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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to Robert Hunter - 2



LONDON, MARCH 22, 1708-9.

I AM very much obliged to you for the favour of a kind reproach you sent me, in a letter to Mr. Addison, which he never told me of till this day, and that accidentally; but I am glad at the same time, that I did not deserve it, having sent you a long letter, in return to that you was pleased to honour me with; and it is a pity it should be lost; for as I remember, it was full of the diei fabulas, and such particularities as do not usually find place in newspapers. Mr. Addison has been so taken up for some months in the amphibious circumstances of premier C—— to my lord Sunderland, and secretary of state[1] for Ireland, that he is the worst man I know either to convey an idle letter, or deliver what he receives; so that I design, when I trust him with this, to give him a memorial along with it; for if my former has miscarried, I am half persuaded to give him the blame. I find you a little lament your bondage, and indeed in your case it requires a good share of philosophy: but if you will not be angry, I believe I may have been the cause you are still a prisoner; for I imagine my former letter was intercepted by the French court, when the most christian king reading one passage in it, (and duly considering the weight of the person who wrote it) where I said, if the French understood your value as well as we do, he would not exchange you for count Tallard, and all the Debris of Blenheim together; for I must confess, I did not rally when I said so.

I hear your good sister, the queen of Pomunki, waits with impatience till you are restored to your dominions: and that your rogue of a viceroy returns money fast for England, against the time he must retire from his government. Mean time Philips writes verses in a sledge[2], upon the frozen sea, and transmits them hither to thrive in our warmer clime under the shelter of my lord Dorset. I could send you a great deal of news from the Republica Grubstreetaria, which was never in greater altitude, though I have been of late but a small contributor. A cargo of splinters from the Arabian rocks have been lately shipwrecked in the Thames, to the irreparable damage of the virtuosi. Mrs. Long and I are fallen out; I shall not trouble you with the cause, but don't you think her altogether in the wrong? But Mrs. Barton is still in my good graces; I design to make her tell me when you are to be redeemed, and will send you word. There's it now, you think I am in jest; but I assure you, the best intelligence I get of publick affairs is from ladies, for the ministers never tell me any thing; and Mr. Addison is nine times more secret to me than any body else, because I have the happiness to be thought his friend. The company at St. James's coffeehouse is as bad as ever, but it is not quite so good. The beauties you left are all gone off this frost, and we have got a new set for spring, of which Mrs. Chetwind and Mrs. Worsley are the principal. The vogue of operas holds up wonderfully, though we have had them a year; but I design to set up a party among the wits to run them down by next winter, if true English caprice does not interpose to save us the labour. Mademoiselle Spanheim is going to marry my lord Fitzharding, at least I have heard so; and if you find it otherwise at your return, the consequences may possibly be survived; however, you may tell it the Paris gazetteer, and let me have the pleasure to read a lie of my own sending. I suppose you have heard, that the town has lost an old duke, and recovered a mad duchess. The duke of Marlborough has at length found an enemy that dares face him, and which he will certainly fly before with the first opportunity, and we are all of opinion it will be his wisest course to do so. Now the way to be prodigiously witty, would be, by keeping you in suspense, and not letting you know that this enemy is thing but this north-east wind, which stops his voyage to Holland. This letter going in Mr. Addison's packet will, I hope, have better luck than the former. I shall go for Ireland some time in summer, being not able to make my friends in the ministry consider my merits, or their promises, enough to keep me here; so that all my hopes now terminate in my bishoprick of Virginia: in the mean time I hold fast my claim to your promise of corresponding with me, and that you will henceforward address your letter for me at Mr. Steele's[3] office at the cockpit, who has promised his care in conveying them. Mr. Domvil is now at Geneva, and sends me word, he is become a convert to the whigs, by observing the good and ill effects of freedom and slavery abroad.

I am now with Mr. Addison, with whom I have fifty times drunk your health since you left us. He is hurrying away for Ireland, and I can at present lengthen my letter no farther; and I am not certain whether you will have any from him or not till he gets to Ireland. However, he commands me to assure you of his humble service; and I pray God too much business may not spoil le plus honnéte homme du monde; for it is certain, which of a man's good talents he employs on business, must be detracted from his conversation. I cannot write longer in so good company, and therefore conclude

Your most faithful

and most humble servant,

  1. Principal secretary to the earl of Wharton, lord lieutenant of Ireland.
  2. Ambrose Philips, esq. See his Lapland, and other pastorals in his poems.
  3. Afterward sir Richard, then under secretary of state.