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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to John Sterne - 6

LONDON, DEC. 29, 1711.

THE reason I have not troubled you this long time with my letters, was, because I would not disturb the quiet you live in, and which the greatest and wisest men here would envy, if they knew; and which it is one part of your happiness that they do not. I have often sent the archbishop political letters, of which I suppose you have had part. I have some weeks ago received a letter from his grace, which I design to acknowledge in a short time (as I desire you will please to tell him) when things here come to some issue; and so we expect they will do in a little time. You know what an unexpected thing fell out the first day of this session in the house of lords, by the caprice, discontent, or some worse motive of the earl of Nottingham.

In above twenty years, that I have known something of courts, I never observed so many odd, dark, unaccountable circumstances in any publick affair. A majority against the court, carried by five or six depending lords, who owed the best part of their bread to pensions from the court, and who were told by the publick enemy, that what they did would be pleasing to the queen, though it was openly levelled against the first minister's head: again, those, whose pursestrings and heartstrings were the same, all on a sudden scattering their money to bribe votes: a lord[1], who had been so far always a tory, as often to be thought in the pretender's interest, giving his vote for the ruin of all his old friends, caressed by those whigs, who hated and abhorred him: the whigs all chiming in with a bill against occasional conformity; and the very dissenting ministers agreeing to it, for reasons that no body alive can tell; a resolution of breaking the treaty of peace, without any possible scheme for continuing the war: and all this owing to a doubtfulness, or inconstancy in one certain quarter, which, at this distance, I dare not describe. Neither do I find any one person, though deepest in affairs, who can tell what steps to take. On January the second, the house of lords is to meet, and, it is expected, they will go on in their votes and addresses against a peace.

On the other side, we are endeavouring to get a majority, and have called up two earls sons to the house of peers; and I thought six more would have been called, and perhaps they may before Wednesday. We expect the duke of Somerset and lord Cholmondeley will lose their places; but it is not yet done, and we wish for one more change at court, which you must guess. To know upon what small circumstances, and by what degrees, this change has been brought about, would require a great deal more than I can, or dare write.

There is not one, which I did not give warning of to those chiefly concerned, many months ago; and so did some others, for they were visible enough. This must infallibly end either in an entire change of measures and ministry, or in a firm establishment of our side. Delay, and tenderness to an inveterate party, have been very instrumental to this ill state of affairs. They tell me you in Ireland are furious against a peace; and it is a great jest to see people in Ireland furious for or against any thing.

I hope to see you in spring, when travelling weather comes on. But I have a mind to see the issue of this session. I reckon your hands are now out of mortar, and that your garden is finished: and I suppose you have now one or two fifty pounds ready for books, which I will lay out for you, if you will give me directions.

I have increased my own little library very considerably; I mean, as far as one fifty pounds, which is very considerable for me. I have just had a letter from the St. Mary ladies, &c[2]. I thought they were both dead; but I find they sometimes drink your claret still, and win your money. I am sir, your most obedient humble servant,

You know who.

P. S. I had sealed my letter, but have broke it open, to tell you, and all that love the church and crown, that all things are now well. The queen has turned out the duke of Somerset, and has created twelve new lords, of which three are peers eldest sons, the rest new created: so that a majority is past dispute. We are all in the greatest joy imaginable to find her majesty declare herself so seasonably.