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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Jonathan Swift to Charles Wogan - 2

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I THINK you are the only person alive who can justly charge me with ingratitude; because, although I was utterly unknown to you, and become an obscure exile in a most obscure and enslaved country, you were at the pains to find me out, and send me your very agreeable writings, with which I have often entertained some very ingenious friends, as well as myself: I mean not only your poetry, in latin and english, but your poetical history in prose of your own life and actions, inscribed to me: which I often wished it were safe to print here, or in England, under the madness of universal party now reigning: I mean particularly in this kingdom, to which I would prefer living among the Hottentots, if it were in my power.

I have been often told, that you have a brother, and some near relations in this country; and have oftener employed my friends in vain to learn when any of them came to this town. But, I suppose, on account of their religion, they are so prudent as to live in privacy: although the court has thought it better in point of politicks (and, to keep the good will of cardinal Fleury, has thought it proper) to make the catholicks here much more easy than their ill-willers, of no religion, approve of in their hearts. And I can assure you, that those wretches here, who call themselves a parliament, abhor the clergy of our church, more than those of yours, and have made a universal association to defraud us of our undoubted dues.

I have farther thanks to give you for your generous present of excellent Spanish wine, whereof I have been so choice, that my butler tells me there are still some bottles left. I did very often ask some merchants here, who trade with Spain, whether this country could not afford something that might be acceptable in Spain; but could not get any satisfaction. The price, I am sure, would be but a trifle. And I am told by one of them, that he heard you were informed of my desire: to which you answered in a disinterested manner, "That you only desired my works." It is true indeed that a printer here, about a year ago, did collect all that was printed in London which passed for mine, as well as several single papers in verse and prose, that he could get from my friends; and desired my leave to publish them in four volumes. He reasoned, "That printers here had no property in their copies: that mine would fall into worse hands: that he would submit to me and my friends what to publish or omit." On the whole, I would not concern myself; and so they have appeared abroad, as you will see them in those I make bold to send you. I must now return to mention wine. The last season for it was very bad in France, upon which our merchants have raised the price twenty per cent already, and the present weather is not likely to mend it. Upon this, I have told some merchants my opinion, or perhaps my fancy; that when the warmth of summer happens to fail in the several wine countries, Spain and Portugal wines, and those of the South of Italy, will be at least as ripe as those of France in a good year. If there be any truth in this conceit, I would desire our merchants to deal this year in those warmer climates: because I hear that in Spain French vines are often planted, and the wine is more mellow; although, perhaps, the natural Spanish grape may fail, for want of its usual share of sun. In this point, I would have your opinion; wherein if you agree, I will direct Mr. Hall, an honest catholick merchant here, who deals in Spanish wine, to bring me over as large a cargo as I can afford, of wines as like French claret as he can get; for my disorders, with the help of years, make wine absolutely necessary to support me. And if you were not a person of too considerable a rank (and now become half a Spaniard) I would try to make you descend so low as to order some merchants there to consign to some of ours, directed to me, some good quantity of wine that you approve of; such as our claret drinkers here will be content with: for, when I give them a pale wine (called by Mr. Hall cassalia) they say, it will do for one glass, and then (to speak in their language) call for honest claret.

  1. See in vol. XII a former letter, in the year 1732, to sir Charles Wogan.