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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Jonathan Swift to Philip Stanhope - 1

NOV. 10, 1730.

I WAS positively advised by a friend, whose opinion has much weight with me, and who has a great veneration for your lordship, to venture a letter of solicitation: and it is the first request of this kind that I ever made, since the publick changes, in times, persons, measures, and opinions, drove me into distance and obscurity.

There is an honest man, whose name is Launcelot; he has been long a servant to my lord Sussex: he married a relation of mine, a widow, with a tolerable jointure; which, depending upon a lease which the duke of Grafton suffered to expire about three years ago, sunk half her little fortune. Mr. Launcelot had many promises from the duke of Dorset, while his grace held that office which is now in your lordship[2]; but they all failed, after the usual fate that the bulk of court suitors must expect.

I am very sensible that I have no manner of claim to the least favour from your lordship, whom I have hardly the honour to be known to, although you were always pleased to treat me with much humanity, and with more distinction than I could pretend to deserve. I am likewise conscious of that demerit which I have largely shared with all those who concerned themselves in a court and ministry, whose maxims and proceedings have been ever since so much exploded. But your lordship will grant me leave to say, that in those times, when any persons of the ejected party came to court, and were of tolerable consequence, they never failed to succeed in any reasonable request they made for a friend. And when I sometimes added my poor solicitations, I used to quote the then ministers a passage in the Gospel, "The poor (meaning their own dependents) you have always with you," &c.

This is the strongest argument I have to entreat your lordship's favour for Launcelot, who is a perfectly honest man, and as loyal as you could wish. His wife, my near relation, has been my favourite from her youth, and as deserving as it is possible for one of her level. It is understood, that some little employments about the court may be often in your lordship's disposal; and that my lord Sussex will give Mr. Launcelot the character he deserves: and then let my petition be (to speak in my own trade) "a drop in the bucket."

Remember, my lord, that, although this letter be long, yet what particularly concerns my request is but of a few lines.

I shall not congratulate with your lordship upon any of your present great employments, or upon the greatest that can possibly be given to you; because you are one of those very few who do more honour to a court, than you can possibly receive from it: which I take to be a greater compliment to any court than it is to your lordship. I am,

My lord, &c.

  1. Philip Dormer Stanhope, earl of Chesterfield, baron Stanhope of Shelford, was born Sept. 22, 1694; succeeded to those titles, Jan. 27, 1725-6; was elected knight of the garter, May 18, 1730; soon after made lord steward of his majesty's household, and ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the States General; and in 1745 appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland. He died March 23, 1773. — His lordship had long been celebrated, not only as an elegant writer himself, but as one of the greatest encouragers of polite learning. The most eminent of his writings are the Letters to his Son, printed, after his lordship's death, from the originals in the possession of Mrs. Eugenia Stanhope, widow to the young gentleman to whom they were addressed. His lordship's miscellaneous works, a valuable collection of his letters, and memoirs of his life, have also been published by Dr. Maty.
  2. See the note in p. 372.