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The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/Letter to Dr. Sheridan

Dec. 14, 1719, Nine at Night.

IT is impossible to know by your letter whether the wine is to be bottled tomorrow, or no.

If it be, or be not, why did not you, in plain English tell us so?

For my part, it was by mere chance I came to sit with the ladies[2] this night:

And if they had not told me there was a letter from you; and your man Alexander had not gone, and come back from the deanery; and the boy here had not been sent to let Alexander know I was here; I should have missed the letter outright.

Truly I don't know who's bound to be sending for corks to stop your bottles, with a vengeance.

Make a page of your own age, and send your man Alexander to buy corks; for Saunders already has gone above ten jaunts.

Mrs. Dingley and Mrs. Johnson say, truly they don't care for your wife's company, though they like your wine; but they had rather have it at their own house to drink in quiet.

However, they own it is very civil in Mrs, Sheridan to make the offer; and they cannot deny it.

I wish Alexander safe at St. Catherine's tonight, with all my heart and soul, upon my word and honour:

But I think it base in you to send a poor fellow out so late at this time of year, when one would not turn out a dog that one valued; I appeal to your friend Mr. Connor.

I would present my humble service to my lady Mountcashel; but truly I thought she would have made advances to have been acquainted with me, as she pretended.

But now I can write no more, for you see plainly my paper is ended.

1 P. S.

I wish, when you prated, your letter you'd dated:
Much plague it created. I scolded and rated;
My soul is much grated; for your man I long waited.
I think you are fated, like a bear to be baited:
Your man is belated: the case I have stated;
And me you have cheated. My stable's unslated.
Come back t' us well freighted.
I remember my late head; and wish you translated,
For teasing me.

2 P. S.

Mrs. Dingley desires me singly
Her service to present you; hopes that will content you;
But Johnson madam is grown a sad dame,
For want of your converse, and cannot send one verse.

3 P. S.

You keep such a twattling with you and your bottling;
But I see the sum total, we shall ne'er have a bottle;
The long and the short, we shall not have a quart.
I wish you would sign't, that we have a pint.
For all your colloguing, I'd be glad of a knoggin[3]:
But I doubt 'tis a sham; you won't give us a dram.
'Tis of shine a mouth moon-full, you won't part with a spoonful,
And I must be nimble, if I can fill my thimble.
You see I won't stop, till I come to a drop;
But I doubt the oraculum, is a poor supernaculum;
Though perhaps you may tell it, for a grace if we smell it.


  1. In this letter, though written in prose, the reader upon examining, will find each second sentence rhimes to the former.
  2. Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Dingley.
  3. A knoggin is a name used in Ireland for the English quartern.