The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to Robert Hunter - 1



LONDON, JAN. 12, 1708-9.

I KNOW no people so ill used by your men of business, as their intimate friends. About a fortnight after Mr. Addison had received the letter you were pleased to send me, he first told me of it with an air of recollection, and after ten farther of grace, thought fit to give it me; so you know where to fix the whole blame that it was no sooner acknowledged. 'Tis a delicate expedient you prisoners have of diverting yourselves in an enemy's country, for which other men would be hanged. I am considering, whether there be no way of disturbing your quiet by writing some dark matter, that may give the French court a jealousy of you. I suppose, monsieur Chamillard, or some of his commissaries, must have this letter interpreted to them, before it comes to your hands; and therefore I here think, good to warn them, that if they exchange you under six of their lieutenant-generals, they will be losers by the bargain. But that they may not mistake me, I do not mean as viceroy de Virginia, mais comme le colonel Hunter. I would advise you to be very tender of your honour, and not fall in love; because I have a scruple, whether you can keep your parole, if you become a prisoner to the ladies; at least it will be scandalous for a free Briton to drag two chains at once. I presume, you have the liberty of Paris, and fifty miles round, and have a very light pair of fetters, contrived to ride or dance in, and see Versailles, and every place else, except St. Germain[1]. I hear the ladies call you already nôtre prisonnier Hunter, le plus honnête garçon du monde. Will you French yet own us Britons to be a brave people? Will they allow the duke of Marlborough to be a great general? Or., are they all as partial as their gazetteers? Have you yet met any French colonel whom you remember to have formerly knocked from his horse, or shivered at least a lance against his breastplate? Do you know the wounds you have given, when you see the scars? Do you salute your old enemies with — Stetimus tela aspera contra, Contulimusque manus. Vous savez que — Monsieur d' Addison, nôtre bon ami, est fait secrétaire d'état d' Irlande; and unless you make haste over, and get my Virginian bishoprick, he will persuade me to go with him, for the Vienna project is off; which is a great disappointment to the design I had of displaying my politicks at the emperor's court. I do not like the subject you have assigned me to entertain you with. Crouder is sick, to the comfort of all quiet people, and Fraud is rêveur à Peindre. Mr. Addison and I often drink your health, and this day I did it with Will Pate[2], a certain adorer of yours, who is both a bel esprit and a woollen draper. The whigs carry all before them, and how far they will pursue their victories, we underrate whigs can hardly tell. I have not yet observed the tories noses; their number is not to be learnt by telling of noses, for every tory has not a nose. — 'Tis a loss, you are not here to partake of three weeks frost, and eat gingerbread in a booth by a fire upon the Thames. Mrs. Floyd looked out with both her eyes, and we had one day's thaw; but she drew in her head, and it now freezes as hard as ever. As for the convocation, the queen thought fit to prorogue it, though at the expense of Dr. Atterbury's displeasure, who was designed their prolocutor, and is now raging at the disappointment. I amuse myself sometimes with writing verses to Mrs. Finch, and sometimes with projects for the uniting of parties, which I perfect over night, and burn in the morning. Sometimes Mr. Addison and I steal to a pint of bad wine, and wish for no third person but you; who, if you were with us, would never be satisfied without three more. You know I believe that poor Dr. Gregory[3] is dead, and Keil[3]solicits to be his successor; but party reaches even to lines and circles, and he will hardly carry it, being reputed a tory, which yet he utterly denies. We are here nine times madder after operas than ever; and have got a new castrato from Italy, called Nicolini, who exceeds Valentini, I know not how many bars length. Lord Somers and Halifax are as well as busy statesmen can be in parliament time. Lord Dorset is nobody's favourite but your's and Mr. Prior's, who has lately dedicated his book of poems to him; which is all the press has furnished us of any value since you went. Mr. Pringle, a gentleman of Scotland, succeeds Mr. Addison in the secretary's office; and Mr. Shute, a notable young presbyterian gentleman under thirty years old, is made a commissioner of the customs. This is all I can think of, either publick or private, worth telling you; perhaps you have heard part or all of both, from other hands, but you must be content: pray let us know what hopes we have of seeing you, and how soon; and be so kind, or just, to believe me always

Your most faithful,

humble servant,

P. S. Mr. Steele presents his most humble service to you; and I cannot forbear telling you of your méchanceté to impute the Letter of Enthusiasm to me; when I have some good reasons to think the author is now at Paris.

  1. Then the palace of the queen dowager of James II, and the pretender.
  2. See Journal to Stella, Sept. 17, Oct. 6, 1710.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Two famous mathematicians, who published several treatises in that science and in astronomy.