The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to Narcissus Marsh - 3

MARCH 26, 1709.

I SHOULD have acknowledged your's of February 10, long ago, if I had not stayed to see what became of the first-fruits. I have likewise your's of the 12th instant. I will now tell you the proceedings in this unhappy affair. Some time after the prince's death, lord Pembroke sent me word by sir Andrew Fountaine, that the queen had granted the thing, and afterward took the compliment I made him upon it. He likewise (I suppose) writ to the same purpose himself to the archbishop of Dublin. I was then for a long time pursued by a cruel illness, that seized me at fits, and hindered me from meddling in any business; neither indeed could I at all suspect there was any need to stir any more in this, until, often asking Mr. Addison whether he had any orders about it, I was a little in pain, and desired Mr. Addison to inquire at the treasury, whether such a grant had then passed? and finding an unwillingness, I inquired myself; where Mr. Taylor assured me there were never any orders for such a grant. This was a month ago, and then I began to despair of the whole thing. Lord Pembroke was hard to be seen, neither did I think it worth talking the matter with him. What perplexed me most was, why he should tell me, and write to Ireland, that the business was done; for if the account he sent to Ireland were not as positive as what he gave me, I ought to be told so from thence. I had no opportunity of clearing this matter until the day I received your last letter; when his explanation was, that he had been promised he should carry over the grant when he returned to Ireland, and that his memorial was now in the treasury. Yet, when I had formerly begged leave to follow this matter with lord treasurer, only in the form of common soliciting, he was uneasy, and told me lord treasurer had nothing at all to do with it: but that it was a matter purely between the queen and himself, as I have told you in former letters; which, however, I knew then to be otherwise, from lord treasurer himself. So that all I had left me to do was only the cold amusement of now and then refreshing lord Pembroke's memory, or giving the ministry, as I could find opportunity, good dispositions toward the thing. Upon this notice from lord Pembroke, I immediately went to lord Wharton, which was the first attendance I ever paid him; he was then in a great crowd; I told him my business; he said, he could not then discourse of it with me, but would the next day. I guessed the meaning of that, and saw the very person I expected, just come from him. Then I gave him an account of my errand. I think it not convenient to repeat here the particulars of his answer; but the formal part was this: That he was not yet properly lord lieutenant, until he was sworn; that he expected the same application should be made to him, as had been done to other lord lieutenants; that he was very well disposed, &c. I took the boldness to begin answering those objections, and designed to offer some reasons; but he rose suddenly, turned off the discourse, and seemed in haste; so I was forced to take my leave. I had an intention to offer my reasons in a memorial; but was advised, by very good hands, to let it alone, as infallibly to no purpose. And in short, I observe such a reluctance in some friends, whose credit I would employ, that I begin to think no farther of it.

I had writ thus far without receiving a former letter from the archbishop of Dublin, wherein he tells me positively that lord Pembroke had sent him word the first-fruits were granted, and that lord Wharton would carry over the queen's letter, &c. I appeal to you, what any man could think after this? neither indeed had I the least suspicion, until Mr. Addison told me he knew nothing of it; and that I had the same account from the treasury. It is wonderful a great minister should make no difference between a grant, and a promise of a grant; and it is as strange that all I could say would not prevail on him to give me leave to solicit the finishing of it at the treasury, which could not have taken the least grain of merit from him. Had I the least suspected it had been only a promise, I would have applied to lord Wharton above two months ago; and so, I believe, would the archbishop of Dublin from Ireland; which might have prevented, at least, the present excuse, of not having had the same application; although others might, I suppose, have been found.

I sent last post, by the lord lieutenant's commands, an enclosed letter, from his excellency, to the lord primate. In answer to a passage in your former letter; Mr. Stoughton is recommended for a chaplain to the lord lieutenant. His sermon is much recommended by several here. He is a prudent person, and knows how to time things. Others of somewhat better figure are as wise as he. A bold opinion is a short easy way to merit, and very necessary for those who have no other.

I am extremely afflicted with a cold and cough attending it, which must excuse any thing ill expressed in this letter. Neither is it a subject in the present circumstances very pleasant to dwell upon.

I am, &c.