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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Jonathan Swift to Henrietta Howard - 1

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MADAM,
FEB. 1, 1726-7.
 


I AM so very nice, and my workmen so fearful, that there is yet but one piece finished of the two, which you commanded me to send to her royal highness. The other was done; but the undertaker, confessing it was not to the utmost perfection, has obtained my leave for a second attempt; in which he promises to do wonders, and tells me it will be ready in another fortnight; although, perhaps, the humour may be quite off both with the princess and you; for, such were courts when I knew them. I desire you will order her royal highness to go to Richmond as soon as she can this summer, because she will have the pleasure of my neighbourhood; for I hope to be in London by the middle of March, and I do not love you much when you are there: and I expect to find you are altered by flattery or ill company. I am glad to tell you now, that I honour you with my esteem; because, when the princess grows a crowned head, you shall have no more such compliments; and it is a hundred to one whether you will deserve them. I do not approve of your advice to bring over pumps for myself, but will rather provide another shoe for his royal highness[2], against there shall be occasion. I will tell you an odd accident that happened this night: — While I was caressing one of my Houhynhnms, he bit my little finger so cruelly, that I am hardly able to write; and I impute the cause to some foreknowledge in him, that I was going to write to a Sieve Yahoo[3], for so you are pleased to call yourself. Pray tell sir Robert Walpole, that if he does not use me better next summer than he did last, I will study revenge, and it shall be vengeance ecclésiastique. I hope you will get your house and wine ready, to which Mr. Gay and I are to have free access when you are at court; for, as to Mr. Pope, he is not worth considering on such occasions. I am sorry I have no complaints to make of her royal highness; therefore, I think, I may let you tell her, "That every grain of virtue and good sense, in one of her rank, considering the bad education among flatterers and adorers, is worth a dozen in any inferiour person." Now, if what the world says be true, that she excels all other ladies at least a dozen times; then, multiply one dozen by the other, you will find the number to be one hundred and forty-four. If any one can say a civiler thing, let him; for I think it too much for me.

I have some title to be angry with you, for not commanding those who write to me to mention your remembrance. Can there be any thing more base, than to make me the first advances, and then be inconstant? It is very hard, that I must cross the sea, and ride two hundred miles, to reproach you in person; when, at the same time, I feel myself, with the most entire respect,

Madam, &c.