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EPISTLE V.

TO

ROBERT, EARL OF OXFORD,

AND

EARL MORTIMER.

The occasion of this Epistle is explained in the following letters :

POPE TO ROBERT, EARL OF OXFORD.

FROM MY LORD HARLEY'S IN DOVER STREET.

Oct. 21, 1721. MY LORD,-Your lordship may be surprised at the liberty I take in writing to you, though you will allow me always to remember, that you once permitted me that honour, in conjunction with some others who better deserved it. Yet I hope you will not wonder I am still desirous to have you think me your grateful and faithful servant; but I own I have an ambition yet farther to have others think me so, which is the occasion I give your lordship the trouble of this. Poor Parnell, before he died, left me the charge of publishing these few remains of his. I have a strong desire to make them, their author, and their publisher, more considerable, by addressing and dedicating them all to you. There is a pleasure in bearing testimony to truth; and a vanity perhaps, which at least is as excusable as any vanity can be. I beg you, my lord, to allow me to gratify it, in prefixing this paper

of honest verses to the book. I send the book itself, which I dare say you will receive more satisfaction in perusing, than you can from anything written upon the subject of yourself. Therefore I am a good deal in doubt, whether you will care for such an addition to it. I will only say for it that it is the only dedication I ever writ, and shall be, whether you permit it or not: for I will not bow the knee to a less man than my Lord Oxford, and I expect to see no greater in my time.

After all, if your lordship will tell my Lord Harley that I must not do this, you may depend upon a total suppression of these verses, the only copy whereof I send you. But you never shall suppress, that great, sincere, and entire admiration and respect with which I am, my lord, your most faithful, most obedient, and most humble servant.

ROBERT, EARL OF OXFORD, TO MR. POPE.

BRAMPTON CASTLE, Nov. 6, 1721. SIR,-I received your packet, which could not but give me great pleasure, to see you preserve an old friend in your memory; for it must needs be very agreeable to be remembered by those we highly value. But then how much shame did it cause me, when I read your very fine verses enclosed ? My mind reproached me how far short I came of what your great friendship and delicate pen would partially describe me. You ask my consent to publish it: to what straits does this reduce me? I look back indeed to those evenings I have usefully and pleasantly spent, with Mr. Pope, Mr. Parnell, Dean Swift, the doctor, &c. I should be glad the world know you admitted me to your friendship, and since your affection is too hard for your judgment, I am contented to let the world know how well Mr. Pope can write upon a barren subject. I return you an exact copy of the verses, that I may keep the original, as a testimony of the only error you have been guilty of. I hope very speedily to embrace you in London, and to assure you of the particular esteem and friendship wherewith I am your, &c.

It was no wonder that Lord Oxford felt gratified. The verses are some of the very finest that Pope ever wrote, and mark the transition period between the didactic style at the close of “Windsor Forest,” and the elevated moral manner which marks portions of the Satires and Epistles.

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