The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to Richard Steele - 1
TO MR. STEELE.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * I may probably know better, when they are disposed * * * * * * *. The case was thus: I did, with the utmost application, and desiring to lay all my credit upon it, desire Mr. Harley (as he then was called) to show you mercy. He said, "He would, and wholly upon my account: that he would appoint you a day to see him: that he would not expect you should quit any friend or principle." Some days after, he told me, "He had appointed you a day and you had not kept it;" upon which he reproached me, as engaging for more than I could answer; and advised me to more caution another time. I told him, and desired my lord chancellor and lord Bolingbroke to be witnesses, that I would never speak for, or against you, as long as I lived; only I would add, that it was still my opinion, you should have mercy till you gave further provocations. This is the history of what you think fit to call, in the spirit of insulting, "their laughing at me:" and you may do it securely; for, by the most inhuman dealings, you have wholly put it out of my power, as a christian, to do you the least ill office. Next I desire to know, whether the greatest services ever done by one man to another, may not have the same turn as properly applied to them? And, once more, suppose they did laugh at me, I ask whether my inclinations to serve you, merit to be rewarded by the vilest treatment, whether they succeeded or not? If your interpretation were true, I was laughed at only for your sake; which, I think, is going pretty far to serve a friend. As to the letter I complain of, I appeal to your most partial friends, whether you ought not either to have asked, or written to me, or desired to have been informed by a third hand, whether I were any way concerned in writing the Examiner? And if I had shuffled, or answered indirectly, or affirmed it, or said I would not give you satisfaction; you might then have wreaked your revenge with some colour of justice. I have several times assured Mr. Addison, and fifty others, "That I had not the least hand in writing any of those papers; and that I had never exchanged one syllable with the supposed author in my life, that I can remember, nor ever seen him above twice, and that in mixed company, in a place where he came to pay his attendance." One thing more I must observe to you, that a year or two ago, when some printers used to bring me their papers in manuscript, I absolutely forbid them to give any hints against Mr. Addison and you, and some others; and have frequently struck out reflections upon you in particular, and should (I believe) have done it still, if I had not wholly left off troubling myself about those kind of things.
I protest, I never saw any thing more liable to exception, than every part is of the letter you were pleased to write me. You plead, "That I do not, in mine to Mr. Addison, in direct terms, say I am not concerned with the Examiner." And is that an excuse for the most savage injuries in the world a week before? How far you can prevail with the Guardian, I shall not trouble myself to inquire; and am more concerned how you will clear your own honour and conscience, than my reputation. I shall hardly lose one friend by what you * * * * * * * I know not any * * * * * * * laugh at me for any * * * * * * absurdity of yours. There are solecisms in morals as well as in languages; and to which of the virtues you will reconcile your conduct to me, is past my imagination. Be pleased to put these questions to yourself: "If Dr. Swift be entirely innocent of what I accuse him, how shall I he able to make him satisfaction? And how do I know but he may be entirely innocent? If he was laughed at only because he solicited for me, is that a sufficient reason for me to say the vilest things of him in print, under my hand, without any provocation? And how do I know but he may be in the right, when he says I was kept in my employment at his interposition? If he never once reflected on me the least in any paper, and has hindered many others from doing it, how can I justify myself, for endeavouring in mine, to ruin his credit as a christian and a clergyman?"
I am, sir, your most obedient
- It has unluckily happened that two or three lines have been torn by accident from the beginning of this letter; and, by the same accident, two or three lines are missing toward the latter part, which were written on the back part of the paper which was torn off. But what remains of this letter will, I presume, be very satisfactory to the intelligent reader.
- Here the manuscript is torn.