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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From John Arbuthnot to Jonathan Swift - 10


I HAVE as good a right to invade your solitude as lord Bathurst, Gay, or Pope, and you see I make use of it. I know you wish us all at the devil for robbing a moment from your vapours and vertigo. It is no matter for that; you shall have a sheet of paper every post till you come to yourself. By a paragraph in yours to Mr. Pope, I find you are in the case of the man, who held the whole night by a broom bush, and found when daylight appeared, he was within two inches of the ground. You do not seem to know how well you stand with our great folks. I myself have been at a great man's table, and have heard, out of the mouths of violent Irish whigs, the whole table turn all upon your commendation. If it had not been upon the general topick of your good qualities, and the good you did, I should have grown jealous of you. My intention in this is not to expostulate, but to do you good. I know how unhappy a vertigo makes any body, that has the misfortune to be troubled with it. I might have been deep in it myself, if I had had a mind, and I will propose a cure for you, that I will pawn my reputation upon. I have of late sent several patients in that case to the Spa, to drink there of the Geronstere water, which will not carry from the spot. It has succeeded marvelously with them all. There was indeed one, who relapsed a little this last summer, because he would not take my advice, and return to his course, that had been too short the year before. But, because the instances of eminent men are most conspicuous, lord Whitworth, our plenipotentiary, had this disease, (which, by the way, is a little disqualifying for that employment); he was so bad, that he was often forced to catch hold of any thing to keep him from falling. I know he has recovered by the use of that water, to so great a degree, that he can ride, walk, or do any thing as formerly. I leave this to your consideration. Your friends here wish to see you, and none more than myself; but I really do not advise you to such a journey to gratify them or myself; but I am almost confident, it would do you a great deal of good. The dragon is just the old man, when he is roused. He is a little deaf, but has all his other good and bad qualities just as of old. Lord B—— is much improved in knowledge, manner, and every thing else. The shaver[2] is an honest friendly man as before: he has a good deal to do to smother his Welsh fire, which, you know, he has in a greater degree than some would imagine. He posts himself a good part of the year in some warm house, wins the ladies money at ombre, and convinces them, that they are highly obliged to him. Lord and lady Masham, Mr. Hill, and Mrs. Hill, often remember you with affection.

As for your humble servant, with a great stone in his right kidney, and a family of men and women to provide for, he is as cheerful as ever. In publick affairs, he has kept, as Tacitus says, Medium iter inter vile servitium, et abruptam contumaciam. — He never rails at a great man, but to his face; which, I can assure you, he has had both the opportunity and license to do. He has some few weak friends, and fewer enemies: if any, he is low enough to be rather despised than pushed at by them. I am faithfully, dear sir, your affectionate humble servant,

  1. Endorsed, "Received Nov. 17, 1723."
  2. Erasmus Lewis, esq., who in Dr. Swift's imitation of Horace, ep. vii, b. I, is so called:

    "This Lewis is an errant shaver."