The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From John Barber to Jonathan Swift - 7



I THANK you heartily for your kind and affectionate letter, and I beg your pardon for not answering it sooner.

I agree with you, that I had the happiness of learning honest principles early, from a set of great men, who will ever be an honour and an ornament to their country: and it is my greatest glory, that in the late affair of the Excise Bill (though I did nothing but my duty, and what every honest man in my station would have done) I acted consistent with those honest principles, and that my enemies, as well as friends, have generally approved my conduct. And believe me, sir, I speak it with great sincerity, that when I consider how sparingly you and some other friends have ever been of your praises, your approbation affords me the greatest pleasure imaginable, as it gives me that inward peace of mind, which the whole world could not purchase.

My lord Orrery's amiable qualities must make him the delight of all with you, as he is truly so with us; and when he comes over, "your loss will be our gain," as the proverb says.

I know nothing of Mr. Pilkington's affairs or expenses; what the city allows him is never paid till the end of the year: I have presented him, at twice, with forty pounds, which I design to make fifty; which sum has but one precedent: generally they have but thirty of the mayor. His behaviour is very well, and he is generally esteemed.

I shall have great regard to your recommendations in favour of Mrs. Barber, and shall not fail of doing her any service in my power. I have been thought to be a lucky man; but this year fortune has been my foe, for I have had no death happened in my year (a fiddler excepted) yet, nor have made 500l. in all. But my friends say, it is made up in fame.

I am very sorry your ill health continues; for I flattered myself with being very happy with you and some friends, on the important subject of the Cap of Maintenance, Custard, the Sword, and many more laudable things in the lord mayor's house; and I yet hope to have that felicity, for there are three months to come; and who knows what may happen in that time? Nay, I do not despair of seeing you settled with your friends here, before we are many years older. Do not start! stranger things have happened very lately.

I was lately honoured at dinner with the lords Bolingbroke, Carteret, Winchelsea, Gower, and Mr. Pulteney; and among other things your name was mentioned, and lord Carteret instantly toasted your health; and you were the subject of conversation for an hour. I showed them your letter. I dare not mention what passed, because I know I shall offend your modesty; only one thing I will venture to repeat, "that they all swore, that if ever the wind should change, they would not long be deprived of the greatest genius of the age." The conversation turning on another subject, lord Carteret pulled me to the window, and bade me tell you, that he loved and honoured you, and so you should find on all occasions, and that he toasted your health. This is literally true, upon the honour of a ——

I dined yesterday with lord Bolingbroke only; he complains you do not write to him: he is well.

They say you are making interest for my brother of Dublin to be member of parliament; pray come over, and do the same for me, and have the credit of both. My brother behaves himself well[2], I hear; if it is proper, my service to him.

What you tell Mr. Pilkington of my speaking disrespectfully of the Irish, is false and scandalous; I never used such an expression in my life: I appeal to all my acquaintance. I love the Irish.

Pray God restore your health; and believe me always, with gratitude, your most obedient humble servant,

  1. Alderman Barber.
  2. This was alderman French, an ironmonger. Dr. Swift has expressed much regard for this worthy magistrate in a letter to Mr. Faulkner, dated Jan. 6, 1737-8; and still more in an elegant imitation of Horace printed in the Eighteenth volume of this edition.