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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Jonathan Swift to Thomas Sheridan - 10

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

LONDON, JULY 8, 1726.

I HAVE had two months of great uneasiness at the ill account of Mrs. Johnson's health, and as it is usual, feared the worst that was possible, and doubted all the good accounts that were sent me. I pray God her danger may warn her to be less wilful, and more ready to fall into those measures, that her friends and physician advise her to. I had a letter two days ago from archdeacon Wall, dated six days before yours, wherein he gives me a better account than you do, and therefore I apprehend she hath not mended since; and yet he says he can honestly tell me she is now much better. Pray thank the archdeacon, and tell him he is to have a share in this letter; and therefore I will save him the trouble of another. Tell him also, that I never asked for my 1000l. which he hears I have got, though I mentioned it to the princess the last time I saw her; but I bid her tell Walpole[1], I scorned to ask him for it, but blot out this passage, and mention it to no one except the ladies; because I know Mrs. Johnson would be pleased with it, and I will not write to them till I hear from them; therefore this letter is theirs as well as yours. The archdeacon farther says, that Mrs. Johnson has not tasted claret for several months, but once at his house. This I dislike. I cannot tell who is the fourth of your friends, unless it be yourself: I am sorry for your new laborious studies, but the best of it is, they will not be your own another day. I thank you for your new style, and most useful quotations. I am only concerned, that although you get the grace of the house, you will never get the grace of the town, but die plain Sheridan, or Tom at most, because it is a syllable shorter than doctor. However, I will give it you at length in the superscription, and people will so wonder how the news could come and return so quick to and from England, especially if the wind be fair when the packet goes over; and let me warn you to be very careful in sending for your letters two days after the commencement. You lost one post by my being out of town; for I came hither to day, and shall stay three or four upon some business, and then go back to Mr. Pope's, and there continue till August, and then come to town till I begin my journey to Ireland, which I propose the middle of August. My old servant Archy is here ruined and starving, and has pursued me and wrote me a letter, but I have refused to see him. Our friend at the castle writ to me two months ago to have a sight of those papers, &c. of which I brought away a copy. I have answered him, that whatever papers I have, are conveyed from one place to another through nine or ten hands, and that I have the key. If he should mention any thing of papers in general either to you or the ladies, and that you can bring it in, I would have you and them to confirm the same story, and laugh at my humour in it, &c. My service to Dr. Delany, Dr. Helsham, the Grattans, and Jacksons. There is not so despised a creature here as your friend[2] with the soft verses on children. I heartily pity him. This is the first time I was ever weary of England, and longed to be in Ireland; but it is because go I must; for I do not love Ireland better, nor England, as England, worse; in short, you all live in a wretched, dirty doghole and prison, but it is a place good enough to die in. I can tell you one thing, that I have had the fairest offer made me of a settlement here that one can imagine, which if I were ten years younger I would gladly accept, within twelve miles of London, and in the midst of my friends. But I am too old for new schemes, and especially such as would bridle me in my freedoms and liberalities. But so it is, that I must be forced to get home, partly by stealth, and partly by force. I have indeed one temptation for this winter, much stronger, which is of a fine house and garden, and park, and wine cellar in France, to pass away winter in [3], and if Mrs. Johnson were not so out of order I would certainly accept of it; and I wish she could go to Montpellier at the same time. You see I am grown visionary, and therefore it is time to have done. Adieu.

  1. Sir Robert Walpole, afterward earl of Orford.
  2. Ambrose Philips.
  3. Lord Bolingbroke invited the dean to spend a winter with him at his house in France, on the banks of the Loire.