The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Edward Harley to Jonathan Swift - 1
FROM EDWARD, EARL OF OXFORD.
THERE has nothing of late given me so much real trouble and uneasiness, as my having so long deferred writing to you, to make my acknowledgments for your most kind letter, and to assure you that I took every part of your obliging letter in the manner you would wish me to do: I must say, that amid my grief and concern, it gave me a secret pleasure to find that I was thought of by you; and what was a greater addition, that you still retained the same thoughts and sentiments of my dear father, and that you had not laid aside the design you once entertained of transmitting his name and story to posterity. I did delay writing some time, because I was in great hopes I should have been able to have given you a much more satisfactory account than I am now able to give, notwithstanding the search I have made in answer to your question, "If he had left any memoirs behind him;" I suppose you mean in relation to himself. I have not been able to find any among his papers in town. This, with some other affairs, drew the time into the length it is; but I assure you, if I have the satisfaction to hear from you again (as I hope I shall) I will be more punctual in my returns; for I will allow no body to value and esteem you more than I do.
There is certainly a very great number of materials for a history, a vast collection of letters and other papers, a great deal may be supplied elsewhere; but give me leave to say, that if you do not come into England, nothing can be done; it will not be possible to do any thing to purpose. Without this view, there would be no body more welcome to me than yourself, you should live in your own way, and do just what was most agreeable to you: I have houses enough, you shall take your choice: I must with earnestness repeat it to you again. That I beg you will think of this matter seriously.
As to what you mention of the picture, I have often heard my father say, That he did design to sit for you, but did not: I shall certainly take care that you shall have a picture, and a good one: pray let me know what size you would have it of: if you design it should fit any particular place, you must send me the exact measure of the place.
Your sister, as you used to call her, is much your servant; she has been at the Bath for some time; she is better than when she went. I suppose you hear sometimes from our friend Mr. Pope: he has taken another voyage into Homer-land, as Gay calls it; I wish he may make an advantageous voyage of it.
I doubt you will say, That since I was so long before I began to write, that now I have begun, I do not know when to end; I will therefore tell you what I am with great truth, sir, your most obedient humble servant,
I desire your acceptance of a ring, a small remembrance of my father. How shall I send it you?