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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Jonathan Swift to Thomas Sheridan - 7

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


QUILCA, SEPT. 11, 1725.


IF you are indeed a discarded courtier, you have reason to complain, but none at all to wonder; you are too young for many experiences to fall in your way, yet you have read enough to make you know the nature of man. It is safer for a man's interest to blaspheme God, than to be of a party out of power, or even to be thought so. And since the last was the case, how could you imagine that all mouths would not be open when you were received, and in some manner preferred by the government, though in a poor way? I tell you, there is hardly a whig in Ireland, who would allow a potatoe and butter milk to a reputed tory. Neither is there any thing in your countrymen upon this article, more than what is common in all other nations, only quoad magis et minus. Too much advertency is not your talent, or else you had fled from that text, as from a rock[1]. For as Don Quixote said to Sancho, what business had you to speak of a halter in a family, where one of it was hanged? And your innocence is a protection, that wise men are ashamed to rely on, farther than with God. It is indeed against common sense to think, that you should choose such a time, when you had received a favour from the lord lieutenant, and had reason to expect more, to discover your disloyalty in the pulpit. But what will that avail? Therefore sit down and be quiet, and mind your business as you should do, and contract your friendships, and expect no more from man than such an animal is capable of, and you will every day find my description of Yahoes more resembling. You should think and deal with every man as a villain, without calling him so, or flying from him, or valuing him less. This is an old true lesson. You believe, every one will acquit you of any regard to temporal interest; and how came you to claim an exception fron all mankind? I believe you value your temporal interest as much as any body, but you have not the arts of pursuing it. You are mistaken. Domestick evils are no more within a man than others; and he who cannot bear up against the first, will sink under the second, and in my conscience I believe this is your case; for being of a weak constitution, in an employment precarious and tiresome, loaden with children, a man of intent and abstracted thinking, enslaved by mathematicks, and complaint of the world, this new weight of party malice hath struck you down, like a feather on a horse's back already loaden as far as he is able to bear. You ought to change the apostle's expression, and say, I will strive to learn in whatever state, &c.

I will hear none of your visions; you shall live at Quilca but three fortnights and a month in the year; perhaps not so much. You shall make no entertainments but what are necessary to your interests; for your true friends would rather see you over a piece of mutton and a bottle once a quarter; you shall be merry at the expense of others; you shall take care of your health, and go early to bed, and not read late at night; and laugh with all men, without trusting any; and then a fig for the contrivers of your ruin, who now have no farther thoughts than to stop your progress, which perhaps they may not compass, unless I am deceived more than is usual. All this you will do, si mihi credis, and not dream of printing your sermon, which is a project abounding with objections unanswerable, and with which I could fill this letter. You say nothing of having preached before the lord lieutenant, nor whether he is altered toward you; for you speak nothing but generals. You think all the world has now nothing to do but to pull Mr. Sheridan down, whereas it is nothing but a slap in your turn, and away. Lord Oxford said once to me on an occasion, these fools, because they hear a noise about their ears of their own making, think the whole world is full of it. When I come to town, we will change all this scene, and act like men of the world. Grow rich and you will have no enemies; go sometimes to the castle, keep fast Mr. Tickell and Balaguer[2]; frequent those on the right side, friends to the present powers; drop those, who are loud on the wrong party, because they know they can suffer nothing by it.


  1. "Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof;" on which Dr. Sheridan preached on the first of August.
  2. He was private secretary to lord Carteret.