The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Charles Mordaunt to Jonathan Swift - 3

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MARCH 5, 1713-14.


WHETHER any great man, or minister, has favoured the earl of Peterborow with one single line since he left England[1]; for, as yet, he has not received one word from any of them, nor his friend of St. Patrick?

Whether, if they do not write till they know what to write, he shall ever hear from them?

Whether any thing can be more unfortunate, than to be overcome when strongest, outwitted hating more wit, and baffled having most money?

Whether betwixt two stools the bottom goes to the ground (reverend dean) be not a good old proverb, which may give subject for daily meditation and mortification?

I send the lazy scribbler a letter from the extremities of the earth, where I pass my time, admiring the humility and patience of that power heretofore so terrible; and the new scene which we see, to wit, the most christian king waiting with so much resignation and respect, to know the emperor's pleasure as to peace or war.

Where I reflect with admiration upon the politicks of those, who, breaking with the old allies, dare not make use of the new ones; who, pulling down the old rubbish and structure, do not erect a new fabrick on solid foundations. But this is not so much to the purpose; for, in the world of the moon, provided toasting continue, the church and state can be in no danger.

But, alas! in this unmerry country, where we have time to think, and are under the necessity of thinking, where impiously we make use of reason, without a blind resignation to Providence, the bottle, or chance what opinion think you we have of the present management in the refined parts of the world, where there are just motives of fear? When neither steadiness nor conduct appears, and when the evil seems to come on apace, can it be believed, that extraordinary remedies are not thought of?

Heavens! what is our fate? What might have been our portion, and what do we see in the age we live in? France and England, the kings of Spain and Sicily, perplexed and confounded by a headstrong youth[2]; one, who has lost so many kingdoms by pride and folly; and all these powerful nations at agaze, ignorant of their destiny; not capable of forming a scheme, which they can maintain, against a prince, who has neither ships, money, nor conduct. Some of the ministers assisted and supported with absolute power, others with a parliament at their disposal, and the most inconsiderable of them with the Indies at their tail.

And what do I see in the centre, as it were, of ignorance and bigotry? The first request of a parliament to their king is to employ effectual means against the increase of priests; the idle devourers of the fat of the land. We see churches, shut up by the order of the pope, set open by dragoons, to the general content of the people. To conclude, it fell out, that one of our acquaintance[3] found himself, at a great table the only excommunicated person by his holiness; the rest of the company eating and toasting, under anathemas, with the courage of a hardened heretick.

Look upon the prose I send you. See, nevertheless, what a sneaking figure he makes at the foot of the parson. Who could expect this from him? But he thinks, resolves, and executes.

If you can guess from whence this comes, address your letter to him. A messieurs Raffnel et Fretti Sacerdottï, Genoa.

  1. Endorsed "lord Peterborow, abroad on embassies."
  2. Charles the twelfth of Sweden.
  3. Probably the Rev. Mr. George Berkeley, fellow of Dublin college, who went chaplain and secretary to the earl of Peterborow to Sicily, at the recommendation of Dr. Swift.