The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Charles Ford to Jonathan Swift - 16

LONDON, JUNE 3, 1736.

THOUGH you have left off corresponding with me these two years and a half, I cannot leave you off yet; and I think this is the sixth letter I have sent you, since I have heard one word of you from your own hand. My lord Oxford told me last winter that he had heard from you, and you were then well. Mr. Cæsar very lately told me the same. It is always the most welcome news that can come to me: but it would be a great addition to my pleasure to have it from yourself; and you know my sincere regard for you may in some measure claim it.

I have been engaged these five months in a most troublesome lawsuit with an Irish chairman. Those fellows swarm about St. James's, and will hardly allow you to walk half a street, or even in the Park, on the fairest day. This rascal rushed into the entry of a tavern to force me into his chair, ran his poles against me, and would not let me pass till I broke his head. He made a jest of it that night; but the next morning an Irish solicitor came, out of profound respect, to advise me to make the fellow amends: he told a dismal story of the surgeon and the bloody shirt, and spoke against his own interest, merely to hinder me, whom he had never seen before, from being exposed. Neither his kind persuasions, nor the prudent counsels of our friends Mr. L——, and a few more, could prevail on me. A few days after, the solicitor brought me a bill found by the grand jury, and a warrant under the hand of three justices against John Ford, without any other addition. To show his good will, he would not affront me by executing the warrant; but desired I would go to any justice of peace, and give bail to appear the next quarter sessions. By my not doing it, he found out the mistake of the name, which he said should be rectified in a new bill, and if I would not comply with their demands, after they had tried me for the assaults, they would bring an action of eighty or a hundred pounds damages. I threatened in my turn; at which he laughed, as I should do, if a little child should threaten to knock me down. As they proceeded against me, I thought it time to begin with them, and spoke to an acquaintance of mine, a justice of peace, who sent a warrant for the fellow, upon the waiter's oath, for assaulting me, and by a small stretch of power, committed him to the Gatehouse, where he remained some days for want of bail. I believe his bail would hardly have been judged sufficient, if his Irish solicitor had not gone to another justice, and taken a false oath, that the gentleman who committed him was out of town. This perjury, it seems, cannot be punished, because it was not upon record. We presented bills against each other to the grand jury, among whom there happened luckily to be some gentlemen; and though I did not know them, by their means my bill was found, and his returned ignoramus. Then I indicted him in the crown-office, the terrour of the low people, where they often plague one another, and always make use of against those of better rank. Still the fellow blustered, and refused to make it up, unless I would pay his expenses; for his lawyer had persuaded him, that in the end he should recover damages sufficient to make amends for all. While he ruined himself by law, he lost his business; for no gentleman would take his chair. This brought down his proud stomach; he came to me two days ago, made his submissions, we gave reciprocal releases from all actions, &c. and I have already received the thanks of above forty gentlemen, for procuring them liberty to walk the streets in quiet. Thus this great affair has ended like the Yorkshire petition, which has been the chief business of the house of commons this session. Toward the end, indeed, they found a little time to show their good will to the church. It is the general opinion, that the act for repealing the Test would have passed, if sir Robert Walpole had not seen the necessity of his speaking, which he did in the most artful manner he had ever done in his life. Several courtiers voted against him, as well as most of the patriots, and among others, lord Bathurst's two sons. In the house of lords, next to the duke of Argyle, your friend Bathurst and lord Carteret have shown most rancour against ——. It is a melancholy reflection, that all the great officers of state, and the whole bench of bishops, joined to the tories, could not prevent any one question in disfavour of the church.

I am asked every day, if there be no hopes of ever seeing you here again; and am sorry not to be able to give any account of your intentions. I doubt my long letters quite tire your patience; and therefore conclude with assuring you, that nobody wishes you all happiness more than I do, who am most entirely yours, &c.