The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Jonathan Swift to William Pulteney - 2
MR. Stopford landed yesterday, and sent me the letter which you were pleased to honour me with. I have not yet seen him; for he called when I was not at home. The reason why I ventured to recommend him to your protection, was your being his old patron, to whom he is obliged for all the preferment he got in the church. He is one of the most deserving gentlemen in the country, and has a tolerable provision, much more than persons of so much merit can in these times pretend to, in either kingdom. I love the duke of Dorset very well, having known him from his youth, and he has treated me with great civility since he came into this government. It is true, his original principles, as well as his instructions from your side the water, make him act the usual part in managing this nation, for which he must be excused: yet I wish he would a little more consider, that people here might have some small share in employments civil and ecclesiastick, wherein my lord Carteret acted a more popular part. The folks here, whom they call a parliament, will imitate yours in every thing, after the same manner as a monkey does a human creature. If my health were not so bad, although my years be many, I fear I might outlive liberty in England. It has continued longer than in any other monarchy, and must end as all others have done which were established by the Goths, and is now falling in the same manner that the rest have done. It is very natural for every king to desire unlimited power; it is as proper an object to their appetites, as a wench to an abandoned young fellow, or wine to a drunkard. But what puzzles me is, to know how a man of birth, title, and fortune, can find his account in making himself and his posterity slaves. They are paid for it; the court will restore what their luxury has destroyed; I have nothing to object. But, let me suppose a chief minister, from a scanty fortune, almost eaten up with debts, acquiring by all methods a monstrous overgrown estate, why he will still go on to endeavour making his master absolute, and thereby in the power of seizing all his possessions at his pleasure, and hanging or banishing him into the bargain. Therefore, if I were such a minister, I would act like a prudent gamester, and cut, as the sharper calls it, before luck began to change. What if such a minister, when he had got two or three millions, would pretend conviction, seem to dread attempts upon liberty, and bring over all his forces to the country side? As to the lust of absolute power, I despair it can ever be cooled, unless princes had capacity to read the history of the Roman emperors, how many of them were murdered by their own army; and the same may be said of the Ottomans by their janissaries; and many other examples are easy to be found. If I were such a minister, I would go farther, and endeavour to be king myself. Such feats have happened among the petty tyrants of old Greece, and the worst that happened was only their being murdered for their pains.
I believe in my conscience that you have some mercenary end in all your endeavours to preserve the liberty of your country at the expense of your quiet, and of making all the villains in England your enemies. For you stand almost alone, and therefore are sure, if you succeed, to engross the whole glory of recovering a desperate constitution, given over by all its other physicians. May God work a miracle, by changing the hearts of an abandoned people, whose hearts are waxen gross, whose ears are dull of hearing, and whose eyes have been closed; and may he continue you as his chief, instrument, by whom this miracle is to be wrought.
I send this letter in a packet to Mr. Pope, and by a private hand. I pray God protect you against all your enemies; I mean those of your country; for you can have no other; and as you will never be weary of well doing, so may God give you long life and health the better to support you.
You are pleased to mention some volumes of what are called my works. I have looked on them very little. It is a great mortification to me, although I should not have been dissatisfied if such a thing had been done in England by booksellers agreeing among themselves. I never got a farthing by any thing I writ, except one about eight years ago, and that was by Mr. Pope's prudent management for me. Here the printers and booksellers have no property in their copies. The printer applied to my friends, and got many things from England. The man was civil and humble, but I had no dealings with him, and therefore he consulted some friends, who were readier to direct him than I desired they should. I saw one poem on you and a great minister, and was not sorry to find it there.
I fear you are tired; I cannot help it; nor could avoid the convenience of writing, when I might be in no danger of postofficers. I am, sir, with the truest respect and esteem,
Your most obedient and
obliged humble servant,
I desire to present my most humble respects to Mrs. Pulteney.