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truth, I have less Inclination (if poffible) than Ability. Contemplative life is not only my scene, but it is my habit too. I begun my life where most people end theirs, with a dif-relish of all that the world calls Ambition: I don't know why 'tis call'd fo, for to me it always seem'd to be rather stooping than climbing. I'll tell you my politic and religious sentiments in a few words. In my politics, I think no further than how to preserve the peace of my life, in any government under which I live; nor in my religion, than to preserve the peace of my conscience in any church with which I communicate. I hope all churches and all governments are so far of God, as they are rightly understood, and rightly administred : and where they are, or may be
wrong, I leave it to God alone to mend or reform them; which whenever he does, it must be by greater instruments than I am. I am not a Papist, for I renounce the temporal invasions of the Papal power, and detest their arrogated authority over Princes and States. I am a Catholick in the strictest sense of the word. If I was born under an absolute Prince, I would be a quiet subject; but I thank God I was not. I have a due sense of the excellence of the British constitution. In a word, the things I have always wished to see are not a Roman Catholic, or a French Catholic, or a Spanish Catholic, but a true Catholic: and not a King of Whigs, or a King of Tories, but a King of England. Which God of his mercy grant his present Majesty may be, and all future Majesties : You see, my Lord, I end like a preacher: this is Sermo ad Clerum, not ad Populum. Believe me, with infinite obligation and sincere thanks, ever
L E T.
L E T T E R V..
Sept. 23, 1720
phur, and the two volumes of Mr. Gay, as inAtances (how small ones foever) that I wish you both health and diversion. What I now fend for your perusal, I shall fay nothing of; not to forefall by a single word what you promis’d to say upon that subject. Your Lordship may criticise from Virgil to these Tales; as Solomon wrote of every thing from the cedar to the hyffop. I have some cause, since I last waited on you at Bromley, to look upon you as a prophet in that retreat, from whom oracles are to be had, were mankind wise enough to go thither to consult you: The fate of the South-sea Scheme has, much sooner than I expected, verify'd what you told me. Most people thought the time would come, but no man prepared for it ; no man consider'd it would come like a Thief in the Night; exactly as it happens in the case of our death. Methinks God has punith'd the avaritious, as he often punishes finners, in their own way, in the very sin itself : the thirst of gain was their crime, that thirst continued became their punilhment and ruin. As for the few who have the good fortune, to remain with half of what they imagined they had (among whom is your humble servant) I would have them sensible of their felici. ty, and convinced of the truth of old Hesiod's maxim, who, after half his estate was swallowed by the Directors of those days, resolv'd, that half to be more than the whole.
Does not the fate of these people put you in mind of two paffages, one in Job, the other from the Pfalmift?
Men shall groan out of the City, and hiss them out of their PLACE.
They have dreamed out their dream, and awaking have found nothing in their hands.
Indeed the universal poverty, which is the confequence of universal avarice, and which will fall hardest upon the guiltless and industrious part of mankind, is truly lamentable. The universal deluge of the S. Sea, contrary to the old deluge, has drowned all except a few Unrighteous men: but it is fome comfort to me that I am not one of them, even tho' I were to furvive and rule the world by it. I am much pleas'd with a thought of Dr. Arbuthnot's; he says the Government and South-sea company have only lock'd up the money of the people, upon conviction of their Lunacy (as is usual in the cafe of Lunaticks) and intend to restore them as much as may be fit for such people, as fast as they shall see them return to their senses. The latter part
letter does me so much honour, and Thews me so much kindness, that I must both be proud and pleas'd, in a great degree; but I assure you, my Lord, much more the last than the first. For I certainly know, and feel, from my own heart which truly respects you, that there may be a ground for your partiality, one way; but I find not the least fymptoms in my head, of any foundation for the other. In a word, the best reason I know for my being pleas'd, is, that you continue your favour toward me; the best I know for being proud, would be that you might cure me of it; for I have found you to be such a physician as does not only repair, bur improve. I am, with the fincerest esteem, and most grateful acknowledgment,
L ET TER VI.
From the Bishop of Rochester.
HE Arabian Tales, and Mr. Gay's books, I THE
receiv'd not till Monday night, together with
your letter ; for which I thank you. I have had a fit of the gout upon me ever since I returned hither from Westminster on Saturday night last: it has found its way into my hands as well as legs, so that I have been utterly incapable of writing. This is the first letter that I have ventured upon ; which will be written, I fear, vacillantibus literis, as, Tully says, Tyro's letters were,' after his Recovery from an illness. What I said to you in mine about the Monument, was intended only to quicken, not to alarm you. It is not worth your while to know what I meant by it: but when I see you, you shall. I hope you may be at the Deanry, towards the end of October, by which time, I think of settling there for the winter. What do you think of fome such short infcription as this in latin, which may, in a few words, fay all that is to be said of Dryden, and yet nothing more than he deserves ?
IOHANNI DR IDENO.
CVI POESIS ANGLICANA
EST ADHVC DEBITVRA:
that I am as much in earnest in the affair as you yourself, something I will send you too of this kind in English. If your design holds of fixing Dryden's name only below, and his Busto
above-may not lines like these be grav'd just un. der the name?
This Sheffield rais'd, to Dryden's afhes juft,
More needs not ; where acknowledgʻd Merits reign,
This you'll take as a proof of my zeal at least, tho' it be none of my talent in Poetry. When you have read it over, I'll forgive you if you should not once in your life-time again think of it.
And now, Sir, for your Arabian Tales. Ill as I have been, almost ever since they came to hand, I have read as much of them, as ever I shall read while I live. Indeed they do not please my tafte : they are writ with fo romantic an air, and, allowing for the difference of eastern manners, are yet, upon any supposition that can be made, of so wild and absurd a contrivance (at least to my northern understanding) that I have not only no pleasure, but no patience, in perusing them. They are to me like the odd paintings on Indian screens, which at first glance may surprize and please a little : but, when you fix your eye intently upon them, they appear fo extravagant, disproportion'd, and monstrous, that they give a judicious eye pain, and make him seek for relief from some other object. They may furnish the mind with some new
but I think the purchase is made at too great an expence : for to read those two volumes through, liking them as little as I do, would be a terrible pe