The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Henry St. John to Jonathan Swift - 14

LONDON, JULY 24, 1725.

MR. Ford will tell you how I do, and what I do. Tired with suspense, the only insupportable misfortune of life, I desired, after nine years of autumnal promises, and vernal excuses, a decision; and very little cared what that decision was, provided it left me at liberty to settle abroad, or put me on a foot of living agreeably at home. The wisdom of the nation has thought fit, instead of granting so reasonable a request, to pass an act, which, fixing my fortune unalterably to this country, fixes my person here also: and those who had the least mind to see me in England have made it impossible for me to live any where else. Here I am then, two thirds restored, my person safe (unless I meet hereafter with harder treatment than even that of sir Walter Raleigh); and my estate, with all the other property I have acquired, or may acquire, secured to me. But the attainder is kept carefully and prudently in force, lest so corrupt a member should come again into the house of lords, and his bad leaven should sour that sweet, untainted mass. Thus much I thought I might say about my private affairs to an old friend, without diverting him too long from his labours to promote the advantage of the church and state of Ireland; or, from his travels into those countries of giants and pigmies, from whence he imports a cargo I value at a higher rate than that of the richest galleon. Ford brought the dean of Derry[1] to see me. Unfortunately for me, I was then out of town; and the journey of the former into Ireland will perhaps defer for some time my making acquaintance with the other; which I am sorry for. I would not by any means lose the opportunity of knowing a man, who can espouse in good earnest the system of father Malebranche, and who is fond of going a missionary into the West Indies. My zeal for the propagation of the Gospel will hardly carry me so far; but my spleen against Europe has, more than once, made me think of buying the dominion of Bermudas, and spending the remainder of my days as far as possible from those people with whom I have past the first and greatest part of my life. Health and every other natural comfort of life is to be had there, better than here. As to imaginary and artificial pleasures, we are philosophers enough to despise them. What say you? Will you leave your Hibernian flock to some other shepherd, and transplant yourself with me into the middle of the Atlantick Ocean? We will form a society more reasonable, and more useful, than that of Dr. Berkeley's college: and I promise you solemnly, as supreme magistrate, not to suffer the currency of Wood's halfpence: nay, the coiner of them shall be hanged, if he presumes to set his foot on our island.

Let me hear how you are, and what you do, and if you really have any latent kindness still at the bottom of your heart for me, say something very kind to me, for I do not dislike being cajoled. If your heart tells you nothing, say nothing, that I may take the hint, and wean myself from you by degrees. Whether I shall compass it or not, God knows: but surely this is the properest place in the world to renounce friendship in, or to forget obligations. Mr. Ford says, he will be with us again by the beginning of the winter. Your star[2] will probably hinder you from taking the same journey. Adieu, dear Dan. I had something more to say to you, almost as important as what I have said already, but company comes in upon me, and relieves you.

  1. Dr. Berkeley.
  2. Mrs. Johnson, the lady whom he celebrated by the name of Stella.