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While you in the world are concerned about the Protestant Succession, I consider only how Menelaus may recover Helen, and the Trojan war be put to a speedy conclusion. I never inquire if the Queen be well or not, but heartily wish to be at Hector's funeral. The only things I regard in this life, are whether my friends are well? whether my Translation go well on? whether Dennis be writing criticisms? whether any body will answer him, since I don't? and whether Lintot be not yet broke?
I am, etc.
TO THE SAME.
August 16, 1714.
I Thank you for your good offices, which are numberless. Homer advances so fast, that he begins to look about for the ornaments he is to appear in, like a modish modern author.
Picture in the front,
I have the greatest proof in nature at present of the amusing power of Poetry, for it takes me up so entirely, that I scarce see what passes under my nose, and hear nothing that is said about me. To follow poetry as one ought, one must forget father and mother, and cleave to it alone. My Reverie has been so deep, that I have scarce had an interval to think myself uneasy in the want of your company. I now and then just miss you as I step into bed; this minute indeed I want extremely to see you, the next I shall dream of nothing but the taking of Troy, or the recovery of Briseis.
I fancy no friendship is so likely to prove lasting as ours, because, I am pretty sure, there never was a friendship of so easy a nature. We neither of us demand any mighty things from each other; what Vanity we have expects its gratification from other people. It is not I that am to tell you what an Artist you are, nor is it you that are to tell me what a Poet I am: but 'tis from the world abroad we hope (piously hope) to hear these things. At home we follow our business, when we have any; and think and talk most of each other when we have none. Tis not unlike the happy friendship of a stayed man and his wife, who are seldom so fond as to hinder the business of the house from going on all day, or so indolent as not to find consolation in each other every evening. Thus well-meaning couples hold in amity to the last, by not expecting too much from human nature; while romantic friendships, like violent loves, begin with disquiets, proceed to jealousies, and conclude in animosities. I have lived to see the fierce advancement, the sudden turn, and the abrupt period, of three or four of these enormous friendships, and am perfectly convinced of the truth of a maxim we once agreed in, that nothing hinders the constant agreement of people who live together, but merely vanity; a secret insisting upon what they think their dignity of merit, and an inward expectation of such an Over-measure of deference and regard, as answers to their own extravagant false scale; and which nobody can pay, because none but themselves can tell, exactly, to what pitch it amounts.
I am, etc.
MR. JERVAS TO MR. POPE.
August 20, 1714.
I Have a particular to tell you at this time, which pleases me so much, that you must expect a more than ordinary alacrity in every turn. You know I could keep you in suspence for twenty lines, but I will tell you directly, that Mr. Addison and I have had a conversation, that it would have been worth your while to have been placed behind the wainscoat, or behind some half-length picture, to have heard. He assured me that he would make use not only of his interest, but of his art, to do you some service; he did not mean his art of poetry, but his art at Court; and he is sensible that nothing can have a better air for himself than moving in your favour, especially since insinuations were spread, that he did not care you should prosper too much as a Poet. He protests that it shall not be his fault, if there is not the best intelligence in the world, and the most hearty friendship, etc. He owns, he was afraid Dr. Swift might have carried you too far among the enemy, during the heat of the animosity; but now all is safe, and you are escaped, even in his opinion. I promised in your name, like a good Godfather, not that you should renounce the devil and all his works, but that you would be delighted to find him your friend, merely for his own sake; therefore prepare yourself for some civilities.
I have done Homer's head, shadowed and heightened carefully; and I inclose the outline of the same size, that you may determine whether you would have it so large, or reduced to make room for feuillage or laurel round the oval, or about the square of the Busto? perhaps there is something more solemn in the image itself, if I can get it well performed.
If I have been instrumental in bringing you and Mr. Addison together with all sincerity, I value myself upon it as an acceptable piece of service to such a
one as I know you to be.
MR. POPE'S ANSWER.
I Am just arrived from Oxford, very well diverted and entertained there. Every one is much concerned for the Queen's death. No panegyrics ready yet for the King.
I admire your whig-principles of resistance exceedingly, in the spirit of the Barcelonians: I join in your wish for them. Mr. Addison's verses on Liberty, in his Letter from Italy, would be a good form of prayer in my opinion, O Liberty! thou Goddess heavenly bright*! etc.
What you mention of the friendly office you endeavoured to do betwixt Mr. Addison and me, deserves acknowledgments on my part. You thoroughly know my regard to his character, and my propensity to testify it by all ways in my power. You as thoroughly know the scandalous meanness of that proceeding which was used by Philips, to make a man I so highly value, suspect my dispositions towards him. But as, after all, Mr. Addison must be the judge in what regards himself, and has seemed to be no very just one to me; so, I must own to you, I expect nothing but civility from him, how much soever I wish for his friendship. As for any offices of real kindness or service which it is in his power to do me, I should be ashamed to receive them from any man who had no better opinion of my Morals, than to think me a Party-man: nor of my Temper than to believe me capable of maligning, or envying another's reputation as a poet. So I leave it to time to convince him as to both, to shew him the shallow depths of those halfwitted creatures who mis-informed him, and to prove that I am incapable of endeavouring to lessen a person whom I would be proud to imitate, and therefore ashamed to flatter. In a word, Mr. Addison8 is sure
7 Lowth in his Grammar censures the using adjectives, as heavenly, for adverbs; and mentions this line as an example.
8 Lady Wortley Montague, in one of her sprightly and elegant letters to Pope, says; " I received the news of Mr. Addison's being declared Secretary of State with the less surprize, in that I know that post was offered to him before. At that time he de