The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Jonathan Swift to Kath. Richardson - 1

JAN. 28, 1737-8.

I MUST begin my correspondence by letting you know that your uncle is the most unreasonable person I was ever acquainted with; and next to him, you are the second, although I think impartially that you are worse than he. I never had the honour and happiness of seeing you; nor can ever expect it, unless you make the first advance by coming up to town, where I am confined by want of health; and my travelling days are over. I find you follow your uncle's steps, by maliciously bribing a useless man, who can, never have it in his power to serve or divert you. I have indeed continued a very long friendship with alderman Barber, who is governor of the London society about your parts; whereupon Mr. Richardson[2] came to the deanery, although it was not in my power to do him the least good office, farther than writing to the alderman. However, your uncle came to me several times: and, I believe, after several invitations, dined with me once or twice. This was all the provocation I ever gave him; but he had revenge in his breast, and you shall hear how he gratified it. First, he was told "That my ill stomach, and a giddiness I was subject to, forced me, in some of those fits, to take a spoonful of usquebaugh:" he discovered where I bought it, and sent me a dozen bottles, which cost him three pounds. He next was told "That as I never drank malt liquors, so I was not able to drink Dublin claret without mixing it with a little sweet Spanish wine:" he found out the merchant with whom I deal, by the treachery of my butler, and sent me twelve dozen pints of that wine, for which he paid six pounds. But what can I say of a man, who, some years before I ever saw him, was loading me every season with salmons, that surfeited myself and all my visitors; whereby it is plain that his malice reached to my friends as well as to myself? At last, to complete his ill designs, he must needs force his niece into the plot; because it can be proved that you are his prime minister, and so ready to encourage him in his bad proceedings, that you have been his partaker and second in mischief, by sending me half a dozen of shirts, although I never once gave you the least cause of displeasure. And what is yet worse, the few ladies that come to the deanery assure me, they never saw so fine linen, or better worked up, or more exactly fitted. It is a happinesss they were not stockings, for then you would have known the length of my foot. Upon the whole, madam, I must deal so plainly as to repeat, that you are more cruel even than your uncle; to such a degree, that if my health and a good summer can put it in my power to travel to Summer-Seat, I must take that journey on purpose to expostulate with you for all the unprovoked injuries you have done me. I have seen some persons who live in your neighbourhood, from whom I have inquired into your character; but I found you had bribed them all, by never sending them any such dangerous presents: for they swore to me, "That you were a lady adorned with all perfections, such as virtue, prudence, wit, humour, excellent conversation, and even good housewifery;" which last is seldom the talent of ladies in this kingdom. But I take so ill your manner of treating me, that I shall not believe one syllable of what they said, until I have it by a letter under your own hand. Our common run of ladies here dare not read before a man, and much less dare to write, for fear (as their expression is) of being exposed. So that when I see any of your sex, if they be worth mending, I beat them all, call them names, until they leave off their follies, and ask pardon. And therefore, because princes are said to have long hands, I wish I were a prince with hands long enough to beat you at this distance, for all your faults, particularly your ill treatment of me. However, I will conclude with charity. May you never give me cause to change, in any single article, the opinion and idea I have of your person and qualities! may you ever long continue the delight of your uncle, and your neighbours round, who deserve your good will, and of all who have merit enough to distinguish you!

I am, with great respect and the highest esteem,


Your most obedient and

most obliged humble servant.

  1. Afterward Mrs. Pratt.
  2. Of Kilmacduac.