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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Jonathan Swift to Thomas Sheridan - 17


LONDON, SEPT. 2, 1727.


I HAD yours of the 19th of August, which I answered the 29th from Twickenham. I came to town on the last day of August, being impatient of staying there longer, where so much company came to us while I was so giddy and deaf. I am now got to my cousin Lancelot's house, where I desire all letters may be directed to me; I am still in the same condition, or rather worse, for I walk like a drunken man, and am deafer than ever you knew me. If I had any tolerable health, I would go this moment to Ireland; yet I think I would not, considering the news I daily expect to hear from you. I have just received yours of August 24; I kept it an hour in my pocket with all the suspense of a man who expected to hear the worst news that fortune could give him; and at the same time was not able to hold up my head. These are the perquisites of living long: the last act of life is always a tragedy at best; but it is a bitter aggravation to have one's best friend go before one. I desired in my last, that you would not enlarge upon that event: but tell me the bare fact. I long knew that our dear friend had not the stamina vitæ; but my friendship could not arm me against this accident, although I foresaw it. I have said enough in my last letter, which now I suppose is with you. I know not whether it be an addition to my grief or not, that I am now extremely ill; for it would have been a reproach to me to be in perfect health, when such a friend is desperate. I do profess upon my salvation, that the distressed and desperate condition of our friend, makes life so indifferent to me, who by course of nature have so little left, that I do not think it worth the time to struggle; yet I should think, according to what hath been formerly, that I may happen to overcome this present disorder; and to what advantage? Why, to see the loss of that person for whose sake only life was worth preserving. I brought both those friends over[1], that we might be happy together as long as God should please; the knot is broken, and the remaining person, you know, has ill answered the end; and the other, who is now to be lost, is all that was valuable. You agreed with me, or you are a great hypocrite. What have I to do in the world? I never was in such agonies as when I received your letter, and had it in my pocket. I am able to hold up my sorry head no longer.