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Your Grace very justly animadverts against the too great disposition of finding faults, in the one, and of confessing none in the other: but doubtless as to violence, the lady has infinitely the better of the gentleman. Nothing can be more polite, dispassionate, or sensible, than M. de la Motte’s manner of managing the dispute: and so much as I see your Grace admires the beauty of his verse, (in which you have the suffrage too of the Archbishop of Cambray), I will venture to say, his prose is full as good. I think therefore when you say, nó disputants even in Divinity could be more outrageous and uncharitable than these two authors, you are a little too hard upon M. de la Motte. Not but that (with your Grace) I doubt as little of the zeal of Commentators as of the zeal of Divines, and am as ready to believe of the passions and pride of mankind in general, that (did but the same interests go along with them) they would carry the learned world to as violent extremes, animosities, and even persecutions, about variety of opinions in Criticism, as ever they did about Religion: and that, in defect of Scripture to quarrel upon, we should have the French, Italian, and Dutch Commentators ready to burn one another about Homer, Virgil, Terence, and Horace.
nimity with which he endured the calamity of blindness, for many years, does him more real honour than could be acquired by the best compositions of prose or verse. To the same good temper may be ascribed his cordial reconciliation with Mad. D’Acier, after their severe combat, to whom he addressed an Ode full of delicate compliments. . ? There cannot be a juster ridicule on the violence and absurdity of controversial divines.
I do not wonder your Grace is shocked at the flight of Hector upon the first appearance of Achilles in the twenty-second Iliad. However (to shew myself a true Commentator, if not a true Critic) I will endeavour to excuse, if not to defend it in my Notes on that book. And to save myself what trouble I can, instead of doing it in this letter, I will draw up the substance of what I have to say for it in a separate paper, which I will shew your Grace when next we meet. I will only desire you to allow me, that Hector was in an absolute certainty of death, and depressed over and above with the conscience of being in an ill cause. If your heart be so great, as not to grant the first of these will sink the spirit of a Hero, you'll at least be so good, as to allow the second may. But, I can tell your Grace, no less a Hero than my Lord Peterborow, when a person complimented him for never being afraid, made this answer: “Sir, shew me a danger that I think an imminent and real one, and I promise you I'll be as much afraid as any of you.”
I am your Grace’s, etc.
FROM DR. ARBUTHNOT.
London, Sep. 7, 1714. I AM extremely obliged to you for taking notice of a poor old distressed courtier, commonly the most despicable thing in the world. This blow has so roused
Scriblerus that he has recovered his senses, and thinks and talks like other men. From being frolicksome and gay he is turned grave and morose. His lucubrations lie neglected among old news-papers, cases, petitions, and abundance of unanswerable letters. I wish to God they had been among the papers of a noble Lord sealed up. Then might Scriblerus have passed for the Pretender, and it would have been a most excellent and laborious work for the Flying Post, or some such author, to have allegorized all his adventures into a plot, and found out mysteries somewhat like the Key to the Lock. Martin's office is now the second door on the left hand in Dover-street, where he will be glad to see Dr. Parnelle, Mr. Pope, and his old friends, to whom he can still afford a half pint of claret. It is with some pleasure that he contemplates the world still busy, and all mankind at work for him. I have seen a letter from Dean Swift; he keeps up his noble spirit, and though like a man knocked down, you may behold him still with a stern countenance, and aiming a blow at his adversaries. I will add no more, being in haste, only that I will never forgive you if you can't use my aforesaid house in Dover-street with the same freedom as you did that in St. James's; for as our friendship was not begun upon the relation of a courtier, so I hope it will not end with it. I will always be proud to be reckoned amongst the number of your friends and humble servants.
TO DR. ARBUTHNOT.
September 10. I am glad your travels delighted you; improve you, I am sure, they could not; you are not so much a youth as that, though you run about with a King of sixteen, and, (what makes him still more a child) a King of Frenchmen. My own time has been more melancholy, spent in attendance upon. death, which has seized one of our family: my mother is something better, though at her advanced age every day is a climacteric. There was joined to this an indisposition of my own, which I ought to look upon as a slight one compared with my mother's, because my life is not of half the consequence to any body that her's is to me. All these incidents have hindered my more speedy reply to your obliging letter.
The article you enquire of, is of as little concern to me as you desire it should ; namely the railing papers about the Odyssey. If the book has merit, it will extinguish all such nasty scandal; as the Sun puts an end to stinks, merely by coming out
I wish I had nothing to trouble me more ; an honest mind is not in the power of any dishonest one. To break its peace, there must be some guilt or consciousness, which is inconsistent with its own principles. Not but malice and injustice have their day, like some poor short-lived vermin that die in shooting
their own stings. Falsehood is Folly (says Homer), and liars and culumniators at last hurt none but themselves, even in this world : in the next, 'tis charity to say, God have mercy on them! they were the devil's vicegerents upon earth, who is the father of lies, and, I fear, has a right to dispose of his children.
I have had occasion to make these reflections of late more justly than from any thing that concerns my writings, for it is one that concerns my morals, and (which I ought to be as tender of as my own) the good character of another very innocent person, who I am sure shares your friendship no less than I do. No creature has better natural dispositions, or would act more right or reasonably in every duty, did she act by herself, or from herself; but you know it is the misfortune of that family to be governed like a ship, I mean the Head guided by the Tail, and that by every wind that blows in it.
October 21, 1721. Your Lordship may be surprized at the liberty I take in writing to you; though you will allow me al
8 If he had not been released from his imprisonment in the Tower, and had been brought to a trial, he would have produced strong and undeniable proofs, that many of his persecutors, particularly the D. of M—-h, were engaged in intrigues with the VOL. VII.