The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From John Arbuthnot to Jonathan Swift - 7

OCT. 19, 1714.

EVEN in affliction your letter made me melancholy, and communicated some of the spleen, which you had when you wrote it, and made me forfeit some of my reputation of cheerfulness and temper under afflictions. However, I have so many subjects among my friends and fellow-servants to be grieved for, that I can easily turn it off myself with credit. The queen's poor servants are like so many poor orphans exposed in the very streets: and those, whose past obligations of gratitude and honour ought to have engaged them to have represented their case, pass by them like so many abandoned creatures, without the possibility of ever being able to make the least return for a favour: which has added to my theory of human virtue.

I wish I did not only haunt you in the obliging and affectionate sense you are pleased to express it, but were personally present with you; and I think it were hardly in the power of fortune not to make some minutes pleasant. I dine with my lord and lady Masham to day, where we will, as usually, remember you.

You have read, ere this time, the History of the White Staff[1], which is either contrived by an enemy, or by himself, to bring down vengeance; and I have told some of his nearest friends so. All the dragon can say will not give him one single friend among the whole party; and therefore I even wonder at him, which you will say is a strange thing. The very great person of all[2] can hardly speak of him with patience. The Conde[3] acts like a man of spirit, makes up to the king, and talks to him, and would have acted with more sense than any of them, could he have had any body to have acted along with him: nos numerus sumus, &c. The man you speak of is just as you describe, so I beg pardon. Shadwell says, he will have my place of Chelsea. Garth told me, his merit was giving intelligence about his mistress's health. I desired he would do me the favour to say, that I valued myself upon quite the contrary; and I hoped to live to see the day, when his majesty would value me the more for it too. I have not seen any thing as yet to make me recant a certain inconvenient opinion I have, that one cannot pay too dear for peace of mind.

Poor philosopher Berkeley has now the idea[4] of health, which was very hard to produce in him; for he had an idea of a strange fever upon him; so strong, that it was very hard to destroy it by introducing a contrary one. Poor Gay is much where he was, only out of the duchess's family and service[5]. He has some confidence in the princess and countess of Picbourgh; I wish it may be significant to him. I advised him to make a poem upon the princess before she came over, describing her to the English ladies; for it seems the princess does not dislike that. (She is really a person that I believe will give great content to every body.) But Gay was in such a grovelling condition, as to the affairs of the world, that his muse would not stoop to visit him. I can say no more of news, than that you will find the proceedings hitherto have been comparatively gentle. Adieu.

  1. A pamphlet written by Mr. Daniel de Foe, and published in 1714, in 8vo, in two parts, under the title of "The Secret History of the White Staff; being an account of affairs under the conduct of some late ministers, and of what might probably have happened, if her majesty had not died." Soon after the publication of it, came out, in 8vo, "A Detection of the Sophistry and Falsities of the Pamphlet, entitled, 'The Secret History of the White Staff,' containing an inquiry into the Staff's conduct in the late management, particularly with respect to the protestant succession."
  2. Probably king George I.
  3. Peterborow.
  4. This alludes to his book, in which he attempts to prove, that all things supposed to depend upon a material world, subsist only in idea.
  5. The duchess of Monmouth.