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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 18/Letter from Jonathan Swift to John Barber - 5


DUBLIN, MARCH 9, 1737-8.

I RECEIVED yours of February 11th, and find, with great pleasure, that we preserve the same mutual affection we ever professed, as well as the same principles in church and state. As to what you hint, as if I were not cautious enough in making recommendations, you know I have conversed too long with ministers to offend upon that article, which I never did but once, and that when I was a beginner. You may remember that, on Mr. Addison's desire, I applied to my lord treasurer Oxford in favour of Mr. Steele, and his lordship gave me a gentle rebuke, which cured me for ever; although I got many employments for my friends, where no objection could be made, yet I confess, that doctor Delany, the most eminent preacher we have, is a very unlucky recommender: for he forced me to countenance Pilkington; introduced him to me, and praised the wit, virtue, and humour of him and his wife; whereas he proved the falsest rogue, and she the most profligate whore in either kingdom. She was taken in the fact by her own husband: he is now suing for a divorce, and will not compass it; she is suing for a maintenance, and he has none to give her. As to Mr. Richardson, his father was a gentleman, and his eldest brother is a dean. Their father had but a small fortune; your manager was the younger son; he has an excellent understanding in business, with some share of learning; his prudence obliges him to keep fair with all parties, which, in this kingdom, is necessary for one who has to deal with numbers, as the business of your society requires. It is his interest to deal justly with your corporation, because people, who envy his employment, would be ready enough to complain; and yet although he has a good estate, I have not heard him taxed with any unjust means in procuring it. He is a bachelor, like you and me, and lives with a maiden niece, who is a young woman of very good sense and discretion. He is a member of the house of commons, and acts as smoothly there as he does in the country. I am so long upon this, because I believe it will give you a true notion of the man; and if you find, by his management, that he gives you, who are the governor, any cause of complaint, let me know the particulars, which I will farther inquire into. I must next say something of Mr. Dunkin. I told you he was a man of genius, and the best poet we have, and, you know, that is a trade wherein I have meddled too much for my quiet, as well as my fortune; but I find it generally agreed that he is a thorough churchman in all regards. His aunt, to whom he was legal heir, bequeathed her whole estate to this university, only leaving him an allowance of 70l. per annum, to support him till he was better provided for; but I prevailed on the provost and fellows to make it 100l. a year. Yesterday I sent for Mr. Dunkin, and catechised him strictly on his principles, and was fully satisfied in them by himself, as I was before by many of his friends; therefore I insist that you shall think of nobody else, much less of Mr. Lloyd, who is not to be compared in any one view. Doctor Squire may linger out for some time, as consumptive people happen to do, but is past hopes of recovery. My dear friend, I cannot struggle with disorders so well as you; for, as I am older, my deafness is very vexatious, and my memory almost entirely gone, except what I retain of former times and friends; beside frequent returns of that cruel giddiness which you have seen me under, although not as yet with so much violence. You, God be praised, keep your memory and hearing, and your health is much better than mine, beside the assistance of much abler physicians. If you know doctor Mead, pray present him with my most humble service and grateful acknowledgments of his favours. Dear Mr. alderman, why do you make excuses for writing long letters? I know nobody who writes better, or with more spirit, with your memory as entire as a young man of wit and humour. I repeat that you present my most humble service to my lord and lady Oxford, and my old friend Mr. Lewis. What is become of Mr. Ford? Is he alive? I never hear from him. We thank your good city for the present it sent us of a brace of monsters, called blasters, or blasphemers, or bacchanalians (as they are here called in print), whereof Worsdail the painter, and one Lints (a painter too, as I hear), are the leaders. Pray God bless you, my dear friend, and let us have a correspondency as long as I live. I am ever,

Most dear sir,
Your constant esteemer, and
most obedient humble servant,

I have five old small silver medals of Cæsar's, very plain, with the inscription; they were found in an old churchyard; would my lord Oxford think them worth taking?