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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Jonathan Swift to John Gay - 4


DUBLIN, NOV. 10, 1730.

WHEN my lord Peterborow, in the queen's time, went abroad upon his embassies, the ministry told me, that he was such a vagrant, they were forced to write at him by guess, because they knew not where to write to him. This is my case with you; sometimes in Scotland, sometimes at Hamwalks, sometimes God knows where. You are a man of business, and not at leisure for insignificant correspondence. It was I got you the employment of being my lord duke's premier ministre: for his grace having heard how good a manager you were of my revenue, thought you fit to be entrusted with ten talents. I have had twenty times a strong inclination to spend a summer near Salisbury downs, having rid over them more than once, and with a young parson of Salisbury reckoned twice the stones of Stonehenge, which are either ninety-two or ninety-three. I desire to present my most humble acknowledgments to my lady duchess in return of her civility. I hear an ill thing, that she is matre pulchra filia pulchrior: I never saw her since she was a girl, and would be angry she should excel her mother, who was long my principal goddess. I desire you will tell her grace, that the ill management of forks is not to be helped when they are only bidential, which happens in all poor houses, especially those of poets; upon which account a knife was absolutely necessary at Mr. Pope's, where it was morally impossible, with a bidential fork, to convey a morsel of beef, with the incumbrance of mustard and turnips, into your mouth at once. And her grace bath cost me thirty pounds to provide tridents for fear of offending her, which sum I desire she will please to return me. — I am sick enough to go to the Bath, but have not heard it will be good for my disorder. I have a strong mind to spend my two hundred pounds next summer in France: I am glad I have it, for there is hardly twice that sum left in this kingdom. You want no settlement (I call the family where you live, and the foot you are upon, a settlement) till you increase your fortune to what will support you with ease and plenty, a good house and a garden. The want of this I much dread for you: for I have often known a she cousin of a good family and small fortune, passing months among all her relations, living in plenty, and taking her circles, till she grew an old maid, and every body weary of her. Mr. Pope complains of seldom seeing you; but the evil is unavoidable, for different circumstances of life have always separated those whom friendship will join: God hath taken care of this, to prevent any progress toward real happiness here, which would make life more desirable, and death too dreadful. I hope you have now one advantage that you always wanted before, and the want of which made your friends as uneasy as it did yourself; I mean the removal of that solicitude about your own affairs, which perpetually filled your thoughts, and disturbed your conversation. For if it be true what Mr. Pope seriously tells me, you will have opportunity of saving every groat of the interest you receive; and so by the time he and you grow weary of each other, you will be able to pass the rest of your wineless life in ease and plenty; with the additional triumphal comfort of never having received a penny from those tasteless ungrateful people from whom you deserved so much, and who deserve no better geniuses than those by whom they are celebrated. — If you see Mr. Cesar, present my humble service to him, and let him know that the scrub libel printed against me here, and reprinted in London, for which he showed a kind concern to a friend of us both, was written by myself, and sent to a whig printer: it was in the style and genius of such scoundrels, when the humour of libelling ran in this strain against a friend of mine whom you know. — But my paper is ended.