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

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NOV. 8, 1735.

I KNOW the moment you took this letter into your hand what you said, which was pox on all Irish writers, and Irish letters. It is very little trouble I am going to give you, only be pleased to answer the following questions. How does your leg do? How is your head? How is your stomach? How many days were you on the road? How did you lie? How does Dr. Sheridan? How do you like Cavan? And how do all the good victuals Dr. Sheridan promised you turn out? And now, sir, I beg you will be pleased[1] to suppose, that I began my letter by entreating the favour of hearing from you; and if that is too great an honour for me, that you will order somebody else to do it. Dr. Sheridan would give sixpence I would ask who, rise off his chair, make me a low bow, and uncover, to have the opportunity of telling me.

Now to write politely, when I change my subject, I always break off, and begin a new paragraph.

Mr. Waller has printed an advertisement, offering ten guineas reward to any person that will discover the author of a paragraph, said to be the case of one Mr. Throp. I do not know whether you heard any thing of such an affair before you left town, but I think it is said there is some trial to be about it before the house of commons, either next week, or the week following. I beg you will not leave your papers and letters on the table, as you used to do at the deanery, for boys and girls and wives will be peeping; particularly be pleased to take care of mine. It is certain I write correctly, and with a great deal of method; but however I am afraid of Curll. Dr. Sheridan has my free leave to read this, on condition he burns it instantly; but first let him take notice of all the compliments I make him. May be you imagine that if you answer this, you will be no more plagued with my letters; but I have learned from Molly[2] never to have done with my demands on you: therefore write, or not write, (unless you command otherwise) you shall hear once a week from, sir, your most obedient and most obliged humble servant,

Molly is just come from the deanery: every thing is in good order. She saw Mrs. Ridgeway there. Young Harrison and his sister present you their most obedient respects.

  1. A cant expression, much used in those times upon all occasions, and here ridiculed.
  2. Miss Harrison.