Rev. Thomas Parnell

Alexander Pope to Robert Harley, 21 October 1721; Works of Pope, ed. Elwin and Courthope (1871-1889) 8:186-88.


Oct. 21, 1721.

MY LORD, — Your lordship may be surprised at the liberty I take in writing to you, though you will allow me always to remember, that you once permitted me that honour, in conjunction with some others who better deserved it. Yet I hope you will not wonder I am still desirous to have you think me your grateful and faithful servant; but I own I have an ambition yet farther to have others think me so, which is the occasion I give your lordship the trouble of this. Poor Parnell, before he died, left me the charge of publishing these remains of his. I have a strong desire to make them, their author, and their publisher, more considerable, by addressing and dedicating them all to you. There is a pleasure in bearing testimony to truth; and a vanity perhaps, which at least is as excusable as any other vanity may be. I beg you, my lord, to allow me to gratify the book itself, which I dare say you will receive more satisfaction in perusing, than you can from anything written upon the subject of yourself. Therefore I am a good deal in doubt, whether you will care for such an addition to it. I will only say that it is the only dedication I ever writ, and shall be, whether you permit it or not: for I will not bow the knee to a less man than my Lord Oxford, and I expect to see no greater in my time.

After all, if your lordship will tell my Lord Harley that I must not do this, you may depend upon a total suppression of these verses, the only copy whereof I send you. But you never shall suppress, that great, sincere, and entire admiration and respect with which I am, my lord, your most faithful, most obedient, and most humble servant.