The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From William Flower to Jonathan Swift - 3

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CASTLEDURROW, JAN. 11, 1736-7.

I RECEIVED the honour of your letter with that pleasure which they have always given me. If I have deferred acknowledging longer than usual, I should not be at a loss to make an excuse, if I could be so vain as to imagine you required any. Virtue forbids us to continue in debt, and gratitude obliges us at least to own favours too large for us to pay; therefore I must write rather than reproach myself, and blush at having neglected it when I wait upon you; though you may retort, blushes should proceed rather from the pen than from silence; which pleads a modest diffidence, that often obtains pardon.

I am delighted with the sketch of your Imperium, and beg I may be presented to your first minister, sir Robert[1]. Your puddings I have been acquainted with these forty years; they are the best sweet thing I ever eat. The economy of your table is delicious; a little and perfectly good, is the greatest treat; and that elegance in sorting company puts me in mind of Corelli's orcastro[2], in forming which he excelled mankind. In this respect no man ever judged worse than lord chancellor Middleton; his table the neatest served of any I have seen in Dublin, which to be sure was entirely owing to his lady. You really surprise me, when you say you know not where to get a dinner in the whole town. Dublin is famous for vanity this way; and I think the mistaken luxury of some of our grandees, and feasting those who come to laugh at us from the other side of the water, have done us as much prejudice as most of our follies. Not any lord lieutenant has done us more honour in magnificence, than our present viceroy[3]. He is an old intimate of my youth, and has always distinguished me with affection and friendship. I trust mine are no less sincere for him. I have joy in hearing his virtues celebrated. I wish that he had gratified you in your request. Those he has done most for, I dare affirm, love him least. It is pity there is any allay in so beneficent a temper; but if a friend can be viewed with an impartial eye, faults he has none; and if any failings, they are grafted in a pusillanimity, which sinks him into complaisance for men who neither love nor esteem him, and has prevented him buoying up against their impotent threats, in raising his friends. He is a most amiable man, has many good qualities, and wants but one more to make him really a great man.

If you can have any commands to England for so insignificant a fellow as I am, pray prepare them against the beginning of next month. At my arrival in town, I shall send a message in form for audience; but I beg to see you in your private capacity, not in your princely authority; for, as both your ministry and senate are full, and that I cannot hope to be employed in either, I fear your revenue is too small to grant me a pension. And as I am not fit for business, perhaps you will not allow me a fit object for one, which charity only prompts you to bestow. Thus, without any view of your highnesses favour, I am independent, and with sincere esteem, your most obedient humble servant,

  1. A name he gave his housekeeper, Mrs. Brent.
  2. His lordship probably uses this word for orchestre. Corelli, the famous Italian musician and composer, and director of the pope's choir at Rome, was eminent for his skill in forming and disposing the several musicians in a concert. He was so affected with the character and abilities of our famous Harry Purcell, that, as fame reports, he declared him to be the only thing in England worth seeing; and accordingly resolved on a journey hither, on purpose to visit him; and is said by some to have died on the road; others say that he died at Rome, about 1733.
  3. The duke of Dorset.