Open main menu

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

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

JULY 3, 1725.

I AM obliged to return your excellency my most humble thanks for your favour to Mr. Sheridan, because when I recommended him to you, I received a very gracious answer; and yet I am sensible, that your chief motive to make some provision for him was, what became a great and good person, your distinguishing him as a man of learning, and one who deserved encouragement on account of his great diligence and success in a most laborious and difficult employment[1].

Since your excellency has had an opportunity so early in your government, of gratifying your English dependants by a bishoprick, and the best deanery in the kingdom[2], I cannot but hope, that the clergy of Ireland will have their share in your patronage. There is hardly a gentleman in the nation, who has not a near alliance with some of that body; and most of them who have sons, usually breed one of them to the church; although they have been of late years much discouraged, and discontented, by seeing strangers to the country almost perpetually taken into the greatest ecclesiastical preferments, and too often under governors very different from your excellency, the choice of persons was not to be accounted for either to prudence or justice.

The misfortune of having bishops perpetually from England, as it must needs quench the spirit of emulation among us to excel in learning and the study of divinity, so it produces another great discouragement, that those prelates usually draw after them colonies of sons, nephews, cousins, or old college companions, to whom they bestow the best preferments in their gift; and thus the young men sent into the church from the universisy here, have no better prospect than to be curates, or small country vicars, for life.

It will become so excellent a governor as you, a little to moderate this great partiality; wherein, as you will act with justice and reason, so you will gain the thanks and prayers of the whole nation, and take away one great cause of universal discontent. For, I believe your excellency will agree, that there is not another kingdom in Europe, where the natives (even those descended from the conquerors) have been treated, as if they were almost unqualified for any employment either in church or state.

Your excellency, when I had the honour to attend you, was pleased to let me name some clergymen, who are generally understood by their brethren to be the most distinguished for their learning and piety. I remember the persons were, Dr. Delany, Dr. Ward of the north, Mr. Ecklin, Mr. Synge of Dublin, and Mr. Corbet[3]; they were named by me without any regard to friendship, having little commerce with most of them, but only the universal character they bear: this was the method I always took with my lord Oxford at his own command, who was pleased to believe that I would not be swayed by any private affections, and confessed I never deceived him; for I always dealt openly when I offered any thing in behalf of a friend, which was but seldom: because, in that case, I generally made use of the common method at court, to solicit by another.

I shall say nothing of the young men among the clergy, of whom the three hopefullest are said to be Mr. Stopford, Mr. King, and Mr. Dobbs, all fellows of the college, of whom I am only acquainted with the first. But these are not likely to be great expecters under your excellency's administration, according to the usual period of governors here.

If I have dealt honestly in representing such persons among the clergy, as are generally allowed to have the most merit, I think I have done you a service, and am sure I have made you a great compliment, by distinguishing you from most great men I have known these thirty years past; whom I have always observed to act as if they never received a true character, nor had any value for the best; and consequently dispensed their favours without the least regard to abilities or virtue. And this defect I have often found among those, from whom I least expected it.

That your excellency may long live a blessing and ornament to your country by pursuing, as you have hitherto done, the steps of honour and virtue, is the most earnest wish and prayer of

My lord,

Your excellency's most obedient

and most humble servant,

  1. A schoolmaster.
  2. Down.
  3. Dr. Francis Corbet succeeded Dr. Swift in the deanery of St. Patrick's; and died in August 1775, at the age of 92.