The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From William Flower to Jonathan Swift - 2

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IT is now a month since you favoured me with your letter; I fear the trouble of another from me may persuade you to excuse my acknowledgments of it; but I am too sensible of the honour you do me, to suffer a correspondence to drop, which I know some of the greatest men in this age have gloried in. How then must my heart be elated! The fly on the chariot wheel is too trite a quotation: I shall rather compare myself to a worm enlivened by the sun, and crawling before it. I imagine there is a tinge of vanity in the meanest insect; and who knows but even this reptile may pride itself in its curls and twists before its benefactor? This is more than the greatest philosopher can determine. Guesses are the privilege of the ignorant, our undoubted right, and what you can never lay claim to.

I am quite angry with your servant, for not acquainting you I was at your door. I greatly commend both your economy and the company you admit at your table. I am told your wine is excellent. The additional groat is, I hope, for suet to your pudding. I fancy I am as old an acquaintance as most you have in this kingdom; though it is not my happiness to be so qualified as to merit that intimacy you profess for a few. It is now to little purpose to repine; though it grieves me to think I was a favourite of dean Aldrich, the greatest man who ever presided in that high post; that over Virgil and Horace, Rag[2] and Phillips smoked many a pipe, and drank many a quart with me, beside the expense of a bushel of nuts, and that now I am scarce able to relish their beauties. I know it is death to you to see either of them mangled; but a scrap of paper I design to enclose, will convince you of the truth. It was in joke to an old woman of seventy, who takes the last line so heinously, that, thanks to my stars, she hates me in earnest. So I devote myself to ladies of fewer years, and more discretion.

This, and such other innocent amusements, I devote myself to in my retirement. Once in two years I appear in the anus of the world, our metropolis. His grace, my old acquaintance, told me, I began to contract strange old fashioned rust, and advised me to burst out of my solitude, and refit myself for the publick; but my own notion of the world, for some time past, is so confirmed by the sanction of your opinion of it, that I resolve this same rust shall be as dear to me, as that which enhanced the value of poor Dr. Woodward's shield; though it gave such offence to his cleanly maid, that she polished it to none at all.

I shall appear very inconsistent with myself in now telling you, that I still design the latter end of next month for England. You allow I have some pretence to go there. My progress with my son will be farther; for which, perhaps, you too will condemn me, as well as other friends do. I shall be proud of the honour of your commands, and, with your leave, will wait upon you for them. I design to send you a pot of woodcocks for a christmas box: small as the present is, pray believe I am, with sincere respect, sir, your most obedient humble servant,

I hope you are as well as the news says. À propos, can you agree with me, that the little operator of mine, whom you saw lately at his grace of Dublin's, has a resemblance of your friend Mr. Pope?

Verses by lord Castledurrow, enclosed in the above letter.

Lætitia's Character of her Lover rendered in metre.

Old women sometimes can raise his desire;
The young, in their turn, set his heart all on fire.
And sometimes again he abhors womankind.
Was ever poor wretch of so fickle a mind!

The Lover's Answer.

Parcius junctas quatiunt fenestras
Ictibus crebris juvenes protervi;
Nec tibi somnos adimunt: amatque

Hor. lib. I, ode 25.
Janua limen.

No more shall frolick youth advance
In serenade, and am'rous dance;
Redoubling stroke no more shall beat
Against thy window and thy gate;
In idle sleep now lie secure,
And never be unbarr'd thy door.

  1. This was William Flower, lord baron of Castledurrow, whose son Henry was created lord viscount Ashbrook in the year 1751.
  2. Meaning the celebrated Edmund Smith, usually called Rag Smith.