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

SEPT. 16, 1738.

I HAVE much pleasure in thinking I have executed your commands and alderman Barber's to both your satisfactions; and was greatly pleased yesterday to find the dean in spirits enough to be able to write you a few lines, because I know it was what you wished for. I declare it has not been by any omission of mine that it was not done long ago. Beside his usual attendants, giddiness and deafness, I can with great truth say, the miseries of this poor kingdom have shortened his days, and sunk him even below the wishes of his enemies; and as he has lived the patriot of Ireland, like the second Cato, he will resign life when it can be no longer serviceable to his country.

As sir Robert Walpole has your best wishes, I am so far glad of his recovery.

My daughter is now very well, and most highly obliged to you for what you say about her. I was so little myself when I wrote to you last, with her illness, that I forgot to entreat the favour of your commands to miss Richardson, to take the opportunity of the summer season to come to this town; but the week after I wrote to her, and insisted on her company immediately; but by directing my letter to Summerseat instead of Colrane, I had not an answer till yesterday, and then one that did not satisfy me; for it is written with such deference and fear of doing any thing without your positive orders, that I have very little to hope for from her. I shall for ever tax you with want of truth, sincerity, and breach of faith, if you do not command her to come immediately to town.

I showed Mr. Dunkin the paragraph in your letter that concerned him; for which, and many other obligations he is under to you, he owns himself most gratefully your obedient, &c., &c. Mr. Faulkner will send the books by the first that goes to England. How could you be so unpolite as to tell a woman you supposed her not to be entertained with scandal? You will not allow us to be learned; books turn our brain; housewifery is below a genteel education; and work spoils our eyes: And will you not permit us to be proficients in gaming, visiting, and scandal? To convince you I am so in the last article, the poem pleased me mightily, and I had a secret pleasure to see the gentleman I showed it to liked it as well as I did; so I find your sex are not without a tincture of that female quality.

You have pressed me so much in every letter to find you employment, that, to be rid of you, I will now do it; for, without mentioning the words, entreat favours, vast obligations, trouble, and a long &c., will you buy for me twenty yards of a pink coloured English damask? The colour we admire here is called a blue pink. The women will tell you what I mean. If you will be pleased, by the return of the post, to tell what will be the expense, I will pay the money immediately into Henry's bank.

I own I am surprised at what you tell me of Mr. Philips; but envy, you know; is the tax on virtue, for no other reason could make him your enemy: and I most heartily wish, whoever is so may meet with the fate they deserve. I have just read so far of this letter, and am so much ashamed of the liberty I have taken to give you so much trouble, that if I have truth in me, were it not for the dean's letter it should never go to you. If you can pardon me this, I promise for the future never to give you the like occasion of exerting your good nature, to her who is, with the greatest respect, sir, your most obliged and most obedient humble servant,

You forgot to date your letter.