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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to Arthur Langford - 1

< The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift‎ | Volume 11

TRIM, OCT. 30, 1714.

I WAS to wait on you the other day, and was told by your servant that you are not to be seen till toward evening, which at the distance I am at this time of the year, cannot easily be compassed. My principal business was to let you know, that since my last return from England many persons have complained to me, that I suffered a conventicle to be kept in my parish, and in a place where there never was any before. I mentioned this to your nephew Rowley in Dublin, when he came to me with this message from you; but I could not prevail with him to write to you about it. I have always looked upon you as an honest gentleman, of great charity and piety in your way; and I hope you will remember at the same time, that it becomes you to be a legal man, and that you will not promote or encourage, much less give a beginning to, a thing directly contrary to the law. You know the dissenters in Ireland are suffered to have their conventicles only by connivance, and that only in places where they formerly used to meet. Whereas this conventicle of yours is a new thing, in a new place entirely of your own erection, and perverted to this ill use from the design you outwardly seemed to have intended it for. It has been the weakness of the dissenters to be too sanguine and assuming upon events in the state, which appeared to give them the least encouragement; and this, in other turns of affairs, has proved very much to their disadvantage. The most moderate churchmen may be apt to resent, when they see a sect, without toleration by law, insulting the established religion. Whenever the legislator shall think fit to give them leave to build new conventicles, all good churchmen will submit; but till then we can hardly see it without betraying our church. I hope therefore you will not think it hard, if I take those methods which my duty obliges me, to prevent this growing evil as far as it lies in my power, unless you shall think fit, from your own prudence, or the advice of some understanding friends, to shut up the doors of that conventicle for the future. I am, with true friendship and esteem, sir, your most obedient humble servant,