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We may easily perceive by this, that Parnell was not a little necessary to Pope, in conducting his translation : however, he has worded it so ambiguously, that it is impossible to bring the charge directly against him. But he is much more explicit, when he mentions his friend Gay's obligations in another letter, which he takes no pains to conceal.
6 DEAR SIR,
"I WRITE to you with the same warmth, the same ( zeal of good-will and friendship, with which I used ' to converse with you two years ago, and can't think
myself absent, when I feel you so much at my heart ; the picture of you, which Jervas brought me over, is infinitely less lively a representation, than that I
carry about with me, and which rises to my mind, o whenever I think of you. I have many an agree• able reverie through those woods and downs, where
we once rambled together; my head is sometimes 6 at the Bath, and sometimes at Letcomb, where the
Dean makes a great part of my imaginary entertain
ment, this being the cheapest way of treating me; " I hope he will not be displeased at this manner of * paying my respects to him, instead of following my < friend Jervas's example, which, to say the truth,
I have as much inclination to do, as I want ability. . I have been ever since December last, in greater van
riety of business, than any such men as you (that is, • divines and philosophers) can possibly imagine a
reasonable creature capable of. Gay's play, among
the rest, has cost much time and long suffering, to • stem a tide of malice and party, that certain authors
have raised against it; the best revenge upon such 6 fellows, is now in my hands, I mean your Zoilus, ( which really transcends the expectation I had con
ceived of it. I have put it into the press, begin
ning with the poem Batrachom: for you seem, by the first paragraph of the dedication to it, to de
sign to prefix the name of some particular person. • I beg, therefore, to know for whom you intend it, • that the publication may not be delayed on this ac6count, and this as soon as is possible. Inform me • also upon what terms I am to deal with the book• seller, and whether you design the copy-money for • Gay, as you formerly talked, what number of books
you would have yourself, &c. I scarce see any thing to be altered in this whole piece ; in the poems
you sent, I will take the liberty you allow me: the ! story of Pandora, and the Eclogue upon Health,
are two of the most beautiful things I ever read. * I do not say this to the prejudice of the rest, but as
I have read these oftener. Let me know how far my commission is to extend, and be confident of my punctual performance of whatever you enjoin. I must add a paragraph on this occasion in regard to • Mr. Ward, whose verses have been a great pleasure
to me; I will contrive they shall be so to the world, whenever I can find a proper opportunity of publishing them.
• I shall very soon print an entire collection of my 6 own madrigals, which I look upon as making my
last will and testament, since in it I shall give all I ever intend to give, (which I'll beg your's and the Dean's acceptance of.) You must look on me no more a poet, but a plain commoner, who lives
upon his own, and fears and flatters no man.
I hope before I die, to discharge the debt I owe to Homer,
and get, upon the whole, just fame enough to serve • for an annuity for my own time, though I leave no• thing to posterity.
• I beg our correspondence may be more frequent " than it has been of late. I am sure my esteem and
love for you, never more deserved it from you, or
more prompted it from you. I desired our friend ? Jervas (in the greatest hurry of my business) to say
a great deal in my name, both to yourself and the • Dean, and must once more repeat the assurances . to you both, of an unchanging friendship and unal6 terable esteem.
"I am, dear Şir, most entirely,
From these letters to Parnell, we may conclude, as far as their testimony can go, that he was an agree. able, a generous, and a sincere man. Indeed, he took care, that his friends should always see him to the best advantage ; for, when he found his fits of spleen and uneasiness, which sometimes lasted for weeks together, returning, he returned with all expedition to the remote parts of Ireland, and there made out a gloomy kind of satisfaction, in giving hideous descriptions of the solitude to which he retired. It is said of a famous painter, that, being confined in prison for debt, his whole delight consisted in drawing the faces of his creditors in caricaturą. It was just so with Parnell. From many of his unpublished pieces which I have seen, and from others that have appeared, it would seem, that scarcely a bog in his neighbourhood was left without reproach, and scarcely a mountain reared its head unsung. I can easily,' says Pope, in one of his letters, in answer to a dreary description of Parnell's, 'I can easily image to my thoughts “the solitary hours of your eremetical life in the mountains, from some parallel to it in my own retirement at Binfield :' and in another place,' We are both miserably enough situated, God knows; but of the two evils, I think the solitudes of the "South are to be preferred to the deserts of the West.' In this manner, Pope answered him in the tone of his own complaints; and these descriptions of the imao gined distress of his situation served to give him a temporary relief; they threw off the blame from himself, and laid upon fortune and accident a wretchedness of his own creating.
But though this method of quarrelling in his poems with his situation, served to relieve himself, yet it was not easily endured by the gentlemen of the neighbourhood, who did not care to confess themselves his fellow-sufferers. He received many mortifications upon that account among them; for, being naturally fond of company, he could not endure to be without even theirs, which, however, among his English friends, he pretended to despise. In fact, his conduct, in this particular, was rather splenetic, than wise ; he had either lost the art to engage, or did not employ his skill in securing those more permanent, though nore humble connexions, and sacrificed for a month or two in England, a whole year's happiness by his country fire-side at home.
However, what he permitted the world to see of his life, was elegant and splendid; his fortune (for a poet) was very considerable, and it may easily be supposed he lived 10 the very extent of it. The fact is, his expenses were greater than his income, and his successor found the estate somewhat impaired at his de
As soon as ever he had collected in his annual revenues, he immediately set out for England, to enjoy the company of his dearest friends, and laugh at the more prudent world, that were minding business, and gaining money. The friends to whom, during the latter part of his life, he was chiefly attached, were Pope, Swift, Arbuthnot, Jervas, and Gay. Among these he was particularly happy, his mind was entirely at ease, and gave a loose to every harmless folly that came uppermost. Indeed, it was a society, in which, of all others, a wise man might be most foolish, without incurring any danger or contempt. Perhaps the reader will be pleased to see a letter to him, from a part of this junto, as there is something striking even in the levities of genius. It comes from Gay, Jervas, Arbuthnot, and Pope, assembled at achop-house near the exchange, and is as follows:
« MY DEAR SIR, "I WAS last summer in Devonshire, and am this winter at Mrs. Bonyer's. In the summer I wrote a poem, and in the winter I have published it; which I have sent to you by Dr. Elwood. In the summer I ate two dishes of toad-stools of my own
gathering, instead of mushrooms; and in the win« ter I have been sick with wine, as I am at this time, • blessed be God for it, as I must bless God for all things. In the summer I spoke truth to damsels;.
in the winter I told lies to ladies. Now you know s where I have been, and what I have done. I shall • tell you what I intend to do the ensuing summer ;
I propose to do the same thing I did last, which was • to meet you in any part of England, you would ap- point; don't let me have two disappointments. I
have longed to hear from you, and to that intent, I • teazed you with three or four letters ; but, having no
answer, I feared both yours and my letters, might
have miscarried. I hope my performance will please « the Dean, whom I often wished for, and to whom
I would have often wrote, but for the same reasons • I neglected writing to you. I hope I need not tell • you how I love you, and how glad I shall be to hear from you; which, next to the seeing you, would be