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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Henrietta Howard to Jonathan Swift - 1


NOV. 1726[1].

I DID not expect, that the sight of my ring would produce the effects it has. I was in such a hurry to show your plaid to the princess, that I could not stay to put it into the shape you desired. It pleased extremely, and I have orders to fit it up according to the first design; but as this is not proper for the publick, you are desired to send over, for the same princess's use, the height of the Brobdingnag dwarf multiplied by 2½. The young princesses must be taken care of; theirs must be in three shares: for a short method, you may draw a line of 20 feet, and upon that, by two circles, form an equilateral triangle; then measuring each side, you will find the proper quantity and proper division. If you want a more particular or better rule, I refer you to the academy of Lagado[2]. I am of opinion many in this kingdom will soon appear in your plaid. To this end it will be highly necessary, that care be taken of disposing of the purple, the yellow and the white silks; and though the gowns are for princesses, the officers are very vigilant; so take care they are not seized. Do not forget to be observant how you dispose the colours. I shall take all particular precautions to have the money ready, and to return it the way you judge safest. I think it would be worth your reflecting in what manner the checker might be best managed.

The princess will take care, that you shall have pumps sufficient to serve you till you return to England; but thinks you cannot, in common decency, appear in heels[3], and therefore advises your keeping close till they arrive. Here are several Lilliputian mathematicians, so that the length of your head, or of your foot, is a sufficient measure. Send it by the first opportunity. Do not forget our good friends the 500 weavers. You may omit the gold thread. Many disputes have arisen here, whether the big-endians, and lesser-endians, ever differed in opinion about the breaking of eggs, when they were to be either buttered or poached? or whether this part of cookery was ever known in Lilliput?

I cannot conclude without telling you, that our island is in great joy; one of our yahoos having been delivered of a creature, half ram and half yahoo; and another has brought forth four perfect black rabbits[4]. May we not hope, and with some probability expect, that in time, our female yahoos will produce a race of Houyhnhnms? I am, sir, your most humble servant,


  1. Endorsed, "Nov. 1726. Answered 17th."
  2. See Gulliver's Travels.
  3. See Gulliver's Travels, where high and low heels are made the distinction of political parties.
  4. This alludes to a famous impostor, Mary Toft, of Godalmin, in Surry, called the rabbit woman, who, in Nov. 1726, pretended to be delivered of living rabbits, and imposed, among others, upon St. André, a surgeon who was her advocate in print.
  5. Sieve Yahoo is a name given by Swift, in his Gulliver's Travels, to a court lady.