The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Jonathan Swift to City of Cork - 1



AUG. 15, 1737.

I RECEIVED from you, some weeks ago, the honour of my freedom in a silver box, by the hands of Mr. Stannard[1]; but it was not delivered to me in as many weeks more; because, I suppose, he was too full of more important business. Since that time I have been wholly confined by sickness, so that I was not able to return you my acknowledgment; and, it is with much difficulty I do it now, my head continuing in great disorder. Mr. Faulkner will be the bearer of my letter, who sets out this morning for Cork.

I could have wished, as I am a private man, that, in the instrument of my freedom, you had pleased to assign your reasons for making choice of me. I know it is a usual compliment to bestow the freedom of the city on an archbishop, or lord chancellor, and other persons of great titles, merely upon account of their stations or power: but a private man, and a perfect stranger, without power or grandeur, may justly expect to find the motives assigned in the instrument of his freedom, on what account he is thus distinguished. And yet I cannot discover in the whole parchment scrip any one reason offered. Next, as to the silver box[2], there is not so much as my name upon it, nor any one syllable to show it was as a present from your city. Therefore I have, by the advice of friends, agreeable with my opinion, sent back the box and instrument of freedom by Mr. Faulkner, to be returned to you; leaving to your choice, whether to insert the reasons for which you were pleased to give me my freedom, or bestow the box upon some more worthy person whom you may have an intention to honour, because it will equally fit every body.

I am, with true esteem

and gratitude, gentlemen,

Your most obedient, and

obliged servant,

  1. Eaton Stannard, esq., then recorder of Dublin, and afterward made his majesty's prime serjeant at law in the room of Anthony Malone, esq., who was promoted to the chancellorship of the exchequer.
  2. In consequence of this letter, there was an inscription, and the city arms of Cork, engraved on the box, and reasons on the parchment instrument for presenting him with the freedom of that city.