The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 18/Letter from Deane Swift to Jonathan Swift - 1

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JAN. 12, 1738-9.

I HAD so great an honour conferred upon me yesterday, that I know not how to express the obligations I lie under for it; unless, by endeavouring to make myself worthy of your present, I can demonstrate to the world that I daily improve in wisdom and knowledge, by studying in those books, which since the beginning of my life I have for ever esteemed to be a complete library of taste, wit, poetry, and politicks; yes, and in spite of dulness and prejudice, I will venture to say, of religion also. This I am sure of, that so great a present from so great a person, and in a manner so handsome and extraordinary, it is absolutely impossible I should ever be honoured with again. I always thought I added to my own reputation whenever I pointed out some of those excellencies which shine through every page of them. But to be thought worthy of receiving them from your hands, was infinitely beyond even what my vanity could hope for. I have flattered myself for many years, that to the best of my power I have continually fought under the banners of liberty, and that I have been ready, at a moment's call, either to lay down my life in the defence of it, or, whenever there should appear any probability of success, to vindicate and assert that claim, which every man in every country has by nature a right to insist upon; but, whatever principles have guided my actions hitherto, I shall from this moment enlist myself under the conduct of liberty's general; and whenever I desert her ensigns, to fight under those of tyranny and oppression, then, and not till then, will I part with those books which you have so highly honoured me with, and cast them into the flames, that I may never afterward be reproached either by the sight of them, or the remembrance of the donor. I am, sir, with the highest esteem, your most obliged and most obedient humble servant,