The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to Henry St. John - 2

CHELSEA, MAY 11, 1711.

BEING convinced, by certain ominous prognosticks, that my life is too short to permit me the honour of ever dining another Saturday with sir Simon Harcourt, knight, or Robert Harley, esq., I beg I may take the last farewel of those two gentlemen to morrow. I made this request on Saturday last, unfortunately after you were gone; and they, like great statesmen, pretended they could do nothing in it without your consent; particularly my lord keeper, as a lawyer, raised innumerable difficulties, although I submitted to allow you an hour's whispering before dinner, and an hour after. My lord Rivers would not offer one word in my behalf, pretending he himself was but a tolerated person. The keeper alleged, "You could do nothing but when all three were capitularly met," as if you could never open but like a parish chest, with the three keys together. It grieves me to see the present ministry thus confederated to pull down my great spirit. Pray, sir, find an expedient. Finding expedients is the business of secretaries of state. I will yield to any reasonable conditions not below my dignity. I will not find fault with the victuals; I will restore the waterglass that I stole, and solicit for my lord keeper's salary. And, sir, to show you I am not a person to be safely injured, if you dare refuse me justice in this point, I will appear before you in a pudding sleeve gown, I will disparage your snuff, write a lampoon upon Nably Car, dine with you upon a foreign postday; nay, I will read verses in your presence, until you snatch them out of my hands. Therefore pray, sir, take pity upon me and yourself; and believe me to be, with great respect; sir,

Your most obedient and

most humble servant.