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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to John Campbell - 1


JANUARY, 20, 1712-13.

I WOULD myself have delivered the answer I sent yesterday to your grace at court by Dr. Arbuthnot, if I had not thought the right of complaining to be on my side: for, I think it was my due, that you should have immediately told me whatever you had heard amiss of my conduct to your grace. When I had the honour to be first known to those in the ministry, I made it an express condition, "that whoever did me ill offices, they should inform me of what was said, and hear my vindication; that I might not be mortified with countenances estranged of the sudden, and be at a loss for the cause." And I think, there is no person alive, whose favour or protection I would purchase at that expense. I could not speak to the disadvantage of your grace without being ungrateful (which is an ill word) since you were pleased voluntarily to make so many professions of favour to me for some years past; and your being a duke and a general would have swayed me not at all in my respect for your person, if I had not thought you to abound in qualities, which I wish were easier to be found in those of your rank. I have indeed sometimes heard what your grace was told I reported; but as I am a stranger to coffeehouses, so it is a great deal below me to spread coffeehouse reports. This accusation is a little the harder upon me, because I have always appeared fond of your grace's character; and have, with great industry, related several of your generous actions, on purpose to remove the imputation of the only real fault[1] (for I say nothing of common frailties) which I ever heard laid to your charge. I confess, I have often thought that Homer's description of Achilles bore some resemblance to your grace, but I do not remember that ever I said so. At the same time, I think few men were ever born with nobler qualities, to fulfil and adorn every office of a subject, a friend, and a protector, &c.

  1. In another letter, Dr. Swift speaks of "his unquiet and ambitious spirit, never easy while there was any one above him."