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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From John Gay to Jonathan Swift - 6

FROM MR. GAY.


DEAR SIR,
WHITEHALL, OCT. 22, 1726.
 


BEFORE I say one word to you, give me leave to say something of the other gentleman's affair. The letter was sent; and the answer was, that every thing was finished and concluded according to orders, and that it would be publickly known to be so in a very few days; so that, I think, there can be no occasion for his writing any more about this affair.

The letter you wrote to Mr. Pope, was not received till eleven or twelve days after date; and the post office, we suppose, have very vigilant officers; for they had taken care to make him pay for a double letter. I wish I could tell you, that the cutting of the tendons of two of his fingers was a joke; but it is really so: the wound is quite healed; his hand is still weak, and the two fingers drop downward, as I told you before; but, I hope it will be very little troublesome or detrimental to him.

In answer to our letter of maps, pictures, and receipts, you call it a tripartite letter. If you will examine it once again, you will find some lines of Mrs. Howard, and some of Mr. Pulteney, which you have not taken the least notice of. The receipt of the veal is of monsieur Devaux, Mr. Pulteney's cook; and it has been approved of at one of our Twickenham entertainments. The difficulty of the saucepan, I believe you will find is owing to a negligence in perusing the manuscript; for, if I remember right, it is there called a stewpan. Your earthen vessel, provided it is close stopped, I allow to be a good succedaneum. As to the boiling chickens in a wooden bowl, I shall be quite ashamed to consult Mrs. Howard upon your account, who thinks herself entirely neglected by you, in not writing to her, as you promised; however, let her take it as she will, to serve a friend, I will venture to ask it of her. The prince and his family come to settle in town to morrow. That Mr. Pulteney expected an answer to his letter, and would be extremely pleased to hear from you, is very certain; for I have heard him talk of it with expectation for above a fortnight.

I have of late been very much out of order with a flight fever, which I am not yet quite free from. It was occasioned by a cold, which my attendance at the Guildhall improved. I have not a friend who has got any thing under my administration, but the duchess of Queensberry, who has had a benefit of a thousand pounds. Your mentioning Mr. Rollinson[1] so kindly, will, I know, give him much pleasure; for he always talks of you with great regard, and the strongest terms of friendship. He has been of late ill of a fever, but is recovered so as to go abroad and take the air.

If the engravers keep their word with me, I shall be able to publish my fables soon after Christmas. The doctor's book[2] is entirely printed off, and will be very soon published. I believe you will expect that I should give you some account how I have spent my time since you left me. I have attended my distressed friend at Twickenham, and been his amanuensis, which you know is no idle charge. I have read about half Virgil, and half Spenser's Fairy Queen. I still despise court preferments, so that I lose no time upon attendance on great men; and still can find amusement enough without quadrille, which here is the universal employment of life.

I thought you would be glad to hear from me, so that I determined not to stir out of my lodgings till I had answered your letter: and I think I shall very probably hear more of the matter which I mention in the first paragraph of this letter as soon as I go abroad; for I expect it every day. We have no news as yet of Mr. Stopford[3]: Mr. Rollinson told me he shall know of his arrival, and will send me word. Lord Bolingbroke has been to make a visit to sir William Wyndham. I hear he is returned, but I have not seen him. If I had been in a better state of health, and Mrs. Howard[4] were not to come to town to morrow, I would have gone to Mr. Pope's to day, to have dined with him there on Monday.

You ask me how to address to lord B————, when you are disposed to write to him. If you mean lord Burlington, he is not yet returned from France, but is expected every day. If you mean lord Bathurst, he is in Gloucestershire, and makes but a very short stay; so that if you direct to one of them in St. James's Square, or to the other at Burlington-house in Piccadilly, your letter will find them. I will make your compliments to lord Chesterfield and Mr. Pulteney; and I beg you, in return, to make mine to Mr. Ford. Next week I shall have a new coat and new buttons, for the birthday, though I do not know but a turn coat might have been more for my advantage. Yours most sincerely and affectionately.


P. S. I hear that lord Bolingbroke will be in town, at his own house in Pall mall, next week.


As we cannot enjoy any good things without your partaking of it, accept of the following receipt for stewing veal:

"Take a knuckle of veal;
You may buy it, or steal.
In a few pieces cut it:
In a stewing pan put it.
Salt, pepper, and mace
Must season this knuckle;
Then[5] what's join'd to a place,
With other herbs muckle;
That, which kill'd king Will[6]:
And what never stands still[7].
Some sprigs of that bed[8]
Where children are bred,
Which much you will mend, if
Both spinnage and endive,
And lettuce, and beet,
With marygold meet.
Put no water at all;
For it maketh things small,
Which, lest it should happen,
A close cover clap on.
Put this pot of Wood's metal[9]
In a hot boiling kettle,
And there let it be
(Mark the doctrine I teach)
About — let me see, —
Thrice as long as you preach[10]:
So skimming the fat off,
Say grace with your hat off.
O, then! with what rapture
Will it fill dean and chapter!"


  1. A great friend of lord Bolingbroke, Dr. Swift, and Mr. Pope. He married the widow of John, Earl of Winchelsea.
  2. Arbuthnot's Tables of ancient Coins, &c.
  3. Dr. James Stopford, fellow of Trinity college, Dublin; and advanced to the bishoprick of Cloyne, in February, 1753.
  4. Afterward countess of Suffolk, from whom Gay at this time had expectations.
  5. "Vulgo, salary."
  6. "Supposed sorrel."
  7. "This is by Dr. Bentley thought to be time, or thyme."
  8. "Parsley. Vide Chamberlayne."
  9. "Of this composition see the works of the copper-farthing dean."
  10. "Which we suppose to be near two hours."