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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to Henry St. John - 3

DUBLIN, SEPT. 10, 1714.

I HOPE your lordship, who were always so kind to me while you were a servant, will not forget me now in your greatness. I give you this caution, because I really believe you will be apt to be exalted in your new station of retirement, which was the only honourable post that those who gave it you were capable of conferring. And as, in other employments, the circumstances with which they are given, are sometimes said to be equally valuable with the gift itself, so it was in your case. The sealing up your office, and especially without any directions from the king, discovered such sentiments of you in such persons, as would make any honest man proud to share them.

I must be so free as to tell you, that this new office of retirement will be harder for you to keep, than that of secretary: and, you lie under one great disadvantage, beside your being too young; that whereas none but knaves and fools desire to deprive you of your former post, all the honest men in England will be for putting you out of this.

I go on in writing, though I know not how to send you my letter. If I were sure it would be opened by the sealers of your office, I would fill it with some terms of art, that they would better deserve, than relish.

It is a point of wisdom too hard for me, not to look back with vexation upon past management. Divines tell us often from their pulpits, "That half the pains which some men take to be damned, would have compassed their salvation:" this, I am sure, was extremely our case. I know not what motions your lordship intends: but, if I see the old whig measures taken in the next elections; and that the Court, the Bank, East India, and South Sea, act strenuously, and procure a majority; I shall lie down, and beg of Jupiter to heave the cart out of the dirt.

I would give all I am worth, for the sake of my country, that you had left your mantle with somebody in the house of commons, or that a dozen honest men among them had only so many shreds of it. —— And so, having dispatched all our friends in England, off flies a splinter, and knocks two governors of Ireland dead. I remember, we never had leisure to think of that kingdom. The poor dead queen is used like the giant Longaron in Rabelais. Pantagruel took Longaron by the heels, and made him his weapon to kill twenty other giants; then flung him over a river in the town, and killed two ducks and an old cat. I could talk very wisely to you, but you would regard me not. I could bid you, non desperare de republicâ; and say, that res nolunt diu malè administrari. But I will cut all short, and assure you, that, if you do not save us, I will not be at the pains of racking my invention to guess how we shall be saved; and yet I have read Polybius.

They tell me you have a very good crop of wheat, but the barley is bad. Hay will certainly be dear, unless we have an open winter. I hope you found your hounds in good condition, and that Bright has not made a stirrup-leather of your jockey-belt.

I imagine you now smoking with your humdrum squire (I forget his name) who can go home at midnight, and open a dozen gates when he is drunk.

I beg your lordship not to ask me to lend you any money. If you will come and live at the deanery, and furnish up an apartment, I will find you in victuals and drink, which is more than ever you got by the court: and as proud as you are, I hope to see you accept a part of this offer before I die.

The —— take this country; it has, in three weeks, spoiled two as good sixpenny pamphlets, as ever a proclamation was issued out against. And since we talk of that, will there not be * * * * * * * * * * * * *[1]? I shall be cured of loving England, as the fellow was of his ague, by getting himself whipped through the town.

I would retire too, if I could; but my country seat, where I have an acre of ground, is gone to ruin. The wall of my own apartment is fallen down, and I want mud to rebuild it, and straw to thatch it. Besides, a spiteful neighbour has seized on six feet of ground, carried off my trees, and spoiled my grove. All this is literally true, and I have not fortitude enough to go and see those devastations.

But, in return, I live a country life in town, see nobody, and go every day once to prayers; and hope, in a few months, to grow as stupid as the present situation of affairs will require.

Well, after all, parsons are not such bad company, especially when they are under subjection; and I let none but such come near me.

However, pray God forgive them, by whose indolence, neglect, or want of friendship, I am reduced to live with twenty leagues of salt water between your lordship and me, &c.

  1. Here are two or three words in the manuscript totally erased and illegible.