1732 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Gay

Alexander Pope to Jonathan Swift, 5 December 1732; Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift, ed. John Nichols (1801) 14:125-26.



DEC. 5, 1732.

It is not a time to complain that you have not answered me two letters (in the last of which I was impatient under some fears). It is not now indeed a time to think of myself, when one of the nearest and longest ties I have ever had, is broken all on a sudden, by the unexpected death of poor Mr. Gay. An inflammatory fever hurried him out of this life in three days. He died last night at nine a clock, not deprived of his senses entirely at last, and possessing them perfectly till within five hours. He asked of you a few hours before, when in acute torment by the inflammation of his bowls and breast. His effects are in the duke of Queensberry's custody. His sisters, we suppose, will be his heirs, who are two widows; as yet it is not known whether or no he left a will — Good God! how often are we to die before we go quite off this stage? in every friend we lose a part of ourselves, and the best part. God keep those we have left! few are worth praying for, and one's self the least of all.

I shall never see you now I believe; one of your principal calls to England is at an end. Indeed he was the most amiable by far, his qualities were the gentlest, but I love you as well and as firmly. Would to God the man we have lost had not been so amiable, nor so good! but that's a wish for our own sakes, not for his. Sure if innocence, and integrity can deserve happiness, it must be his. Adieu, I can add nothing to what you will feel, and diminish nothing from it. Yet write to me, and soon. Believe no man now living loves you better, I believe no man ever did, than,

A. POPE.

Dr. Arbuthnot, whose humanity you know heartily commends himself to you. All possible diligence and affection has been shown, and continued attendance on this melancholy occasion. Once more adieu, and write to one who is truly disconsolate.

P.S. BY DR. ARBUTHNOT.

DEAR SIR,

I am sorry that the renewal of our correspondence should be upon such a melancholy occasion. Poor Mr. Gay died of an inflammation, and I believe at last a mortification, of the bowls; it was the most precipitate case I ever knew, having cut him off in three days. I believed the distemper mortal from the beginning. I have not had the pleasure of a line from you these two years; I wrote one about your health, to which I had no answer. I wish you all health and happiness, being with great affection and respect, sir, your, &c.