The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to John Sterne - 5


LONDON, SEPT. 26, 1710.

ONE would think this an admirable place from whence to fill a letter, yet when I come to examine particulars, I find they either consist of news, which you hear as soon by the publick papers, or of persons and things, to which you are a stranger, and are the wiser and happier for being so. Here have been great men every day resigning their places; a resignation as sincere, as that of a usurer on his death bed. Here are some, that fear being whipped because they have broken their rod; and some that may be called to an account, because they could not cast one up. There are now not much above a dozen great employments to be disposed of, which, according to our computation, may be done in as many days. Patrick[1] assures me, his acquaintance are all very well satisfied with these changes, which I take for no ill symptom, and it is certain the queen has never appeared so easy or so cheerful. I found my lord Godolphin the worst dissembler of any of them, that I have talked to; and no wonder, since his loss and danger are greater, beside the addition of age and complection. My lord lieutenant[2] is gone to the country, to bustle about elections. He is not yet removed; because they say it will be requisite to supersede him by a successor, which the queen has not fixed on; nor is it agreed whether the duke of Shrewsbury or Ormond[3] stand fairest. I speak only for this morning, because reports usually change every twenty-four hours. Mean time the pamphlets and half sheets grow so upon our hands, it will very well employ a man every day from morning till night to read them, and so out of perfect despair I never read any at all. The whigs, like an army beat three quarters out of the field, begin to skirmish but faintly; and deserters daily come over. We are amazed to find our mistakes, and how it was possible to see so much merit where there was none, and to overlook it where there was so much. When a great minister has lost his place, immediately virtue, honour, and wit fly over to his successor, with the other ensigns of his office. Since I left off writing, I received a letter from my lord archbishop of Dublin, or rather two letters, upon these memorials. I think immediately to begin my soliciting, though they are not very perfect; for I would be glad to know, whether my lord archbishop would have the same method taken here, that has been done in England, to settle it by parliament: but, however that will be time enough thought of this good while.

I must here tell you, that the dean of St. Patrick's lives better than any man of quality I know; yet this day I dined with the comptroller[4], who tells me, he drinks the queen's wine to day. I saw collector Sterne[5], who desired me to present his service to you, and to tell you he would be glad to hear from you, but not about business; by which, I told him, I guessed he was putting you off about something you desired.

I would much rather be now in Ireland drinking your good wine, and looking over, while you lost a crown at penny ombre. I am weary of the caresses of great men out of place. The comptroller expects every day the queen's commands to break his staff. He is the last great houshold officer they intend to turn out. My lord lieutenant is yet in, because they cannot agree about his sucessor. I am your most obedient humble servant,

  1. Dr. Swift's servant.
  2. 'Earl of Wharton.'
  3. The duke of Ormond was appointed lord lieutenant, Oct. 26, 1710.
  4. Sir John Holland, bart.
  5. Enoch Sterne, esq., collector of Wicklow, and clerk of the house of lords in Ireland.