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and while you were trampling down all our works, patiently suffer the injury, in pure admiration of the Noble Sport. But should the case be quite otherwise, should your Lordship be only like a Boy that is run away with ; and run away with by a Very Foal; really common charity, as well as respect for a noble family, would oblige me to stop your career, and to help you down from this Pegasus. Surely the little praise of a Writershould be a thing below your ambition: You, who are no sooner born, but in the lap of the Graces; no sooner at school, but in the arms of the Muses; no sooner in the World, but you practise all the skill of it; no sooner in the Court, but you possessed all the art of it! Unrivall'd as you are, in making a figure, and in making a speech, methinks, my Lord, you may well give up the poor talent of turning a Distich. And why this fondness for Poetry? Prose admits of the two excellences you most admire, Diction and Fiction: It admits of the talents you chiefly possess, a most fertile invention, and most florid expression; it is with prose, nay the plainest prose, that you best could teach our nobility to vote, which you justly observe, is half at least of their business'': And give me leave to prophesy, it is to your talent in prose, and not in verse, to your speaking, not your writing, to your art at court, not your art of poetry, that your Lordship must owe your future figure in the world. My Lord, whatever you imagine, this is the advice of a Friend, and one who remembers he formerly had the honour of some profession of Friendship
' All their bus'ness is to dress, and vote.
from you : Whatever was his real share in it, whether small or great, yet as your Lordship could never have had the least Loss by continuing it, or the least Interest by withdrawing it; the misfortune of losing it, I fear, must have been owing to his own deficiency or neglect. But as to any actual fault which deserved to forfeit it in such a degree, he protests he is to this day guiltless and ignorant. It could at most be but a fault of omission; but indeed by omissions, men of your Lordship's uncommon merit may sometimes think themselves so injured, as to be capable of an inclination to injure another; who, though very much below their quality, may be above the injury. I never heard of the least displeasure you had conceived against me, till I was told that an imitation I had made of “Horace had offended some persons, and among them your Lordship. I could not have apprehended that a few general strokes about a Lord scribbling carelessly’, a Pimp, or a Spy at Court, a Sharper in a gilded chariot, &c. that these, I say, should be ever applied as they have been, by any malice but that which is the greatest in the world, the Malice of Ill people to themselves. Your Lordship so well knows (and the whole Court and Town through your means so well know), how far the resentment was carried upon that imagination, not only in the Nature of the Libel" you propagated against me, but in the extraordinary manner,
* The first Satire of the second Book, printed in 1732. * He should have added, that he called this Nobleman, who scribbled so carelessly, Lord Fanny. * Verses to the Imitator of Horace, afterward printed by J. Roberts, 1732, Fol.
place, and presence, in which it was propagated”; that I shall only say, it seemed to me to exceed the bounds of justice, common sense, and decency. I wonder yet more, how a Lady of great wit, beauty, and fame, for her poetry (between whom and your Lordship there is a natural, a just, and a well-grounded esteem,) could be prevailed upon to take a part in that proceeding. Your resentments against me indeed might be equal, as my offence to you both was the same ; for neither had I the least misunderstanding with that Lady, till after I was the Author of my own misfortune in discontinuing her acquaintance. I may venture to own a truth, which cannot be unpleasing to either of you; I assure you my reason for so doing, was merely that you had both too much wit for me"; and that I could not do with mine, many things which you could with yours. The injury done you in withdrawing myself could be but small, if the value you had for me was no greater. than you have been pleased since to profess. But surely, my Lord, one may say, neither the Revenge, nor the Language you held, bore any proportion to the pretended offence: The appellation of "Foe to humankind, an Enemy like the Devil to all that have Being ; ungrateful, unjust, deserving to be whipt, blanketed, kicked, nay killed: a Monster, an Assassin, whose conversation every man ought to shun, and * It was for this reason that this Letter, as soon as it was printed, was communicated to the Queen. * Once, and but once, his heedless youth was bit, And lik'd that dang'rous thing a female Wit.
See the Letter to Dr. ARBUTHNoT, amongst the Variations. * See the aforesaid Verses to the Imitator of Horace.
against whom all doors should be shut; I beseechyou, my Lord, had you the least right to give, or to encourage or justify any other in giving such language as this to me? Could I be treated in terms more strong or more atrocious, if during my acquaintance with you I had been a Betrayer, a Backbiter, a Whisperer, an Eaves-dropper, or an Informer? Did I in all that time ever throw a false Die, or palm a foul Card upon you? Did I ever borrow, steal, or accept, either Money, Wit, or Advice, from you? Had I ever the honour to join with either of you in one Ballad, Satire, Pamphlet, or Epigram, or any person living or dead? Did I ever do you so great an injury as to put off my own verses for yours, especially on those Persons whom they might most offend? I am confident you cannot answer in the affirmative: and I can truly affirm, that ever since I lost the happiness of your conversation, I have not published or written one syllable of or to either of you; never hitched your names in a Verse, or trifled with your good names in company. Can Ibe honestly charged with any other crime but an Omission (for the word Neglect, which I used before, slipped my pen unguardedly) to continue my admiration of you all my life, and still to contemplate, face to face, your many excellences and perfections 7 I am persuaded you can reproach me truly with no great Faults, except my natural ones, which I am as ready to own, as to do all justice to the contrary Beauties in you. It is true, my Lord, I am short, not well shaped, generally ill-dressed, if not sometimes dirty : Your Lordship and Ladyship are still in bloom; your figures such, as rival the
Apollo of Belvedere, and the Venus of Medicis; and your faces so finished, that neither sickness or passion can deprive them of Colour; I will allow your own in particular to be the finest that ever Man was blest with: preserve it, my Lord, and reflect, that to be a Critic, would cost it too many frowns, and to be a Statesman, too many wrinkles / I farther confess, I am now somewhat old; but so your Lordship and this excellent Lady, with all your beauty, will (I hope) one day be. I know your Genius and hers so perfectly tally, that you cannot but join in admiring each other, and by consequence in the contempt of all such as myself. You have both, in my regard, been like—(your Lordship, I know, loves a Simile, and it will be one suitable to your Quality)—you have been like Two Princes, and I like a poor Animal sacrificed between them to cement a lasting league: I hope I have not bled in vain; but that such an amity may endure for ever! For though it be what common understandings would hardly conceive, Two Wits however may be persuaded, that it is in friendship as in enmity, The more danger the more honour. Give me the liberty, my Lord, to tell you, why I never replied to those Verses on the Imitator of Horace? They regarded nothing but my Figure, which I set no value upon; and my Morals, which, I knew, needed no defence: Any honest man has the pleasure to be conscious, that it is out of the power of the Wittiest, nay the Greatest Person in the kingdom, to lessen him that way, but at the expense of his own Truth, Honour, or Justice. But though I declined to explain myself just at the