The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to William King - 11

LONDON, DEC. 30, 1710.

I HAVE just received your grace's letter of the 16th; and I was going however to write again to your grace, not upon business, but to amuse you with something from hence, which no man wants more than your grace, considering the variety of other people's affairs you have always on your hands, as well as the church's and your own, which are the same thing. The duke of Ormond told me the other day, that the primate[1] declined very fast, and was hardly able to sign a paper. I said, I wondered they would put him in the government, when every one knew he was a dying man this twelve-month past. I hope, for the church's good, that your grace's friends will do their duty, in representing you as the person the kingdom wishes to succeed him. I know not how your dispositions stand that way. I know my lord president has great credit at present, and I have understood him to be a friend to your grace. I can only say, I have no regard to your interest in this, but that of the church; and therefore should be very glad to drop in a word where it lies in my way, if I thought it would not be disagreeable to you. I dread their sending a person from hence, which I shall venture to prevent with all the little credit I have, and should be glad to see a primate of our own kingdom and university; and that is all I shall venture to say on this subject.

Marshal Staremberg[2] has certainly got to Saragossa with 7000 men, and the duke of Vendosme[3] has sent him his equipage. Mr. Stanhope was positive to part forces with Staremberg, which occasioned this loss; and when the battle was, they were several miles asunder. The duke of Marlborough was yesterday an hour with the queen; it was set him at twelve at noon, when it was likely his visit should be shortest. Mr. St. John was with her just before, and Mr. Harley just after. The duke's behaviour was with the most abject submission; "that he was the meanest of her majesty's instruments; her humble creature, a poor worm[4]," &c. This I had from a lord to whom the queen told it: for the ministers never tell any thing; and it is only by picking out and comparing, that one can ever be the wiser for them. I took leave yesterday of lord Peterborow, who is going in a day or two to Vienna: I said, I wished he were going to Spain; he told me, he hoped his present journey would be to more purpose; and by what I can gather, they will use all means to make as speedy a peace as possible, with safety and honour. Lord Rivers tells me he will not set out for Hanover this month. I asked him about his late reception there, because the town was full of stories about it; he assured me he could not desire a better; and if it were otherwise, I believe he would hardly be pitched upon to be sent again. The young people in parliament are very eager to have some inquiries made into past managements, and are a little angry with the slackness of the ministry upon that article; they say, they have told those who sent them, that the queen's calling a new parliament was to correct and look into former abuses; and if something of the latter be not done, they know not how to answer it. I am not altogether satisfied how the ministry is disposed in this point. Your grace has heard there was much talk lately of sir Richard Levinge's[5] design to impeach lord Wharton; and several persons of great consideration in the house assured me they would give him all encouragement; and I have reason to know, it would be acceptable to the court: but sir Richard is the most timorous man alive, and they all begin to look upon him in that character, and to hope nothing from him: however, they talk of some other inquiries when the parliament meets after this recess; and it is often in people's mouths that February will be a warm month; but this I can affirm nothing of, and I hope your grace will distinguish between what I affirm, and what I report: as to the first, you may securely count upon it; the other you will please to take as it is sent.

Since the letter from the bishops to the duke of Ormond, I have been a much cooler solicitor; for I look upon myself no longer a deputed person. Your grace may be fully satisfied that the thing is granted, because I had orders to report it to you from the prime minister; the rest is form, and may be done at any time; as for bringing the letter over myself, I must again profess to your grace, that I do not regard the reputation of it at all; perhaps I might if I were in Ireland; but, when I am on this side, a certain pride seizes me, from very different usage I meet with, which makes me look on things in another light: but besides I beg to tell your grace in confidence, that the ministry have desired me to continue here some time longer, for certain reasons, that I may some time have the honour to tell you. As for every body's knowing what is done in the first-fruits, it was I that told it; for, after I saw the bishop's letter, I let every one know it in perfect spite, and told Mr. Harley and Mr. secretary St. John so. However, in humble deference to your grace's opinion, and not to appear sullen, I did yesterday complain to Mr. secretary St. John, that Mr. Harley had not yet got the letter from the queen to confirm the grant of the first-fruits; that I had lost reputation by it; and that I took it very ill of them both; and that their excuses of parliament business, and grief for the loss in Spain, were what I would bear no longer. He took all I said very well, and desired I would call on him to morrow morning, and he would engage if Mr. Harley had not done it, he himself would in a day or two. As soon as there is any issue of this, I shall inform your grace; and I have reason to think it is a trifle they will not refuse me.

I think I had from other hands some accounts of that ridiculous plot[6] your grace mentions, but it is not yet talked of here, neither have any of the ministry mentioned a word of it to me, although they are well apprised of some affairs in Ireland; for I had two papers given me by a great man, one about the sentence of the defacers of the statue, and the other about a trial before the lord chief justice Broderick, for some words in the north, spoken by a clergyman against the queen. I suppose your grace reckons upon a new parliament in Ireland, with some alterations in the council, the law, and the revenue. Your grace is the most exact correspondent I ever had, and the dean of St. Patrick's directly contrary, which I hope you will remember to say to him upon the occasion. I am, with the greatest respect, my lord,

Your grace's most dutiful

and most humble servant,

I have read over this letter, and find several things relating to affairs here, that are said in perfect confidence to your grace: if they are told again, I only desire it may not be known from what hand they came.

  1. Dr. Marsh.
  2. General and commander of the Imperial forces in Spain.
  3. Commander of the French.
  4. If the duke had that meanness, the queen laughed at him.
  5. Speaker of the house of commons, and lord chief justice of the queen's bench.
  6. The information of Dominick Langton, a converted priest; of whom see hereafter in a letter of Oct. 27, 1711.