The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to Narcissus Marsh - 1


LONDON, NOV. 30, 1708.

I WRIT to you about a fortnight ago, after my return from the country, and gave you some account of an intended change at court, which is now finished. Care was taken to put lord Pembroke in mind of the first fruits before he went out of his office; but it was needless, for his excellency had it at heart, and the thing is done, of which, I suppose, you have an account. You know who goes over chaplain; the archbishop of Canterbury, and several other bishops, and the lord treasurer himself, solicited that matter in a body: it was thought absolutely necessary, considering the dismal notion they have here of so many high church archbishops among you; and your friend[1] made no application, for reasons left you to guess. I cannot yet learn whether you are to have a new parliament; but I am apt to think you will, and that it must bethought necessary. The affair of Drogheda[2] has made a noise here, and like every thing else on your side, is used as a handle: I have had it rung in my ears from certain persons. I hope you are prepared to take off the sacramental test, because that will be a means to have it taken off here among us; and that the clergy will be for it, in consideration of the queen's bounty; and that men in employment will be so wise as to please the court, and secure themselves; but, to think there is any design of bringing the Scotch into offices, is a mere scandal.

Lord Pembroke is to have the admiralty only a few months, then to have a pension of 4000l. a year, and to retire; and it is thought lord Orford will succeed him, and then it is hoped, there will be an entire change in the admiralty; that sir John Leake will be turned out, and the whigs so well confirmed, that it will not be in the power of the court, upon a peace, to bring the balance on the other side.

One Mr. Shute is named for secretary to lord Wharton: he is a young man, but reckoned the shrewdest head in England: and the person in whom the presbyterians chiefly confide; and, if money be necessary toward the good work in Ireland, it is reckoned he can command as far as 100000l. from the body of dissenters here. As to his principles, he is truly a moderate man, frequenting the church and the meeting indifferently, &c.[3].

The clergy are here in an uproar upon their being prorogued: the archbishop of Canterbury takes pains to have it believed it was a thing done without his knowledge. A divine of note (but of the wrong side) was with me the other day, and said, he had it from a good hand, that the reason of this proceeding was an intention of putting the parliament on examining and correcting courts ecclesiastick, &c.

The archbishop of Dublin is represented here as one that will very much oppose our designs; and, although I will not say that the Observator is paid for writing as he does; yet I can positively affirm to you, that whatever he says of that bishop, or of the affairs of Ireland, or those here, is exactly agreeable to our thoughts and intentions.

This is all I can recollect, fit to inform you at present. — If you please, I shall from time to time send you any thing that comes to my knowledge, that may be worth your notice.

I am, &c.

  1. He means himself. The archbishop had advised him to apply for the chaplainship to lord Wharton. Dr. Lambert was appointed.
  2. Some disputes in corporation affairs.
  3. On this passage it has been observed by Mr. Luson (Duncombe's Collection, Append, to vol. II, p. xliii.) "This fair character of a whig from Swift is so extraordinary, that it seems as if nothing but truth could have extorted it. It is, however, observable, that with no other correspondent, the extravagance of Swift's humour, and the virulence of his prejudices, are half so much restrained, as in his letters to Dr. King. He certainly either feared or respected this prelate, more than any other person with whom he corresponded."