pleasure. The modesty and good sense
there is in it, must please every one that reads it; And since there is nothing that can offend, I fee not why you should balance a moment about printing it-always provided, that there is nothing said there which you may have occasion to unsay hereafter : of which you yourself are the best and the only judge. This is my fincere opinion, which I give, because you ask it and which I would not give, tho' alk’d, but to a man I value as much as I do
you; being sensible how improper it is, on many
* The General Preface to Mr. Pope's Poems, first printed 1717, the year after the date of this letter. P.