The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From John Barber to Jonathan Swift - 6


LONDON, FEB. 6, 1732–3.

Queen Anne's Birthday:
The bells all ringing.

BELIEVE me, sir, and it is with great truth I speak it, that there is not a person in the world I would sooner oblige than yourself; and I should be glad to have it in my power to serve Mrs. Barber in the way you mention; but it is odds it may not be in my power, for many things may fall, that her spouse is not fit for; as, all places relating to the law, he can have no pretensions to. There are a dozen persons in my house, called lord major's officers, who wear black gowns, and give from eight to nine hundred pounds for their places, which at first they make about sixty pounds per annum of, and rise in time to three or four hundred pounds; but they are generally young men. These places, I suppose, should any one fall, would not be thought good enough. There are many other places in my gift. We have had mayors gone through the office who have not got one hundred pounds, and others have got ten thousand pounds: it is all chance. I have gone through the fourth part of my year, and have got only about two hundred guineas, by the deaths of one of the city musick, and a porter to Guildhall.

But suppose a place should fall worth fifteen hundred or two thousand pounds, that he may be fit for, one third of the purchase goes to the city, and must be paid before his admission; the other two thirds are mine: but I cannot put a less price than was paid before, because the last price is entered in the city books.

I know you love particulars, and thus you have the case as it stands.

You will give me leave to add a word or two, which I do in confidence, That I have been, for many years, plagued with a set of ungrateful monsters, called cousins, that I tremble at the name; and though I give yearly pensions to some, and monthly and weekly to others, all would not do, and I am insulted and abused by them, and cannot help myself.

Now, as Mrs. Barber and her family design to settle here, and she has done me the honour in most places to call me cousin, I hope it will not be expected I should have the care of them. I have very ill health; and any additional care that way would hurt me very much; but for doing her and her family any good offices, I shall never be wanting.

I must now beg leave to return you my thanks for your affectionate and kind wishes. The honour, I own, is very great I am in possession of, and I am sensible I am placed aloft, and that all my words and actions are scanned; but I will not be discouraged, and hope I shall get through with honour. One motive for making me think so, is the great pleasure and satisfaction I have in the hopes of seeing you here, where your advice and example will be of great use; and therefore I hope you will lose no time, but come away, and I will fit up an apartment for you in Queen's square, and another at Sheen (which I hope you will accept) places that I shall hardly be able to see this year.

Mr. Pilkington gains daily upon us, and comes out a facetious agreeable fellow. I carried him the other day to see her grace of Bucks in the Park. Her grace seeing him, asked, who he was? I answered, "He was a present from you from Dublin." She smilingly replied, "He is no fool then, I am sure."

I shall conclude a long dull letter, with my sincere wishes for your health and prosperity, and that you would not delay one hour coming to bless your friends here with your company; which by none is more desired than, sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,