The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Jonathan Swift to Edward Harley - 1
TO THE EARL OF OXFORD.
ALTHOUGH I had, for two years past, inured myself to expect the death of my lord your father, from the frequent accounts, of the bad condition of his health; yet the news of it struck me so sensibly, that I had not spirit enough to condole with your lordship, as I ought to have done, for so great a loss to the world and yourself. It is true, indeed, you no longer wanted his care and tenderness, nor his example to incite you to virtue: but his friendship and conversation you will ever want, because they are qualities so rare in the world, and in which he so much excelled all others. It has pleased me, in the midst of my grief, to hear that he preserved the greatness, and calmness, and intrepidity of his mind, to his last minutes: for it was fit that such a life should terminate with equal lustre to the whole progress of it.
I must now beg leave to apply to your lordship's justice. He was often pleased to promise me his picture; but his troubles and sickness, and want of opportunity, and my absence, prevented him. I do therefore humbly insist, that your lordship will please to discharge what I almost look upon as a legacy.
I would entreat another and much greater favour of your lordship, that at your leisure hours, you would please to inspect among your father's papers, whether there be any memorials that may be of use toward writing his life; which I have sometimes mentioned to him, and often thought on, when I little thought to survive him. I have formerly gathered several hints; but want many memorials, especially of his more early times, which might be easily supplied. And such a work most properly belongs to me, who loved and respected him above all men, and had the honour to know him better than any other of my level did.
I humbly beg your lordship's pardon for so long a letter upon so mournful an occasion; and expect your justice to believe, that I am, and shall ever be, with the greatest respect, My lord,
Your lordship's most obedient,
most obliged, and
most humble servant.
I desire to present my most humble respects to my lady Oxford.