The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to Mary Ormond - 1

DEC. 20, 1712.

ANY other person, of less refinement and prudence than myself, would be at a loss how to thank your grace, upon the surprise of coming home last night, and finding two pictures where only one was demanded. But I understand your grace's malice, and do here affirm you to be the greatest prude upon earth. You will not so much as let your picture be alone in a room with a man, no not with a clergyman, and a clergyman of five and forty; and therefore resolved my lord duke should accompany it, and keep me in awe, that I might not presume to look too often upon it. For my own part, I begin already to repent that I ever begged your grace's picture; and could almost find in my heart to send it you back: for, although it be the most beautiful sight I ever beheld, except the original, yet the veneration and respect it tills me with, will always make me think I am in your grace's presence; will hinder me from saying and writing twenty idle things, that used to divert me: will set me labouring upon majestick, sublime ideas, at which I have no manner of talent; and will make those who come to visit me, think I am grown, on the sudden, wonderful stately and reserved. But, in life, we must take the evil with the good; and it is one comfort, that I know how to be revenged. For, the sight of your grace's resemblance will perpetually remind me of paying my duty to your person; which will give your grace the torment, and me the felicity, of a more frequent attendance.

But, after all, to deal plainly with your grace, your picture (and I must say the same of my lord duke's) will be of very little use, farther than to let others see the honour you are pleased to do me: for, all the accomplishments of your mind and person are so deeply printed in the heart, and represent you so lively to my imagination, that I should take it for a high affront, if you believed it in the power of colours to refresh my memory: almost as high a one, as if your grace should deny me the justice of being, with the most profound respect and gratitude, madam, your grace's, &c.