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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to William King - 33

TRIM, DEC. 16, 1716.

I SHOULD be sorry to see my lord Bolingbroke following the trade of an informer: because he is a person for whom I always had, and still continue, a very great love and esteem. For I think, as the rest of mankind do, that informers are a detestable race of people, although they may be sometimes necessary. Besides, I do not see, whom his lordship can inform against, except himself: he was three or four days at the court of France, while he was secretary; and it is barely possible, he might then have entered into some deep negotiation with the pretender: although I would not believe him, if he should swear it; because he protested to me, that he never saw him but once; and that was at a great distance, in publick, at an opera. As to any others of the ministry at that time, I am confident he cannot accuse them: and that they will appear as innocent with relation to the pretender, as any who are now at the helm. And as to myself, if I were of any importance, I should be very easy under such an accusation; much easier, than I am to think your grace imagines me in any danger, or that lord Bolingbroke should have any ill story to tell of me. He knows, and loves, and thinks too well of me, to be capable of such an action. But I am surprised to think your grace could talk, or act, or correspond with me for some years past; while you must needs believe me a most false and vile man; declaring to you on all occasions my abhorrence of the pretender, and yet privately engaged with a ministry to bring him in; and therefore warning me to look to myself, and prepare my defence against a false brother, coming over to discover such secrets as would hang me. Had there been ever the least overture or intent of bringing in the pretender, during my acquaintance with the ministry, I think I must have been very stupid not to have picked out some discoveries or suspicions. And although I am not sure I should have turned informer, yet I am certain I should have dropped some general cautions, and immediately have retired. When people say, things were not ripe at the queen's death; they say, they know not what. Things were rotten: and had the ministers any such thoughts, they should have begun three years before; and they, who say otherwise, understand nothing of the state of the kingdom at that time.

But whether I am mistaken or not in other men, I beg your grace to believe, that I am not mistaken in myself. I always professed to be against the pretender; and am so still. And this is not to make my court (which I know is vain) for I own myself full of doubts, fears, and dissatisfactions; which I think on as seldom as I can: yet if I were of any value, the publick may safely rely on my loyalty; because I look upon the coming of the pretender as a greater evil, than any we are likely to suffer under the worst whig ministry that can be found.

I have not spoke or thought so much of party these two years, nor could any thing have tempted me to it, but the grief I have in standing so ill in your grace's opinion. I beg your grace's blessing,

And am, &c.