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a word by the last post, so that I am yet to learn whether you got well to town, or continue so there? I very much fear both for your health and your quiet; and no man living can be more truly concerned in any thing that touches either than myself. I would comfort myself, however, with hoping, that your business may not be unsuccessful, for your sake; and that at least it may soon be put
into other proper hands. For my own, I beg earnestly of
you to return to us as soon as possible. You know how very much I want you; and that, however your business may depend upon any other, my business depends entirely upon you; and yet still I hope you will find your man, even though I lose you the mean while. At this time, the more I love you, the more I can spare you; which alone will, I dare say, be a reason to you to let me have
back the The minute I lost you, Eustathius with nine hundred pages, and nine thousand contractions of the Greek characters, arose to view! Spondanus, with all his auxiliaries, in number a thousand pages (value three shillings), and Dacier's three volumes, Barnes's two, Valterie's three, Cuperus, half in Greek, Leo Allatus, three parts in Greek, Scaliger, Macrobius, and (worse than them all) Aulus Gellius! All these rushed upon my soul at once, and whelmed me under a fit of the headach. I cursed them all religiously, damn'd my best friends among the rest, and even blasphemed Homer himself. Dear sir, not only as you are a friend, and a good-natured man, but as you are a Christian and a divine, come back speedily, and prevent the increase of my sins; for, at the rate I have begun to rave, I shall not only damn all the poets and commentators who have gone before me, but be damn'd myself by all who come after me. To be serious; you have not only left me to the last degree impatient for your return, who at all times should have been so (though never so much as since I knew you in best health here), but you have wrought several miracles upon our family; you have made old people fond of a young and gay person, and inveterate papists of a clergyman of the Church of England; even Nurse herself is in danger of being in love in her old age, and (for all I know) would even marry Dennis for your sake, because he is your man, and loves his master. In short, come down forthwith, or give me good reasons for delaying, though but for a day or two, by the next post. If I find them just, I will come up to you, though you know how precious my time is at present; my hours were never worth so much money before; but perhaps you are not sensible of this, who give away your own works. You are a generous author; I a hackney scribbler : you a Grecian, and bred at a university; I a poor Englishman, of my own educating: you a reverend parson, I a wag : in short, you are Dr Parnelle (with an e at the end of your name), and I « Your most obliged and affectionate « Friend and faithful servant,
« A. POPE. My hearty service to the Dean, Dr Arbuthnot, Mr Ford, and the true genuine shepherd, J. Gay of Devon. I expect him down with you.»
We may easily perceive by this, that Parnell was not a little necessary to Pope in conducting his translation; however, he has worded it so ambiguously, that it is impossible to bring the charge directly against him. But he is much more explicit when he mentions his friend Gay's obligations in another letter, which he takes no pains to conceal.
« DEAR SIR, « I write to you with the same warmth, the same zeal of good-will and friendship, with which I used to converse with
you two years ago, and can't think myself absent, when I feel you so much at my heart. The picture of you which Jervas brought me over, is infinitely less lively a representation than that I carry about with me, and which rises to my mind whenever I think of you. I have many an agreeable reverie through those woods and downs where we once rambled together; my head is sometimes at the Bath, and sometimes at Letcomb, where the Dean makes a great part of my imaginary entertainment, this being the cheapest way of treating me; I hope he will not be displeased at this manner of paying my respects to him, instead of following my friend Jervas's example, which; to say the truth, I have as much inclination to do as I want ability. I have been ever since December last in greater variety of business than any such men as you (that is, divines and philosophers) can possibly imagine a reasonable creature capable of. Gay's play, among the rest, has cost much time and long-suffering, to stem a tide of malice and party, that certain authors have raised against it; the best revenge upon such fellows is now in my hands, I mean your Zoilus, which really transcends the expectation I had conceived of it. I have put it into the press, beginning with the poem Batrachom.; for you seem, by the first paragraph of the dedication to it, to design to prefix the name of some particular person.
I beg therefore to know for whom
intend it, that the publication may not be delayed on this account, and this as soon as is possible. Inform me also upon what terms I am to deal with the bookseller, and whether you design the copy-money for Gay, as you formerly talked; what number of books you would have yourself, etc. I scarce see any thing to be altered in this whole piece; in the poems you sent I will take the liberty you allow me : the story of Pandora, and the Eclogue upon Health, are two of the most beautiful things I ever read. I do not say this to the prejudice of the rest, but as I have read these oftener. Let me know how far my commission is to extend, and be confident of my punctual performance of whatever you enjoin. I must add a paragraph on this occasion in regard to Mr Ward, whose verses have been a great pleasure to me; I will contrive they shall be so to the world, whenever I can find a proper opportunity of publishing them.
«I shall very soon print an entire collection of my own madrigals, which I look upon as making my last will and testament, since in it I shall give all I ever intend to give (which I'll beg your's and the Dean's acceptance of). You must look on me no more a poet, but a plain commoner, who lives upon his own, and fears and flatters no man. I hope before I die to discharge the debt I owe to Homer, and get upon the whole just fame enough to serve for an annuity for my own time, though I leave nothing to posterity.
« I beg our correspondence may be more frequent than it has been of late. I am sure my esteem and love for you never more deserved it from you, or more prompted it from you. I desired our friend Jervas (in the greatest hurry of my business) to say a great deal in my name, both to yourself and the Dean, and must once more repeat the assurances to you both, of an unchanging friendship and unalterable esteem. I am, DEAR SIR,
« Most entirely, your affectionate,
« A. POPE.»
From these letters to Parnell, we may conclude, as far as their testimony can go, that he was an agreeable, a generous, and a sincere man. Indeed, he took care that his friends should always see him to the best advantage; for, when he found his fits of spleen and uneasiness, which sometimes lasted for weeks together, returning, he returned with all expedition to the remote parts of Ireland, and there made out a gloomy kind of satisfaction, in giving hideous descriptions of the solitude to which he retired. It is said of a famous painter, that, being confined in prison for debt, his whole delight consisted in drawing the faces of his creditors in caricatura. It was just so with Parnell. From many of his unpublished pieces which I have seen, and from others that have appeared, it would seem, that scarcely a bog in his neighbourhood was left without reproach, and scarcely a mountain reared its head unsung. « I can easily,» says Pope, in one of his letters, in answer to a dreary description of Parnell's, « I can easily image to my thoughts the solitary hours of your eremitical life in the mountains, from some parallel to it in my own retirement at Binfield :» and in another place, « We are both miserably enough situated, God knows; but of the two evils, I think the solitudes of the South are to be preferred to the deserts of the West.» In this manner Pope answered him in the tone of his own complaints; and these descriptions of the imagined distress of his situation served to give him a temporary relief; they threw off the blame from himself, and laid upon
fortune and accident a wretchedness of his own creating
But though this method of quarrelling in his poems with his situation, served to relieve himself, yet it was not easily endured by the gentlemen of the neighbourhood, who did not care to confess themselves his fellow-sufferers. He