The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to William King - 6

LONDON, SEPT. 9, 1710.

I ARRIVED here on Thursday last, and inquiring for the two bishops, I found my lord of Ossory[1] was gone some time ago, and the bishop of Killaloe[2] I could not hear of until next day, when I found he was set out early in the morning for Ireland; so that the letter to their lordships is so far to no purpose. I cannot yet learn whether they left any papers behind them; neither shall I much inquire; and to say the truth, I was less solicitous to ask after the bishop of Killaloe, when I heard the other was gone.

They tell me, all affairs in the treasury are governed by Mr. Harley[3], and that he is the person usually applied to; only of late, my lord Powlet, upon what people have talked to him that way, hath exerted himself a little, and endeavours to be as significant as he can. I have opportunities enough of getting some interest with his lordship, who hath formerly done me good offices, although I have no personal acquaintance with him. After which I will apply to Mr. Harley, who formerly made some advances toward me; and, unless he be altered, will, I believe, think himself in the right to use me well: but I am inclined to suspend any particular solicitations until I hear from your grace, and am informed what progress the two bishops have made; and until I receive their papers, with what other directions your grace will desire to send me.

Upon my arrival here, I found myself equally caressed by both parties, by one as a sort of bough for drowning men to lay hold of; and by the other as one discontented with the late men in power, for not being thorough in their designs, and therefore ready to approve present things. I was to visit my lord Godolphin, who gave me a reception very unexpected, and altogether different from what I ever received from any great man in my life; altogether short, dry, and morose, not worth repeating to your grace, until I have the honour to see you. I complained of it to some of his friends, as having, as I thought, for some reasons, deserved much the contrary from his lordship: they said, to excuse him, that he was overrun with spleen and peevishness upon the present posture of affairs, and used nobody better. It may be new to your grace to tell you some circumstances of his removal. A letter was sent him by the groom of the queen's stables, to desire he would break his staff, which would be the easiest way, both to her majesty and him. Mr. Smith, chancellor of the exchequer, happening to come in a little after, my lord broke his staff, and flung the pieces in the chimney, desiring Mr. Smith to be witness that he had obeyed the queen's commands; and sent him to the queen with a letter and a message, which Mr. Smith delivered, and at the same time surrendered up his own office. The parliament is certainly to be dissolved, although the day is yet uncertain. The remainder of whigs in employment are resolved not to resign; and a certain lord told me, he had been the giver of that advice, and did in my presence prevail on an acquaintance of mine in a great post to promise the same thing; only Mr. Boyle[4], they say, is resolved to give up. Every body counts infallibly upon a general removal. The duke of Queensberry, it is said, will be steward; my lord Cholmondeley is gone over to the new interest, with great indignation of his friends. It is affirmed by the tories, that the great motive of these changes was the absolute necessity of a peace, which they thought the whigs were for perpetually delaying. Elections are now managing with greater violence and expense, and more competitors, than ever was known; yet the town is much fuller of people than usual at this time of the year, waiting till they see some issue of the matter. The duke of Ormond is much talked of for Ireland, and I imagine he believed something of it himself. Mr. Harley is looked upon as first minister, and not my lord Shrewsbury, and his grace helps on the opinion, whether out of policy or truth; upon all occasions professing to stay until he speaks with Mr. Harley. The queen continues at Kensington indisposed with the gout, of which she has frequent returns.

I deferred writing to your grace as late as I could this post, until I might have something to entertain you: but there is such a universal uncertainty among those who pretend to know most, that little can be depended on. However, it may be some amusement to tell you the sentiments of people here, and, as bad as they are, I am sure they are the best that are stirring: for it is thought there are not three people in England entirely in the secret; nor is it sure, whether even those three are agreed in what they intend to do.

I am, with great respect,

my Lord,

your grace's most obedient

and most humble servant,

I have not time to read this, and correct the literal mistakes.

I was to wait on the duke of Ormond, to set him right in the story of the college, about the statue, &c.

  1. Dr. Harstonge was bishop of Ossory from 1693 to 1714.
  2. Dr. Thomas Lindsay, bishop of Killaloe from March 1695, was translated to Raphoe in June 1713, to Armagh in January following; and died July 13, 1724.
  3. Afterward earl of Oxford.
  4. Secretary of state.