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


DEC. 21, 1711.

HAD not a very painful distemper confined me, I had desired the favour of seeing you some time since; and I should have spoken very plainly to you, as I shall whenever I see you. I have long foretold, that the dissenters must be saved whether they will or not: they resist even restraining grace; and would almost convince me, that the notion of man's being a mechanism is true in every part. To see men moved as puppets, with rage for their interest, with envy acting against their own interest, having men's persons in admiration: not only those of their own body, who certainly are the first who pretended to consummate wisdom and deep policy, yet have shown that they knew not the common affairs of this nation, but are dwellers in thick clay. They are epicureans in act, puritans in profession, politicians in conceit, and a prey and laughingstock to the deists and synagogue of the libertines, in whom they have trusted, and to whose infallibility they have sold themselves and their congregations. All they have done, or can do, shall never make me their enemy. I pity poor deluded creatures, that have for seventeen years been acting against all their principles, and the liberty of this nation, without leaving so much salt as to keep the body of them sweet: for there has not been one good bill, during that term of years, which they have not opposed in the house of commons: contrary to the practice of those very few dissenters which were in the parliament in king Charles the Second's time, who thereby united themselves to the country gentlemen, the advantage of which they found for many years after. But now they have listed themselves with those, who had first denied our Saviour, and now have sold them.

I have written this only to show you, that I am ready to do every thing that is practicable, to save people who are bargained for by their leaders, and given up by their ministers: I say, their ministers; because it is averred and represented, that the dissenting ministers have been consulted, and are consenting to this bill. By what lies and arts they are brought to this, I do not care to mention; but, as to myself, the engineers of this bill thought they had obtained a great advantage against me: finding I had stopped it in the house of commons, they thought to bring me to a fatal dilemma, whether it did, or did not pass. This would have no influence with me; for I will act what I think to be right, let there be the worst enemies in the world of one side or other. I guess, by your letter, that you do not know that the bill yesterday passed both houses, the lords having agreed to the amendments made by the commons; so that there is no room to do any thing upon that head.

What remains is, to desire that the dissenters may seriously think from whence they are fallen, and do their first works — and recover their reputation of sobriety, integrity, and love of their country, which is the sincere and hearty prayer of,

Reverend sir,

your most faithful and

most humble servant,

  1. The answer was written by Dr. Swift, as appears not only from his handwriting, but particularly from a correction in the original draught. It appears also, by the Journal to Stella, that another answer had been written by the earl of Oxford; "which his friends would not let him send, but was a very good one."