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agree, that it is something singular for the prince in possession to make perpetual advances, and the presumptive heir to be standing off and suspicious. I know not whether your grace has considered the position that my lord-treasurer is visibly in. The late ministry, and their adherents, confess themselves fully resolved to have his head, whenever it is in their power; and were prepared, upon the beginning of the sessions, when the vote was carried against any peace without Spain, to move that he should be sent to the Tower: at the same time, his friends, and the tories in general, are discontented at his slowness in the changing of commissions and employments, to which the weakness of the court interest in the house of lords is wholly imputed: neither do I find that those in the greatest stations, or most in the confidence of my lord-treasurer, are able to account for this proceeding, or seem satisfied with it. I have endeavoured to solve this difficulty another way; and I fancy I am in the right, from words I have heard let fall : but, whatever be the cause, the consequences may be dangerous. The queen is in very good health, but does not use so much exercise as she ought. Pray God preserve her many years A projector has lately applied to me to recommend him to the ministry about an invention for finding out the longitude. He has given in a petition to the queen by Mr Secretary St John. I understand nothing of the mathematics; but I am told it is a thing as improbable as the philosopher's stone, or perpetual motion. I lately writ a letter of about thirty pages to lord
Hanover, was said to have considerable influence in prejudicing his master against Oxford's administration.
treasurer, by way of proposal for an academy, to correct, enlarge, and ascertain the English language. And he and I have named above twenty persons of both parties to be members. I will shortly print the letter, and I hope something will come of it. Your grace sees I am a projector too. I am, with great respect, my Lord, your grace's most dutiful and most humble servant, Jon. Swift.
TO ARCHBISHOP KING.
London, May 20, 1712. My LoRD,
WHEN I had the honour of your grace's letter of March 27, I was lying ill of a cruel disorder, which still pursues me, although not with so much violence; and I hope your grace will pardon me, if you find my letter to be that of one who writes in pain. You see, my lord, how things are altered. The talk of a new governor for Ireland is dropped. The secret is, that the Duke of Ormond had a promise of a pension in case he lost his government: but my lord-treasurer is so excessively thrifty, that to save charges, he lets the duke keep it; and besides, there are some other circumstances, not proper for a letter, which have great weight in this matter. I count upon it, that whatever governor goes over under this ministry, a new parliament will be called. Yet I was told that the Duke of Shrewsbury was pitched on, as a sort of medium between,” &c. He is a person of admirable qualities: and if he were somewhat more active, and less timorous in business, no man would be thought comparable to him. The moderate of the other party seem now content to have a peace, and all our talk and expectations are full of it: but I protest to your grace I know not what to write upon this subject, neither could I tell what to say if I had the honour to be with you. Upon Lord Strafford's t coming over, the stocks are fallen, although I expected, and I thought with reason, that they would rise. There is a trade between some here and some in Holland, of secrets and lies: and there are some among us whose posts let them into an imperfect knowledge of things, which they cannot conceal. This mixture makes up the town-talk, governs the price of stocks, and has often a great deal of truth in it: besides, public affairs have often so many sudden turns and incidents, that even those behind the curtain can hardly pronounce for a week. I am sensible that I have often deceived your grace with my wise inuendoes. Yet, I verily think that my intelligence was very right at the moment I sent it. If I had writ to your grace six days ago, I would have ventured to have given you hopes that a peace would soon appear, and upon conditions wholly surprising and unexpected. I say this to you wholly in confidence; and I know nothing yet to change my opinion, except the desponding talk of the town, for I see nothing yet in the countenances of the ministers. It seems generally agreed that the present dauphin cannot live, and upon that depend man measures to be taken. * This afternoon the bill for appointing commissioners to inquire onto the grants, &c. was thrown out of the house of lords, the voices being equal, which is a great disappointment to the court, and matter of triumph to the other party. But it may possibly be of the worst consequence to the grants next session, when it is probable the ministry will be better settled, and able to procure a majority. I am, with great respect, my Lord, Your grace's most dutiful and most humble servant, Jon. Swift.
f * Between whig and tory possibly.
+ His lordship was one of the plenipotentiaries at the treaty of Utrecht.
TO MRS HILL if
July, 1712. MADAM,
I was commanded some days ago to do what I had long a mind to, but avoided because I would not offend your prudence, or strain your eyes. But my Lord Masham assures methere is no danger of either; and that you have courage enough to read a letter, though it comes from a man, provided it be one of no consequence, which his lordship would insinuate to be my case; but I hope you will not affront me so highly as to understand it so. There is not a grain of news in this town, or five miles about it, worth sending you; and what we receive from Windsor is full as insignificant, except the accounts of the queen's health, and your housekeeping. We are assured that you keep a constant table, and that your guests leave you with full stomachs and full pockets; that Dr Arbuthnot sometimes leaves his beloved green cloth, to come and receive your chidings, and pick up your money. We intend shortly to represent your case to my lord-treasurer, as what deserves commiseration : but we hope the matter is already settled between his lordship and you, and that you are instructed to be thus magnificent, in order to carry on the cause. We reckon his lordship's life is now secure, since a combination of bandboxes and inkhorns, the engines of late times, were employed in vain to destroy him. * He will do me the justice to tell you, that I never fail of toasting you under the name of “ the governess of Dunkirk,” and that you have the honour to be very particularly in my good graces. My Lady Masham still continues in a doubtful state of neither up nor down ; and one of her servants told mine, “ that they did not expect she would cry out this fortnight.” I saw yesterday our brother Hill, f who promises to be more thrifty of his health, and seems
* The great impediment to peace was the probability that France and Spain might fall one day under the dominion of the same monarch, a danger which was considerably increased by the death of the dauphin.
+ The wife of General Hill, and sister-in-law to the reigning favourite, Mrs Masham, now Lady Masham. Her husband was
appointed governor of Dunkirk, when it was ceded to the English.