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

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MARKET HILL[1], NOV. 16, 1728.

I AM extremely obliged to you for your kind intention in the purchase you mention; but it will not answer my design, because these lands are let in leases renewable for ever[2], and consequently can never have the rent raised; which is mortal to all estates left for ever to a publick use, and is contrary to a fundamental maxim of mine; and most corporations feel the smart of it.

I have been here several months, to amuse me in my disorders of giddiness and deafness, of which I have frequent returns — and I shall hardly return to Dublin till Christmas.

I am truly grieved at your great loss[3]. Such misfortunes seem to break the whole scheme of man's life[4]; and although time may lessen sorrow, yet it cannot hinder a man from feeling the want of so near a companion, nor hardly supply it with another[5]. I wish you health and happiness, and that the pledge[6] left you may prove a comfort. I am, with great sincerity, your most obliged and most humble servant,

  1. The seat of sir Arthur Acheson, where the dean passed two summers. He had a farm near it, which was let to him by sir Arthur, and afterward called Drapier's hill, apparently from the poem, while Swift tenanted it.
  2. Accordingly, in his will, by which he devised his fortune to the building and endowing of an hospital for lunaticks, he restrained his executors from purchasing any lands that "were encumbered with leases for lives renewable."
  3. The death of Mrs. Wallis.
  4. Mr. Pope has so poetically expressed this idea, that we cannot resist the temptation of transcribing it: "I am sensibly obliged to you, in the comfort you endeavour to give me upon the loss of a friend. It is like the shower we have had this morning, that just makes the drooping trees hold up their heads, but they remain checked and withered at the root: the benediction is but a short relief, though it comes from Heaven itself. The loss of a friend is the loss of life; after that is gone from us, it is all but a gentle decay, and wasting and lingering a little longer." Letters to a Lady, p. 23.
  5. This sentiment, no doubt, came from the writer's heart. Stella, the incomparable Stella, was then no more!
  6. A son, afterward a barrister at law.