The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Matthew Prior to Jonathan Swift - 10
FROM MR. PRIOR.
WESTMINSTER, MAY 4, 1720.
FROM my good friend the dean I have two letters before me, of what date I will not say, and I hope you have forgot, that call out for vengeance; or, as other readings have it, for an answer. You told me in one of them, you had been pursued with a giddy head; and I presume you judged by my silence, that I have laboured under the same distemper. I do not know why you have not buried me as you did Partridge, and given the wits of the age, the Steeles and Addisons, a new occasion of living seven years upon one of your thoughts. When you have finished the copy of verses which you began in England, our writers may have another hint, upon which they may dwell seven years longer.
Are you Frenchman enough to know how a Gascon sustains his family for a week?
Dimanche, une Esclanche;
Lundi, froide et Salade;
Mardi, j'aime la Grillade;
Jeudi, bon pour la Capillotade;
Vendredi, Point de Gras;
Samedi, qu on me casse les os, et les chiens se creveront des restes de mon Mouton.
We can provide such sort of cookery, if you will but send us the esclanche; but rather bring it with you, for it will eat much better, when you are in the company.
Lord Oxford has been a twelvemonth in Herefordshire, as far from us, literally, though not geographically, as if he had been with you in Ireland. He has writ no more to us, than if we were still ministers of state. But, in the balance of account, per contra, I have lord Harley at London; and have either lived with him at Wimple, or upon him here, ever since his father left us. I know no reason why you should not expect his picture, but that he promised it to you so often. I wrote to him six months since, and instead of acknowledging my letter, he took a more compendious way of sending a gentleman to lady Harriot, in Dover street; and bid him call in Westminster, to know if I had any thing to say to his lord. He was here to a day, when he was sure the scaffold was ready and the axe whetted; and is in Herefordshire, when the consent of all mankind either justifies his ministry, or follows the plan of it. The South Sea Company have raised their stock to three hundred and fifty, and he has not sixpence in it. Thou art a stranger in Israel, my good friend; and seemest to know no more of this lord, than thou didst of the conde de Peterborow, when first I construed him to thee at the coffeehouse.
I labour under the distemper you complain of, deafness; especially upon the least cold. I did not take care of my ears, till I knew if my head was my own or not; but am now syringing, and I hope to profit by it. My cousin is here, and well, and I see him sometimes; but I find he has had a caution, which depended upon his expecting more from court, and is justifiable in a man, who, like him, has a great family. I have given your compliments to my two favourites. We never forget your health.
I have seen Mr. Butler, and served him to the utmost of my power with my amici potentiores: though he had a good cause, and a strong recommendation, he trusted wholly to neither of them, but added the greatest diligence to his solicitations.
Auditor Harley thanks you, for remembering him and his singing man. As to the affair of subscriptions, do all at your leisure, and in the manner you judge most proper; and so I bid you heartily farewel, assuring you, that I am ever most truly your's
Friend Ford salutes you. Adieu.
Richardson, whom I take to be a better painter than any named in your letter, has made an excellent picture of me; from whence lord Harley (whose it is) has a stamp taken by Vertue. He has given me some of them for you to give to our friends at or about Dublin. I will send them by Tonson's canal to Hyde at Dublin, in such a manner, as that, I hope, they may come safe to you.