The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Thomas Harley to Jonathan Swift - 1


JUNE 19, 1714.

YOUR letter gave me a great deal of pleasure. I do not mean only the satisfaction one must always find in hearing from so good a friend, who has distinguished himself in the world, and formed a new character, which nobody is vain enough to pretend to imitate. But you must know the moment after you disappeared, I found it was to no purpose to be unconcerned, and to slight (as I really have done) all the silly stories and schemes I met with every day; the effects of self-conceit, and a frightened, hasty desire of gain. They asked me, Has not the dean left the town? Is not Dr. Swift gone into the country? Yes. And I would have gone into the country too, if I had not learned, one cannot be hurt till one turns one's back; for which reason I will go no more on their errands. But seriously you never heard such bellowing about the town of the state of the nation, especially among the sharpers, sellers of bearskins[2], and the rest of that kind: nor such crying, and squalling among the ladies; insomuch that it has at last reached the house of commons; which I am sorry for, because it is hot and uneasy sitting there in this season of the year. But I was told to day, that in some countries, people are forced to watch day and night, to keep wild beasts out of their corn. Do you not pity me, for yielding to such grave sayings, to be stifled every day in the house of commons?

When I was out of England, I used to receive five or six letters each post with this passage, "As for what passes here, you will be informed by others much better; therefore I shall not trouble you with any thing of that sort." You will give me leave to use it now, as my excuse to you for not writing news. I hope, honest Gay will be better supplied by some friend or other. Before I received your direction, I had ordered my servant, who comes next Monday out of Herefordshire, to leave your horse at the Crown in Farringdon, where you can easily send for him. I hear he was so fat, they could not travel him till he was taken down; and I ordered he should go short journeys: he is of a good breed, and therefore I hope will prove well; if not use him like a bastard, and I will choose another for you. I am, sir, your most faithful humble servant,

  1. This gentleman was cousin to the lord treasurer.
  2. Stockjobbers. He who sells that, of which he is not possessed, is said proverbially to sell the bear's skin, while the bear runs in the woods. And it being common for stockjobbers to make contracts for transferring stock at a future time, though they were not possessed of the stock to be transferred, they are called sellers of bearskins.