The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From Jonathan Swift to William King - 31

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LONDON, DEC. 31, 1713.

YOUR grace's letter, which I received but last post, is of an earlier date than what have since arrived. We have received the address for removing the chancellor, and the counter addresses from the lords and convocation; and you will know, before this reaches you, our sentiments of them here. I am at a loss what to say in this whole affair. When I writ to you before, I dropped a word on purpose for you to take notice of; that our court seemed resolved to be very firm in their resolutions about Ireland. I think it impossible for the two kingdoms to proceed long upon a different scheme of politicks. The controversy with the city I am not master of: it took its rise before I ever concerned myself in the affairs of Ireland, farther than to be an instrument of doing some services to the kingdom, for which I have been ill requited. But, my lord, the question with us here is, whether there was a necessity that the other party should be a majority? There was put into my hands a list of your house of commons by some who know the kingdom well: I desired they would (as they often do here) set a mark on the names of those who would be for the ministry, who I found amounted to one hundred and forty-three, which I think comes within an equality: twenty names besides they could not determine upon; so that, suppose eight to be of the same side, there would be a majority by one: but besides, we reckon that the first number, one hundred and forty-three, would easily rise to a great majority, by the influence of the government, if that had been thought fit. This is demonstration to us; for, the government there has more influence, than the court here; and yet our court carried it for many years against a natural majority, and a much greater one. I shall not examine the reasons among you for proceeding otherwise; but your grace will find that we are determined upon the conclusion, which is, that Ireland must proceed on the same foot with England. I am of opinion, my lord, that nothing could do more hurt to the whig party in both kingdoms, than their manner of proceeding in your house of commons. It will confirm the crown and ministry that there can be no safety while those people are able to give disturbance; and indeed the effects it has already produced here, are hardly to be believed: neither do we here think it worth our while to be opposed, and encourage our enemies, only for 70000l. a year; to supply which, it may not be hard to find other expedients; and when there shall be occasion for a parliament, we are confident a new one may be called, with a majority of men in the interest of the queen and church; for, when the present majority pretends to regard either, we look upon such professions to signify no more than if they were penned by my lord Wharton, or Mr. Molesworth[1]. I have suffered very much for my tenderness to some persons of that party, which I still preserve; but I believe it will not be long in my power to serve those who may want it. It would be endless to recount to your grace the reproaches that have been made me, on account of your neighbour.

It is but true, my lord, we do not care to be troubled with the affairs of Ireland; but, there being no war, nor meeting of parliament, we have leisure at present: besides, we look on ourselves as touched in the tenderest part. We know the whig party are preparing to attack us next sessions, and their prevailing in Ireland, would, we think, be a great strength and encouragement to them here: besides, our remissness would dishearten our friends, and make them think we acted a trimming game. There are some things which we much wonder at, as they are represented: the address for removing the chancellor is grounded upon two facts; in the former of which, he was only concerned with several others. The criminal was poor and penitent; and a noli prosequi was no illegal thing. As to Moore's business, the chancellor's speech on that occasion has been transmitted hither, and seems to clear him from the imputation of prejudging. Another thing we wonder at, is, to find the commons in their votes approve the sending for the guards, by whom a man was killed. Such a thing would, they say, look, monstrous in England.

Your grace seems to think they would not break on money matters; but we are taught another opinion, that they will not pass the great bill until they have satisfaction about the chancellor; and what the consequence of that will be, I suppose you may guess from what you know by this time.

My lord, we can judge no otherwise here than by the representations made to us. I sincerely look upon your grace to be master of as much wisdom and sagacity, as any person I have known; and from my particular respect to you and your abilities, shall never presume to censure your proceedings, until I am fully apprised of the matter. Your grace is looked upon here as altogether in the other party, which I do not allow when it is said to me. I conceive you to follow the dictates of your reason and conscience; and whoever does that, will, in publick management, often differ as well from one side as another.

As to myself, I take Ireland to be the worst place to be in while the parliament sits; and probably I may think the same of England in a month or two. I have few obligations (farther than personal friendship and civilities) to any party: I have nothing to ask for but a little money to pay my debts, which doubt they never will give me; and wanting wisdom to judge better, I follow those who, I think, are most for preserving the church and state, without examining whether they do so from a principle of virtue or of interest.