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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Jonathan Swift to Thomas Sheridan - 23


APRIL 24, 1736.


I HAVE been very ill for these two months past with giddiness and deafness, which lasted me till about ten days ago, when I gradually recovered, but still am weak and indolent, not thinking any thing worth my thoughts; and although (I forget what I am going to say, so it serves for nothing) I am well enough to ride, yet I will not be at the pains. Your friend Mrs. Whiteway, who is upon all occasions so zealous to vindicate, is one whom I desire you to chide; for during my whole sickness, she was perpetually plaguing and spunging on me; and though she would drink no wine herself, yet she increased the expense by making me force it down her throat. Some of your eight rules I follow, some I reject, some I cannot compass, I mean merry fellows. Mr. J. R——— never fails; I did within two days past ring him such a peal in relation to you, that he must be the d———l not to consider it; I will use him the same way if he comes to morrow (which I do not doubt) for a pint of wine. I like your project of a satire on Fairbrother, who is an errant rascal in every circumstance.

Every syllable that is worth reading in this letter, you are to suppose I writ; the dean only took the hints from me, but he has put them so ill together, that I am forced to tell you this in my own justification. Had you been worth hanging, you would have come to town this vacation, and I would have shown you a poem on the Legion Club. I do not doubt but that a certain person will pretend he writ it, because there is a copy of it in his hand, lying on his table; but do not mind that, for there are some people in the world will say any thing. I wish you could give some account of poor Dr. Sheridan; I hear the reason he did not come to town this Easter is, that he waited to see a neighbour of his hanged.

Whatever is said in this page by goody Whiteway, I have not read, nor will read; but assure you, if it relates to me it is all a lie; for she says you have taught her that art, and as the world goes, and she takes you for a wise man, she ought to follow your practice. To be serious, I am sorry you said so little of your own affairs, and of your health; and when will you pay me any money? for upon my conscience you have half starved me.

The plover eggs were admirable, and the worsted for the dean’s stockings so fine, that not one knitter here can knit them.

We neither of us know what the other hath writ; so one answer will serve, if you write to us both, provided you justly give us both our share, and each of us will read our own part. Pray tell us how you breathe, and whether that disorder be better.

If the dean should give you any hint about money, you need not mind him, for to my knowledge he borrowed twenty pounds a month ago, to keep himself alive.

I am sorry to tell you, that poor Mrs. Whiteway is to be hanged on Tuesday next for stealing a piece of Indian silk out of Bradshaw's shop, and did not set the house on fire, as I advised her. I have writ a very masterly poem on the legion club; which, if the printer should be condemned to be hanged for it, you will see in a threepenny book; for it is 240 lines. Mrs. Whiteway is to have half the profit and half the hanging.

The drapier went this day to the Tholsel as a merchant, to sign a petition to the government against lowering the gold, where we hear he made a long speech, for which he will be reckoned a jacobite. God send hanging does not go round.

Yours, &c.