Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
A Farewell Letter
By John Arbuthnot (16671735)
A Letter to Swift
HAMPSTEAD, 4th October 1734.
MY DEAR AND WORTHY FRIEND,You have no reason to put me among the rest of your forgetful friends; for I wrote two long letters to you, to which I never received one word of answer. The first was about your health; the last I sent a great while ago by Mr. De la Mar. I can assure you with great truth that none of your friends or acquaintance has a more warm heart toward you than myself. I am going out of this troublesome world and you among the rest of my friends shall have my last prayers and good wishes.
The young man whom you recommended came to this place, and I promised to do him what service my ill state of health would permit. I came out to this place so reduced by a dropsy and an asthma that I could neither sleep, breathe, eat nor move. I most earnestly desired and begged of God that he would take me. Contrary to my expectation, upon venturing to ride (which I had forborne for some years), I recovered my strength to a pretty considerable degree, slept, and had my stomach again; but I expect the return of my symptoms upon my return to London and the return of the winter. I am not in circumstances to live an idle country life; and no man at my age ever recovered of such a disease further than by an abatement of the symptoms. What I did, I can assure you, was not for life but ease. For I am at present in the case of a man that was almost in harbour, and then blown back to sea; who has a reasonable hope of going to a good place, and an absolute certainty of leaving a very bad one. Not that I have any particular disgust at the world; for I have as great comfort, in my own family, and from the kindness of my friends, as any man; but the world, in the main, displeases me; and I have too true a presentiment of calamities that are likely to befall my country. However, if I should have the happiness to see you before I die, you will find that I enjoy the comforts of life with my usual cheerfulness. I cannot imagine why you are frighted from a journey to England. The reasons you assign are not sufficient; the journey I am sure would do you good. In general I recommend riding, of which I have always had a good opinion, and can now confirm it from my own experience.
My family give you their love and service. The great loss I sustained in one of them gave me my first shock: and the trouble I have with the rest to bring them to a right temper, to bear the loss of a father, who loves them, and whom they love, is really a most sensible affliction for me. I am afraid, my dear friend, we shall never see one another more in this world. I shall, to the last moment, preserve my love and esteem for you, being well assured you will never leave the paths of virtue and honour; for all that is in this world is not worth the least deviation from that way. It will be great pleasure to me to hear from you sometimes; for none can be with more sincerity than I am, my dear friend, your most faithful friend and humble servant.