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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 18/Letter from Jonathan Swift to John Barber - 4

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JAN. 17, 1737-8.

I HAVE for almost three years past been only the shadow of my former self, with years and sickness, and rage against all publick proceedings, especially in this miserable oppressed country. I have entirely lost my memory, except when it is roused by perpetual subjects of vexation. Mr. Richardson, who is your manager in your society of Londonderry, tells me, he hears you are in tolerable health and good spirits. I lately saw him, and he said he intended soon to wait on you in London. He is a gentleman of very good abilities, and a member of parliament here. He comes often to town, and then I never fail of seeing him at the deanery, where we constantly drink your health. I have not been out of doors, farther than my garden, for several months, and, unless the summer will assist me, I believe there will be the end of my travels. Our friend Lewis has writ to me once or twice, and makes the same complaint that I do, so that you are the healthiest person of the three. I luckily call to mind an affair that many of my friends have pressed me to. There is a church living in your gift, and upon your society lands, which is now possessed by one doctor Squire, who is so decayed that he cannot possibly live a month. This living, I am told, is about 120l. or something more, a year; I remember I got it for him by the assistance of sir William Withers and you; and since it is now likely to be so soon vacant, I insist upon it, that if doctor Squire dies, you will bestow it to Mr. William Dunkin, a clergyman, upon whose character I have lately taken him into my favour. He is a gentleman of much wit, and the best English, as well as Latin, poet in this kingdom: he has 100l. a year from our university, to be continued till he is provided for. He is a pious, regular man, highly esteemed; but our bishops, like yours, have little regard for such accomplishments, while they have any dunces of nephews or cousins. I therefore charge you to use your influence and authority that Mr. Dunkin may have this church living upon the decease of doctor Squire; because you know that my talent was a little (or rather too much) turned to poetry; but he is wiser than I, because he writes no satires, whereby you know well enough how many great people I disobliged, and suffered by angering great people in favour. Farewell, my dear friend of near thirty years standing. How many friends have we lost since our acquaintance began? I desire you will present my most humble service and respect to my lord and lady Oxford. I am ever, with great affection and esteem, dear sir,

Your most obedient humble servant,

My kind love and service to Mr. Pope when you see him, and to my old true friend, and yours, Mr. Lewis.

To show my memory gone, I wrote this letter a week ago, and thought it was sent, till I found it this morning, which is January 28, 1737-8.