Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
Letter to Mrs. Martha Blount
By Alexander Pope (16881744)
7th September 1733.
YOU cannot think how melancholy this place makes me. Every part of this wood puts into my mind poor Mr. Gay, with whom I passed once a great deal of pleasant time in it, and another friend, who is near dead, and quite lost to us, Dr. Swift. I really can find no enjoyment in the place; the same sort of uneasiness as I find at Twickenham, whenever I pass near my mothers room.
I have not yet writ to Mrs. . I think I should, but have nothing to say that will answer the character they consider me in, as a wit; besides, my eyes grow very bad (whatever is the cause of it), I will put them out for nobody but a friend; and, I protest, it brings tears into them almost to write to you, when I think of your state and mine. I long to write to Swift, but cannot. The greatest pain I know, is to say things so very short of ones meaning, when the heart is full.
I feel the going out of life just enough to have little appetite left to make compliments, at best useless, and for the most part unfelt speeches. It is but in a very narrow circle that friendship walks in this world, and I care not to tread out of it more than needs must; knowing well, it is but to two or three (if quite so many), that any mans welfare, or memory, can be of consequence: the rest, I believe, I may forget, and be pretty certain they are already even, if not beforehand with me.
I dreamed all last night of . She has dwelt (a little more than perhaps is right) upon my spirits. I saw a very deserving gentleman in my travels, who has formerly, I have heard, had much the same misfortune: and (with all his good breeding and sense) still bears a cloud and melancholy cast, that never can quite clear up, in all his behaviour and conversation. I know another who, I believe, could promise, and easily keep his word, never to laugh in his life. But one must do ones best, not to be used by the world as that poor lady was by her sister; and not seem too good, for fear of being thought affected or whimsical.
I could wish you had once the constancy and resolution to act for yourself; whether before or after I leave you (the only way I ever shall leave you), you must determine; but reflect, that the first would make me, as well as yourself, happier; the latter could make you only so. Adieu.