The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Matthew Prior to Jonathan Swift - 12



I KNOW very well, that you can write a good letter, if you have a mind to it; but that is not the question. A letter from you sometimes is what I desire. Reserve your tropes and periods for those you love less; and let me hear how you do, in whatever humour you are; whether lending your money to the butchers, protecting the weavers, treating the women, or construing propria quæ maribus to the country curate. You and I are so established authors, that we may write what we will, without fear of censure; and if we have not lived long enough to prefer the bagatelle to any thing else, we deserved to have had our brains knocked out ten years ago.

I have received the money punctually of Mr. Dan. Hayes, have his receipt, and hereby return you all the thanks, that your friendship in that affair ought to claim, and your generosity does contemn. There is one turn for you: good.

The man you mentioned in your last has been in the country these two years, very ill in his health, and has not for many months been out of his chamber; yet what you observe of him is so true, that his sickness is all counted for policy, that he will not come up, till the publick distractions force somebody or other, (whom God knows) who will oblige somebody else to send for him in open triumph, and set him in statu quo prius. That in the mean time, he has foreseen all that has happened; checkmated all the ministry; and to divert himself at his leisure hours, he has laid all those lime twigs for his neighbour Coningsby[1], that keep that precious bird in the cage, out of which himself slipped so cunningly and easily.

Things, and the way of men's judging them, vary so much here, that it is impossible to give you any just account of some of our friends actions. Roffen[2] is more than suspected to have given up his party, as Sancho did his subjects, for so much a head, l'un portant l'autre. His cause, therefore, which is something originally like that of Lutrin, is opposed or neglected by his ancient friends, and openly sustained by the ministry. He cannot be lower in the opinion of most men, than he is; and I wish our friend Har—[3] were higher than he is.

Our young Harley's vice is no more covetousness, than plainness of speech is that of his cousin Tom. His lordship is really amabilis, and lady Harriette, adoranda.

I tell you no news, but that the whole is a complication of mistakes in policy, and of knavery in the execution of it: of the ministers I speak, for the most part, as well ecclesiastical as civil. This is all the truth I can tell you, except one, which I am sure you receive very kindly, that I am ever your friend and your servant,

Friend Shelton, commonly called Dear Dick, is with me. We drink your health. Adieu.