Page images

To the Revd. Mr. John KENDALL, &i*.
« SIR,

February 11, 1691. If any thing made me wonder at your letter, it “ was your almost inviting

almost inviting me to do so in the beginning, which indeed grew less upon knowing the “ occasion, since it is what I have heard from more " than one, in and about Leicester. And for the

friendship between us, as I suppose yours to be real, “ so I think it would be proper to imagine mine, until

you find any cause to believe it pretended ; though “ I might have some quarrel at you in three or four “ lines, which are very ill bestowed in compliment

ing me. And as to that of my great prospects of

making my fortune, on which as your kindness only “ looks on the best side, so my own cold temper, and “ unconfined humour, is a much greater hindrance “ than any fear of that which is the subject of your « letter. I shall speak plainly to you, that the very

ordinary observations I made with going half a mile beyond the University, have taught me experience

enough not to think of marriage till I settle my for“ tune in the world, which I am sure will not be “ in some years, and even then itself, I am so hard “ to please, that I suppose I shall put it off to the “ other world. How all that suits with my beha

viour to the woman in hand, you may easily imagine when you know that there is something in

me which must be employed; and when I am alone “ turns all, for want of practice, into speculation and “ thought, insomuch, that these seven weeks I have “ been here, I have writ and burnt, and writ again

• Vicar of Thornton in Leicestershire. Dç. Swift was at this time with sir William Temple, at Sheen.


[ocr errors]

upon all manner of subjects, more than perhaps any man in England. And this is it which a person of

great honour in Ireland (who was pleased to stoop « so low as to look into my mind) used to tell me,

my mind was like a conjured spirit, that would “ do mischief if I would not give it employment. It “ is this humour that makes me so busy, when I ain “ in company, to turn all that way; and since it

commonly ends in talk, whether it be love, or “ conversation, it is all alike. This is so common, that “ I could remember twenty women in my life, to “ whom I have behaved myself just the same way; “ and, I profess, without any other design than that " of entertaining myself when I am very idle, or when

something goes amiss in my affairs. This I always “' have done as a man of the world, when I had no

design for any thing grave in it, and what I thought " at worst a harmless impertinence; but, whenever I

begin to take sober resolutions, or, as now, to think “ of entering into the church, I never found it would “ be hard to put off this kind of folly at the porch. “ Besides, perhaps, in so general a conversation among s that sex, I might pretend a little to understand where “ I am when I am going to choose for a wife; and,

though the cunning sharper of the town may have a “ cheat put on him, yet it must be cleanlier carried “ than this, which you think I am going to top upon

myself. And truly, if you knew how metaphysical I am that way, you would little fear I should ven“ ture on one who has given so much occasion to

tongues : for, though the people is a lying sort of “ beast (and I think in Leicester above all parts that I " was in) yet they seldom talk without some glimpse

“ of a reason, which I declare (so unpardonably jea“ lous I am) to be a sufficient cause for me to hate

any woman any farther than a bare acquaintance.

Among all the young gentlemen that I have known, “ who have ruined themselves by marrying (which I

assure you is a great number) I have made this ge“ neral rule, that thicy are either young, raw, and ig“ norant scholars, who, for want of knowing company, believe

every silk petticoat includes an angel ; or else these have been a sort of honest young men, “ who perhaps are too literal in rather marrying than

burning, and entail a misery on themselves and posterity, by an overacting modesty. I think I am

very far excluded from listing under either of these “ heads. I confess I lave known one or two men of

sense enough, who, inclined to frolicks, have mar" ried and ruined themselves out of a maggot; but a “ thousand houshold thoughts, which always drive

matrimony out of my mind whenever it chances to “ come there, will, I am sure, fright me from that; “ beside that, I am naturally temperate, and never en

gaged in the contrary, which usually produces those " effects. Your hints at particular stories I do not “ understand ; and having never heard them but so

hinted, thought it proper to give you this, to show “ you how I thank you for your regard of me; and I

hope my carriage will be such as that my friends « need not be ashamed of the name. I should not have

behaved myself after that manner I did in Leicester, “ if I had not valued my own entertainment, beyond “ the obloquy of a parcel of very wretched fools, which " I solemnly pronounce the inhabitants of Leicester “ to be, and 10 I content myself with retaliation. I

“ hope hope you will forgive this trouble ; and so, with my “ service to your good wife, I am, good cousin, “ Your very affectionate friend and servant,

J. Swift.” This letter was an answer to one from Mr. Kendall, in which he informs him of the reports spread at Leicester that he had paid serious addresses there to an unworthy object, and which Swift therefore thought required this explicit answer*. Here we see that he had no other idea of gallantry with the sex, than what served for mere amusement; that he had rather a dread of matrimony, and that he had never engaged in illicit amours, from which he claims no merit, but imputes it to his being naturally of a temperate constitution. This ingenuous letter, written at the most vigorous time of life, will serve as a clue to his conduct toward women ever after.

The only instance that appears of his having any serious thoughts of matrimony, was with regard to a miss Waryng, a lady of the North of Ireland, possessed of a moderate fortune. The circumstances of that affair are laid open in the following letter to that lady, written by Swift in the year 1700, when he was in his 33d year :



* Swift makes the following mention of this affair in a letter to Mr. Worrall, written on a particular occasion in the year 1728 “ When I went a lad to my mother, after the Revolution, she brought " me acquainted with a family, where there was a daughter, with “ whom I was acquainted. My prudent mother was afraid I should “ be in love with her; but when I went to London, she married an' " innkeeper in Loughborough, in that county. This woman (my * mistress with a pox) left several children, who are all dead but one “ daughter, Anne by name," &c.

What follows is immaterial to the present subject.

[ocr errors]

“ Madam,

Dublin, May 4, 1700. “I AM extremely concerned at the account you

give of your health ; for my uncle told me he found “ you in appearance better than you had been in some

years, and I was in hopes you had still continued so. “ God forbid I should ever be the occasion of creating “ more troubles to you, as you seem to intimate! The “ letter you desired me to answer, I have frequently “ read, and thought I had replied to every part of it " that required it; however, since you are pleased to

repeat those particulars wherein you desired satisfaction, I shall endeavour to give it you as well as I

am able. You would know what gave my temper “ that sudden turn, as to alter the style of my letters " since I last came over. If there has been that altera« tion

you observe, I have told you the cause abun" dance of times. I had used a thousand endeavours “ and arguments, to get you from the company and

place you are in; both on the account of your health “ and humour, which I thought were likely to suffer

very much in such an air, and before such examples. “ All I had in answer from you, was nothing but a

great deal of arguing, and sometimes in a style so “ very imperious, as I thought might have been spared, “ when I reflected how much you had been in the “ wrong. The otherthing you would know is, whether “ this change of style be owing to the thoughts of a new “ mistress. I declare, upon the word of a Christian “ and a gentleman, it is not ; neither had I ever " thoughts of being married to any other person but yourself

. I had ever an opinion that you had a great sweetness of nature and humour; and whatever ap“ peared to the contrary, I looked upon it only as a


[ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »