The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to William King - 32

DUBLIN, NOV. 13, 1716.

THE reason I never gave your grace the trouble of a letter, was, because it could only be a trouble, without either entertainment or use; for I am so much out, even of this little world, that I know not the commonest occurrences in it; neither do I now write to your grace upon any sort of business, for I have nothing to ask but your blessing and favourable thoughts; only I conceived it ought not to be said, that your grace was several months absent in England, without one letter from the dean to pay his respects. My schemes are all circumscribed by the cathedral, and the liberties about it; where nothing of moment happened since your grace left it, except the election of Mr. Chamberlain to St. Nicholas, which passed quietly while I was absent in the country. I am purchasing a glebe, by the help of the trustees, for the vicarage of Laracor; and I have vanity enough to desire it might be expressed by a clause in the deeds, as one consideration, that I had been instrumental in procuring the first-fruits; which was accordingly inserted; but hints were given it would not pass. Then the bishops of Ossory and Killaloe had, as I am told, a sum of money for their labour in that affair; who, upon my arrival at London to negotiate it, were one of them gone to Bath, and the other to Ireland: but it seems more reasonable to give bishops money for doing nothing, than a private gentleman thanks for succeeding where bishops have failed. I am only sorry I was not a bishop, that I might at least have got money. The tory clergy here seem ready for conversion, provoked by a parcel of obscure zealots in London, who, as we hear, are setting up a new church of England by themselves. By our intelligence, it seems to be a complication of as much folly, madness, hypocrisy, and mistake, as ever was offered to the world. If it be understood so on your side, I cannot but think there would be a great opportunity of regaining the body of the clergy to the interest of the court: who, if they were persuaded by a few good words to throw off their fears, could never think of the pretender without horrour; under whom it is obvious that those refiners would have the greatest credit, and consequently every thing be null since the time of the revolution, and more havock made in a few months, than the most desponding among the tories can justly apprehend from the present management in as many years. These at least are, as I am told, the thoughts and reasonings of the high church people among us: but whether a court, in the midst of strength and security, will conceive it worth their while to cultivate the dispositions of people in the dust, is out of my reach.

The bishop of Dromore has never been in town since he went to his diocese, nor does he say any thing of coming up. He is in good health.

I was told a week or two ago a confused story of the anatomy-lecturer at the college turned out by the provost, and another put in his place. I know not the particulars; but am assured he is blamed for it both by the prince and your grace. I take the provost to be a very honest gentleman, perfectly good natured, and the least inclined to speak ill of others of almost any person I have known. He has very good intentions; but the defect seems to be, that his views are short, various, and sudden; and I have reason to think, he hardly ever makes use of any other counsellor than himself. I talked to him of this matter since it was done, and I think his answers satisfied me; but I am an ill retainer of facts wherein I have no concern: my humble opinion is, that it would be much to his own ease, and of theirs who dislike him, if he were put into another station; and if you will not afford him a bishoprick, that you will let him succeed some rich country dean. I dare be confident that the provost had no other end in changing that lecturer, than a design of improving anatomy as far as he could; for he would never have made such a step as choosing the prince chancellor, but from a resolution of keeping as fair as he possibly could with the present powers, in regard both to his ease and his interest; and in hopes of changing a post, wherein, to say the truth, he has been used by judges and governors like any dog, and has suffered more by it in his health and honour, than I, with his patrimonial estate, would think it were worth. Here has been one Whittingham, in an ordination sermon, calling the clergy a thousand dumb dogs, and treating episcopacy as bad as Boyse[1]; yet no notice at all shall be taken of this, unless to his advantage upon the next vacant bishoprick; and wagers are laid already, whether he or one Monk will be the man. But I forget myself; and therefore shall only add, that I am, with the greatest respect and truth, my lord,

Your grace's most dutiful

and most humble servant, &c.

  1. An eminent dissenting teacher, minister of Wood street meeting-house in Dublin, who wrote several tracts in favour of dissenters.