The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Jonathan Swift to Henrietta Howard - 2
TO MRS. HOWARD.
I WISH I were a young lord, and you were unmarried: I should make you the best husband in the world, for I am ten times deafer than ever you were in your life; and instead of a poor pain in my face, I have a good substantial giddiness and headach. The best of it is, that although we might lay our heads together, you could tell me no secrets that might not be heard five rooms distant. These disorders of mine, if they hold me as long as they used to do some years ago, will last as long as my leave of absence, which I shall not renew: and then the queen will have the misfortune not to see me, and I shall go back with the satisfaction never to have seen her since she was queen, but when I kissed her hand. And, although she were a thousand queens, I will not lose my privilege of never seeing her but when she commands it. I told my two landlords, that I would write you a love letter; which, I remember, you commanded me to do last year: but I would not show it to either of them. I am the greatest courtier and flatterer you have; because I try your good sense and taste, more than all of them put together, which is the greatest compliment I could put upon you; and you have hitherto behaved yourself tolerably well under it; much better than your mistress, if what a lady told me was true: that talking with the queen about me, her majesty said, "I was an odd sort of a man." But I forgive her; for it is an odd thing to speak freely to princes.
I will say another thing in your praise, that goodness would become you better than any person I know: and for that very reason, there is nobody I wish to be good so much as yourself.
I am, &c.