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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 18/Letter from Jonathan Swift to Martha Whiteway - 14

< The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift‎ | Volume 18

CAVAN, NOV. 28, 1735.

I TAKE advantage a day before the post to write to you; and this is the first day I have ventured to walk this fortnight past, except yesterday, when I dined with my surgeon at the barrack. This morning I visited four ladies in the town, of which your friend Mrs. Donaldson was one. My whole journey has been disappointed by this accident: for I intended to have been a constant rider, and as much a walker as this dirty town would allow. Here are a thousand domestick conveniencies wanting; but one pair of tongs in the whole house; the turf so wet, that a tolerable fire is a miracle; the kitchen is a cabin a hundred yards off and a half; the back and fore door always left open, which, in a storm (our constant companion) threatens the fall of the whole edifice: Madam as cross as the devil, and as lazy as any of her sister sows, and as nasty. These are some of our blind sides. But we have a good room to eat in, and the wife and lodgers have another, where the doctor often sits and seems to eat, but comes to my eatingroom (which is his study), there finishes the meal, and has share of a pint of wine. Then we have an honest neighbour, Mr. Price, who sits the evening, and wins our money at backgammon, though the doctor sometimes wins by his blundering. As to meat, we are hard put to it. It is true, our beef and mutton are very good; but for the rest, we are forced to take up with hares, partridges, teal, grouse, snipes, woodcocks, plover, silver eels, and such trash; which, although they be plentiful and excellent in their kinds, you know are unworthy of a refined Dublin dean. I expect before this letter goes that the carrier will be here with the wine, and that I shall have time to chide you for five dozen of bottles broke by the ill packing up. He set out from hence on Tuesday, but I suppose cannot return till next week. I had, several days ago, a letter from Mrs. Sican, and another from her French son[1], an excellent good one; when you go that way, tell her of this, with my service, and that I will write to her soon. Your letters have been so friendly, so frequent, and so entertaining, and oblige me so much, that I am afraid in a little time they will make me forget you are a cousin, and treat you as a friend. If Apollo has entirely neglected my head, can you think he will descend to take care of my shin? Earthly ladies forsake us at forty, and the muses at fifty-five. I have mentioned that rascal —— to Dr. Delany, who defended him as well as he could, but very weakly; if the doctor will not cast him off, he will justly expose himself to censure.

I wish you would speak to your dearly beloved monster Mr. ——, when he comes to town, about my Laracor agent, to pay me some money, and to reproach —— for his infamous neglect of my affairs. He is one of your favourites, and —— another; I hope I am not the third.

I have just spoken about the thread to Mrs. Sheridan, who tells me, that what you desire is to be had here every market day; and that Mrs. Donaldson understands it very well. "To carry on the thread of the discourse, I discovered the little dirty b— h, the firemaker, to be the opener of the doors, and the leaver of them so; for which the dean had her lugged this evening by the cook maid; for which he paid her a threepence[2], and gave the little girl a penny for being lugged; and because the cook did not lugg her well enough, he gave her a lugging, to show her the way. These are some of our sublimer amusements. I wish you were here to partake of them. The only thing of importance I can tell you is" (Ay, what is it? He shall be hanged rather than take up any more of this paper. It is true that the legion club is sinking the value of gold and silver to the same with England, and are putting four pounds a hogshead more duty on wine? The cursed vipers use all means to increase the number of absentees. Well, I must go to the market about this thread. It is now Nov. 29; I fear the doctor will hedge in a line. I have now got Mr. Morgan's heathenish christian name, and will direct my letters to him. I am to finish a letter to Mrs. Sican; I desire you will call on her sometimes. My love to your brats. I have settled with Mrs. Donaldson about the thread; but will order a double quantity, that you may knit stockings for your dear self. Let the doctor conclude. I am ever, &c. "Madam, I have only room to tell you that I will see you the 12th or 13th of December) excuse a long parenthesis: your most obedient and"

  1. The doctor calls young Dr. Sican her French son, because he was then travelling in France. This young gentleman was at last unfortunately murdered, as he was travelling in Italy in a chaise, by a person who fired his pistol at him from another postchaise, upon some dispute between the drivers contending for the way.
  2. A little silver piece current in those days; but the species has been long worn out.