The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 18/Letter from Martha Whiteway to William Richardson - 6

MAY 13, 1740.

BY the time this kisses your hand, I believe Mrs. Richardson will not blush to be wished joy by a person you have done the honour to call a friend, and whose ambition it is to deserve some place in her esteem; and now that all insinuations in your favour are as needless as the formal ceremony between lovers, I shall take the liberty to tell her, it will be her own fault if she is not one of the happiest women in the world. This is an unusual way of recommending myself to a bride; nor should I do it to any but yours: yet surely when a lady is married to a gentleman with an easy fortune, good nature, and a man of honour, how little is required of her side toward mutual felicity, which can be comprised in two words, love and obey?

About a fortnight ago I dined at the dean of St. Patrick's in a mixed company; where one of the gentlemen told him you were married, or just going to be so, to a lady of fifteen, with a hundred thousand pound fortune, and a perfect beauty. I asked the person whether he had not that account from a woman? He said he had. The dean inquired if I knew any thing of the affair. I answered yes; only with this difference, that she was at least fifty, and a most ungenteel disagreeable woman. The whole company looked upon me with contempt; and their countenances expressed, they thought I drew my own picture whilst I enviously endeavoured to paint the lady's. The dean only understood me; and, smiling, said he believed I was in the right. When we were alone, I let him know that you had commanded me to acquaint him with the affair; and I hoped, when I wrote to you next, he would add a postscript in my letter. He promised me to do it; and this day I intend to put him in mind of it.

I waited on Mr. Hamilton yesterday, to consult with him if it would not be proper to allow the servants board wages from this time; and it was diverting enough to see us both keeping our distance about a secret the whole town has known these two months. However, at last we understood each other; and have agreed to give the coachman four shillings a week, and the maid three, until they go a shipboard.

There would have been no occasion to be so formal with a friend as to desire Mr. Hamilton to give the servants money when you might have ordered me to do it, although I had not been in your debt; which, to my shame be it spoken, would be scandalous so long a time, if the fault were entirely mine. My son and daughter Swift present you and your lady their most obedient respects, and sincerest wishes. I am at a loss to express my obligations to her for the compliment she was pleased to remit to me; and I believe, when we meet, she will not be jealous that I dare give it under my hand to her, that I honour and esteem you more than any woman does except herself. I am, dear sir, your most humble and most obedient servant,