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

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DUBLIN, OCT. 23, 1736.

I HAD the favour of a letter from you about two months ago; but I was then, and have been almost ever since, in so ill a state of health and lowness of spirits, that I was not able to acknowledge it; and it is not a week since I ventured to write to an old friend upon a business of importance. I have long heard of you and your character; which, as I am certain was true, so it was very advantageous, and gave me a just esteem of you, which your friendly letter has much increased. I owe you many thanks for your goodness to Mr. Warburton and his widow. I had lately a letter from her, wherein she tells me of the good office you have done her. I would be glad to know whether she has been left in a capacity of living in any comfortable way, and able to provide for her children; for I am told her husband left her some. He served once a cure of mine; but I came over to settle here upon the queen's death, when consequently all my credit was gone, except with the late primate, who had many obligations to me, and on whom I prevailed to give that living to Mr. Warburton, and make him surrogate, which he lost in a little time. Alderman Barber was my old acquaintance. I got him two or three employments when I had credit with the queen's ministers; but upon her majesty's death, he was stripped of them all. However, joining with Mr. Gumley, they both entered into the South Sea scheme, and the alderman grew prodigiously rich; but by pursuing too far, he lost two-thirds of his gains. However, he bought a house with some acres near Richmond, and another in London, and kept fifty thousand pounds, which enabled him to make a figure in the city. This is a short history of the alderman, who, in spite of his tory principles, got through all the honours of London. I cannot tell whether his office of governor of your society be for his life, or only annual: I suppose you can inform me.

Your invitation is friendly and generous, and what I would be glad to accept, if it were possible; but, sir, I have not an ounce of flesh about me, and cannot ride above a dozen miles in a day without being sore and bruised and spent. My head is every day more or less disordered by a giddiness; yet I ride the strand here constantly when fair weather invites me. But if I live till spring next, and have any remainder of health, I determine to venture, although I have some objections. I do not doubt your good cheer and welcome; but you brag too much of the prospects and situations. Dare you pretend to vie with the county of Armagh, which, excepting its cursed roads, and want of downs to ride on, is the best part I have seen of Ireland? I own you engage for the roads from hence to your house; but where am I to ride after rainy weather? Here I have always a strand or a turnpike for four or five miles. Your being a bachelor pleases me well; and as to neighbours, considering the race of squires in Ireland, I had rather be without them. If you have books in large print, or an honest parson with common sense, I desire no more. But here is an interval of above six months; and in the mean time God knows what will become of me, and perhaps of the kingdom, for I think we are going to ruin as fast as it is possible. If I have not tired you now, I promise never to try your patience so much again. I am, sir, with true esteem, your most obedient and obliged servant,

I hear your brother the clergyman is still alive: I knew him in London and Ireland, and desire you will present him with my humble service.