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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Jonathan Swift to Trinity College Provost - 1

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JULY 5, 1736.

AS I had the honour of receiving some part of my education in your university, and the good fortune to be of some service to it while I had a share of credit at court, as well as since, when I had very little or none, I may hope to be excused for laying a case before you, and offering my opinion upon it.

Mr. Dunkin, whom you ail know, sent me some time ago a memorial intended to be laid before you, which perhaps he hath already done. His request is, that you would be pleased to enlarge his annuity at present, and that he may have the same right in his turn, to the first church preferment, vacant in your gift, as if he had been made a fellow, according to the scheme of his aunt's will; because the absurdity of the condition in it ought to be imputed to the old woman's ignorance, although her intention be very manifest: and the intention of the testator in all wills is chiefly regarded by the law. What I would therefore humbly propose is this, that you would increase his pension to one hundred pounds a year, and make him a firm promise of the first church living in your disposal, to the value of two hundred pounds a year, or somewhat more. This I take to be a reasonable medium between what he hath proposed in his memorial, and what you allow him at present.

I am almost a perfect stranger to Mr. Dunkin, having never seen him above twice, and then in mixed company, nor should I know his person if I met him in the streets. But I know he is a man of wit and parts; which, if applied properly to the business of his function, instead of poetry (wherein it must be owned he sometimes excels[2]), might be of great use and service to him.

I hope you will please to remember, that, since your body hath received no inconsiderable benefaction from the aunt, it will much increase your reputation, rather to err on the generous side toward the nephew.

These are my thoughts, after frequently reflecting on the case under all its circumstances; and so I leave it to your wiser judgments.

I am, with true respect and esteem,

reverend and worthy sirs,

your most obedient and

most humble servant,

  1. This letter plainly shows the author's friendship to gentlemen of genius and learning, although unacquainted with them; but, soon after this, Mr. Dunkin was introduced to the dean, who did him farther services, by recommending him to Dr. Bolton, archbishop of Cashel, who ordained him.
  2. See the translation of "Carberiæ Rupes," vol. VII, p. 248.