Open main menu

The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From William King to Jonathan Swift - 13

DUBLIN, APRIL 11, 1711.

I HAD the favour of your's of the 10th instant, by which I understand how much I am obliged to you for the justice you did me as to the report you let me know was about to be printed in the Postboy, relating to Mr. Harley.

I think there is no man in this kingdom, on which such a report could be fixed with less colour of truth, having been noted for the particular regard I have always had for him. I have suffered in some cases too, for my zeal to defend him in the worst of times; for I confess I never could, with patience, bear the treatment he met with in Gregg's affair. The truth is, when I received the news of this last barbarous attempt made on him; I with indignation insulted some, with whom I used to dispute about the former case, and asked them, whether they would now suspect that he was in the conspiracy to stab himself? The turn they gave it was what I wrote to you, that they imagined he might be in it notwithstanding that; and that his discovering Guiscard, and pressing so hard on the examination, was the thing that provoked the man to such a degree of rage, as appeared in that villanous act. And they instanced the story of Piso in Tacitus, and the passage of Rufus. I know very well, that they did not believe themselves, and among other things I applied that passage of Hudibras, he, that beats out his brains, &c.[1] I believe I have told this passage to several as an example, to show into what absurdities the power of prejudice, malice, and faction will lead some men, I hope with good effect; and added, as several gentlemen that heard me can witness, that it was a strange thing, that Mr. Harley should discover Gregg, and have him hanged, and yet be suspected to be partaker of his crime; but altogether unaccountable, that in a cause, wherein his life was so barbarously struck at, it was a thousand to one if he escaped, he should still be under the suspicion of being a party with his murderer; so that I could never imagine, that any one should report, that I spoke my own sense in a matter wherein I expressed so great an abhorrence, both of the fact, and the vile comment made upon it.

As to any speech at the meeting of the clergy, or any reprimand given me by any person on this account, it is all, assure yourself, pure invention.

I am sensible of the favour you did me, in preventing the publishing of such a false report, and am most thankful to Mr. secretary St. John for stopping it. I have not the honour to be known to him, otherwise I would give him the trouble of a particular acknowledgment. As to Mr. Harley, I have had the happiness to have some knowledge of him, and received some obligations from him, particularly on the account of my act of parliament, that I obtained for the restitution of Seatown to the see of Dublin. I always had a great honour for him, and expected great good from his known abilities, and zeal for the common interest; and as I believe he was the principal instrument of settling things on the present foot, so I believe every one, that wishes well to these kingdoms, is satisfied, that there is not any man, whose death would be a greater loss to the publick than his. The management of this parliament has, if not reconciled his worst enemies to him, at least silenced them; and it is generally believed, that his misfortune has much retarded publick affairs.

I partly can guess who writ the letter you mention: it must be one of two or three, whose business it is to invent a lie, and throw dirt, ever since I was obliged by my duty to call them to account for their negligence and ill practices: they have published and dispersed several libellous prints against me, in one of which I marked forty-three downright falsehoods in matters of fact. In another, it is true, there was only one such; the whole and every part of it, from beginning to end, being pure invention and falsehood. But, to my comfort, they are despised by all good men; and I like myself nothing less for being the object of their hate. You will excuse this long letter, and I hope I may, by next, apprise you with something of consequence.

In the mean time,

I heartily recommend you, &c.

I held my visitation on the 9th instant, where you were excused, as absent on the publick business of the church.

  1. But he that dashes out his brains,
    The devil's in him, if he feigns.