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

< The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift‎ | Volume 12


LONDON, NOV, 8, 1726.


I TAKE it mighty kindly, that a man of your high post, dear sir, was pleased to write me so long a letter. I look upon the captain Tom of a great nation to be a much greater man than the governor of it.

I am sorry your commission about your singer has not been executed sooner. It is not Nanny's fault, who has spoke several times to Dr. Pepusch about it, and writ three or four letters, and received for answer, that he would write for the young fellow; but still, nothing is done. I will endeavour to get his name and direction, and write to him myself.

Your books shall be sent as directed: they have been printed above a month; but I cannot get my subscribers' names[1]. I will make over all my profits to you for the property of Gulliver's Travels; which, I believe, will have as great a run as John Bunyan. Gulliver is a happy man, that at his age, can write such a merry work.

I made my lord archbishop's[2] compliments to her royal highness, who returns his grace her thanks; at the same time, Mrs. Howard read your letter to herself. The princess immediately seized on your plaid[3] for her own use, and has ordered the young princesses to be clad in the same. When I had the honour to see her, she was reading Gulliver, and was just come to the passage of the hobbling prince; which she laughed at. I tell you freely, the part of the projectors is the least brilliant. Lewis grumbles a little at it, and says, he wants the key to it, and is daily refining. I suppose he will be able to publish like Barnevelt[4] in time. I gave your service to lady Harvey. She is in a little sort of a miff about a ballad, that was writ on her, to the tune of Molly Mogg, and sent to her in the name of a begging poet. She was bit, and wrote a letter to the begging poet, and desired him to change two double entendres; which the authors, Mr. Pulteney and lord Chesterfield, changed to single entendres. I was against that, though I had a hand in the first. She is not displeased, I believe, with the ballad, but only with being bit.

There has been a comical paper[5] about quadrille describing it in the terms of a lewd debauch among four ladies, meeting four gallants, two of a ruddy and two of a swarthy complexion, talking of their a—es, &c. The riddle is carried on in pretty strong terms: it was not found out a long time. The ladies, imagining it to be a real thing, began to guess who were of the party. A great minister was for hanging the author. In short, it has made very good sport.

Gay has had a little fever, but is pretty well recovered: so is Mr. Pope. We shall meet at lord Bolingbroke's on Thursday, in town, at dinner, and remember you. Gulliver is in every body's hands. Lord Scarborough, who is no inventor of stories, told me, that he fell in company with a master of a ship, who told him, that he was very well acquainted with Gulliver; but that the printer had mistaken, that he lived in Wapping, and not at Rotherhithe. I lent the book to an old gentleman, who went immediately to his map to search for Lilliput.

We expect war here. The city of London are all crying out for it, and they shall be undone without it, there being now a total stoppage of all trade. I think one of the best courses will be, to rig out a privateer for the West Indies. Will you be concerned? We will build her at Bermudas, and get Mr. dean Berkeley[6] to be our manager.

I had the honour to see lord Oxford, who asked kindly for you, and said he would write to you. If the project goes on of printing some papers, he has promised to give copies of some things, which I believe cannot be found elsewhere. My family, thank God, are pretty well, as far as I know, and give their service. My brother Robert has been very ill of a rheumatism. Wishing you all health and happiness, and not daring to write my paper on the other side, I must remain, dear sir, your most faithful humble servant,


  1. To a work, in 4to. entitled, "Tables of ancient Coins, Weights, and Measures, explained and exemplified in several Dissertations."
  2. Probably archbishop King of Dublin.
  3. The dean sent a present of some silk plaids from Ireland, for the princess of Wales, and the young princesses.
  4. This refers to a pamphlet, entitled, "A Key to the Lock: or a Treatise proving beyond all Contradiction the dangerous Tendency of a late Poem, entitled, The Rape of the Lock, to Government and Religion. By Esdras Barnevelt, apothecary."
  5. Written by Mr. Congreve; and printed in Almon's Founding Hospital, No. 93.
  6. He formed a design of fixing a university in the Bermudas, See note on Bolingbroke's letter dated July 24, 1725.