The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From William King to Jonathan Swift - 19

DUBLIN, OCT. 27, 1711.

I HAVE before me your's of the first instant, but have been so employed with attending parliament, convocation, and privy council, that I could neither compose my thoughts to write, nor find time. Besides, our business is all in a hurry; and I may say in fine, that things admit of no perfect account. On Wednesday the corn bill, which the commons seemed to value most, was thrown out; because it reserved a power to the lord lieutenant and council here, to prohibit or permit the transportation of grain at any time. There was a design to fall on the privy council upon this occasion; but gentlemen would not come into it; which showed they had some wit in their anger. And I am still of opinion, that, with tolerable good management, this would have been as quiet a session as has been in Ireland: but the Dublin business, the address of the lords, Langton's affair[1], and now Higgins's[2], have exasperated the commons to such a height, that will, as you observe, make this parliament to be impracticable any longer. It is true, the lords address might have been interpreted to aim at lord Wharton, and was partly so intended; but it was ill expressed to bear that sense; and besides, what did it signify for us to show our resentment, when it could only provoke a great man to revenge, and could not reach him?

As to the first-fruits, and twentieth parts, no body here dare say, that any body, beside the duke of Ormond, procured them, but his grace himself; who, for ought I can learn, never assumed, either publickly or privately, any such merit to himself: and yet, I confess, it is not amiss, that it should be thought he did those things. For he could not think of governing the kingdom, if it be not believed, that he has great interest at court; and if that did not appear by some favours of moment obtained for the kingdom, none would suppose it. He is truly a modest, generous, and honest man; and assure yourself, that whatever disturbance he has met with, proceeds from his sticking too close to his friends. It is a pity, such a fault should hurt a man. I send you, enclosed, the papers that relate to Mr. Higgins. Lord Santry was heard against him, before the lord lieutenant and council, October 27: he was allowed only to prove the articles in his petition, that are marked with P, and he seemed to prove them pretty fully; but Mr. Higgins not having yet made his defence, I can give no judgment. By the testimony of the lower house of convocation, in his favour, you will see how heartily they espouse him. And surely both pains and art have been used to screen him: with what effect you shall hear when the matter is concluded. I wish every good man may meet with as good and as fast friends as he has done. I send you likewise the votes, that kept the commons in debate, from eleven in the morning till seven at night. The question was carried in the negative, by two accidents: the going out of one member, by chance, to speak to somebody at the putting the question; and the coming in of another, in his boots, at the very minute. If either had not happened, it had gone the other way. The personal affection to the duke of Ormond divided the house. If they could have separated him from some others, the majority had been great. You may easily, from this, see what way the bent of the kingdom goes; and that garbling corporations no way please them.

We have several printed accounts of preliminaries of the peace; but I believe them all amusements; for, I imagine, none of the common scribblers know any thing of them at all. I pray God they may be such as may secure us from a new war; though, I believe, the death of the emperor makes a lasting peace much more difficult than before. That depends on a balance, and to that three things seem so necessary, that any two may stop the third; but now all is reduced to two. I reckon, as soon as the peace is settled, the dauphin will be taken out of the way, and then France and Spain will fall into one hand: a surmise I have had in mind ever since Philip got Spain; and I was of opinion, that if we could have been secured against this accident, there had been no need of a war at all.

As to the convocation, I told you formerly how we lost all the time of the recess, by a precipitate adjournment made by five bishops, when the archbishop of Tuam, and as many of us as were of the privy council, were absent, attending at the board, upon a hearing of the quakers against the bill for recovery of tithes. Since the meeting of the parliament, after the recess, we have attended pretty closely, have drawn up and agreed to six or seven canons, and have drawn up a representation of the state of religion, as to infidelity, heresy, impiety, and popery. We have gone through likewise, and agreed to, a great part of this; but I doubt we shall not be able to finish it. We have also before us the consideration of residence, and the means of converting papists. This last sent up from the lower house. But I reckon it not possible to finish these things this session. I need not tell you, that my lord primate's indisposition is a great clog to dispatch; but he is resolved none else shall have the chair. So we dispense with many things, that otherwise I believe we should not. We had only two church bills this time; one for unions, which was thrown out in our house; and another for recovery of tithes, which I understand will be thrown out by the commons. Our session draws near an end, and every body is tired of it.

  1. 'Dominick Langton, clerk, formerly a friar, had accused Lewis Mears, esq., and other protestant gentlemen of the county of West Meath, of entering into an association against the queen and her ministry: upon which the house of commons in Ireland, on the 6th of August 1711, voted several strong resolutions against the said Langton, declaring his charge against Mr. Mears, &c. to be false, groundless, and malicious; and resolved, that an address should be presented to the lord lieutenant, the duke of Ormond, to desire, that her majesty would order the said Langton to be struck off the establishment of Ireland.'
  2. See before, page 117.