The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to Richard Steele - 2

MAY 27, 1713.

THE reason I give you the trouble of this reply to your letter, is because I am going in a very few days to Ireland: and although I intended to return toward winter, yet it may happen, from the common accidents of life, that I may never see you again.

In your yesterday's letter, you are pleased to take the complaining side, and think it hard I should write to Mr. Addison as I did, only for an allusion. This allusion was only calling a clergyman of some little distinction an infidel: a clergyman, who was your friend, who always loved you, who had endeavoured at least to serve you; and who, whenever he did write any thing, made it sacred to himself never to fling out the least hint against you.

One thing you are pleased to fix on me, as what you are sure of; that the Examiner had talked after me, when he said, "Mr. Addison had bridled you in point of party." I do not read one in six of those papers, nor ever knew he had such a passage; and I am so ignorant of this, that I cannot tell what it means: whether, that Mr. Addison kept you close to a party, or that he hindered you from writing about party. I never talked or writ to that author in my life; so that he could not have learned it from me. And in short, I solemnly affirm, that with relation to every friend I have, I am as innocent, as it is possible for a human creature to be. And whether you believe me or not, I think, with submission, you ought to act as if you believed me, till you have demonstration to the contrary. I have all the ministry to be my witnesses, that there is hardly a man of wit of the adverse party, whom I have not been so bold as to recommend often and with earnestness to them: for, I think, principles at present are quite out of the case, and that we dispute wholly about persons. In these last you and I differ; but in the other, I think, we agree: for I have in print professed myself in politicks, to be what we formerly called a whig.

As to the great man[1] whose defence you undertake; though I do not think so well of him as you do, yet I have been the cause of preventing five hundred hard things being said against him.

I am sensible I have talked too much when myself is the subject: therefore I conclude with sincere wishes for your health and prosperity, and am,

Sir, your's, &c.

You cannot but remember, that in the only thing I ever published with my name, I took care to celebrate you as much as I could, and in as handsome a manner, though it was in a letter to the present lord treasurer.