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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Jonathan Swift to Jack Worrall - 6

< The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift‎ | Volume 12


TWICKENHAM, JULY 15, 1726.


I WISH you would send me a common bill in form upon any banker for one hundred pounds, and I will wait for it, and in the mean time borrow where I can. What you tell me of Mrs. Johnson, I have long expected, with great oppression and heaviness of heart. We have been perfect friends these thirty-five years. Upon my advice they both came to Ireland, and have been ever since my constant companions; and the remainder of my life will be a very melancholy scene, when one of them is gone, whom I most esteemed upon the score of every good quality that can possibly recommend a human creature. I have these two months seen through Mrs. Dingley's disguises[1]. And indeed, ever since I left you, my heart has been so sunk, that I have not been the same man, nor ever shall be again; but drag on a wretched life, till it shall please God to call me away. I must tell you, as a friend, that if you have reason to believe Mrs. Johnson cannot hold out till my return, I would not think of coming to Ireland; and in that case, I would expect of you, in the beginning of September, to renew my license for another half year; which time I will spend in some retirement far from London, till I can be in a disposition of appearing after an accident, that must be so fatal to my quiet. I wish it could be brought about that she might make her will. Her intentions are to leave the interest of all her fortune to her mother and sister, during their lives, and afterward to Dr. Stephens's hospital, to purchase lands for such uses there as she designs. Think how I am disposed while I write this, and forgive the inconsistencies. I would not for the universe be present at such a trial of seeing her depart. She will be among friends, that upon her own account and great worth, will tend her with all possible care, where I should be a trouble to her, and the greatest torment to myself. In case the matter should be desperate, I would have you advise, if they come to town, that they should be lodged in some airy healthy part, and not in the deanery; which besides, you know, cannot but be a very improper thing for that house to breathe her last in. This I leave to your discretion, and I conjure you to burn this letter immediately, without telling the contents of it to any person alive. Pray write to me every week, that I may know what steps to take; for I am determined not to go to Ireland, to find her just dead, or dying. Nothing but extremity could make me so familiar with those terrible words, applied to such a dear friend. Let her know, I have bought her a repeating gold watch, for her ease in winter nights. I designed to have surprised her with it; but now I would have her know it, that she may see how my thoughts are always to make her easy.

I am of opinion, that there is not a greater folly than to contract too great and intimate a friendship, which must always leave the survivor miserable.

On the back of Burton's note there was written the account of Mrs. Johnson's sickness. Pray, in your next, avoid that mistake, and leave the backside blank.

When you have read this letter twice, and retain what I desire, pray burn it; and let all I have said lie only in your breast.

Pray write every week. I have (till I know farther) fixed on August the fifteenth to set out for Ireland. I shall continue or alter my measures according to your letters. Adieu.

Direct your letter still to Mrs. Rice, &c.

Pray tell Mr. Dobbs of the college, that I received his letter; but cannot possibly answer it, which I certainly would, if I had materials.

As to what you say about promotion, you will find it was given immediately to Maule[2], as I am told; and I assure you I had no offers, nor would accept them. My behaviour to those in power has been directly contrary, since I came here. I would rather have good news from you than Canterbury, though it were given me upon my own terms.


  1. Probably endeavouring to conceal Mrs. Johnson's danger, in tenderness to the dean.
  2. Dr. Henry Maule, promoted to the bishoprick of Cloyne, Sept. 6, 1726; translated to Dromore, March 20, 1731; and to Meath, May 24, 1744. This most worthy man was one of the first promoters of the protestant charter schools in Ireland for the reception and education of children of papists, which have met with great success.