The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From Peter Ludlow to Jonathan Swift - 1
SEPTEMBER 10, 1718.
I SEND you the enclosed pamphlet by a private hand, not daring to venture it by the common post; for it is a melancholy circumstance we are now in, that friends are afraid to carry on even a bare correspondence, much more to write news, or send papers of consequence (as I take the enclosed to be) that way. But I suppose I need make no apology for not sending it by post, for you must know, and own too, that my fears are by no means groundless. For, your friend Mr. Manley has been guilty of opening letters that were not directed to him, nor his wife, nor really to one of his acquaintance. Indeed, I own, it so happened, that they were of no consequence, but secrets of state, secrets of families, and other secrets (that one would by no means let Mr. Manley know) might have been discovered; besides a thousand, nay, for ought I know, more than a thousand calamities might have ensued; I need not (I believe) enumerate them to you; but, to be plain with you, no man nor woman would (with their eyes open) be obliged to show all they had to Mr. Manley. These I think sufficient reasons for sending it in the manner I do; but submit them and myself to your candour and censure.
The paper, I believe, you'll find very artfully written, and a great deal couched under the appearance (I own at first) of blunders, and a silly tale. For who, with half an eye, may not perceive, that by the old woman's being drowned at Ratcliff-highway, and not dead yet, is meant the church, which may be sunk or drowned, but in all probability will rise again. Then the man, who was followed, and overtaken, is easily guessed at. He could not tell (the ingenious author says) whether she was dead: true! but may be he will tell soon. But then the author goes on (who must be supposed a high churchman) and inquires of a man riding a horseback upon a mare. That's preposterous, and must allude to a great man who has been guilty (or he is foully belied) of very preposterous actions; when the author comes up to him, the man takes him for a robber, or tory, and ran from him, but you find he pursued him furiously. Mark that: and the horse. — This is indeed carrying a figure farther than Homer does: he makes the shield or its device an epithet sometimes to his warriour, but never, as I remember, puts it in place of the person; but there is a figure for this in rhetorick, which I own I do not remember; by which we often say, He is a good fiddle, or rather, as by the gown is often meant particular parsons. Well then, you find the horse, seeing himself dead, or undone, ran away as fast as he could, and left the preposterous fellow to go afoot. During this their misfortune, the candid author (whom I cannot mention without a profound respect) calls them friends, and means to do them no harm; only inquires after the welfare of the church. — Ah! dear sir, this is the true character of the tories. And here I cannot but compare the generosity and good nature of the one, with the sullen ingratitude of the other; we find the horse gone, and they footing it give a surly answer; while the other (though a conqueror) offers his friendship, and asks the question with a "Pray inform me."
I have gone, my dear friend, thus far with the paper, to show you how excellent a piece I take it to be, and must beg the favour of you to give me your opinion of it, and send me your animadversions upon the whole; which I am confident you will not refuse me, when you consider of how great an advantage they will be to the whole earth, who, may be, to this day, have read over these sheets with tooan understanding; and especially since it is the request of, learned sir, your most dutiful and obedient humble servant,
Sir POLITICK WOULD-BE.
I submit it to your better judgment (when you make a more curious inquiry into the arcana of this piece) to consider whether, by sir John Vangs (who you find lives by the waterside) must not be meant the Dutch; since you find too, that he eats bag pudding freezing hot; this may seem a paradox, but I have been assured by a curious friend of mine of great veracity, who had lived many winters in Holland, that nothing is more common than for hot pudding to freeze in that cold country: but then what convinces me that by sir John, the Dutch must be meant, is, that you find he creeps out of a stopperhole, which alludes to their mean origin. I must observe too, that gammer Vangs had an old woman to her son. That's a bob for Glorious. — But I am under great concern to find so hard a sentence past upon poor Swift, because he's little. I think him better than any of them, and hope to see him greater.