The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Catherine Barton to Jonathan Swift - 1


MRS. Barber did not deliver your letter till after the intended wedding brought me hither. She has as much a better title to the favour of her sex than poetry can give her, as truth is better than fiction; and shall have my best assistance. But the town has been so long invited into the subscription, that most people have already refused or accepted, and Mr. Conduitt has long since done the latter.

I should have guessed your holiness would rather have laid than called up the ghost of my departed friendship, which since you are brave enough to face, you will find divested of every terrour, but the remorse that you were abandoned to be an alien to your friends, your country, and yourself. Not to renew an acquaintance with one who can twenty years after remember a bare intention to serve him, would be to throw away a prize I am not now able to repurchase; therefore when you return to England, I shall try to excel in what I am very sorry you want, a nurse; in the mean time I am exercising that gift to preserve one who is your devoted admirer.

Lord Harvey has written a bitter copy of verses upon Dr. Sherwin for publishing (as it is said) his lordship's epistle; which must have set your brother Pope's spirits all a working.

Thomson is far advanced in a poem of 2000 lines, deducing liberty from the patriarchs to the present times, which, if we may judge from the press, is now in full vigour. But I forget I am writing to one who has the power of the keys of Parnassus, and that the only merit my letter can have is brevity. Please therefore to place the profit I had in your long one to your fund of charity, which carries no interest, and to add to your prayers and good wishes now and then a line to, sir, your obedient humble servant,

Mrs. Barber, whom I had sent to dine with us, is in bed with the gout, and has not yet sent me her proposals.

  1. Thus endorsed by the doctor, "My old friend Mrs. Barton, now Mrs. Conduitt."