The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From William King to Jonathan Swift - 1

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DUBLIN, NOV. 20, 1708.

I HAVE yours of the 9th instant, and if the scheme of alteration holds, as represented, I despair of our twentieth parts in the present method; yet I can't think it proper to move in any new course, till the declaration of what is intended be more authentick. I have no good ground for my doubt; and yet in my own mind, I make some question, whether all things will be just as surmised. If I find this to be so in earnest, I will then endeavour to obtain an address to my lord treasurer, which, I suppose, has been hitherto wanting: but, if the matter stick on any considerations not agreeable, there is an end of it. To deal freely, I have very little hope of succeeding any way; but it will not make things worse to try the experiment.

I understand some dissenters from hence will apply to the parliament of England this session, to obtain a repeal of the test, and for a toleration on a larger foot than in England; and that a fund is raised, and agents appointed to solicit their affairs, by the presbyters of the north. I have had some intimation, that all dissenters are not of a mind in this point; the other sects, if I am rightly informed, being as much afraid of them, as of us; and that they would rather be as they are, than run the hazard of coming under the jus divinum of presbytery. Something pleasant enough is said to have happened on this occasion, a certain person endeavoured to comfort them, and remove their jealousy, by telling them they needed not to fear: for that the greatest friends to dissenters, and who would be most zealous for toleration, never designed to establish any church, but only to destroy that, which had the protection of the laws. Whether this will give them satisfaction I can't tell; but am certain, that if any have so wicked a design, they will fail in it.

I am often alarmed with the fears of some good men, who would persuade me, that religion is in danger of being rooted out of the hearts of men; and they wondered to see me so sanguine in the cause. But I tell them, that I believe it is with religion, as with paternal affection; some profligate wretches may forget it, and some may dose themselves so long with perverse thinking, as not to see any reason for it: but in spite of all the illnatured and false philosophy of these two sorts of people, the bulk of mankind will love their children. And so it is, and will be with the fear of God and religion: whatever is general has a powerful cause, though every one cannot find it out.

But I have forgot my dissenters: the reason of their applying in Great Britain is, because they see little reason to hope for success here; and if I can judge of the sense of gentlemen that compose the parliament, they never seemed to be farther from the humour of gratifying them.

As to your own concern, you see hardly any thing valuable is obtained any otherwise than by the government; and therefore if you can attend the next lord lieutenant, you, in my opinion, ought not to decline it. I assure myself that you are too honest to come on ill terms; nor do I believe any will explicitly be proposed. I could give several reasons why you should embrace this, though I have no exception against your secretaryship[1]: except that you may lose too much time in it, which, considering all things, you cannot so well spare at this time of the day.

As to my own part, I thank God, I was never much frightened by any alterations: neither king James, nor the earl of Tyrconnel, shocked me. I always comforted myself with the 112th psalm, 7th verse[2]. I never was a favourite of any government, nor have I a prospect of being so, though I believe I have seen forty changes; nor would I advise any friend to sell himself to any, so as to be their slave. I could write some other things, that you would desire to know; but pen and ink are dangerous tools in some men's hands, and I love a friend with an appetite.

I am, &c.

  1. To the embassy at Vienna.
  2. 'He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.'