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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From John Gay to Jonathan Swift - 15

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FROM MR. GAY.


MIDDLETON STONEY, NOV. 9, 1729.


I HAVE long known you to be my friend upon several occasions, and particularly by your reproofs and admonitions. There is one thing, which you have often put me in mind of, the overrunning you with an answer before you had spoken. You find I am not a bit the better for it; for I still write and write on, without having a word of an answer. I have heard of you once by Mr. Pope: let Mr. Pope hear of you the next time by me. By this way of treating me, I mean, by your not letting me know that you remember me, you are very partial to me, I should have said, very just to me. You seem to think, that I do not want to be put in mind of you, which is very true; for I think of you very often, and as often wish to be with you. I have been in Oxfordshire with the duke of Queensberry for these three months, and have had very little correspondence with any of our friends. I have employed my time in new writing a damned play, which I wrote several years ago, called The Wife of Bath[1]. As it is approved or disapproved of by my friends, when I come to town, I shall either have it acted, or let it alone, if weak brethren do not take offence at it. The ridicule turns upon superstition, and I have avoided the very words bribery and corruption. Folly indeed is a word, that I have ventured to make use of; but that is a term, that never gave fools offence. It is a common saying, that he is wise, that knows himself. What has happened of late, I think, is a proof, that it is not limited to the wise.

My lord Bathurst is still our cashier: when I see him, I intend to settle our accounts, and repay myself the five pounds out of the two hundred I owe you. Next week I believe I shall be in town; not at Whitehall, for those lodgings were judged not convenient for me, and were disposed of. Direct to me at the duke of Queensberry's, in Burlington gardens, near Piccadilly. You have often twitted me in the teeth for hankering after the court. In that you mistook me; for I know by experience that there is no dependance that can be sure, but a dependance upon one's self. I will take care of the little fortune I have got. I know you will take this resolution kindly, and you see my inclinations will make me write to you, whether you will write to me or not. I am, dear sir, yours most sincerely and most affectionately,


P. S. To the lady I live with, I owe my life and fortune: think of her with respect; value and esteem her as I do; and never more despise a fork with three prongs. I wish too you would not eat from the point of your knife. She has so much goodness, virtue, and generosity, that if you knew her, you would have a pleasure in obeying her as I do. She often wishes she had known you.


  1. This comedy was the first he wrote, and was unsuccessfully performed at the theatre in Drury lane, in the year 1713. It was altered by the author, and revived several years after [1729-30] at the theatre in Lincoln's inn fields, and damned a second time, although the author's reputation was then at its height, from the uncommon success of his Beggar's Opera.