The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From John Gay to Jonathan Swift - 9

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WHITEHALL, FEB. 15, 1727-8.

I HAVE deferred writing to you from time to time, till I could give you an account of the Beggar's Opera. It is acted at the playhouse in Lincoln's Inn Fields with such success, that the playhouse has been crowded every night. To night is the fifteenth time of acting; and it is thought it will run a fortnight longer. I have ordered Motte to send the play to you the first opportunity. I made no interest, either for approbation, or money: nor has any body been pressed to take tickets for my benefit: notwithstanding which, I think I shall make an addition to my fortune of between six and seven hundred pounds. I know this account will give you pleasure, as I have pushed through this precarious affair without servility or flattery.

As to any favours from great men, I am in the same state you left me; but I am a great deal happier, as I have expectations. The duchess of Queensberry has signalized her friendship to me upon this occasion, in such a conspicuous manner, that I hope (for her sake) you will take care to put your fork to all its proper uses, and suffer nobody for the future to put their knives in their mouths. Lord Cobham says, that I should have printed it in Italian over against the English, that the ladies might have understood what they read. The outlandish (as they now call it) opera has been so thin of late, that some have called that the Beggar's Opera; and if the run continues, I fear I shall have remonstrances drawn up against me by the royal academy of musick. As none of us have heard from you of late, every one of us are in concern about your health: I beg we may hear from you soon. By my constant attendance on this affair, I have almost worried myself into an ill state of health; but I intend in five or six days to go to our country seat, at Twickenham, for a little air. Mr. Pope is very seldom in town. Mrs. Howard frequently asks after you, and desires her compliments to you. Mr. George Arbuthnot, the doctor's brother, is married to Mrs. Peggy Robinson.

I would write more, but as to night is for my benefit I am in a hurry to go out about business. I am, dear sir, your most affectionate and obedient servant,