The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 19/From Jonathan Swift to James Stopford - 2

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JULY 20, 1726.

I HAD a letter from you three months ago, with an account of a fine picture you had sent me, which is now safe in Ireland, for which I heartily thank you, and Robert Arbuthnot swears it is an original. I did not answer you because I was told you were in motion. I had yours of July 12, N. S. yesterday; and since you are fixed at Paris, I venture to send you this, though Robert Arbuthnot be here. He has lately married a lady among us of 900l. a year, and I think will soon go to France; but I have chiefly lived above two months with Mr. Pope since the town grew empty. I shall leave him the beginning of August, and so settle my affairs to be in Ireland by the end of that month, for my license of half a year will be then out. I came here to see my old friends, and upon some business I had with two of them, which, however, proves to be of little consequence. The people in power have been civil enough to me; many of them have visited me. I was not able to withstand seeing the princess, because she had commanded, that whenever I came hither, as the news said I intended, that I should wait on her. I was latterly twice with the chief minister; the first time by invitation, and the second at my desire for an hour, wherein we differed in every point: But all this made a great noise, and soon got to Ireland, from whence, upon the late death of the bishop of Cloyne, it was said I was offered to succeed, and I received many letters upon it, but there was nothing of truth, for I was neither offered, nor would have received, except upon conditions which would never be granted. For I absolutely broke with the first minister, and have never seen him since, and I lately complained of him to the princess, because I knew she would tell him. I am, besides, all to pieces with the lord lieutenant, whom I treated very roughly, and absolutely refused to dine with him. So that, dear Jim, you see how little I shall be able to assist you with the great ones here, unless some change of ministry should happen. Yet when a new governor goes over, it is hard if I cannot be some way instrumental. I have given strict charge to Mr. Pope to receive you with all kindness and distinction. He is perfectly well received by all the people in power, and he loves to do good; and there can hardly go over a governor to whom he may not, by himself or friends, strongly recommend you.

I fear I shall have more than ordinary reasons to wish you a near neighbour to me in Ireland; and that your company will be more necessary than ever, when I tell you that I never was in so great a dejection of spirits. For I lately received a letter from Mr. Worrall, that one of the two oldest and dearest friends I have in the world is in so desperate a condition of health, as makes me expect every post to hear of her death. It is the younger of the two, with whom I have lived in the greatest friendship for thirty-three years. I know you will share in my trouble, because there were few persons whom I believe you more esteemed. For my part, as I value life very little, so the poor casual remams of it, after such a loss, would be a burden that I must heartily beg God Almighty to enable me to bear; and I think there is not a greater folly than that of entering into too strict and particular a friendship, with the loss of which a man must be absolutely miserable, but especially at an age when it is too late to engage in a new friendship. Besides, this was a person of my own rearing and instructing, from childhood; who excelled in every good quality that can possibly accomplish a human creature. They have hitherto writ me deceiving letters, but Mr. Worrall has been so just and prudent as to tell me the truth; which, however racking, is better than to be struck on the sudden. Dear Jim, pardon me, I know not what I am saying; but believe me that violent friendship is much more lasting, and as much engaging, as violent love. Adieu.

If this accident should happen before I set out, I believe I shall stay this winter in England; where it will be at least easier to find some repose, than upon the spot.

If I were your adviser, I would say one thing against my own interest; that if you must leave your college, for the reason you hint at, I think it would be better to live in England on your own estate, and the addition of one thousand pounds, and trust to industry and friends, and distinction here, than pass your days in that odious country, and among that odious people. You can live in a thrifty moderate way, and thrift is decent here; and you cannot but distinguish yourself. You have the advantage to be a native of London; here you will be a freeman, and in Ireland a slave. Here your competitors will be strangers; there every rascal, your contemporary, will get over your head by the merit of party. Farewell again; though my head is now disturbed, yet I have had these thoughts about you long ago.