1730 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elijah Fenton

Alexander Pope to John Gay, 21 July 1730; Works of Pope, ed. Elwin and Courthope (1871-1889) 7:436-37.



Twickenham, July 21, [1730].

DEAR GAY, — You have the same share in my memory that good things generally have. I always know, whenever I reflect, that you should be in my mind, only I reflect too seldom. However, you ought to allow me the indulgence I allow all my friends (and if I did not, they would take it) in consideration that they have other avocations, which may prevent the proofs of their remembering me, though they preserve for me all the friendship and goodwill which I deserve from them. In like manner I expect from you, that my past life of twenty years may be set against the omission of perhaps one month; and if you complain of this to any other, it is you are in the spleen, and not I in the wrong. If you think this letter splenetic, consider I have just received the news of the death of a friend, whom I esteemed almost as many years as you, — poor Fenton. He died at Easthampstead, of indolence and inactivity; let it not be your fate, but use exercise. I hope the duchess will take care of you in this respect, and either make you gallop after her, or tease you enough at home to serve instead of exercise abroad. Mrs. Howard is so concerned about you, and so angry at me for not writing to you, and at Mrs. Blount for not doing the same, that I am piqued with jealousy and envy at you, and hate you as much as if you had a great place at court, which you will confess a proper cause of envy and hatred, in any poet militant or unpensioned. But to set matters even, I own I love you; and own I am, as I ever was, and just as I ever shall be, yours, &c.