1728 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alexander Pope

Thomas Cooke to Alexander Pope, 11 August, 16 September 1728; Works of Pope, ed. Elwin and Courthope (1871-1889) 10:212-15.



11 Aug., 1728.

SIR, — Since I have been informed that you have expressed some resentment, on the supposition of my being the author of some scurrilous Pieces, which have been lately printed in the Daily Papers, I think it incumbent on me to make this declaration that I am not: neither am I vain enough to think, if I had the inclination, that I have the power, to invalidate a character so well established, and on so just a foundation, as yours is. I hope you will hence conclude, that nothing but the high opinion I entertain of you could have made me have given you and myself this trouble; I call it a trouble to me, only because I am forced to apologize for what I am not conscious of; and, at the same time, give me leave to assure you there is none to whom I should be prouder to write than to Mr. Pope, if I was satisfyed it would be received with the same pleasure with which it would be sent. I must own I have formerly wrote a poem of which I am now sincerely ashamed, and which, with some other trifling productions, I shall take an occasion to disown, by declaring myself the author of nothing but what is contained in a collection of pieces, of verse and prose, now printing against the winter. That I converse with many who have wrote against you is true; for some of which I have a real respect, and for some as sovereign a contempt as you can have. It is an unhappiness, I doubt not, that yourself has been under to converse with those of whom you have not entertained the most favourable thoughts; and, if I may judge from the foolish freedoms which I know have been took with your name of late, I believe you still lye under the same inconveniency; but this is a subject improper to be any more than hinted in a letter. I shall trouble you no farther, only to beg your acceptance of the mean present I have honoured myself to send you, and believe me studious of approving myself, with an unfeigned regard, sir, your faithful humble servant.

WESTMINSTER, Aug. 11, 1728.

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Sept. 16, 1728.

SIR, — I had this day the favour of a letter from you, dated August 17, by what accident it was kept so long from me I cannot judge. If Mr. [Samuel] Wesley had left it at my lodgings in Westminster, I should not have been two days without it. I am at present in the country, not far from town where a gentleman, who received the letter from Mr. Wesley, was so kind to come purposely to give it me. You seem in your postscript to let your opinion of the sincerity of my professions depend on the readyness of my answer. Assure yourself you should not have wanted that testimony if I had had your letter sooner; nor shall I be backward in discharging myself as I ought, in relation to your character, and at the same time preserve my honour in what I have professed in the hours of friendship, to other writers. I find you unluckily mistake the persons for whom I profess a real friendship; nor are they such as take those methods of writing slander in the dark. Your moral character I never heard attacked by any with whom I converse. Mr. Moore, who greatly shares my esteem, has often, since the Dunciad was published, spoke of you in terms which could come from none but a well-wisher and admirer. What Mr. Dennis has sayed passes as unregarded as the wind. I never reported that he should say he had a letter from you exhorting him to write against Cato, but that he should tell me Mr. Lintot had advised him to it from you. Give me leave here to express some resentment against the person whom I suspect must have told you that; and who at the same time was not sparing of many other calumnys against me; your prudence, I doubt not, will keep you from any want of a guardian in your conduct in your correspondence with any one; but I believe you will not think it amiss to be warned against the follys and insincerity of a person with whom you converse. I am credibly informed that a certain clergyman, this last summer, was very free with my character, and in a more extensive manner than was either gentlemanlike or pertinent. He went from London, after having received such benefits from me as he wanted, and was able to give, for the continuance of three or four months, with a resolution, I should think from what I have heard, to return them with abuses. One great topic was what I had wrote five or six years ago; among the idleness and mistakes of which time were some few verses in commendation of him. Yet this person has since thought fit to print in his own name a translation of a small Greek poem, litterally my own, amidst a folio of his labours; which, without taking any notice of his, I shall print in the Collection of Poems which I mentioned in my last. You commend my design of leaving out that passage about you in the Battel of the Poets; I intend to omit the whole poem, nor would I have it remembered that I was the author of it. Believe me, as I wrote this from my heart, so should I be sincerely proud of waiting on you where you shall appoint. I am, sir, your humble servant.

Direct to me at Mr. Hunter's, an undertaker in John Street, near Story's Passage, Numb. 1, Westminster.