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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From John Gay and Catherine Hyde to Jonathan Swift - 6

AMESBURY, AUG. 28, 1732.

MR. Hoare has a hundred and odd pounds of yours in his hands, which you may have whenever you please to draw upon me for it. I know I am more indebted to you (I mean, beside the South Sea bond of a hundred, that still subsists); but I cannot tell you exactly how your account stands till I go to town. I have money of my own too in Mr. Hoare's hands, which I know not at present how to dispose of. I believe I shall leave it without interest till I go to town, and shall then be at the same loss how to dispose of it as now. I have an intention to get more money next winter; but am prepared for disappointments, which I think it is very likely I shall meet with; yet as you think it convenient and necessary that I should have more than I have, you see I resolve to do what I can to oblige you. If my designs should not take effect, I desire you will be as easy under it as I shall be; for I find you so solicitous about me, that you cannot bear my disappointments as well as I can. If I do not write intelligibly to you, it is because I would not have the clerks of the postoffice know every thing I am doing. If you would come here this summer, you might, with me, have helped to have drunk up the duke's wine, and saved your money. I am growing so saving of late, that I very often reproach myself with being covetous; and I am very often afraid that I shall have the trouble of having money, and never have the pleasure of making use of it. I wish you could live among us; but not unless it could be to your ease and satisfaction. You insist upon your being minister of Amesbury, Dawley, Twickenham, Riskings, and prebendary of Westminster. For your being minister in those places, I cannot promise you; but I know you might have a good living in every one of them. Gambadoes I have rid in, and I think them a very fine and useful invention; but I have not made use of them since I left Devonshire. I ride and walk every day to such excess, that I am afraid I shall take a surfeit of it. I am sure, if I am not better in health after it, it is not worth the pains. I say this, though I have this season shot nineteen brace of partridges. I have very little acquaintance with our vicar; he does not live among us, but resides in another parish. And I have not played at backgammon with any body since I came to Amesbury, but lady Harold, and lady Bateman. As Dr. Delany[1] has taken away a fortune from us, I expect to be recommended in Ireland. If authors of godly books are entitled to such fortunes, I desire you would recommend me as a moral one; I mean, in Ireland, for that recommendation would not do in England.


The duchess will not lend you two or three thousand pounds to keep up your dignity, for reasons to Strada dal Poe; but she had much rather give you that, or ten thousand pounds more, than lay it out in a fine petticoat, to make herself respected.

I believe, for all you give Mr. Gay much advice, that you are a very indiscreet person yourself, or else you would come here to take care of your own affairs; and not be so indiscreet as to send for your money over to a place where there is none. Mr. Gay is a very rich man; for I really think he does not wish to be richer; but he will, for he is doing what you bid him; though, if it may not be allowed, he will acquire greater honour, and less trouble. His covetousness, at present, is for health, which he takes so much pains for, that he does not allow himself time to enjoy it. Neither does he allow himself time to be either absent or present. When he began to be a sportsman, he had like to have killed a dog; and now every day I expect he will kill himself, and then the bread and butter affair can never be brought before you. It is really an affair of too great consequence to be trusted in a letter; therefore pray come on purpose to decide it. If you do, you will not hear how familiar I am with Goody Dobson; for I have seen Goody Dobson play at that with so ill a grace, that I was determined never to risk any thing so unbecoming. I am not beloved, neither do I love any creature, except a very few, and those not for having any sort of merit, but only because it is my humour; in this rank, Mr. Gay stands first, and yourself next, if you like to be respected upon these conditions. Now do you know me? He stands over me, and scolds me for spelling ill; and is very peevish (and sleepy) that I do not give him up the pen; for he has yawned for it a thousand times. We both once heard a lady (who at that time we both thought well of) wish that she had the best living in England to give you. It was not I; but I do wish it with all my heart, if Mr. Gay does not hang out false lights for his friend.


I had forgot to tell you, that I very lately received a letter from Twickenham, in which was this paragraph: "Motte, and another idle fellow, I find, have been writing to the dean, to get him to give them some copyright, which surely he will be not so indiscreet as to do, when he knows my design, and has done these two months and more. Surely I should be a properer person to trust the distribution of his works with, than a common bookseller. Here will be nothing but the ludicrous and little things; none of the political, or any things of consequence, which are wholly at his own disposal. But, at any rate, it would be silly in him to give a copyright to any, which can only put the manner of publishing them hereafter out of his own and his friends power, into that of mercenaries."

I really think this is a very useful precaution, considering how you have been treated by these sort of fellows.

The duke is fast asleep, or he would add a line.

  1. Dr. Delany married Mrs. Pendarves; but not till a few years after the date of this letter. We have a letter with that lady's signature, September 2, 1736. Mr. Faulkner says, in 1735, "she was married some years after; and she was a lady of the finest accomplishments and most universal genius."