Open main menu

The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Henrietta Howard to Jonathan Swift - 4


YOU seem to think that you have a natural right to abuse me, because I am a woman, and a courtier. I have taken it as a woman and as a courtier ought, with great resentment, and a determined resolution of revenge. The number of letters that have been sent, and thought by many to be yours, (and thank God they were all silly ones) has been a fair field to execute it. Think of my joy to hear you suspected of folly; think of my pleasure when I entered the list for your justification! Indeed I was a little disconcerted to find Mr. Pope took the same side; for I would have had the man of wit, the dignified divine, the Irish drapier, have found no friend but the silly woman and the courtier. Could I have preserved myself alone in the list, I should not have despaired, that this monitor of princes, this Irish patriot, this excellent man at speech and pen, should have closed the scene under suspicion of having a violent passion for Mrs. Barber; and lady M— or Mrs. Haywood[1] have writ the progress of it. Now, to my mortification I find every body inclined to think you had no hand in writing those letters; but I every day thank Providence that there is an epitaph in St. Patrick's cathedral[2], that will be a lasting monument of your imprudence. I cherish this extremely; for, say what you can to justify it, I am convinced I shall as easily argue the world into the belief of a courtier's sincerity, as you (with all your wit and eloquence) will be able to convince mankind of the prudence of that action. I expect to hear if peace shall ensue, or war continue between us. If I know but little of the art of war, yet you see I do not want courage; and that has made many an ignorant soldier fight successfully. Besides, I have a numerous body of light armed troops to bring into the field, who, when single, may be as inconsiderable as a Lilliputian, yet ten thousand of them embarrassed captain Gulliver. If you send honourable articles, they shall be signed. I insist that you own that you have been unjust to me; for I have never forgot you; for, I have made others send my compliments, because I was not able to write myself. If I cannot justify the advice I gave you, from the success of it, I gave you my reasons for it: and it was your business to have judged of my capacity, by the solidity of my arguments. If the principle was false, you ought not to have acted upon it. So you have been only the dupe of your own ill judgment, and not my falsehood. Am I to send back the crown and the plaid, well packed up, in my own character? or am I to follow my own inclination, and continue very truly and very much your humble servant,

  1. Mrs. Haywood, a well known writer of scandal in novels.
  2. On the duke of Schomberg.