The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 14/Letter: Swift to Pope - 8

DUBLIN, NOV. 17, 1726.

I AM just come from answering a letter of Mrs. H——'s, writ in such mystical terms, that I should never have found out the meaning, if a book had not been sent me called Gulliver's Travels, of which you say so much in yours. I read the book over, and in the second volume observed several passages which appear to be patched and altered[1], and the style of a different sort, unless I am mistaken. Dr. Arbuthnot likes the projectors[2] least, others you tell me, the flying island; some think it wrong to be so hard upon whole bodies or corporations, yet the general opinion is, that reflections on particular persons are most to be blamed: so that in these cases, I think the best method is to let censure and opinion take their course. A bishop here said, that book was full of improbable lies, and for his part, he hardly believed a word of it; and so much for Gulliver.

Going to England is a very good thing, if it were not attended with an ugly circumstance of returning to Ireland. It is a shame you do not persuade your ministers to keep me on that side, if it were but by a court expedient of keeping me in prison for a plotter; but at the same time I must tell you, that such journeys very much shorten my life, for a month here is longer than six at Twickenham.

How comes friend Gay to be so tedious? another man can publish fifty thousand lies, sooner than he can publish fifty fables.

I am just going to perform a very good office, it is to assist with the archbishop, in degrading a parson who couples all our beggars, by which I shall make one happy man: and decide the great question of an indelible character in favour of the principles in fashion; this I hope you will represent to the ministry in my favour, as a point of merit; so farewell till I return.

I am come back, and have deprived the parson, who by a law here is to be hanged the next couple he marries: he declared to us that he resolved to be hanged, only desired that when he was to go to the gallows, the archbishop would take off his excommunication. Is not he a good catholick? and yet he is but a Scotchman. This is the only Irish event I ever troubled you with, and I think it deserves notice. Let me add, that if I were Gulliver's friend, I would desire all my acquaintance to give out that his copy was basely mangled, and abused, and added to, and blotted out by the printer; for so to me it seems, in the second volume particularly.


  1. This was the fact, which is complained of in the Dublin edition of the dean's works, and is rectified in all the subsequent editions.
  2. Because he understood it to be intended as a satire on the Royal Society.