The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 12/From William Flower to Jonathan Swift - 1

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ASHBROOK, MARCH 18, 1728-9.

AS I have been honoured with some of your letters, and as you are my old acquaintance, though to my sorrow not intimately so, I trust you will pardon this presumption; Perhaps you may be at a loss to guess what title I have to an old acquaintance with you; but as several little accidents make indelible impressions upon the minds of schoolboys, near thirty years ago, when I was one, I remember I was committed to your care from Sheene to London: we took water at Mortlake, the commander of the little skiff was very drunk and insolent, put us ashore at Hammersmith, yet insisted, with very abusive language, on his fare, which you courageously refused; the mob gathered; I expected to see your gown stripped off, and for want of a blanket to take a flight with you in it, but

Tum pietate gravem ac meritis si forte virum quem
Conspexêre, silent, arrectisque auribus astant:
Ille regit dictis animos, et pectora mulcet.

Virg. Æ. I. 155.

By your powerful eloquence you saved your bacon and money, and we happily proceeded on our journey. But it is not an inclination purely to tell you this old story, which persuades me to write. A friend from Dublin lately obliged me with a very entertaining paper, entitled, "The Intelligencer," it is number 20, a posthumous work of Nestor Ironside; a correspondent mentioning these papers in a letter, raising my curiosity, with the specimen I had of them, to read the rest. For my part, I have buried myself in the country, and know little of the world, but what I learn from newspapers; you, who live so much in it, and from other more convincing proofs, I am satisfied are acquainted with the Intelligencer. I wish his zeal could promote the welfare of his poor country, but I fear his labour is in vain.

The miseries of the north, as represented, demand the utmost compassion, and must soften the malice of the most bitter enemy. I hope they, whose interest it is, if they rightly considered it, to relieve those miserable wretches, will redress so publick a calamity; to which, if, as I have heard, some of the clergy, by exacting of tithes, have contributed, they deserve as great censure, as a certain dean, who lends several sums without interest to his poor parishioners, has gained credit and honour by his charitable beneficence. Bad men, to be sure, have crept in, and are of that sacred and learned order; the blackest of crimes, forgery, treason, and blasphemy, recently prove this: such should be spewed out of it with utmost contempt, and punished according to their demerit with severe justice. If this allegation be true, I hope to see them censured by the Intelligencer, and recommend to him the words of Jeremiah to expatiate upon chap. x, ver. 21, chap. xii, ver. 10, 11. I imagine the poor widow, his printer[2], is in danger of punishment; she suffered very cruelly for the Drapier's works; I hope several contributed to ease her misfortunes on that occasion; I confess I am sorry I did not, but if you will give her a piece of gold, not in my name I beg, being unwilling to vaunt of charity, but as from a friend of yours, I shall by the first safe hand send one; in return I expect the Drapier's works entire.

I am sorry that for the benefit of the ladies, the author has not given us the English of

Motus doceri gaudet Ionicos
Matura virgo.

Not having Creech's Horace, a gentleman prevailed on me to attempt translating it in a couple of distichs; the science, which the compound English and Greek word signifies, little concerns a widower; but I should be glad to see it improved by good proficients in the Ionick jig. I own, in my little reading, I never met with this word, which puts me in mind of a passage on the Thames. My younger uncle, the grave Mr. Flower, his wife and mine, and parson Dingle, one day made the tour of the city: we saw Bedlam, the lions, and what not; and finished with a view of that noble engine under London Bridge: then we took water for Whitehall; rowed very silently to opposite the glasshouse, where a dyer, his boat at anchor, was angling; poor Jack unfortunately asked, addressing himself to our waterman, What that man was fishing for? The wag answered very brisk, For ——, master, will you buy any? You are a man of too much humour not to be pleased with the reply. I never can think of it without a laugh; and am sure need not describe the scene to you. He is since called in our family by the name of Jack Fisher.

  1. Created lord Castledurrow, Oct. 27, 1733.
  2. Mrs. Harding.