The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 19/From Jonathan Swift to Francis Atterbury - 1

SEPT. 1, 1711.

I CONGRATULATE with the college, the university, and the kingdom, and condole with myself, upon your new dignity[1]. The virtue I would affect, by putting my own interests out of the case, has failed me in this juncture. I only consider that I shall want your conversation, your friendship, your protection, and your good offices, when I can least spare them[2]. I would have come among the crowd of those who make you compliments on this occasion, if I could have brought a cheerful countenance with me. I am full of envy. It is too much, in so bad an age, for a person so inclined, and so able to do good, to have so great a scene of showing his inclinations and abilities.

If great ministers take up this exploded custom of rewarding merit, I must retire to Ireland, and wait for better times. The college and you ought to pray for another change at court, otherwise I can easily foretell that their joy and your quiet will be short. Let me advise you to place your books in moveable cases: lay in no great stock of wine, nor make any great alterations in your lodgings at Christ Church, unless you are sure they are such as your successor will approve and pay for. I am afraid the poor college little thinks of this,

" Qui nunc te fruitur credulus aureâ."

I am going to Windsor with Mr. Secretary[3]; and hope to wait on you either at Bridewell[4] or Chelsea. I am, with great respect and esteem, sir, your most obedient and most obliged humble servant,


  1. The deanery of Christ Church to which Dr. Atterbury was promoted from that of Carlisle.
  2. As the intimacy between these two great men had not then been of long standing, it may be amusing to trace its rise and progress. About four months before the date of this letter. Swift had taken lodgings at Chelsea. "I got here," says he, "with Patrick and my portmantua, for sixpence, and pay six shillings a week for one silly room, with confounded coarse sheets. I lodge just over against Dr. Atterbury's house; and yet perhaps I shall not like the place the better for that." Journal to Stella, April 26, 1711. — "Mr. Harley excused his coming, and Atterbury was not there [at the Westminster dinner]; and I cared not for the rest." May 1. — "I have just now a compliment from dean Atterbury's lady, to command the garden and library, and whatever the house affords; but the dean is in town with his convocation." Ibid. "— I sent over to Mrs. Atterbury, to know whether I might wait on her, but she is gone a visiting: we have exchanged some compliments; but I have not seen her yet." May 2. "— I did not go to town to day, it was so terrible rainy; nor have I stirred out of my room till eight this evening; when I crossed the way, to see Mrs. Atterbury, and thank her for her civilities. She would needs send me some veal and small beer and ale to day at dinner." May 3. — "Dr. Freind came this morning to visit Atterbury's lady and children, as physician; and persuaded me to go to town in his chariot." May 9. — "Since I came home, I have been sitting with the prolocutor, dean Atterbury, who is my neighbour over the way, but generally keeps in town with his convocation." May 14. — "I dined with Mr. Prior to day, at his house, with dean Atterbury and others." May 16. — "I sat with dean Atterbury till one o'clock, after I came home." May 18. — "I stayed at home till five o'clock, and dined with dean Atterbury; then went by water to Mr. Harley's, where the Saturday's club was met." May 19. — "This is the first wet walk I have had in a month's time that I came here; however, I got to bed, after a short visit to Atterbury." May 24. — "My lord [Oxford] set me down at a coffeehouse, where I waited for the dean of Carlisle's chariot, to bring me to Chelsea; for it has rained prodigiously all this afternoon. The dean did not come himself, but sent me his chariot; which has cost me two shillings to the coachman; and so I am got home; and Lord knows what is become of Patrick!" May 25.— "It was bloody hot walking to day; and I was so lazy I dined where my new gown was, at Mrs. Vanhomrigh's, and came back like a fool, and the dean of Carlisle has sitten with me till eleven." May 28. — "I am proposing to my lord to erect a society or academy for correcting and settling our language; that we may not perpetually be changing as we do. He enters mightily into it; so does the dean of Carlisle." June 22.— "Dr. Gastrell and I dined by invitation with the dean of Carlisle." June 23. — "They still keep my neighbour Atterbury in suspense about the deanery of Christ Church, which has been above six months vacant; and he is heartily angry." June 26. — "This is the last night I lie at Chelsea; and I got home early, and sat two hours with the dean, and ate victuals, having had a very scurvy dinner." July 4. — "This day I left Chelsea for good." July 5. — "I walked to Chelsea, and was there by nine this morning; and the dean of Carlisle and I crossed the water to Battersea, and went in his chariot to Greenwich, where we dined at Dr. Gastrell's, and passed the afternoon at Lewisham, at the dean of Canterbury's; and there I saw Moll Stanhope, who is grown monstrously tall, but not so handsome as formerly. It is the first little rambling journey I have had this summer about London; and they are the agreeablest pastimes one can have, in a friend's coach and good company." July 14. — "Dean Atterbury sent to me, to dine with him at Chelsea; I refused his coach, and walked; and am come back by seven." July 19. — "The dean of Carlisle sat with me to day till three." Aug. 21. — "I walked to day to Chelsea, and dined with the dean of Carlisle, who is laid up with the gout. It is now fixed, that he is to be dean of Christ Church in Oxford. I was advising him to use his interest to prevent any misunderstanding between our ministers; but he is too wise to meddle, though he fears the thing and the consequences as much as I. He will get into his own quiet deanery, and leave them to themselves; and he is in the right." Aug. 28. — "To night at six Dr. Atterbury, and Prior, and I, and Dr. Freind, met at Dr. Freind's house at Westminster, who is master of the school; there we sat till one, and were good enough company." Feb. 1, 1711-12. — "I visited the secretary, and then walked to Chelsea, to dine with the dean of Christ Church, who was engaged to lord Orrery, with some other Christ Church men. He made me go with him, whether I would or no; for they have this long time admitted me a Christ Church man." March 13, 1712. — "I walked this morning to Chelsea, to see Dr. Atterbury, dean of Christ Church; I had business with him, about entering Mr. Fitzmaurice, lord Kerry's son, into his college." Feb. 24, 1712-13.
  3. Mr. St. John. See in the Journal to Stella, Sept. 1, 1711, a particular account of Swift's manner of passing that day.
  4. Where Dr. Atterbury resided, as preacher.