The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 11/From William King to Jonathan Swift - 9

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DUBLIN, DEC. 16, 1710.

THIS is to acknowledge the receipt of your's of the 28th ult. which came not to my hands till Thursday last, by reason of winds, that kept the packets on the other side.

I find the matter of our first-fruits, &c. is talked of now. I reckon on nothing certain till her majesty's letter comes in form: and quære, why should you not come and bring it with you? It would make you a very welcome clergyman to Ireland, and be the best means to satisfy mankind how it was obtained, although I think it will be out of dispute. I am very well apprised of the dispatch you gave this affair, and well pleased, that I judged better of the person fit to be employed, than some of my brethren. But now it is done, as I hope it is effectually, they will assume as much as their neighbours; which I shall never contradict.

Things are taking a new turn here as well as with you; and I am of opinion, by the time you come here, few will profess themselves whigs. The greatest danger I apprehend, and which terrifies me more than perhaps you will be able to imagine, is the fury and indiscretion of some of our own people; who never had any merit, but, by embroiling things, they did, and I am afraid will yet do, mischief. You will soon hear of a great conspiracy discovered in the county of Westmeath. I was used to so many discoveries of plots in the latter end of king Charles's time, and the beginning of king James's, that I am not surprised at this discovery. I must not say any thing of it, till all the witnesses be examined: so many as have deposed are not decisive. The design of it is to show all the gentlemen of Ireland to be a pack of desperate whigs, ready to rise up in arms against her majesty for the old ministry, associating to that purpose. Whether it be for the interest of Ireland to have this believed you may judge; and sure there must be good evidence to make any reasonable man believe it. Mr. Higgins[1] has drawn up the narrative, and sent it to England, and will pawn all he is worth to make it good. I heartily recommend you to God's favour; and am, &c.

  1. Francis Higgins, M. A. prebendary of Christ-church, in Dublin, and rector of Ballruddery, in that county. He was afterward presented by the grand jury of the county of Dublin, on the 5th of October, 1711, as a sower of sedition, and groundless jealousies, among her majesty's protestant subjects. Higgins published an answer to the presentment on the 9th, with a testimonial of the lower house of convocation in his favour. And on the 10th of the said month, Henry, lord Santry, presented a petition to the lord lieutenant and privy council of Ireland, desiring, that Mr. Higgins might be turned out of the commission of the peace. See a letter, dated October 27, 1711. But, after several hearings of the case, before the lord lieutenant and council, he was, on the 19th of November following, cleared; though the archbishop of Dublin voted in the negative against him.
  2. Doctor Swift used his credit with the ministry, for the benefit of the church of Ireland, so heartily and so effectually at this critical time, that he procured a grant from the queen for exonerating the clergy of Ireland from paying twentieth parts, dated the 7th of February 1710; and another grant bearing the same date to Narcissus, lord archbishop of Armagh, sir Constantine Phipps, lord high chancellor of Ireland, William, lord archbishop of Dublin, John, lord archbishop of Tuam, and others, of the first-fruits payable out of all ecclesiastical benefices, in trust to be for ever applied toward purchasing glebes, and building residentiary houses for poor endowed vicars. The success of which charitable fund hitherto, may be seen in the printed pamphlet containing an account of the first-fruits of Ireland.