The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Pickle Herring to Mr. Faulkner - 1

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ARE not you the rascal, that makes so free with my family? — Had you once recollected that, graceless and despised as he is, that same serjeant Kite[3] was my brother, and, however marred in the making, was born to be as great a man as myself: had you thought with what vengeance a man in my high station can espouse any one's quarrel, and especially that of a sinking brother, durst you presume to run these lengths? —— Mark what I am going to say; bitter is the sorrow, hot, sour and cutting is the sauce you are to taste after your merry conceits on my poor brother; and what mortal can expect better, that meddles with the very worst of the family of the Pickles? —— Recollect at last and tremble! whom hast thou offended and stirred up to wrath, thou little pitiful swad? —— More would I say to thee, but that I take thee right, I look upon thee only as the foul pipe through which the filth and nastiness of the whole nation is squirted in the teeth of my unfortunate brother, the unlucky graceless dog, that has brought all this on himself; but alas, my brother! —— But however provoked, are your scribbling spitfires never to be satisfied? one should think, that by this time, if the poor soul had not enough, they certainly had! Is it not sufficient for them to see a man of learning and law, a man of singular inimitable eloquence, a man of unparallelled graceful action, a man of unspeakable, inconceivable truth, justice and sincerity, exemplary religion, strict virtue, nice honour, and sterling worth in general past finding out? I say, is it not sufficient to see a luminary like this now shining in meridian lustre, but anon set for ever in a puddly cloud? Is it not sufficient to see him so unmasked and stigmatised, that he can be no longer a tool even for a court sharper, and (what's worst of all for him) no longer to be in pay with them? Is it not sufficient to see his poor skull (God help it!) incurably bumped and bulged by that damnable bounce of his against the pulpit cornish? Is it not sufficient to see with what pain and shame he wriggles along by that confounded splinter of the bar, he lately got thrust into his a——, and which has left him a running sore to his dying day? Is it not sufficient to see him, all the last term, walk about in merry sadness an idle spectator in the courts, where he was not retained even for his most noted talent of dirt flinger? —— O you swarms of green counsels and attorneys, I wonder not to see you posted about Idler's Corner[4], looking sharp, as dinnerless men, for a lucky pop on a client; but why, oh! why, should this ever be the case of my hapless brother? O fortune, fortune, cruel are thy sports! —— Is it not sufficient to see him doubly tormented in putting a good countenance on treatment, which is inwardly gnawing and consuming him? in which state his whole comfort is, that for half a score years at least, his conscience could never upbraid him: O the comfort of an easy conscience! —— Is it not sufficient to see him at Ballyspellin, and every where he goes, the common butt of gibe, wink, and titter? Is it not sufficient, that after what has been flying about since he left it, he knows not how to show his face in town, nor how to stand the infinite mortifications he is to meet with this winter? Is it not sufficient, that as his case stands, it is the serjeant against all the world, and all the world against the serjeant? wretched case, when a creature has not even the cheap relief of common pity! And is not all this sufficient? No, the virulent crew tell me, that as long as the terrible tumour in his breast continues hard, the caustick and corrosives must be plied, and that none, but injudicious quacks, would talk of emollients and lenitives, until some at least of the corrupt and fetid matter is discharged. In short, they tell me, that as long as the cause remains, and the world likes the operations, the cure must go on the same way! Well, go on ye scoundrels, go on! and make him as wretched and contemptible as you can! and when you have done your worst, I will make a provision for him that shall alarm you all; shall make some burst with envy, and others to look on him with a merry face, whom they so long beheld with hatred and derision.

To keep neither him, nor the world longer in suspense, know ye, that I will take him home to myself, and after a little of my tutoring, not a turn in his intellects, expression, or action (which now are subject of satire) that shall not soon become matter of high panegyrick. O ye dogs you, I will set him over all your heads! I will advance him to a place of performance, which he was born for, and which (however he thought of it all the while) he was not ill bred to: and there he is sure to meet with the honour and applause he might in vain expect on any other stage.

As for your part, little pert whipper-snapper, Faulkner, is it base fear, or is it unsufferable vanity in you, to talk of correction from the hands of my brother? Had you been any thing above the sorry remnant of a man, you might perhaps come in for the honour of a gentle drubbing; but a little rascal, that has already one leg in the grave, what satisfaction or credit would it be to him to beat thee abominably, or even slay thee out right? No, but sirha, if our brother doctor Anthony[5] were alive, —— rot you, in spite of your rascally Keven bail, and your scribbling janissaries, he should set up his wheel just before your door, and on his pole, thrust up your fundament, he should twirl you about till your brains tumbled down into the hollow of your wooden shin bone, and till all the bones in your skin rattled and snapped like pipestoppers in a bladder. Take that from your sworn and mortal enemy,


  1. Endorsed by Dr. Swift, "An excellent droll paper."
  2. This humourous letter, although addressed to Mr. Faulkner, was ultimately designed for the entertainment of Dr. Swift.
  3. Bettesworth, serjeant at law, whose character is well known for the assault he made upon Dr. Swift in the year 1733, was frequently persecuted by the young poets under the name of serjeant Kite.
  4. Idler's Corner is a bookseller's shop, the corner of High street and Christ Church lane, Dublin, near the four courts.
  5. A whimsical odd kind of man, who had abundance of low humour, and frequently used to entertain the schoolboys and populace with his harangues and pleasantry, mounted upon a ladder in some corner of a street. He died about eight or ten years before the date of this letter.