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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Jonathan Swift to William Pulteney - 1

< The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift‎ | Volume 13

DUBLIN, MARCH 8, 1734-5.

MR. Stopford, going to England upon some particular affair, I gladly complied with his desire, that I should do myself the honour of writing to you, because, as useless as I am, and although I shall never have the happiness to see you, yet my ambition to have some small place in your memory, will live as long as myself.

I will do an unmannerly thing, which is, to bequeath you an epitaph for forty years hence, in two words, Ultimus Britannorum. You never forsook your party. You might often have been as great as the court can make any man so; but you preserved your spirit of liberty, when your former colleagues had utterly sacrificed theirs; and if it shall ever begin to breathe in these days, it must entirely be owing to yourself and one or two friends. But it is altogether impossible for any nation to preserve its liberty long under a tenth part of the present luxury, infidelity, and a million of corruptions. We see the Gothic system of limited monarchy is extinguished in all the nations of Europe. It is utterly extirpated in this wretched kingdom, and yours must be the next. Such has ever been human nature, that a single man, without any superiour advantages either of body or mind, but usually the direct contrary, is able to attack twenty millions, and drag them voluntarily at his chariot wheels. But no more of this. I am as sick of the world as I am of age and disease, the last of which I am never wholly without. I live in a nation of slaves, who sell themselves for nothing. My revenues, though half sunk, are sufficient to support me in some decency. And I have a few friends of great worth, who, when I visit them, or they me, agree together in discovering our utter detestation of all proceeding both here and there. Hæc est vita solutorum misera ambitione gravique. I am under the displeasure of the court for fixing up a true whig epitaph in my cathedral, over the burying place of old Schomberg, and for some other things of equal demerit or disaffection, wherewith I am charged; perhaps also for some verses laid to my charge, and published without my knowledge or consent; wherein you and another person are understood to be meant by initial letters.

I desire your pardon for the trouble I gave in recommending a gentleman to your protection, who has an appeal before the house of lords; wherein I was prevailed on by an eminent person in the law, who, by a miracle, was raised to the, bench in these very times, although he be a man of virtue and learning in a great degree. Dear sir, you have nothing to desire in this world but good health, good times, the prosperity of your family (wherein you have my constant prayers) and deserving friends. I have often said, that I never knew a more easy man to live with than yourself; and if you had only a poor forty thousand pounds a year, I would command you to settle one thousand of it on me to live in your next neighbourhood; but as for our friends at Twickenham and Dawley, I have told them plainly that they are both too speculative and temperate for me to accept their invitation, and infinitely too philosophical. The bearer, Mr. Stopford, has such infinite obligations to you for your favours to him, and is, in all respects, so very deserving a gentleman, that I am sure you never repented the good office you have done him at my recommendation. But he only attends you on perfect gratitude; for he knows very well you are what is now called a disaffected person. You are, in the modern sense, a friend to popery, arbitrary power, and the pretender; and therefore he has just politicks enough not to trouble you with helping him by the hand to better preferment; and I pray God, while things continue as they are, that it may be never in your power to make a curate, or an exciseman.

You will hear, perhaps, that one Faulkner has printed four volumes, which are called my works; he has only prefixed the first letters of my name; it was done utterly against my will; for there is no property in printers or booksellers here, and I was not able to hinder it. I did imagine, that after my death, the several London booksellers would agree among themselves to print what each of them had by common consent; but the man here has prevented it, much to my vexation, for I would as willingly have it done even in Scotland. All this has vexed me not a little, as done in so obscure a place. I have never yet looked into them, nor I believe ever shall. You will find Mr. Stopford the same modest, virtuous, learned man that you last saw him; but with a few more years, and a great deal more flesh, beside the blessing of a wife and children. I desire to present my humble service to yours. I pray God bless and assist you in your glorious endeavours for the preservation of your country, and remain with the truest respect,

Sir, your most obedient

and obliged humble servant,

You will see, by the many blunders in words, syllables, and letters, what a condition my giddy head is in.

  1. This letter, and the next, were regularly communicated to the publick by general Pulteney.