I am glad you have received my books safe, and are content with them. I have little idea of Mr. Bentley’s; though his imagination is sufficiently Pindaric, nay obscure, his numbers are not apt to be so tuneful as to excuse his flights. He should always give his wit, both in verse and prose, to somebody else to make up. If any of his things are printed at Dublin, let me have them; I have no quarrel with his talents. Your cousin’s behaviour has been handsome, and so was his speech, which is printed in our papers. Advice is arrived to-day, that our troops have made good their landing at Martinico; I don’t know any of the incidents yet.
You ask me for an epitaph for Lord Cutts;(222) I scratched out the following lines last night as I was going to bed; if they are not good enough, pray don’t take them: they were written in a minute, and you are under no obligation to like them.
Late does the muse approach to Cutts’s grave,
But ne’er the grateful muse forgets the brave;
He gave her subjects for the immortal lyre,
And sought in idle hours the tuneful choir;
Skilful to mount by either path to fame,
And dear to memory by a double name.
Yet if ill known amid the Aonian groves,
His shade a stranger and unnoticed roves,
The dauntless chief a nobler band may join:
They never die who conquer’d at the Boyne.
The last line intends to be popular in Ireland; but you must take care to be certain that he was at the battle of the Boyne; I conclude so; ind it should be specified the year, when you erect the monument-The latter lines mean to own his having been but a moderate poet, and to cover that mediocrity under his valour; all which is true. Make the sculptor observe the steps.
I have not been at Strawberry above a month, nor ever was so long absent — but the weather has been cruelly cold and disagreeable. We have not had a single dry week since the beginning of September; a great variety of weather, all bad. Adieu!
(222) John Lord Cutts, a soldier of most hardy bravery in King William’s wars. He died at Dublin in 1707. Swift’s epigram on a Salamander alluded to this lord, who was called by the Duke of Marlborough the Salamander, on account of his always being in the thickest of the fire. He published, in 1687, “Poetical Exercises, written upon several Occasions."-E.
I am glad you are pleased, Sir, with my “Anecdotes of Painting;” but I doubt you praise me too much: it was an easy task when I had the materials Collected. and I would not have the labours of forty years, which was Vertue’s case, depreciated in compliment to the work of four months, which is almost my whole merit. Style is become, in a manner, a mechanical affair,—and if to much ancient lore our antiquaries would add a little modern reading, to polish their language and correct their prejudices, I do not see why books of antiquities should not be made as amusing as writings on any other subject. If Tom Herne had lived in the world, he might have writ an agreeable history of dancing; at least, I am sure that many modern volumes are read for no reason but for their being penned in the dialect of the age.