Sunday, August 19, 2007

Pope Begs a Favour

[Alexander Pope to Joseph Addison]

Oct. 10, 1714.

I have been acquainted by one of my friends, who omits no opportunities of gratifying me, that you have lately been pleas'd to speak of me in a manner which nothing but the real respect I have for you can deserve. May I hope that some late malevolencies have lost their effect? indeed it is neither for me, nor my enemies, to pretend to tell you whether I am your friend or not; but if you would judge by probabilities, I beg to know which of your poetical acquaintance has so little interest in pretending to be so? . . . .

I will not value myself upon having ever guarded all the degrees of respect for you: for (to say the truth) all the world speaks well of you; and I should be under a necessity of doing the same, whether I car'd for you or not.

As to what you have said of me, I shall never believe that the author of Cato can speak one thing and think another. As a proof that I account you sincere, I beg a favour of you: It is, that you would look over the first two books of my translation of Homer, which are in the hands of my Lord Halifax. I am sensible how much the reputation of any poetical work will depend upon the character you give it: 'tis therefore some evidence of the fact that I repose in your good will, when I give you this opportunity of speaking ill of me with justice; and yet expect you will tell me your truest thought, at the same time that you tell others your most favourable ones. . . .

-from The Works of Alexander Pope, Volume VII, pp. 177-178.

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