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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to William King - 4

LONDON NOV. 9, 1708.

YOUR grace's letter of September 7, found me in Kent, where I took the opportunity to retire, during my lord Pembroke's absence with his new lady, who are both expected to morrow. I went afterward to Epsom, and returned but yesterday: this was the cause of my so long omitting to acknowledge your letter. I am ready to agree with your grace, that very wrong representations are made of things and persons here, by people who reside on this side but a short time, converse at second or third hand, and on their return make a vanity of knowing more than they do. This I have observed myself in Ireland, even among people of some rank and quality; and I believe your grace will proceed on much better grounds, by trusting to your own wisdom and experience of things, than such intelligence.

I spoke formerly all I knew of the twentieth parts; and whatever Mr. D—— has said in his letters about staying until a peace, I do assure your grace, is nothing but words. However, that matter is now at an end. There is a new world here; and yet I agree with you, that if there be an interregnum, it will be the properest time to address my lord treasurer; and I shall second it with all the credit I have, and very openly; and I know not (if one difficulty lies in the way) but it may prove a lucky juncture.

On my return from Kent (the night of the prince's[1] death), I staid a few days in town before I went to Epsom: I then visited a certain great man, and we entered very freely into discourse upon the present juncture. He assured me, there was no doubt now of the scheme holding about the admiralty[2], the government of Ireland[3], and presidency of the council[4]; the disposition whereof your grace knows as well as I; and although I care not to mingle publick affairs with the interest of so private a person as myself, yet, upon such a revolution, not knowing how far my friends may endeavour to engage me in the service of a new government, I would beg your grace to have favourable thoughts of me on such an occasion; and to assure you, that no prospect of making my fortune, shall ever prevail on me to go against what becomes a man of conscience and truth, and an entire friend to the established church. This I say, in case such a thing should happen; for my own thoughts are turned another way, if the earl of Berkeley's journey to Vienna holds, and the ministry will keep their promise of making me the queen's secretary[5]; by which I shall be out of the way of parties, until it shall please God I have some place to retire to, a little above contempt; or, if all fail, until your grace and the dean of St. Patrick's shall think fit to dispose of that poor town-living[6] in my favour.

Upon this event of the prince's death, the contention designed with the court about a speaker is dropped, and all agree in sir Richard Onslow, which is looked on as another argument for the scheme succeeding. This I had from the same hand.

As to a comprehension which your grace seems to doubt an intention of, from what was told me, I can say nothing; doubtless, it must be intended to come to that at last, if not worse; but I believe at present, it was meant, that there should be a consent to what was endeavoured at in your parliament last session.

I thought to have writ more largely to your grace, imagining I had much matter in my head; but it fails, or is not convenient at present. If the scheme holds, I shall make bold to tell your grace my thoughts as formerly, under cover, because I believe there will be a great deal to be thought of and done. A little time may produce a great deal. Things are now in great suspense both at home and abroad. The parliament, we think, will have no prorogation. There is no talk of the duke of Marlborough's return yet. Speculative people talk of a peace this winter, of which I can form no prospect, according to our demands.

I am, my lord,

your grace's

most obedient humble servant,

Your grace will please to direct your commands to me at St. James's coffeehouse, in St. James's-street.