The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 18/Letter from Jonathan Swift and Thomas Sheridan to Martha Whiteway - 1


Those parts of the letter distinguished by inverted commas (" ") were written by Dr. Sheridan.

NOV. 8, 1735.

NOVEMBER 3, to Dunshallan, twelve long miles, very weary; November 4, to Kells, sixteen miles, ten times wearier; the 5th, to Crosskeys, seventeen long miles, fifty times wearier; the 6th, to Cavan, five miles, weariest of all: Yet I baited every day, and dined where I lay; and this very day I am weary, and my shin bad, yet I never looked on it, I have been now the third day at Cavan, the doctor's Canaan, the dirtiest place I ever saw, with the worst wife and daughter, and the most cursed sluts and servants on this side Scotland. Let the doctor do his part. "Not quite so bad, I assure you, although his teal was spoiled in the roasting: and I can assure you that the dirt of our streets is not quite over his shoes, so that he can walk dry. If he would wear golashes, as I do, he would have no cause of complaint. As for my wife and daughter, I have nothing to say to them, and therefore nothing to answer for them. I hope when the weather mends, that every thing will be better, except the two before mentioned. Now the dean is to proceed." In short, but not literally in short, I got hither, not safe and sound, but safe and sore. Looking in my equipage I saw a great packet that weighed a pound: I thought it was iron but found it Spanish liquorice, enough to serve this whole county who had coughs for nine years. My beast told me it was you forced him to put it all up. Pray go sometimes to the deanery, and see how the world goes there. The doctor is a philosopher above all economy, like philosopher Webber. I am drawing him into a little cleanliness about his house. The cook roasted this day a fine teal to a cinder; for the wife and daughter said, they did not know but I loved it well roasted. The doctor, since his last illness, complains that he has a straitness in his breast, and a difficulty in breathing. Pray give him your advice, and I will write to your brother Helsham this post for his. Write me no news of the club, and get one of them to frank your letters, that they may be worth reading. "Dear madam, I beg you may rather think me like the devil, or my wife, than Webber. I do assure you that my house, and all about it, is clean in potentia. If you do not understand so much logick, Mr. Harrison[1] will tell you; but I suppose you ignorant of nothing but doing any thing wrong. Be pleased to send me one of your fattest pigeons in a post letter, and I will send you in return a fat goose, under cover to one of the club. The dean may say what he pleases of my ay con O my; but I assure you I have this moment in my house, a quarter of fat beef, a fat sheep, two mallards, a duck, and a teal, beside some fowl in squadrons. I wish you were here. Ask the dean if I have not fine ale, table drink, good wine, and a new pair of tables. Now hear the dean." It grows dark, and I cannot read one syllable of what the doctor last writ; but conclude all to be a parcel of lies. How are eldest master and miss? with your clerk and schoolboy? So God bless you all. If the doctor has any thing more to say, let him conclude, as I do, with assurance that I am ever, with great affection, yours, &c.

Read as you can, for I believe I have made forty mistakes. Direct for me at doctor Sheridan's in Cavan; but let a clubman frank it, as I do this. Mr. Rochfort is my franker: yours may be general ——, or some other (great beast of a) hero. My two puppies have, in the whole journey, overpuppied their puppyships. Most abominable bad firing; nothing but wet turf. "The devil a lie I writ, nor will I write to the end of my life. May all happiness attend you and your family. I am, with all good wishes and affection, your most obedient humble servant,

"You were plaguy saucy, who did not like my nuts: I do assure you my dog Lampey cracks them; the dean is my witness."

  1. Mrs. Whiteway's eldest son.