Open main menu

The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 19/From Jonathan Swift to Henrietta Howard - 9




MR. Gay, by your commands, as he says, showed me a letter to you from an unfortunate lady, one Mrs. Pratt, whose case I know very well, and pity very much; but I wonder she would make any mention of me, who am almost a stranger to you, farther than your goodness led you a little to distinguish me. I have often told Mrs. Pratt, that I had not the least interest with the friend's friend's friend of any body in power; on the contrary, I have been used like a dog for a dozen years, by every soul who was able to do it, and were but sweepers about a court. I believe you will allow that I know courts well enough, to remember, that a man must have got many degrees above the power of recommending himself, before he should presume to recommend another, even his nearest relation; and, for my own part, you may be sure that I will never venture to recommend a mouse to Mrs. Cole's cat, or a shoe cleaner to your meanest domestick. But you know too well already how very injudicious the general tribe of wanters are. I told Mrs. Pratt, that if she had friends, it were best to solicit a pension; but it seems she had mentioned a place. I can only say, that when I was about courts, the best lady there had some cousin, or near dependant, whom she would be glad to recommend for an employment, and therefore would hardly think of strangers: For I take the matter thus; that a pension may possibly be got by commiseration, but great personal favour is required for an employment. There are, madam, thousands in the world, who, if they saw your dog use me kindly, would, the next day, in a letter, tell me of the delight they heard I had in doing good; and being assured that a word of mine to you would do any thing, desire my interest to speak to you, to speak to the speaker, to speak to sir Robert Walpole, to speak to the king, &c. Thus wanting people are like drowning people, who lay hold of every reed or bulrush in their way.

One place I humbly beg for myself, which is in your gift, if it be not disposed of; I mean the perquisite of all the letters and petitions you receive, which, being generally of fair, large, strong paper, I can sell to good advantage to the bandbox and trunk makers, and I hope will annually make a pretty comfortable penny.

I hear, while I was at church, Mr. Pope writ to you upon the occasion of Mrs. Pratt's letter; but they will not show me what is writ: Therefore I will not trust them, but resolved to justify myself; and they shall not see this.

I pray God grant you patience, and preserve your eye sight; but confine your memory to the service of your royal mistress, and the happiness of your truest friends, and give you a double portion of your own spirit to distinguish them. I am, with the truest respect, madam, your most obedient and most obliged humble servant,