The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Jonathan Swift to William King - 40

MAY 18, 1727.

I UNDERSTAND, by some letters just come to my hands, that at your grace's visitation of the dean and chapter of St. Patrick's, a proxy was insisted on from the dean, the visitation adjourned, and a rule entered that a proxy be exhibited within a month. If your grace can find, in any of your old records or of ours, that a proxy was ever demanded for a dean of St. Patrick's, you will have some reason to insist upon it: but, as it is a thing wholly new and unheard of, let the consequences be what they will, I shall never comply with it. I take my chapter to be my proxy, if I want any: it is only through them that you visit me, and my subdean is to answer for me. I am neither civilian nor canonist: your grace may probably be both, with the addition of a dexterous deputy. My proceeding shall be only upon one maxim: never to yield to an oppression, to justify which no precedent can be produced. I see very well how personal all this proceeding is; and how, from the very moment of the queen's death, your grace has thought fit to take every opportunity of giving me all sorts of uneasiness, without ever giving me, in my whole life, one single mark of your favour beyond common civilities. And if it were not below a man of spirit to make complaints, I could date them from six and twenty years past. This has something in it the more …traordinary, because, during some years, when I was thought to have credit with those in power, I employed it to the utmost for your service, with great success, where it could be most useful, against many violent enemies you then had, however unjustly; by which I got more ill will than by any other action of my life, I mean from my friends. My lord, I have lived, and by the grace of God will die, an enemy to servitude and slavery of all kinds: and I believe, at the same time, that persons of such a disposition will be the most ready to pay obedience wherever it is due. Your grace has often said, "You would never infringe any of our liberties." I will call back nothing of what is past: I will forget, if I can, that you mentioned to me a license to be absent. Neither my age, health, humour, or fortune, qualify me for little brangles; but I will hold to the practice delivered down by my predecessors. I thought, and have been told, that I deserved better from that church and that kingdom: I am sure, I do from your grace. And I believe, people on this side will attest, that all my merits are not very old. It is a little hard, that the occasion of my journey hither, being partly for the advantage of that kingdom, partly on account of my health, partly on business of importance to me, and partly to see my friends; I cannot enjoy the quiet of a few months, without your grace interposing to disturb it. But, I thank God, the civilities of those in power here, who allow themselves to be my professed adversaries, make some atonement for the unkindness of others, who have so many reasons to be my friends. I have not long to live; and therefore, if conscience were quite out of the case for me to do a base thing, I will set no unworthy examples for my successors to follow: and, therefore, repeating it again that I shall not concern myself upon the proceeding of your lordship, I am, &c.