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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 19/From Jonathan Swift to Francis Atterbury - 2


AUG. 3, 1713.

IT is with the greatest pleasure I heard of your lordship's promotion, I mean that particular promotion which I believe is agreeable to you[1], though it does not mend your fortune. There is but one other change I could wish you, because I have heard you prefer it before all the rest; and that likewise is now ready[2], unless it be thought too soon, and that you are made to wait till another person has used it for a step to cross the water[3]. Though I am here in a way of sinking into utter oblivion; for

"Hæ latebræ nec dulces, nec, si mihi credis, amœnæ:"

yet I shall challenge the continuance of your lordship's favour: and whenever I come to London, shall with great assurance cross the park to your lordship's house at Westminster, as if it were no more than crossing the street at Chelsea. I talked at this threatening rate so often to you about two years past, that you are not now to forget it.

Pray, my lord, do not let your being made a bishop hinder you from cultivating the politer studies, which your heart was set upon when you went to govern Christ Church. Providence has made you successor to a person, who, though of a much inferiour genius[4], turned all his thoughts that way; and, I have been told, with great success, by his countenance to those who deserved. I envy Dr. Freind[5] that he has you for his inspector; and I envy you for having such a person in your district, and whom you love so well. Shall not I have liberty to be sometimes a third among you, though I am an Irish dean?

"Vervecum in patriâ, crassoque sub aëre natus[6]."

A very disordered head hindered me from writing early to your lordship, when I first heard of your preferment; and I have reproached myself of ingratitude, when I remembered your kindness in sending me a letter upon the deanery they thought fit to throw me into[7]; to which I am yet a stranger, being forced into the country, in one of my old parishes[8], to ride about for a little health. I hope to have the honour of asking your lordship's blessing some time in October. In the mean while, I desire your lordship to believe me to be, with very great respect and truth, my lord, your lordship's most dutiful and most humble servant,

  1. The deanery of Westminster.
  2. The bishoprick of London was then vacant, by the death of Dr. Compton, who died July 4, 1713.
  3. To Lambeth. It is more than insinuated by Dr. Maty, that Atterbury's ambition extended to York or Canterbury. Yet those who were better acquainted with his views, knew that Winchester would have been much more desirable to him than either of the others. And there are persons still living, who have been told, from respectable authority, that that bishoprick was offered to him whenever it should become vacant (and till that event should happen, a pension of 5000l. a year, beside an ample provision for Mr. Morice), if he would cease to give the opposition he did to sir Robert Walpole's administration, by his speeches and protests in the house of lords. When that offer was rejected by the bishop, then the contrivance for his ruin was determined on.
  4. The works of bishop Sprat, besides his few poems, are, "The History of the Royal Society;" "The Life of Cowley;" "The Answer to Sorbiere;" "The History of the Ryehouse Plot;" "The Relation of his own Examination;" and a volume of "Sermons" — Dr. Johnson says, "I have heard it observed, with great justness, 'that every book is of a different kind, and that each has its distinct and characteristical excellence.' In his poems, he considered Cowley as a model; and supposed that, as he was imitated, perfection was approached."
  5. Dr. R. Freind, then head master of Westminster school.
  6. "———— a land of bogs
    With ditches fenc'd, a Heaven fat with fogs."

    Juvenal, Sat. X, 75.

  7. See vol. XI, p. 258.
  8. Laracor and Rathbeggin.