The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Elizabeth Germain to Jonathan Swift - 8

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


FEB. 23, 1731-2.


I LIKE to know my power (if it is so) that I can make you uneasy at my not writing; though I shall not often care to exert it, lest you should grow weary of me and my correspondence; but the slowness of my answers does not come from the emptiness of my heart, but the emptiness of my head; and that you know is nature's fault, not mine. I was not learned enough to know non credo has been so long in fashion: but every day convinces me more of the necessity of it, not but that I often wish against myself; as for example, I would fain believe you are coming to England, because most of your acquaintance tell me so; and yet I turn, and wind, and sift your letters to find any thing like it being true; but instead of that, there I find a lawsuit, which is a worse tie by the leg than your lameness. And pray what is "this hurt above my heel?" Have you had a fellow feeling with my lord lieutenant[1] of the gout, and call it a sprain, as he does? who has lied so long and often to disguise it, that I verily think he has not a new story left. Does he do the same in Ireland; for there I hoped he would have given a better example?

I find you are grown a horrid flatterer, or else you could never have thought of any thing so much to my taste as this piece of marble you speak of for my sister Penelope[2], which I desire may be at my expense. I cannot be exact, neither as to the time nor year, but she died soon after we came there, and we did not stay quite two years, and were in England some months before king William died. I wish I had my dame Wadgar's, or Mr. Ferrer's memorandum head, that I might know whether it was "at the time of gooseberries[3]."

Surely your Irish air is very bad for darts; if Mrs. Kelly's are blunted already, make her cross father let her come over, and we would not use her so in England. If my duchess[4] sees company in a morning, you need not grumble at the hour; it must be purely from great complaisance, for that never was her taste here, though she is as early a riser as the generality of ladies are: and I believe, there are not many dressing rooms in London, but mine, where the early idle come.

Adieu abruptly; for I will have no more formal humble servants, with your whole name at the bottom, as if I was asking you your catechism.


  1. The duke of Dorset.
  2. Lady Penelope Berkeley died in Dublin, while her father was in the government, and was interred in St. Andrew's church under the altar. No monument was erected to her memory till about this time, when Dr. Swift caused a plate of black marble to be fixed in the wall over the altar piece, with this inscription.

    "Underneath lieth the body of the lady Penelope Berkeley, daughter of the right honourable Charles, earl of Berkeley. She died September the 3d, 1669.

  3. In the petition of Francis Harris to the lords justices, upon losing her purse, printed in vol. VII of this collection, p. 22, there are these verses.

    "Yes, says the steward, I remember, when I was at my lady Shrewsbury's,
    Such a thing as this happened just about the time of gooseberries."

    This steward, was Mr. Ferrers; and dame Wadgar, was the old deaf housekeeper in lord Berkeley's family, when he was one of the lords justices of Ireland.

  4. The duchess of Dorset.