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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 18/Letter from John Scott to Jonathan Swift - 1


LONDON, SEPT. 7, 1739.

ALTHOUGH I do not imagine that you have any remembrance of a person so little known to you as I am, yet I have taken the liberty to draw a kind of bill of friendship upon you, which I am inclined to believe you will answer, because it is in favour of that kingdom, to which you have always stood a sincere and firm friend. We have had here, for some years past, a number of anatomical figures, prepared in wax, which perfectly exhibit all the parts of a human body. They are the work of a French surgeon[1], who spent above forty years in preparing them, and who, to bring them to perfection, was at the trouble and expense of dissecting some hundreds of bodies. The present proprietor of them is my friend, and it was by my persuasion that he was prevailed on to send them into Ireland for the instruction of the curious. I presume you have seen them in London, and therefore I am inclined to think you will be of opinion, that a person may gain more perfect knowledge in anatomy, by viewing these preparations only a few times, than he would by attending many dissections. Your encouraging such of your acquaintance as are curious to see these figures, would greatly excite the curiosity of others. This is the favour I have taken the liberty to desire of you, and which I believe you will be the more readily inclined to grant, when I have assured you, that the person who has the care of the figures, has it in his instructions to return the money that may be got by exposing them to view, in Irish linen, so that the kingdom will be no way impoverished by the small expense which gentlemen may be at in procuring useful instruction, or gratifying their curiosity. If the request I have made be such as you cannot favour, my next is, that you will grant me your pardon for having made it. I intend, God willing, to go into Ireland next spring, after the publication of a work which I have been engaged in for some years past, for the silencing of all infidels, hereticks, schismaticks of all kinds, and enthusiasts. I thought it necessary, because in the way that the controversy has been hitherto managed against such people, the truth has been rather puzzled and perplexed than cleared, christianity has been betrayed, and all true religion lost in the world. I have advanced no one new opinion of my own: what I have set forth is what was clearly set forth in the Scriptures from the beginning. I mean in the original Scriptures of the Old Testament, so interpreted as to make them every where consistent with themselves; and to show that the interpretations I have given are not only the true interpretations, but that the Scriptures so interpreted are the revealed word of God. I have demonstrated the truth of them by natural evidence, or by the works of God, and that the works bear evidence to nothing but the truth; that these revealed truths so demonstrated are unquestionable and undeniable; and that they are the only powerful motives by which men are not only moved but enlightened and enabled to mortify all their lusts, which blind and deceive them here, and will be their everlasting tormentors hereafter, but to work the works of charity, and of that perfect righteousness which is of faith: so that the whole of all true religion, which has been one and the same in all ages, will appear to consist in the mortifications of our bodily and spiritual lusts, which withhold men from the works of righteousness; and in the belief of those demonstrative truths, by which alone we are enlightened, enabled, and moved to subdue them; and in observing those natural memorials, which God has set before us, and in partaking of those reverential ordinances which he has instituted to put us in mind of what we ought to do, in order to eternal life and the motives for so doing. I ask pardon for this digression: and if you have any commands that I am capable of executing here, if you will let me have the honour of receiving them, I shall take great pleasure in obeying you; for I am, with the greatest respect and truth, sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,

  1. Mr. Rackstraw, statuary; the anatomical figures were purchased from him by the late earl of Shelburne, who presented them to the university of Dublin.