1723 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Bp. Francis Atterbury

Alexander Pope to Francis Atterbury, May 1723; in Moulton, Library of Literary Criticism (1901-05) 3:64.



While yet I can write to you, I must and will correspond with you, till the very moment that it is felony; and when I can no longer write to you, I will write of you. To tell you that my heart if full of your defence is no more than I believe, the worst enemy you have must own of his. You have really without a figure, had all the triumph that ancient eloquence boasts of. Their passions and consciences have done you right, though their votes will not. You have met with the fate, frequent to great and good men, to gain applause where you are denied justice. Let me take the only occasion I have had in the whole series of your misfortunes to congratulate you, and not you alone, but posterity, this noble defence. I already see in what lustre that innocence is to appear to other ages, which this has overborne and oppressed. I know perfectly well what a share of credit it will be to have appeared on your side, or to have been called your friend. I am far prouder of that word your publickly spoke of me than of anything I have yet heard of myself in my whole life.