Some Unpublished Letters of Dean Swift


KNIGHTLEY CHETWODE, as has been shown in my notes on an earlier letter, had taken part in a Jacobite plot. The Pretender, in spite of the failure of two risings in Scotland, was still buoyed up with hope. In the autumn of 1722, in a foolish manifesto, he called upon George I. to give up to him the throne of his fathers, and undertook in return to acknowledge him as king, instead of elector of Hanover. By the order of the two Houses of Parliament it was burnt by the common hangman. The habeas corpus act was suspended for a year, and many arrests were made. Chetwode was threatened with prosecution, as the next letter and the six following show.


DUBLIN. Feb. 12th 1722-3.

SR, — Upon my Return last October, after five months absence in the Country, I found a Letter of yours, which I believe was then 2 months old ; it contained no Business that I remember, and being then out of Health and Humer, I did not think an Answer worth your Receiving ; I had no other Letter from you till last Friday, which I could not answer on Saturday, that being a day when the Bishop saw no Company; however I was with him a few minutes in the Morning about signing a Lease and then I had onely time to say a little of your Business, which he did not seem much to enter into, but thought you had no Reason to Stir in it, and that you ought to stay till you are attacked, which I believe you never will be upon so foolish an Accusation. On Sunday when I usually see him, he was abroad against his Custom, and yesterday engaged in Business and Company. To-day he sees no body it being one of the two days in the week that he shuts himself up. I look upon the Whig Party to be a little colder in the Business of Prosecutions, than they formerly were, nor will they readily trouble a Gentleman who lyes quiet and minds onely his Gardens and Improvements. The Improbability of your Accusers Story will never let it pass, and the Judges have [having] been so often shamed by such Rascals, are not so greedy at swallowing Informations. I am here in all their Teeth which they have shewn often enough, and do no more. And the Ch. Just. [Chief Justice] who was as venomous as a Serpent was forced to consent that a noli prosequi should pass after he had layd his hand on his Heart in open Court and Sworn, that I designed to bring in the Pretender.

Do you find that your Trees thrive and your drained Bog gets a new Coat ? I know nothing so well worth the Enquiry of an honest Man, as times run. I am as busy in my little Spot of a Town Garden, as ever I was in the grand monde ; and if it were five or ten miles from Dublin I doubt I should be as constant a Country Gentleman as you. I wish you good success in your Improvements for as to Politicks I have long forsworn them. I am sometimes concerned for Persons, because they are my Friends, but for Things never, because they are desperate ; I always expect tomorrow will be worse, but I enjoy today as well as I can. This is my Philosophy, and I think ought to be yours ; I desire my humble Service to Mrs and am very sincerely

Your most obedient

humble Servt

J. S.

Swift had published in 1720 A Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufacture, in which he said that “ Ireland would never be happy till a law were made for burning everything that came from England, except their people and their coals.” The government, not being able to reach the author for want of proof, prosecuted the printer. " The jury,” wrote Swift, “ brought him in not guilty, although they had been culled with the utmost industry. The ChiefJustice sent them back nine times and kept them eleven hours.” Swift retaliated with satire. Among the bitter verses he wrote on this unjust judge the following are perhaps the bitterest: —

“ In church your grandsire cut his throat;
To do the job too long he tarried;
He should have had my hearty vote
To cut his throat before he married. ”


SR, — I was yesterday with A. B [Archbishop], who tells me that it was not thought fit to hinder the Law from proceeding in the common form, but that particular Instructions were given that you should be treated with all possible Favor ; and I have some very good Reasons to believe those Instructions will be observed : neither in this do I speak by Chance : which is all I can say — I am yrs &c.

Feb 25th 1722-3.

Monday Morn.


SR, — I sent a Messenger on Friday to Mr Forbes’s Lodging, who had orders if he were not at home, to say that I should be glad to see him — but I did not hear of him, though I stayd at home on Saturday till past two a Clock. I think all yr Comfort lyes in your Innocence, your Steddyness, and the Advice of yr Lawyers. I am forced to leave the Town sooner than I expected.

I heartily wish you good Success, and am in hopes the Consequences will not be so formidable as you are apt to fear. You will find that Brutes are not to be too much provoked ; they that most deserve Contempt are most angry at being contemned ; I know it by Experience. It is worse to need Friends, than not to have them. Especially in Times when it is so hard, even for cautious men to keep out of harms way.

I hope when this Affair is over you will make yr self more happy in yr Domestick : that you may pass the rest of yr Life in emproving the Scene and yr Fortune, and exchanging yr Enemyes for Friends.

I am &c.

June 2nd 1723.

Past twelve at night.


[Indorsed, “ Swift without date abt my Prosecution and his sentiments on severall particulars abt it. K. C.”]

SR, — I was just going out when I received yr note ; these proceedings make my head turn round; I take it that the Governments leave for you to move the King’s Bench must signify something, or else instead of a Dilemma it is an Absurdity. I thought you had put in a Memoriall, which I also thought would have an Answer in form. I apprehend they have a mind to evade a Request which they cannot well refuse ; will not yr lawyer advise you to move the King’s Bench ? and will he not say that it was the Direction of the Government you should do so ? and will the Government own an advice or order that is evasive ? I talk out of my Sphere. Surely the Attorney cannot reconcile this. I imagined yr request should [have] been offered to the Justices in a Body not to one and then to t’other, which was doing nothing. I am wholly at a Loss what to say further.


SR, — I sd [said] all I possibly could to Dr C— and it is your Part to cultivate it, and desire that he will make the A. B. soften the Judge — you want some strong credit with the Lt [Lord Lieutenant] or proper methods with those under him — As to putting you off, till the Lt goes ; I think that can do no hurt. I suppose it is impossible for the Parl1 [Parliament] to rise till after Christmas, since they are now begining Bills that will pass with Difficulty, and if there be an Indemnity, then there will be an End. I believe all people agree with you, that yr concern shocks you more than it does others. I am sure I saw my best friends very calm and easy when I was under worse difficultyes than you. A few good offices is all we can expect from others.

The calmness and easiness of Swift’s friends when he was under difficulties can be justified by Johnson’s reflection that “ life occupies us all too much to leave us room for any care of others beyond what duty enjoins ; and no duty enjoins sorrow or anxiety that is at once troublesome and useless.”

It was perhaps his “best friends ” that Swift had in mind when he wrote : —

“ In all distresses of our friends
We first consult our private ends ;
While Nature kindly bent to ease us
Points out some circumstance to please us.”

His false friends he goes on to attack in the following lines : —

“ By innocence and resolution
He bore continual persecution ;
While numbers to preferment rose
Whose merits were to be his foes ;
When ev’n his own familiar friends,
Intent upon their private ends,
Like renegadoes now he feels
Against him lifting up their heels.”


SR, — I had not yr lettr [letter] till I returned home and if I had I could not have known what to do. I think you should have attended the Bishop, and pressed him to what I desired in my letter, for I could not speak more urgently nor could I am able [sic] to say much more with him than what I wrote. Mr Bernard is a favorite of the Times and might have credit with the Attory Gen1 [Attorney General] to agree that the Thing should be granted, but he lyes still, and onely leaves you to do that which he can better do himself. I wd [would] do six times more than you desire even for a perfect stranger, if he were in Distress, but I have turned the Mattr [Matter] a thousand times in my Thoughts in vain. I believe yr wisest friends will think as I do, that the best way will be to move the Sectry [Secretary] in that manner he likes best—I am this moment going to Prayers and so remain yrs &c.

Thursday mor. 9 o’clock.

The way in which the secretary of the lord lieutenant liked best to be moved was probably a bribe. An earlier secretary, bribed by a thousand pounds, had given to another man a deanery promised to Swift.


DUBLIN. Jul. 14th 1724.

SK, — I had yours of Jun 27th and have been hindred by a great variety of Silly Business and Vexation from answering you. I am over head and ears in Mortar — and with a number of the greatest Rogues in Ireld [Ireland] which is a proud word ; But besides I am at an uncertainty what to say to you on the Affair you mention : what new Reason you may have, or discovery you have made of foul Play I cannot but be a stranger to. All I know is, that any one who talked of yr Prosecution while you were here, unanimously condemned it as villanous and unjust, which hath made me think that it would be better to lye in oblivion, for my Reason of agreeing formerly that an Account of it would be usefull, went onely on the Supposition, that you would be tryed &c. But I protest I am no fit Adviser in this matter, and therefore I would entreat you to consult other Friends, as I would do if it were my own case. If you are advised to go on and pursue that Advice, by drawing up the Account, pray do it in Folio, with the Margin as wide as the writing, and I shall add alter or correct according to my best Judgment and though you may not be advised to publish it, yet it may be some Amusement in wet winter Evenings. I hope you found yr Plantations answer what you expected. You will hear that the Primate dyed yesterday at twelve o’Clock which will set the expecting Clergy all in a motion : and they say that Leving the Chief Justice dyed about the same Hour, but whether the Primate’s death swallows up the other I cannot tell ; for either it is false or not regarded ; perhaps I shall know before this is closed. Ld [Lord] Oxford dyed like a great man, received visits to the last, and then 2 minutes before his Death, turned from his Friends, closed his own Eyes, and expired: Mr Stopford is returned from his Travells, the same Person he went, onely more Experience; he is the most in all regards the most valuable young Man of this Kingdom.

I am ever &c.

Leving is dead.

The Primate of Ireland was Lindsay, Archbishop of Armagh. King, Archbishop of Dublin, who had hoped to succeed him, was passed over on account of his age. When the new Primate called on him, he received him without rising from his chair. “ ‘ My Lord,’ said he, ‘ I am certain your Grace will forgive me, because you know I am too old to rise.’ ” Swift’s scorn of the bishops of the Irish Church is shown in the lines where, in the person of St. Patrick addressing Ireland, he likens them to magpies sent

“from the British soil
With restless beak thy blooming fruit to spoil;
To din thine ears with unharmonious clack,
And haunt thy holy walls in white and black.”

He wished to write the Earl of Oxford’s life. “ I have already taken care.” he had written to him a few years earlier, “ that you shall be represented to posterity as the ablest and faithfullest minister, and truest lover of your country that this age has produced.” Posterity has formed its own judgment, and looks on his lordship as a shifty, pitiful creature. Even his colleague, Lord Chancellor Cowper, wrote of him, “ His humour is to love tricks when not necessary, but from an inward satisfaction in applauding his own cunning.”

“ The most valuable young Man of this Kingdom,” whom Swift thus put before Berkeley, became a bishop. Laurence Sterne was a boy of eleven. Burke and Goldsmith were not yet born,


Sr, — I have been above 7 weeks ill of my old Deafness and am but just recovered. Yr Carrier has behaved himself very honorably, because you took Care to seal the Cords. Yr Bergamot Pears are excellent, and the Orange Bergamots much best [sic] than those about this Town. Your Apples are very fair and good of their kind, and yr Peaches and Nectarines as good as we could expect from the Year. But it is too great a Journy for such nice Fruit, and they are apt to take the Tast of the Moss. Yr Cherry Brandy I depend on the goodness of, but would not suffer it to be tasted till another Time. I could find Fault with nothing but yr Paper, which was so perfumed that the Company with me could not bear it.

There is a Draper very popular, but what is that to me — If Woods be disappointed it is all we desire.

Ld: Carteret is coming suddenly over.

I am yr &c.

The Irish carrier of Swift’s day was on the same level of honesty as are the conductors on the Italian railways of our time, against whose thievings the prudent traveler guards himself by cording his portmanteau and sealing the cord.

The “ Draper ” was the third of a series of letters by which Swift roused the Irish against the reception of a new copper currency which one Wood (not “ Woods, " as he calls him) had obtained a patent to coin. The letters were signed “ M. B. Drapier.”

Lord Carteret was coming over as lord lieutenant. Swift once had a dispute with him about the grievances of Ireland. “ Carteret replied with a mastery and strength of reasoning, which Swift, not well liking, cried out in a violent passion : —‘ What the vengeance brought you among us ? Get you back, get you back. Pray God Almighty send us our boobies again.’ ” In some verses written a few years later the dean describes him as not one of those

“ Who owe their virtues to their stations,
And characters to dedications.”

He concludes: —

“ I do the most that friendship can,
I hate the viceroy, love the man.”


[Indorsed, “About H. C. ye Method of Parting, question of Allowance, Stopford and other materiall difficulties.”]

DUBLIN. Octr 1724.

SR, — I received your longer Letter, and afterwards your shorter by M1 Jackmans. I am now relapsed into my old Disease of Deafness, which so confounds my Head, that I am ill qualifyed for writing or thinking. I sent your Letter sealed to Mr Stopford. He never showed me any Letter of yrs nor talked of anything relating to you above once in his Life and that was some years ago, and so of [sic] little consequence that I have forgot it, and therefore I sent your Letter sealed to him by a common Messenger onely under the Inspection of a discret Servant. I have lived in good Friendship with him, but not in such an Intimacy as to interfere in his Business of any sort, and I am sure I should not be fond of it, unless I could be of Service — As to what you mention of my Proposall at the Deanery, as far as a confused Head will give me leave to think; I was always of opinion that those who are sure they cannot live well together, could not do a better thing than to part. But the Quantum of yr Allowance must be measured by your Income and other Circumstances. I am of opinion that this might be best done by knowing fairly, what the Person her self would think the lowest that would be sufficient for what you propose, and the Conditions of the Place to reside in, wherein if you disapprove, you have Liberty to refuse, and in this Mr Stopford’s Mediation would be most convenient. I desire you will give some Allowance to his Grief and Trouble in this Matter. I solemnly protest he hath not mentioned one Syllable of this to me, and if he should begin, I think I would interrupt him — It is a hard Thing to convince others of our Opinion, and I need not tell you how far a Brother may be led by his Affections. I am likewise of Opinion that such a thing as Parting, if it be agreed on, may be done without Noise, as if it were onely going to visit a Friend, and the Absence may continue by degrees, and little notice taken. As to the Affair of your Son, I can not imagine why Mr Stopford hath not answered yr Letter ; I do believe there is some what in that Business of his Amour, an Affair begun in much youth, and kept up perhaps more out of Decency and Truth than Prudence. But he is too wise to think of proceeding further before he gets into some Settlemt [Settlement] which may not probably be in severall Years, and I prefer him as a Tutor absolutely before any of his Age or Standing at least. The Discipline in Oxford is more remiss than here — and since you design he shall live in this Kingdom (where Mr Jackmans tells me you are preparing so fine a Habitation for him) I think it better to habituate him to the Country where he must pass his Life, especially since many chargeable accidents have happened to you (besides your Building) which will press parsimony upon you, and 50n a year will maintain your Son a Commoner on which Conditions you will place him, if you intend he shall be good for Something.

You will allow for this confussed Paper for I have the noise of seven Watermills in my Ears and expect to continue so above a Month, but this sudden Return hath quite discouraged me. I mope at home and can bear no Company but Trebles and counterteners.

I am ever &c.

Your Perfumed Paper hath been ready to give me an Apoplexy either leave off these Refinements or we will send you to live on a mountain in Connaught.

So strong a disagreement had risen between Chetwode and his wife — the “ Dame Plyant ” of earlier letters, the mistress of that “little fire-side” to which Swift used to send kind messages — that they were thinking of separating. Stopford, as this letter shows, was her brother.

The discipline of Oxford from the Restoration onwards kept sinking and sinking, till it reached its lowest depth of degradation toward the close of the eighteenth century, — a memorable instance of the ruin that is brought on a seat of learning when it is placed under the government of a church. Swift once asked a young clergyman if he smoked. “ Being answered that he did not, ‘ It is a sign,’ said he, 'you were not bred in the University of Oxford, for drinking and smoking are the first rudiments of learning taught there; and in these two arts no university in Europe can outdo them.’ ” Nevertheless, in his Essay on Modern Education he says that though he “ could add some hundred examples from his own observation of men who learnt nothing more at Oxford than to drink ale and smoke tobacco,” there were others who made good use of their time there, “ and were ready to celebrate and defend that course of education.” In his Essay on the Fates of Clergymen he thus describes the course of an Oxford student who was destined to rise high in the Church ; “ He was never absent from prayers or lecture, nor once out of his college after Tom [the great Christ Church bell] tolled. He spent every day ten hours in his closet, in reading his courses, dozing, clipping papers, or darning his stockings ; which last he performed to admiration. He could be soberly drunk at the expense of others with college ale, and at those seasons was always most devout. He wore the same gown five years without dragling or tearing. He never once looked into a playbook or a poem. He never understood a jest, or had the least conception of wit.”


[Indorsed, “ About James Stopford, and placing my son Vall: under his care in Coledge of Dublin.”]

DUBLIN. Decr 19th 1724.

SR — The Fault of my Eyes the Confusion of my Deafness and Giddyness of my Head have made me commit a great Blunder. I am just come from the Country where I was about 3 weeks in hopes to recover my Health ; thither yr last Letter was sent me, with the two inclosed, Mr Stopford’s to you and yours to him. In reading them, I mistook and thought yrs to him had been onely a Copy of what you had already sent to him so I burned them both as containing Things between yrselves, but I preserved yrs to me to answer it, and now reading it again since my Return, I find my unlucky Error, which I hope you will excuse on Account of my many Infirmityes in Body and Mind. I very much approve of putting yr Son under Mr Stopford’s Care, and I am confident you need not apprehend his leaving the College for some years, or if he should, care may be taken to put the young Lad into good Hands, particularly under Mr King — I am utterly against his being a Gentleman Commoner on other Regards besides the Expence : and I believe 5011 a Year (which is no small sum to a Builder) will maintain him very well a creditable Pensioner. I have not seen the Lt [Lord Lieutenant] yet, being not in a Condition to converse with any Body, for want of better Ears, and better Health — I suppose you do not want Correspondents who send you the Papers Current of late in Prose and Verses on Woods, the Juryes, the Drapier &c. I think there is now a sort of Calm, except a very few of the lowest Grubstreet but there have been at least a Dozen worth reading — And I hope you approve of the grand Juryes Proceedings, and hardly thought such a Spirit could ever rise over this whole Kingdom.

I am &c.

Swift, in writing of a gentleman commoner, is applying to Dublin the term with which he had become familiar during his short residence in Oxford. The fellow commoner and pensioner of Dublin correspond to the gentleman commoner and commoner of the English university. The gentleman commoner, whose showy gown was very often seen in Oxford in my undergraduate days, is as extinct as the dodo. “ In Dublin,” as I am informed on high authority, “ any one who chooses to pay his money foolishly can be a fellow commoner. He sits at the fellows’ table and is distinguished by some points of college costume. Above him in rank is the son of a peer.” It was as a gentleman commoner that Gibbon, about thirty years after the date of Swift’s letter, entered Magdalen College, Oxford. He dined with the fellows, and was privileged to share in their “ dull and deep potations,” and to join in their conversation “ as it stagnated in a round of college business, Tory politics, personal anecdotes, and private scandal.” At Christ Church, Oxford, in 1769, “ the expense of a commoner keeping the best company was near £200 a year; that of a gentleman commoner, at least £250.” At other colleges a commoner could have lived in decent comfort on £100.

Of the verses on Wood many were written by Swift, — some of them brutal enough.

The grand jury, having thrown out the bill against the printer of the “ Drapier’s Letters,” was discharged by the chief justice in a rage. A new one was summoned, which made a presentment drawn up by Swift against “ the base metal coined, commonly called Wood’s half-pence,” of which they " had already felt the dismal effects.”


[Indorsed, “ With advice abt H. C. and how to arrange our separation and her Residence.”]

DUBBIN. Janr 18, 1724-5.

SR, — I answer yr two Letters with the first opportunity of the Post. I have already often told you my Opinion, and after much Reflection — what I think it will be most prudent for you to do — I see nothing new in the case, but some displeasing Circumstances which you mention, and which I look upon as probable Consequences of that Scituation you are in — What I would do in such a Case I have told you more than once are : I would give that Person such an Allowance as was Suitable to my Ability, to live at a distance, where no Noise would be made. As to the Violences you apprehend you may be drawn to, I think nothing could be more unhappy for that would be vous mettre dans votre tort; which a wise Man would certainly avoyd. I do not wonder that you should see a neglect of domestic Care when all Reconciliation is supposed impossible, every body is encouraged or discouraged by Motives, and the meanest Servant will not act his Part if he be convinced that it will be impossible ever to please his Master. I am sure I have been more than once very particular in my Opinion upon this Affair ; and have supposed any other Friend to be in the same case. There are many good Towns at a great distance from you, where People may board reasonably, and have the Advantage of a Church and a Neighbourhood —

But what Allowance you are content to give must depend upon what you are able. I think such a Thing may be continued without making much Noise, and the Person may be a good while absent as upon Health or Visits, till the Thing grows out of Observation or Discourse. I entirely approve of yr Choice of a Tutor for your Son, and he will consult Cheapness as well as other Circumstances.

I have been out of Order about 5 months and am just getting out of a Cold when my Deafness was mending — Sending you Papers by the Post would be a great Expence, and Sometimes the Post master kept them. But if any Carrier plyed between you and us, they might be sent by Bundles. They say Cadogan is to lose some of his Employmnts, and I am told, that next Pacquet will tell us of Severall Changes — I was t’other day well enough to see the Ld. Lt and the Town has a thousand foolish Storyes of what passed between us ; which indeed was nothing but old Friendship without a Word of Politicks.

According to one of the “ foolish Storyes,” Swift, at a full levee, pushed his way up to the lord lieutenant, and in a loud voice reproached him for issuing a proclamation against the Draper, — “ ‘ a poor shop-keeper whose only crime is an honest attempt to save his country from ruin. I suppose you expect a statue of copper will be erected to you for this service done to Wood.’ The whole assembly were struck mute. The titled slaves shrunk into their own littleness in the presence of this man of virtue. For some time a profound silence ensued, when Lord Carteret made this fine reply in a line of Virgil: —

‘ Res duræ et regni novitas me talia cogunt
Moliri.’ ”
(“ My cruel fate And doubts attending an unsettled state Force me,”)

Lord Cadogan had succeeded Marlborough as commander-in-chief. “ As the great Duke reviewed us,” writes Esmond, “ riding along our lines with his fine suite of prancing aides-de-camp and generals, stopping here and there to thank an officer with those eager smiles and bows of which his Grace was always lavish, scarce a huzzah could be got for him, though Cadogan, with an oath, rode up and cried, ‘ D— you, why don’t you cheer ? ' ”


[Indorsed, “A little before H. C. and I parted.”]

SR, — Your letter come this moment to my Hand and the Messenger waits and returns tomorrow. You describe yourself as in a very uneasy way as to Burr. I know it not but I believe it will be hard to find any Place without some Objections. To be permitted to live among Relations, will have a fair face, and be looked on as generous and goodnatured, and therefore I think you should comply, neither do I apprehend any Consequences from the Person if the rest of the Family be discreet, and you say nothing against that — I think it would be well if you had some Companions in your House with whom to converse, or else the Spleen will get the Better, at least in long winter Evenings, when you cannot be among your workmen nor allways amuse yr self with reading.

We have had no new thing of any Value since the second Letter from Nobody (as they call it) the Author of those two Letters is sd to be a Lord’s eldest son — The Drapier’s five Letters and those two, and five or six Copyes of Verses are all that I know of, and those I suppose you have had.

The Talk now returns fresh that the Ld. Lt will soon leave us, and ye D [Duke] of Newcastle succeed, and that Horace Walpole will be Secry of State.

I am &c.

Jan 30th 1724-5.

Swift’s advice to Chetwode was like that given nearly forty years later by Dr. Johnson to a friend who had put away his wife : “ Your first care must be to procure to yourself such diversions as may preserve you from melancholy and depression of mind, which is a greater evil than a disobedient wife.”

The talk that the lord lieutenant was soon to leave was false. Some years after he had left, he wrote to Swift, “ When people ask me how I governed Ireland, I say that I pleased Dr Swift.”

Horace Walpole was the brother of Sir Robert Walpole, and uncle of the famous letter-writer, — “ old Horace,” as he was called later on. His nephew records how one day he left the House of Commons to fight a duel, and at once returned, “ so little moved as to speak immediately upon the Cambrick Bill, which made Swinny say, ‘ That it was a sign he was not ruffled.' ” Ruffles, then in fashion, were made of cambric.


[Indorsed, “ About James Stopford’s promise to indemnify me for debts of H. C.’s contracting.”]

DUBLIN. Febr. 20th 172-4-5.

SR, — I extracted the Articles you sent me, and I sent them to Mr Stopford, and this morning he shewed me a Letter he intends for you to night, which I think shews he is ready to do all in his Power. That of contracting Debts he will give Bonds ; for the others you can not well expect more than his Word, and you have the Remedy in your Power. So I hope no Difficulty will remain. I am very glad you are putting of your Land, and I hope you will contract things into as narrow a Circle as can consist with your Ease, since your Son and othe” Children will now be an Addition to your annuall Charge.

As soon as it is heard that I have been with Folks in Power, they get twenty Storyes about the Town of what has passed, but very little Truth. An English Paper in print related a Passage of two Lines writ on a Card, and the Answer, of which Story four parts in five is false — The Answer was writ by Sir W. Fownes. The real Account is a Trifle, and not worth the Time to relate. Thus much for that Passage in yr Letter.

As to Company, I think you must endeavor to cotton with the Neighboring Clergy and Squires. The days are lengthening and you will have a long Summer to prepare yrself for Winter. You should pass a month now and then with some County Friends, and play at whist for sixpence — I just steal this Time to write that you may have my Opinions at the same Time with Mr Stopford’s Letter. I do think by all means he and you should be as well together as the Situation of Things will admit, for he has a most universal good reputation. I think above any young man in the Kingdom.

I am yr most obt &c. J. S.

Chetwode, who was to make his wife an allowance, feared she might incur debts for which the law would hold him answerable. Her brother was willing to give him bonds for repayment.

The " two Lines writ on a Card ” may be those which Swift is said to have scratched on the window of the waitingroom in the castle : —

“ My very good Lord, ’tis a very hard task,
For a man to wait here who has nothing to ask.”

Under which Lord Carteret wrote : —

“ My very good Dean, there are few who come here,
But have something to ask or something to fear. ”

Swift used to keep a record of his gains and losses at cards. “ Whist " he sometimes spelled “ whish, " as the following account shows : —

Nov 8th. Ombr. Percevl Barry ... 5. 8.
“ Ombr and whish. Raymd Morgan 2. 4.


May 27th 1725.

SR, — The Place I am in is 8 miles from the Post so it may be some days before I have convenience of sending this. I have recovered my hearing for some time, at least recovered it so as not to be troublesome to those I converse with, but I shall never be famous for acuteness in that Sense, and am in daily dread of Relapses ; against which I prepare my mind as well as I can ; and I have too good a Reason to do so ; For my eyes will not suffer me to read small Prints; nor anything by Candle-light, and if I grow blind, as well as deaf, I must needs become very grave, and wise, and insignificant. The Weather has been so unfavourable, and continues so, that I have not been able to ride above once ; and have been forced for Amusem1 to set Irish Fellows to work, and to oversee them — I live in a Cabin and in a very wild Country ; yet there are some Agreeablenesses in it, or at least I fancy so, and am levelling Mountains and raising Stones, and fencing against inconveniencyes of a scanty Lodging, want of vittalls, and a thievish Race of People.

I detest the world because I am growing wholly unfit for it, and could be onely happy by never coming near Dublin, nor hearing from it, or anything that passes in the Publick.

I am sorry your Enemyes are so restless to torment you, and truly against the opinion of Philosophers I think, next to Health a man’s Fortune is the tenderest Point; for life is a Trifle; and Reputation is supply’d by Innocence, but the Ruin of a man’s Fortune makes him a Slave, which is infinitely worse than loss of Life or Credit; when a man hath not deserved either ; and I repent nothing so much, as my own want of worldly wisdom, in squandring all I had saved on a Cursed Wall; although I had your Example to warn me, since I had often ventured to railly you for your Buildings ; which have hindred you from that Command of money; you might otherwise have had. I have been told that Lenders of money abound; not from the Riches of the Kingdom, but by the want of Trade — but whether Chattles be good security I can not tell. I dare say Mr Lightburn will be able to take up what he wants, upon the Security of Land, by the Judgmt of the H. [House] of Lords ; and I reckon he is almost a Lawyer, and would make a very good Solliciter. I can give you no Encouragement to go out of your way for a visit to this dismal Place ; where we have hardly room to turn our selves, and where we send five miles round for a lean sheep. I never thought I could battle with so many Inconveniencyes, and make use of so many Irish Expedients, much less could I invite any Friend to share in them ; and we are 8 miles from Kells, the nearest habitable Place — These is the State of Affairs here. But I should be glad to know you had taken some Method to lump your Debts. I could have wished Mr Stopford had let me know his Intentions of travelling with Graham ; I know not the Conditions he goes on, and there is but one Reason why I should approve of such a Ramble ; I know all young Travellers are eager to travell again. But I doubt whether he consults his Preferment, or whether he will be able to do any Good to, un Enfant gaté, as Graham is. Pray desire him to write to me. I had rather your Son might have the Advantage of his Care, than of his Chambers.

I read no Prints. I know not whether we have a new King, or the old : much less any thing of Barber. I did not receive any Packet from you.

I am ever yr &c.

The 6 months are over, so the Discoverer of the Draper will not get the 30011 as I am told. I hope the Parlmt will do as they ought, in that matter, which is the onely publick thing, I have in my mind.

I hope you like Dr Delany’s country Place and am glad to find you among such Acquaintances, especially such a Person as he.

Swift was staying in Dr. Sheridan’s country retreat, “ in a bleak spot among the wildest of the Cavan heaths,” about fifty miles northwest of Dublin. He was, as he wrote to Pope, finishing his Gulliver’s Travels. “The chief end I propose to myself in all my labours is to vex the world rather than divert it; and if I could compass that design without hurting my own person or fortune I would be the most indefatigable writer you have ever seen.”

His sight had been long failing. Twelve years earlier he had told how Vanessa

“ Imaginary charms can find
In eyes with reading almost blind.”

In some pretty lines to Stella on her birthday he said : —

“ For nature always in the right
To your decay adapts my sight;
And wrinkles undistinguished pass,
For I 'm ashamed to use a glass ;
And till I see them with these eyes,
Whoever says you have them, lies.”

On another birthday he wrote to her:

“ This day then let us not be told
That you are sick and I grown old ;
Nor think on our approaching ills,
And talk of spectacles and pills.”

He would not let art remedy the failings of nature ; “ for, having by some ridiculous resolution, or mad vow, determined never to wear spectacles, he could make little use of books in his latter years.”

The work which he was overseeing was some improvements, at his own expense, on his friend’s land, with which he hoped to surprise him. Sheridan had heard of what was going on, and on his arrival took not the slightest notice of the changes. “ ' Confound your stupidity ; ’ said Swift, in a rage ; ‘ why, you blockhead, don’t you see the great improvements I have been making here ? ’ ' Improvements ! Mr. Dean,’ and then he went on to make nothing of them.”

Swift in this letter says that “ next to Health a man’s Fortune is the tenderest Point.” Three years earlier he had written to Vanessa, “ Remember that riches are nine parts in ten of all that is good in life, and health is the tenth.”

The “ Cursed Wall ” he had built, at a cost of £600, round a piece of ground he called Naboth’s vineyard, close to the deanery house. “ When the masons played the knave,” he wrote, “ nothing delighted me so much as to stand by while my servants threw down what was amiss.”

The judgment in the House of Lords was in the case of the Rev. Stafford Lightburne, against some of Swift’s cousins. It reversed certain decrees of the Irish Exchequer Court, and affirmed others. It seems to have confirmed land to Lightburne. Swift wrote to him congratulating him on his success.

To Mr. Stopford, in a letter dated, “Wretched Dublin, in miserable Ireland, Nov. 26, 1725,” he wrote, “ Come home by Switzerland; whence travel blindfold till you get here, which is the only way to make Ireland tolerable.” It is clear that he placed Switzerland on much the same level as Ireland.

On the publication of the Drapier’s Fourth Letter, dated October 23,1724, a reward of £300 was offered for the discovery of the author.

To Dr. Delany Swift addressed some lines which begin : —

“ To you whose virtues, I must own
With shame, I have too lately known ;
To you by art and nature taught
To be the man I long have sought.”


July 19th 1725.

SR, — I had yrs of the 10t]l and yr former of earlye date. Can you imagine there is anything in this Scene to furnish a Letter ? I came here for no other Purpose but to forget and to be forgotten. I detest all News or Knowledge of how the World passes. I am again with a Fitt of Deafness. The Weather is so had and continues so beyond any Example in memory, that I cannot have the Beneffit of riding and I am forced to walk perpetually in a great Coat to preserve me from Cold and wett, while I amuse myself with employing and inspecting Laborers digging up and breaking Stones building dry Walls, and cutting thro Bogs, and when I cannot stir out, reading some easy Trash merely to divert me. But if the Weather does not mend, I doubt I shall change my Habitation to some more remote and comfortable Place, and there stay till ye Parlmt is over, unless it sits very late.

I send this directed as the former, not knowing how to do better but I wonder how you can continue in that Dirty Town. I am told there is very little Fruit in the Kingdom, and that I have but 20 Apples where I expected 500 — I hear Sale expected Harrison’s whole Estate, and is much disappointed. Harrison’s Life and Death were of a piece and are an Instance added to Millions how ridiculous a Creature is Man.

You agree with all my Friends in complaining I do not write to them, yet this goes so far that my averseness from it in this Place has made me neglect even to write on Affairs of great Consequence to my Self.

I am yr most obd &c.

“ How ridiculous a Creature is Man ” Swift was at this time doing his best to show in his Gulliver’s Travels. In this same year he described himself as “ sitting like a toad in the corner of his great house, with a perfect hatred of all public actions and persons.”

George Birkbeck Hill.