The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Jonathan Swift to Josiah Hort - 1

MAY 12, 1736.

I HAVE two or three times begun a letter to your lordship, and as often laid it aside; until, by the unmasked advice of some friends of yours, and of all my own, I resolved at last to tell you my thoughts upon the affair of the poor printer who suffered so much upon your lordship's account, confined to a dungeon, among common thieves, and others with infectious diseases, to the hazard of his life; beside the expense of above twenty-five pounds, and beside the ignominy to be sent to Newgate like a common malefactor.

His misfortunes do also very highly and personally concern me. For, your lordship declaring your desire to have that paper looked for, he did at my request search his shop, and unfortunately found it: and, although he had absolutely refused before to print it, because my name as the author was fixed to it; which was very legible, notwithstanding there was a scratch through the words; yet, at my desire, he ventured to print it. Neither did Faulkner ever name you as the author, although you sent the paper by a clergyman, one of your dependents: but your friends were the only persons who gave out the report of its having been your performance. I read your lordship's letter written to the printer, wherein you argue, "That he is, in these dealings, the adventurer, and must run the hazard of gain or loss." Indeed, my lord, the case is otherwise. He sells such papers to the running boys for farthings apiece; and is a gainer, by each, less than half a farthing; and it is seldom he sells above a hundred, unless they be of such as only spread by giving offence, and consequently endanger the printer both in loss of money and liberty, as was the case of that very paper: which, although it be written with spirit and humour, yet, if it had not affected Bettesworth, would scarce have cleared above a shilling to Faulkner; neither would he have done it at all but at my urgency, which was the effect of your lordship's commands to me. But, as your lordship has since been universally known for the author, although never named by Faulkner or me; so it is as generally known that you never gave him the least consideration, for his losses, disgraces, and dangers of his life. I have heard this, and more, from every person of my acquaintance whom I see at home or abroad: and particularly from one person too high to name, who told me all the particulars; and I heartily wished, upon your account, that I could have assured him that the poor man had received the least mark of your justice, or, if you please to call it so, your generosity; which I would gladly inform that great person of before he leaves us.

Now, my lord, as God, assisting your own good management of a very ample fortune, has made you extremely rich; I may venture to say, that the printer has a demand, in all conscience, justice, and honour, to be fully refunded, both for his disgraces, his losses, and the apparent danger of his life; and that my opinion ought to be of some weight, because I was an innocent instrument, drawn in by your lordship, against Faulkner's will, to be an occasion of his sufferings. And if you shall please to recompense him in the manner that all people hope or desire, it will be no more in your purse than a drop in the bucket; and as soon as I shall be informed of it, I shall immediately write to that very great person, in such a manner as will be most to the advantage of your character; for which, I am sure, he will rejoice, and so will all your friends; or, if you have any enemies, they will be put to silence.

Your lordship has too good an understanding to imagine that my principal regard in this affair is not to your reputation, although it be likewise mingled with pity to the innocent sufferer. And I hope you will consider, that this case is not among those where it is a mark of magnanimity to despise the censure of the world: because all good men will differ from you, and impute your conduct only to a sparing temper, upon an occasion where common justice and humanity required a direct contrary proceeding.

I conclude with assuring your lordship again, that what I have written was chiefly for your lordship's credit and service: because I am, with great truth,

Your lordship's most, &c.