The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Jonathan Swift to Thomas Sheridan - 20

DUBLIN, MARCH 27, 1733.

I RECEIVED your letter with some pleasure, and a good deal of concern. The condition you are in requires the greatest haste hither, although your school did not; and when you arrive, I will force Dr. Helsham to see and direct you: your scheme of riding and country air you find hath not answered, and therefore you have nothing to trust to but the assistance of a friendly, skilful doctor. For whether they can do any good or not, it is all we have for it; and you cannot afford to die at present, because the publick, and all your family have occasion for you. Besides, I do not like the place you are in, from your account, since you say people are dying there so fast. You cannot afford to lose daily blood; but I suppose you are no more regular, than you have been in your whole life. I like the article very much, which you propose in your will; and if that takes place forty years hence, and God for the sins of men should continue that life so long, I would have it be still inserted; unless you could make it a little sharper. I own you have too much reason to complain of some friends, who next to yourself have done you most hurt, whom still I esteem and frequent, though I confess I cannot heartily forgive. Yet certainly the case was not merely personal malice to you (although it had the same effect) but a kind of I know not what job, which one of them hath often heartily repented; however it came to be patched up. I am confident your collection of bon mots, and contes à rire will be much the best extant; but you are apt to be terribly sanguine about the profits of publishing: however it shall have all the pushing I can give. I have been much out of order with a spice of my giddiness, which began before you left us: I am better of late days, but not right yet, though I take daily drops and bitters. I must do the best I can, but shall never more be a night-walker. You hear they have in England passed the excise on tobacco, and by their votes it appears they intend it on more articles. And care is taken by some special friends here to have it the same way here. We are slaves already. And from my youth upward, the great wise men, whom I used to be among, taught me, that a general excise (which they now by degrees intend) is the most direct and infallible way to slavery. Pray G— send it them in his justice, for they well deserve it. All your friends and the town are just as you left it. I humdrum it on, either on horseback, or dining and sitting the evening at home, endeavouring to write, but write nothing merely out of indolence, and want of spirits. No soul has broke his neck, or is hanged, or married; only Cancerina[1] is dead, and I let her go to her grave without a coffin, and without fees. So I am going to take my evening walk after five, having not been out of doors yet. I wish you well and safe at home; pray call on me on Sunday night.

I am yours, &c.

P. S. I believe there are a hundred literal blunders, but I cannot stay to mend them. — So pick as you are able.

I am not so frank a writer as you.

  1. One of those poor people to whom the dean used to give money when he met them in his walks. Some of them he named thus, partly for distinction and partly for humour; Cancerina, Stumpanympha, Pullagowna, Friterilla, Flora, Stumphantha.