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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to Charles Mordaunt - 2

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

MAY 4, 1711.

I HAVE had the honour of your lordship's letter, and by the first lines of it, have made a discovery that your lordship is come into the world about eighteen hundred years too late, and was born about half a dozen degrees too far to the North, to employ that publick virtue I always heard you did possess: which is now wholly useless, and which those very few that have it are forced to lay aside, when they would have business succeed.

Is it not some comfort, my lord, that you meet with the same degeneracy of manners, and the same neglect of the publick, among the honest Germans, though, in the philosopher's phrase, differently modified? and I hope, at least, we have one advantage, to be more polite in our corruptions than they.

Our divisions run farther than perhaps your lordship's intelligence has yet informed you of; that is, a triumvirate of our friends whom I have mentioned to you: I have told them more than once, upon occasion: "That all my hopes of their success depended on their union; that I saw they loved one another, and hoped they would continue it, to remove that scandal of inconstancy ascribed to court friendships." I am not now so secure. I care not to say more on such a subject, and even this entre nous. My credit is not of a size to do any service on such an occasion: but as little as it is, I am so ill a politician, that I will venture the loss of it to prevent this mischief; the consequence of which I am as good a judge of as any minister of state, and perhaps a better, because I am not one.

When you writ your letter, you had not heard of Guiscard's attempt on Mr. Harley: supposing you know all the circumstances, I shall not descant upon it. We believe Mr. Harley will soon be treasurer, and be of the house of peers; and then we imagine the court will begin to deal out employments, for which every October member is a candidate; and consequently nine in ten must be disappointed; the effect of which we may find in the next session. Mr. Harley was yesterday to open to the house the ways he has thought of, to raise funds for securing the unprovided debts of the nation; and we are all impatient to know what his proposals are.

As to the imperfect account you say you have received of disagreement among ourselves, your lordship knows that the names of whig and tory have quite altered their meanings. All who were for turning out the late ministry, we now generally call tories; and in that sense, I think it plain that there are among the tories three different interests: one, of those, I mean the ministry, who agree with your lordship and me, in a steady management for pursuing the true interest of the nation; another is, that of warmer heads, as the October club and their adherents without doors; and a third is, I fear, of those who, as your lordship expresses it, would sound a parley, and who would make fair weather in case of a change; and some of these last are not inconsiderable.

Nothing can be more obliging than your lordship's remembering to mention me in your letters to Mr. Harley and Mr. St. John, when you are in the midst of such great affairs. I doubt I shall want such an advocate as your lordship; for I believe, every man who has modesty or merit, is but an ill one for himself. I desire but the smallest of those titles you give me on the outside of your letter. My ambition is to live in England, and with a competency to support me with honour. The ministry know by this time whether I am worth keeping; and it is easier to provide for ten men in the church, than one in a civil employment.

But I renounce England and deaneries, without a promise from your lordship, under your own hand and seal, that I shall have liberty to attend you whenever I please. I foresee we shall have a peace next year, by the same sagacity that I have often foreseen when I was young. I must leave the town in a week, because my money is gone, and I can borrow no more. Peace will bring your lordship home; and we must have you to adorn your country, when you shall be no longer wanted to defend it. I am, my lord, &c.