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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 18/Letter from Jonathan Swift to William Draper - 1

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LONDON, APRIL 13, 1713.

I AM ashamed to tell you how ill a philosopher I am, and that a very ill situation of my affairs for three weeks past, made me utterly incapable of answering your obliging letter, and thanking you for your most agreable copy of verses. The prints will tell you that I am condemned again to live in Ireland; and all that the court and ministry did for me was to let me choose my situation in the country where I am banished. I could not forbear showing both your letter and verses to our great men, as well as to the men of wit of my acquaintance; and they were highly approved by all. I am altogether a stranger to your friend Appian; and am a little angry when those who have a genius lay it out in translations. I question whether 'Res angusta domi' be not one of your motives. Perhaps you want such a bridle as a translation, for your genius is too fruitful, as appears by the frequency of your similes; and this employment may teach you to write like a modest man, as Shakspeare expresses it.

I have been minding my lord Bolingbroke, Mr. Harcourt, and sir William Windham, to solicit my lord chancellor to give you a living, as a business which belongs to our society, who assume the title of rewarders of merit. They are all very well disposed, and I shall not fail to negotiate for you while I stay in England, which will not be above six weeks; but I hope to return in October, and if you are not then provided for, I will move Heaven and earth that something may be done for you. Our Society has not met of late, else I would have moved to have two of us sent in form to request a living for you from my lord chancellor; and, if you have any way to employ my services, I desire you will let me know it, and believe me to be very sincerely,

Your most faithful, humble servant,

  1. First printed in Mr. Seward's Biographiana, 1799, from the original in the possession of that excellent instructor of youth, Dr. Valpey, of Reading.