The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to General Hill - 1


WITH great difficulty, I recovered your present of the finest box in France out of the hands of Mrs. Hill: she allowed her own to be the prettiest, but then mine was the handsomest; and in short, she would part with neither. I pleaded my brotherhood, and got my lord and lady Masham to intercede; and at last, she threw it me with a heavy sigh: but now it is in my possession, I wish you had sent a paper of directions how I shall keep it. You that sit at your ease, and have nothing to do but keep Dunkirk, never consider the difficulties you have brought upon me: twenty ladies have threatened to seize or surprise my box; and what are twenty thousand French or Dutch in comparison of those; Mrs. Hill says, it was a very idle thing in you to send such a present to a man who can neither punish nor reward you, since Grub street is no more: for the parliament has killed all the Muses of Grub street, who yet, in their last moments, cried out nothing but Dunkirk. My lord treasurer, who is the most malicious person in the world, says, you ordered a goose to be drawn at the bottom of my box, as a reflection upon the clergy; and that I ought to resent it. But I am not angry at all, and his lordship observes by halves: for the goose is there drawn pecking at a snail, just as I do at him, to make him mend his pace in relation to the publick, although it be hitherto in vain. And besides, Dr. Arbuthnot, who is a scholar, says, "you meant it as a compliment for us both: that I am the goose who saved the Capitol by my cackling; and that his lordship is represented by the snail, because he preserves his country by delays." But my lord Masham is not to be endured: he observed, that in the picture of the inside, which represents a great company dancing, there stands a fool with a cap and bells; and he would needs understand that figure as applied to me. And the worst of it was, that I happened last night to be at my lady duchess of Shrewsbury's ball: where, looking a little singular among so many fine ladies and gentlemen, his lordship came and whispered me to look at my box; which I resented so highly, that I went away in a rage, without staying for supper. However, considering of it better, after a night's sleep, I find all this is nothing but envy, and a design to make a quarrel between you and me: but it shall not do so; for I hope your intentions were good, however malice may misrepresent them. And though I am used ill by all the family, who win my money and laugh at me; yet, to vex them more, I will forgive them for your sake; and as soon as I can break loose, will come to Dunkirk for a fortnight, to get a little ease from my many persecutions, by the Harleys, the Mashams, and the Hills: only I intend to change my habit, for fear colonel Killigrew should mistake me for a chimneysweeper. In the mean time, I wish you all success in your government, loyal French subjects, virtuous ladies, little champaign, and much health: and am, with the truest respect and esteem,

Your most obedient

humble servant and brother.