The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Elizabeth Germain to Jonathan Swift - 12

FEB. 8, 1732-3.

I RECEIVED yours of the 8th of January but last week, so find it has lain long on the road after the date. It was brought me while at dinner, that very lady sitting close to me, whom you seem to think such an absolute courtier[1]. She knew your hand, and inquired much after you, as she always does; but I, finding her name frequently mentioned, not with that kindness I am sure she deserves, put it into my pocket with silence and surprise. Indeed, were it in people's power, that live in a court with the appearance of favour, to do all they desire with their friends, they might deserve their anger, and be blamed, when it does not happen right to their minds; but that, I believe, never was the case of any one: and in this particular of Mr. Gay, thus far I know, and so far I will answer for, that she was under very great concern, that nothing better could be got for him: and the friendship upon all other occasions in her own power, that she showed him, did not look like a double-dealer.

As to that part concerning yourself and her, I suppose, it is my want of comprehension, that I cannot find out why she was to blame to give you advice, when you asked it, that had all the appearance of sincerity, good nature, and right judgment. And if after that, the court did not do what you wanted, and she both believed and wished they would, was it her fault? At least, I cannot find out that you have hitherto proved it upon her. And though you say, you lamented the hour you had seen her, yet I cannot tell how to suppose that your good sense and justice can impute any thing to her, because it did not fall out just as she endeavoured, and hoped it would.

As to your creed in politicks, I will heartily and sincerely subscribe to it that I detest avarice in courts, corruption in ministers, schisms in religion, illiterate fawning betrayers of the church in mitres. But, at the same time, I prodigiously want an infallible judge to determine when it is really so: for as I have lived longer in the world, and seen many changes, I know those out of power and place always see the faults of those in, with dreadful large spectacles; and, I dare say, you know many instances of it in lord Oxford's time. But the strongest in my memory is, sir Robert Walpole, being first pulled to pieces in the year 1720, because the South Sea did not rise high enough; and since that, he has been to the full as well banged about, because it did rise too high. So experience has taught me, how wrong, unjust, and senseless party factions are; therefore I am determined never wholly to believe any side or party against the other; and to show that I will not, as my friends are in and out of all sides, so my house receives them altogether; and those people meet here, that have, and would fight in any other place. Those of them that have great and good qualities and virtues I love and admire; in which number is lady Suffolk; and I do like and love her, because I believe, and as far as I am capable of judging, know her to be a wise, discreet, honest and sincere courtier, who will promise no farther than she can perform, and will always perform what she does promise; so, now, you have my creed as to her[2].

I thought I had told you in my last, at least I am sure I designed it, that I desire you would do just as you like about the monument; and then, it will be most undoubtedly approved by your most sincere and faithful servant.

  1. The countess of Suffolk.
  2. This spirited defence of lady Suffolk, against a man of Swift's ability and disposition, does lady Betty Germain more honour, than she would have deserved by writing the best satire against all the courts and courtiers in the world.