The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 18/Letter from Martha Whiteway to William Richardson - 5

MARCH 25, 1740.

ONCE I thought I could never receive a letter from, or answer one to you, without pleasure; and yet both has happened to me very lately. This is the third day I sat down to write to you, and as often tore my paper. I endeavoured to say something to alleviate your grief; that would not do: Then I resolved to be silent on the occasion; but, alas! that was impossible for a friend. I will, therefore, for a moment, rather renew your grief by joining with you in it. Your trials have been most severe: the loss of two such valuable persons as miss Richardson and sir Joseph Eyles are irreparable; for, in a middle state of life, we have not time enough before us to make new friendships, were it possible to meet their equals. This is an unusual way of comforting a friend in trouble: Ought I not rather to persuade you to forget them, and call in christianity to your aid? But I believe those expounders of it are mistaken in their notions, who would have us imagine this to be religion; for I am sure a just God will expect no more from us than to submit without repining. I am too much a fellow sufferer in misfortunes of this nature not to feel for you. In a short time I lost a beloved husband and friend, an ingenious, a worthy son, and, what the world value as their chief happiness, some trifling conveniences. All these I have outlived, and am an instance that time will erase the blackest melancholy. I most sincerely wish, dear sir, this may be your case, and that it may be the last struggle of mind or tedious illness you will ever have to battle against.

You have conjured me by such a tie as the last request of dear miss Richardson, that, as well as I am able, I will tell you what I guess the dean may like. I know his candlesticks are the most indifferent of any of his plate, and therefore mention a pair of those: his snuffers are good.

Surely I was not such a beast as to forget mentioning the receipt of the papers you were so careful and obliging to send me; they came very safe. I entreat you to accept of my most humble thanks for this, and all your other most extraordinary favours.

The dean of St. Patrick's presents you his most affectionate love and service; and commanded me to tell you he would have writ to you upon this late occasion, if he had not been too deeply affected with your grief.

Surely the two long months you have so often fixed for your return will be at an end; and then I shall have the opportunity of telling you from my mouth what I now give under my hand, that I am, with the highest respect and esteem, dear sir, your most obliged and most obedient humble servant,

My most obedient respects to alderman Barber. Mr. Swift and his wife beg you will acccept of theirs.