The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to William King - 15

CHELSEA, MAY 10, 1711.

I HAVE had your grace's letter, of April 19, some time by me, but deferred my answer until I could give some account of what use I had made of it. I went immediately to Mr. secretary St. John, and read most of it to him; he was extremely satisfied, and very glad that scandalous account, designed to be printed in the Postboy, was suppressed. Mr. Harley was not then quite well enough; so I ventured (and hope your grace will not disapprove it) to show your letter to a gentleman who has a great respect for your grace, and who told me several others of Ireland were possessed of that report. I trusted the letter with him, and gave him leave to read it to them, which he told me he did, and that they were all entirely convinced: and indeed, as far as I can find, the report is quite blown over, and has left no impression. While your grace's letter was out of my hands, dining with Mr. Harley, he said to me, almost as soon as he saw me, "How came the archbishop of Dublin and I to fall out?" I told him I knew what he meant; but your grace was altogether misrepresented; and it must come from some infamous rascals, of which there never wants a set in that kingdom, who make it their business to send wrong characters here, &c. He answered, that he believed and knew it was as I said. I added, that I had the honour to be long known to your grace, and that you were the last man in the kingdom upon whom such a report could be fixed with any probability; and that, since he was pleased to mention this matter first, he must give me leave, the next time I saw him, to read a letter I had from your grace in answer to one of mine, wherein I had told you of such a report; he said, there was no need, for he firmly believed me. I answered smiling, that should not do, for I would never suffer a person for whom I had so great an esteem, to lie under the least suspicion of any thing wrong. Last Saturday, after dinner, I was again to wait on him. On that day of the week, my lord keeper, my lord Rivers, and Mr. secretary St. John, always used to dine with him before this accident; and sometimes they used to let me be of the company. This was the first Saturday they had met since his recovery; and I was in such joy to see the old club met again, that it affects me still, as your grace sees by my impertinence in mixing it with an account that only relates to yourself. I read those parts of your letter to him which I thought proper, and both he and the company did very frankly acquit your grace; and Mr. Harley in particular spoke a good deal of his respect and esteem for you; and then he repeated, that it was no new thing to receive lies from Ireland: which I doubt is so true, that no man of distinction in that kingdom is safe; and I wish it were possible to take some course to prevent the evil.

As for libels upon your grace, bating my concern for the souls of the writers, I should give you joy of them. You would less deserve your station, if knaves and fools did not hate you; and while these sects continue, may your grace and all good men be the object of their aversion.

My lord keeper, Mr. Harley, and one or two more, are immediately to be made peers: the town has been expecting it for some time, although the court make it yet a secret; but I can assure your grace of the truth, for the preambles to their patents are now drawing, and I saw a very handsome one for Mr. Harley. You'll please not to mention this particular, although it will be soon publick, but it is yet kept mighty private. Mr. Harley is to be lord treasurer. Perhaps, before the post leaves this town, all this will be openly told, and then I may be laughed at for being so mysterious; but so capricious are great men in their secrets. The first authentick assurances I had of these promotions was last Sunday, though the expectation has been strong for above a month. We suppose likewise that many changes will be made in the employments as soon as the session ends, which will be, I believe, in less than a fortnight.

Poor sir Cholmondeley Deering, of Kent, was yesterday in a duel shot through the body, by one Mr. Thornhill, in Tothilfields, and died in some hours.

I never mention any thing of the first-fruits either to Mr. Harley or the duke of Ormond. If it be done before his grace goes over, it is well, and there's an end: if not, I shall have the best opportunity of doing it in his absence. If I should speak of it now, perhaps it would be so contrived as to hinder me from soliciting it afterward; but, as soon as the duke is gone, I shall learn at the treasury what he has done in it.

I am, with great respect,

my lord,

your grace's most dutiful

and obliged humble servant,

I have been at this town this fortnight for my health, and to be under a necessity of walking to and from London every day. But your grace will please still to direct your letters under cover to Mr. Lewis.