1713 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Jonathan Swift

Matthew Prior to Jonathan Swift, 15-16 August 1713; Works of Swift, ed. Nichols (1801) 11:277-79.



PARIS, AUG. 15-16, 1713.

As I did not expect, my good friend Jonathan, to have received a letter from you at Dublin, so I am sure I did not intend to write one thither to you; but Mr. Rosingrave thinks it may do him service, in recommending him to you. If so, I am very glad of it; for it can be of no other use imaginable. I have writ letters now above twenty-two years. I have taken towns, destroyed fleets, made treaties, and settled commerce in letters. And what of all this? Why, nothing; but that I have had some subject to write upon. But to write a letter only because Mr. Rosingrave has a mind to carry one in his pocket, to tell you, that you are sure of a friendship, which can never do you three pence of good, and wish you well in England very soon, when I do not know when I am likely to be there myself: all this, I say, is very absurd for a letter; especially when I have this day written a dozen much more to the purpose. If I had seen your manuscript; if I had received Dr. Parnell's poem; if I had any news of Landen being taken; why well and good; but as I know no more than the duke of Shrewsbury designs for England within three weeks; that I must stay here till somebody else comes, and then brings me necessarily to say, good Mr. dean, that I am like the fellow in the Rehearsal, who did not know if he was to be merry or serious, or in what way or mood to act his part. One thing only I am assured of, that I love you very well; and am, most sincerely and faithfully, dear sir, your servant and brother,

M. PRIOR.

Lord and lady Shrewsbury give their service to you. Vanhomrigh has run terribly into debt, and, being in durance, has sent his mother upon pecuniary concerns. Adieu once more.

What we are doing, or what is to become of us, I know not.

Prudens futuri temporis exitum
Calignosa nocte premit Deus,
Ridetque—

This is all the Latin and writing I can at present spare you.

Pray give my service to your chancellor, and be much acquainted with judge Nutley, and love him very well for my sake. Adieu. Once more, find out my cousin Pennyfeather and Nutley (if he is not too grave for you); and according to the laudable custom of your country, drink this Louis out, for a token of my generosity and your sobriety. And now I think, I have furnished out a very pretty letter.