The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Erasmus Lewis to Jonathan Swift - 16

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LONDON, JAN. 12, 1716-17.

ABOUT two months ago I sent you a very long epistle, and was in hopes you would either have made us a visit, or have let us hear from you. Since you have done neither, we must flatter ourselves that you will be better the new year than the former.

Our friend Prior, not having had the vicissitude of human things before his eyes, is likely to end his days in as forlorn a state as any other poet has done before him, if his friends do not take more care of him than he did of himself. Therefore, to prevent the evil, which we see is coming on very fast, we have a project of printing his Solomon, and other poetical works, by subscription; one guinea to be paid in hand, and the other at the delivery of the book. He, Arbuthnot, Pope and Gay, are now with me, and remember you. It is our joint request, that you will endeavour to procure some subscriptions: you will give your receipts for the money you receive, and when you return it hither, you shall have others in lieu. There are no papers printed here, nor any advertisement to be published; for the whole matter is to be managed by friends in such a manner as shall be least shocking to the dignity of a plenipotentiary.

I am told the archbishop of Dublin shows a letter of yours, reflecting on the high flying clergy. I fancy you have writ to him in an ironical style, and that he would have it otherwise understood. This will bring to your mind what I have formerly said to you on that figure. Pray condescend to explain this matter to me. The removal of my lord Townshend has given a little spirit; but that will soon flag, if the king, at his return, does not make farther changes. What measures his majesty will take is uncertain; but this we are very sure of, that the division of the whigs is so great, that, morally speaking, nothing but another rebellion can ever unite them. Sunderland, Stanhope, and Cadogan are of one side; Townshend, Walpole, Oxford, Devonshire, and the chancellor[1], on the other. The latter seem at present to be strongest; but when the former appear with a German reinforcement, they will undoubtedly turn the balance. They are both making their court to the tories, who, I hope, will be a body by themselves, and not serve as recruits to either of the other two. Lord Townshend's friends give out, that his disgrace is owing to refusing four things, viz. to keep up the army; repeal the limitations of the succession-act; to send money to Germany for carrying on a war against Sweden; and to attaint lord Oxford. When lord Sunderland[2] comes over, he will probably cry 'whore again,' and endeavour to saddle lord Townshend in his turn. For these reproaches now are like that of Jacobitism in former reigns. We are told, that lord Bolingbroke has permission to stay in France, notwithstanding the late treaty, provided he retires from Paris.

  1. William, earl Cowper.
  2. By whose intrigues lord viscount Townshend had been removed from the post of secretary of state, which was given to James Stanhope, afterward earl Stanhope.