The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to Robert Harley - 4

JULY 1, 1714.

WHEN I was with you, I have said more than once, that I would never allow quality or station made any real difference between men. Being now absent and forgotten[1], I have changed my mind: you have a thousand people who can pretend they love you, with as much appearance of sincerity as I; so that, according to common justice, I can have but a thousandth part in return of what I give. And this difference is wholly owing to your station. And the misfortune is still the greater, because I always loved you just so much the worse for your station: for, in your publick capacity, you have often angered me to the heart; but, as a private man, never once. So that, if I only look toward myself, I could wish you a private man to morrow: for I have nothing to ask; at least nothing that you will give, which is the same thing: and then you would see whether I should not with much more willingness attend you in a retirement, whenever you please to give me leave, than ever I did at London or Windsor. From these sentiments, I will never write to you, if I can help it, otherwise than as to a private person, or allow myself to have been obliged by you in any other capacity.

Tht memory of one great instance of your candour and justice, I will carry to my grave: that having been in a manner domestick with you for almost four years, it was never in the power of any publick, or concealed enemy, to make you think ill of me, though malice and envy were often employed to that end. If I live, posterity shall know that, and more; which, though you, and somebody that shall be nameless, seem to value less than I could wish, is all the return I can make you. Will you give me leave to say how I would desire to stand in your memory? As one, who was truly sensible of the honour you did him, though he was too proud to be vain upon it: as one, who was neither assuming, officious, nor teasing; who never wilfully misrepresented persons or facts to you, nor consulted his passions when he gave a character: and lastly, as one, whose indiscretions proceeded altogether from a weak head, and not an ill heart. I will add one thing more, which is the highest compliment I can make, that I never was afraid of offending you, nor am now in any pain for the manner I write to you in. I have said enough; and, like one at your levee, having made my bow, I shrink back into the crowd. I am, &c.

  1. The dean was now retired to Letcombe in Berkshire, to its house of the Rev. Mr. Gery.