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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From John Gay and Catherine Hyde to Jonathan Swift - 2


AMESBURY, DEC. 6, 1730.

BOTH your letters, to my great satisfaction, I have received. You were mistaken as to my being in town; for I have been here ever since the beginning of May. But the best way is to direct your letters always to the duke's house in London; and they are sent hither by his porter. We shall stay here till after the holidays. You say, we deserve envy: I think, we do; for I envy no man, either in town or out of it. We have had some few visitors, and every one of them such, as one would desire to visit. The duchess is a more severe check upon my finances than ever you were; and I submit, as I did to you, to comply to my own good. I was a long time, before I could prevail with her to let me allow myself a pair of shoes with two heels; for I had lost one, and the shoes were so decayed that they were not worth mending. You see by this, that those, who are the most generous of their own, can be the most covetous for others. I hope you will be so good to me, as to use your interest with her, (for, whatever she says, you seem to have some) to indulge me with the extravagance suitable to my fortune.

The lady you mention, that dislikes you, has no discernment. I really think, you may safely venture to Amesbury, though indeed the lady here likes to have her own way as well as you; which may sometimes occasion disputes: and I tell you beforehand, that I cannot take your part. I think her so often in the right, that you will have great difficulty to persuade me she is in the wrong. Then, there is another thing, that I ought to tell you, to deter you from this place; which is, that the lady of the house is not given to show civility to those she does not like. She speaks her mind, and loves truth. For the uncommonness of the thing, I fancy your curiosity will prevail over your fear; and you will like to see such a woman. But I say no more till I know whether her gace will fill up the rest of the paper.

Write I must, particularly now, as I have an opportunity to indulge my predominant passion, contradiction. I do, in the first place, contradict most things Mr. Gay says of me, to deter you from coming here; which if you ever do, I hereby assure you, that unless I like my own way better, you shall have yours; and in all disputes you shall convince me, if you can. But, by what I see of you, this is not a misfortune that will always happen; for I find you are a great mistaker. For example, you take prudence for imperiousness: it is from this first, that I determined not to like one, who is too giddyheaded for me to be certain whether or not I shall ever be acquainted with. I have known people take great delight in building castles in the air; but I should choose to build friends upon a more solid foundation. I would fain know you; for I often hear more good likeable things than it is possible any one can deserve. Pray come, that I may find out something wrong; for I, and I believe most women, have an inconceivable pleasure to find out any faults, except their own. Mr. Cibber is made poet laureat. I am, sir, as much your humble servant as I can be to any person I do not know,

Mr. Gay is very peevish that I spell and write ill; but I do not care: for neither the pen nor I can do better. Besides, I think you have flattered me, and such people ought to be put to trouble.


Now I hope you are pleased, and that you will allow for so small a sum as two hundred pounds, you have a lumping pennyworth.