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for the last obliging favour you did me; and perhaps for that reason you pass it in silence. I there launched into some account of my temporal affairs; and I intend now to give you some hints of my spiritual. The con. clusion of your letter, in which you tell me you prayed for me, draws this upon me. Nothing can be more kind than the hint you give me of the vanity of human sciences, which, I assure you, I am daily more con vinced of; and indeed, I have, for some years past, looked
all of them as no better than amusements, To make them the ultimate end of our pursuit, is a mi. serable and short ambition, which will drop from us at every little disappointment here, and even, in case of no disappointments here, will infallibly desert us hereafter. The utmost fame they are capable of bestowing, is never worth the pains they cost us, and the time they lose us.
you attain the summit of your desires that way, those who envy you, will do you harm; and of those who admire you, few will do you good. And at the upshot, after a life of perpetual application, you reflect that you have been doing nothing for yourself: and that the same or less industry might have gained you a friendship, that can never deceive or end; a satisfaction, which praise cannot bestow, nor vanity feel; and a glory, which though, in one respect like fame, not to be had till after death, yet shall be felt and enjoyed to eternity. These, dear sir, are unfeignedly my sentiments, whenever I think at all: for half the things that employ our heads, deserve not the name of thoughts ; they are only stronger dreams of impressions upon the imagination. Our schemes of government, our systems of philosophy, our golden worlds of poetry, are all but 50 many shadowy images, and airy prospects, which
arise to us so much the livelier and more frequent, as we are more overcast with the darkness, and disturbed with the fumes, of human vanity,
The same thing that makes old men willing to leave this world, makes me willing to leave poetry; long habit and weariness of the same track. I should be sorry and ashamed, to go on jingling to the last step, like a wagoner's horse, in the same road; and so leave my bells to the next silly animal that will be proud of them. That man maķes a mean figure in the eyes of Reason, who is measuring syllables and coupling rhymes, when he should be mending his own soul, and securing his own immortality. If I had not this opinion, I should be unworthy even of those small and limited parts which God has given me; and unworthy of the friendship of such a man as you.
I am your &c.
August 16, 1714. I thank you for your good offices, which are numberless.--I fancy no friendship is so likely to prove lasting as ours, because, I am pretty sure, there never was a friendship of a more easy 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 who am to tell you what an artist you are, nor is it you who are to tell me what a poet I am! but it is from the world abroad we 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. Our friendship is not unlike that of a staid 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 I am perfectly convinced of the truth of our maxim, that nothing hinders the constant agreement of people who live together, so much as vanity; à 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, &c.
The same reason that hindered your writing, hindered mine; the pleasing expectation of seeing you in town. Indeed, since the willing confinement I have lain under here with my mother, (with whom it is natural and reasonable I should rejoice, as well as grieve,) I could the better bear your absence from London, for I could hardly have seen you there; and it would not have been quite reasonable to have drawn you to a sick
room, from the first embraces of your friends. My mother is now, I thank God, wonderfully recovered; though not so much as yet to venture out of her chamber, but enough to enjoy a few particular friends, when they have the good-nature to look upon her. I may recommend to you the room we sit in, on one (and that a favourite) account, that it is the very warmest in the house. We and our fires will equally smile upon your face. There is a Persian proverb that says, I think, very prettily ; “ The conversation of a friend brightensi the eyes.” This I take to be a splendour still more, agreeable than the fires which you so delightfully : describe.
May you long enjoy your own fire-side in the metaphorical sense, that is, all those of your family who make it pleasing to sit and spend whole wintry months together; a far more rational delight, and better felt by an honest heart, than all the glaring entertainments, numerous lights, and false splendours, of an assembly of empty heads, aching hearts, and false faces! This is my sincere wish for you and yours.
You say you propose much pleasure in seeing some new faces about town of my acquaintance. I guess you i mean Mrs. Howard's, and Mrs. Blount's. And I assure you, you ought to take as much pleasure in their hearts, if they are what they sometimes express with regard to you
Believe me, dear sir, to you all a very faithful sers, vant,
Bromley, May 25, 1722. I had much ado to get hither last night, the water being so rough that the ferrymen were unwilling to venture. The first thing I saw this morning, after my eyes were open, was your letter; for the freedom and kindness of which I thank you. Let all compliments be laid aside between us for the future ; and depend upon me as your faithfal friend in all things within my power, as one who truly values you, and wishes you all manner of happiness. I thank
mother for my kind reception ; which has left a pleasing impression upon me, that will not soon be effaced.
Lord has pressed me to see him at told me, in a manner betwixt kindness and resentment, that it is but a few miles beyond Twickenham.
I have but a little time left, and a great deal to do in it: and I must expect that ill health will render a good share of it useless; and, therefore, what is likely to be left at the foot of the account, ought by me to be cherished, and not thrown away in compliment. You know the motto of my sun-dial; “ Vivite, ait, fugio.". I will, as far as I am able, follow its advice, and cut off all unnecessary avocations and amusements. There are those who intend to employ me this winter in a way I do not like: if they persist in their intentions, I must apply myself, as well as I can, to the work which they cut out for me. But that shall not binder me from employing myself also in a way which they do not like; that at last they may be induced to let me be quiet, and live to myself, with the few (the very few) friends I