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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Jonathan Swift to Philip Stanhope - 2

JAN. 5, 1730-31.

I RETURN your lordship my most humble thanks for the honour and favour of your letter; and desire your justice to believe, that, in writing to you a second time, I have no design of giving you a second trouble. My only end at present is, to beg your pardon for a fault of ignorance. I ought to have remembered, that the arts of courts are like those of play; where, if the most expert be absent for a few months, the whole system is so changed, that he has no more skill than a new beginner. Yet I cannot but wish, that your lordship had pleased to forgive one, who has been an utter stranger to publick life above sixteen years. Bussy Rabutin himself, the politest person of his age, when he was recalled to court after a long banishment, appeared ridiculous there: and what could I expect, from my antiquated manner of addressing your lordship, in the prime of your life, in the height of fortune, favour, and merit; so distinguished by your active spirit, and greatness of your genius? I do here repeat to your lordship, that I lay the fault of my misconduct entirely on a friend, whom I exceedingly love and esteem, whom I dare not name, and who is as bad a courtier by nature, as I am grown by want of practice. God forbid that your lordship should continue in an employment, however great and honourable, where you only can be an ornament to the court so long, until you have an opportunity to provide offices for a dozen low people like the poor man whom I took the liberty to mention! and God forbid that, in one particular branch of the king's family, there should ever be such a mortality, as to take away a dozen of his meaner servants in less than a dozen years!

Give me leave, in farther excuse of my weakness, to confess, that beside some hints from my friends, your lordship is in great measure to blame for your obliging manner of treating me in every place where I had the honour to see you; which I acknowledge to have been a distinction that I had not the least pretence to, and consequently as little to ground upon it the request of a favour.

As I am an utter stranger to the present forms of the world, I have imagined more than once, that your lordship's proceeding with me may be a refinement introduced by yourself: and that, as in my time the most solemn and frequent promises of great men usually failed, against all probable appearances, so that single slight one of your lordship may, by your generous nature, early succeed against all visible impossibilities. I am, &c.