In Restraint from "Preface To Poetry"

Even in the correspondence of intimate friends there was usually a reticence in this period that probably surprises the modern reader. In the autumn of 1727 Swift returned to Dublin in poor health and full of anxiety for Stella, who was now 'on the brink of another world'. From Dublin on 12 October he wrote to Pope:

'I have often wished that God Almighty would be so easy to the weakness of mankind, as to let old friends be acquainted in another state; and if I were to write an Utopia for heaven, that would be one of my schemes. This wildness you must allow for, because I am giddy and deaf'(Correspondence, ed. F. E. Ball, iii. 442).

Such wildness as Swift has permitted himself here would scarcely have seemed to a twentieth-century correspondent, parson or not, to call for any apology.

« LAST Note » « NEXT Note »